A poll taken in cuba last month for The Miami Herald by CID/Gallup, a Costa Rican affiliate of the U.S.-based Gallup organization, claims that most of the respondents were pleased with their lives.

In a contradictory commentary, more than 100,000 Cubans have applied at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana in the past few months for 20,000 visas to legally emigrate to the United States. Forty-five thousand others, without license and at great risk to their lives, took off in rafts this past summer, headed for Florida.Cuban exiles quickly ridiculed the survey, asserting that no poll taken in a country where free speech is curtailed can be accurate. Consider also that anyone 30 years old or under has had a lifetime of communist indoctrination and probably is incapable of comprehending a society other than that which Fidel Castro has created.

An example of that influence is detected in the survey response that most Cubans do not blame their current economic predicament on the Castro political system, but on the three-decades-long U.S. embargo, not equating the fact that the two are directly linked.

This is the thread that appears to tie the Cuban population to Castro. The revolutionary leader has been using the U.S. embargo as an excuse for any and all of Cuba's failures since 1960.

In fact, the embargo has been a failure in itself. While Americans have been given the picture of a Havana that is run down, populated by rusting 30-year-old cars, the fact is that we are practically alone in the economic boycott of the island.

Nations throughout the world, some of them our close allies, have been sending tourists and pumping millions of dollars into joint ventures with Cuba. Despite that, segments of Cuban society continue to fail. When they do, Castro aims his pointer at the embargo and convinces his indoctrinated masses that it is the fault of the United States.

France trades with Cuba; so does Italy. Both make automobiles. How come, then, Cuba is inundated with antique American cars that break down more than they move forward? Because Cubans can't afford new cars within the parameters of the society presided over by Castro and communism.

Canadian and Swiss tourists flock to Cuba; Spain builds new hotels there to house them. A Chilean company is marketing Cuban fruit throughout the world, and an Israeli company is working with Cuban citrus farms to improve their products.

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Why, then, hasn't some of this good fortune reached down to the average Cuban? Reading the CID/-Gallup poll, you get the impression it has. Looking at reality, you know it hasn't, because Castro's system remains incapable of providing for the masses, for putting meat on the shelves of the markets, for having spare parts for automobiles.

The only way to convince the indoctrinated community that the U.S. embargo is not the mother of all bogeymen is to drop the embargo, thereby taking away from Castro his principal alibi for failure.

While doing so might be seen by some as going soft on Cuba, its effect would be just the opposite. Castro would be standing naked, his rationalizations exhausted.

Without a U.S. embargo, it would be interesting to see the same CID/Gallup people fanning out around the island and again taking the temperature of those Cuban people who chose not to stand in line at the U.S. Interests Section, or chance the capricious Gulf Stream in rubber rafts.

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