New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been on a taxpayer-funded junket to the communist-ruled island of Cuba. Officially, the trip was to build economic ties between the city of New Orleans and the island.
But the trip was also intended to highlight Cuba’s approach to certain quality of life issues.
Cantrell’s press officials said the full goal of the trip was to, “see firsthand how Cuba’s history has produced unique opportunities and challenges in the areas of economic development, trade, healthcare, education and other quality of life issues.”
Leger said any mutually beneficial relationship between the U.S. and Cuba is one that will take time to form. But he thinks that can happen on the local level through working trips like these.
“This is one of those things you talk about what can we do in terms of the old-time relationships between New Orleans and Havana in terms of using that kind of friendliness to develop future business relations,” Leger said.
Jeff Sadow had his take on Cuba’s healthcare and education system in his column.
Its educational system is unremarkable, having reached the same literacy gains as many Latin American states. And that rate may have fallen since its last (self-)reported statistics from 2012, given the tremendous instability in its teacher corps, plagued with high turnover because of extremely low salaries. That’s the model that interests Cantrell?
Cuba’s health care system fares even worse. Its tiered structure leaves the vast majority of Cubans with decrepit, woefully inadequate hospitals, almost no access to outpatient medication (except through the black market), and severely underpaid doctors. As a result, its population’s life expectancy has hardly increased during its communist period while many countries once behind it have surged ahead (and its rate propped up by rampant abortions ordered on the preborn who have any hint of abnormalities).
The Cuban education model is also noted for its political indoctrination of Cuban children.
“There have undoubtedly been achievements in Cuban education, but at the expense of how many millions of dollars?” asks Karel Becerra, a former Cuban student and current secretary of international relations at the NGO Independent and Democratic Cuba.
“From my personal experience,” he says, “education in Cuba is less about learning and more a ‘system of indoctrination’ beginning in first grade.”
Cuba’s education system has been state run since 1961, and is 100 percent paid for through taxation and regime funds. All teachers are required to adhere to a state-mandated curriculum, which espouses the nation’s communist political beliefs. And any teacher or parent caught teaching an alternative viewpoint may be found in violation of the “Code for Children, Youth, and Family,” and sentenced to jail time.
So Cantrell and her posse went to Cuba to learn how Cuba indoctrinates its children and how it centrally plans its economy. It certainly wasn’t to develop trade ties because New Orleans little authority in that department.
At best, this trip is little more than a taxpayer-funded vacation for Cantrell and her cronies. At worst, it is a celebration of Cuba’s totalitarian state. Either way, New Orleans taxpayers are footing the bill for a pointless trip by LaToya Cantrell.