Life in Cuba
On the eve of the Revolution, Cuba was a semideveloped country with more millionaires than anywhere south of Texas and an urban labor force that had achieved “the eight-hour day, double pay for overtime, one month’s paid vacation, nine days’ sick leave, and the right to strike.” On the other hand, in 1950, a World Bank study team reported that 40 percent of urban dwellers and 60 percent of rural dwellers were undernourished, while over 40 percent of Cuban people had never gone to school, and only 60 percent had regular full-time employment.
The Revolution has immeasurably improved the condition of millions of Cubans, eliminating the most abject poverty while destroying the middle and wealthy urban classes and imposing a general paucity, if not poverty, on millions of others. At least everyone had the essentials and enjoyed two two-week vacations a year at the beach. And the government provided five crates of beer as a wedding present and birthday cakes for kids under 10. The state even issues a nightgown to brides and pregnant women, “causing some irreverent wags to note that these were exactly the two times when a woman least needed one,” says Georgie Ann Geyer.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition