And, of course, Castro ran a dictatorship that has, since 1959, committed its fair share of crimes, repressions, denials of democratic rights etc.
I just love the "of course" and the "etc" at the end which suggests that the list does go on a bit, but that it's tiresome to dwell on such trifling details. We should rather focus on the important things
So let's hear it for universal literacy and decent standards of health care. Let's hear it for the Cubans who help defeat the South Africans and their allies in Angola and thereby prepared the end of apartheid. Let's hear it for the middle-aged Cuban construction workers who held off the US forces for a while on Grenada. Let's hear it for Elian Gonzalez. Let's hear it for 49 years of defiance in the face of the US blockade. Hasta la victoria siempre!
Yay! If the message is that in whole US/Cuba saga the US were hardly saints then fine, they weren't. But that doesn't mean we must cheer the other side. If two sides are in conflict, both may not be able to be right, but both can definitely be wrong and we're not compelled to choose sides. I actually think this is a lesson that lots of us could stand to learn. We settle really easily into an "us versus them" mentality in debates as with to many other things.
Every country has good points to go along with bad, but that doesn't mean we can simply list some of each then pick the side that we happen to like anyway. We need to maintain some bloody perspective! Communist Russia produced great chess players! Yay! Nazi Germany had cool roads! Yay!
Literacy is really great, but it usually correlates with other nice things, like having a job and being able to read stuff other than the collected works of Karl Marx and Che Guevara (this is unfair, but you get the point). It's also worth noting that Cuba isn't the only country in the world to have high literacy levels and "decent" (I also enjoyed that) health care.