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May 5, 2006

Forbes: 'Castro Fortune Estimated At $900 Million'

Topics: International News

untitled.bmpCuban President Fidel Castro was furious when Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at $550 million (300 million pounds) last year. This year, he's probably fuming - the magazine has upped its' estimate of the communist leader's wealth to a cool $900 million.

Meanwhile, what's it like for the Cuban people? Let's just say they'd likely be really ticked if they knew about Castro sucking up all their money for himself:

How to explain the living conditions I saw in the city of Havana? It is a bit of a tricky prospect, because I do not want to give the impression that the people are destitute. Life is a struggle, but basic needs, such as education and health care, are met. Every inch of available space is used thanks to what I can only consider resourcefullness and creativity. Homes that once had twenty foot ceilings have been divided into multiple "apartments" with ten foot ceilings. Handmade brick structures have been constructed on the tops of some buildings, where people can live but have no running water or plumbing. In most of Havana, privacy is scarce, but it appeared that most people at least had a roof over their head. (I am trying to be careful of making general statements about what I saw. As a tourist, I only saw a small sliver of life in Cuba, so keep in mind that whatever I share here is just my impression and not an attempt to state something as an absolute fact.)

Beyond the downtown areas of Havana, there was a wide array of living conditions. We passed by Soviet-built apartment complexes, basic and utilitarian. I visited the home of a well-known artist, and because it is the artists who do very well in Cuba, his home was huge by Cuban standards. Renovations are beginning to happen around the city, but for the most part the architecture of Cuba is crumbling. Despite all the piles of rubble, broken and taped up windows, layers of paint and plaster and boarded up doorways, I found Havana to be extraordinarily beautiful. On the evening the Biennial opened, I was across the bay admiring the city at sunset, and it was practically glowing. A quick impression of the city would probably not even let you know it was falling to pieces.

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And this coming from a guy that's socked away $900 Million of the people's money for himself!!! Socialism - the lower class starves while the elite stash it all away for themselves.

Posted by Richard at May 5, 2006 7:58 AM



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