Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Cuba a Failed State?

The news media has recently reported on President Biden's calling Cuba a failed state.  There have been demonstrations there due to the corona virus pandemic.  The Cuban president responded by pointing out that the 60 year embargo of Cuba has exacerbated shortages of medical supplies and other basic resources.  I thought I would compare how Cuba is faring compared to surrounding island nations Jamaica and Haiti and to the U.S.

The graph above is from the Gapminder Institute showing income and life expectancy for the four countries.  We see that while per capita income is much higher in the U.S. than Cuba, life expectancy in years is virtually the same in both countries with Jamaica and Haiti lagging behind.  Infant mortality rates (an indication of the health of the infant and the mother) is actually 40% lower in Cuba (4/1,000 births) than the U.S. (5.6/1,000), as seen in the table below, followed by the Jamaica (13.5/1,000) and Haiti (52.2/1,0000).  

Income per capita

Life Expectancy (years)

Infant Mortality per 1,000 births

COVID Case Mortality %

Covid deaths per 100,000

U.S.

$56,700

78.6

5.6

1.8

185.61

Cuba

$8,130

78.5

4

0.7

17.35

Jamaica

$8,310

74.9

13.5

2.3

39.18

Haiti

$1,640

65.7

52.2

2.6

4.51


The life expectancy and infant mortality data are from the World Health Organization from 2018 before the pandemic.  Johns-Hopkins University has been tracking mortality and cases for each nation from the Coronavirus.  The case mortality is 2.6 times higher for COVID in the U.S. (1.8%) compared to Cuba (0.7%) with higher rates in Jamaica (2.3) and Haiti (2.6).  The population adjusted death rate from COVID is more than 10 times higher in the US (185.61) than Cuba (17.35).  Haiti so far has a low death rate due to a low case rate.

Some may want to dismiss these numbers from the WHO and Johns-Hopkins due to their political beliefs.  The CIA (hardly a radical leftwing organization) also does estimates of life expectancy for each country in the world.  They estimate Cuba's life expectancy to be 79.41 years.  Haiti's is estimated to be 65.61 years. Jamaica's is estimated to be 73.71 years.  U.S.'s is estimated to be 80.43 years.

You can say what you want about the political system in Cuba, the mortality data do not indicate poorer outcomes there relative to their Caribbean neighbors and the U.S.  The U.S. embargo has given the Cuban government a convenient scapegoat for their problems,  the U.S.

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