One of my pet peeves has to do with the constant touting of literacy and healthcare in Cuba. Naifs are impressed because they assume that Cubans lived on a par with third world countries before the great and glorious revolution. Well, here is one fact at least to innoculate you.
On the plus side, Cuba has a 99.8 percent adult literacy rate, one percent higher than Trinidad and Tobago's, and an infant mortality rate of six per 1,000 people, slightly lower than Chile's, according to the United Nations' 2008 Human Development Report. That makes it the country with the best adult literacy and infant mortality rates in the region.
But according to the U.N. 1957 Statistical Yearbook, Cuba already ranked among the four most advanced Latin American countries in literacy and caloric consumption rates that year, and had the lowest infant mortality in the region. In other words, Cuba has gone up three places in the literacy ranking, while retaining its status as the nation with the region's lowest infant mortality rates.
Read the rest of the Oppenheimer piece in the Miami Herald here. For another look at the Revolution fifty years on, try this one by Frances Robles. I may not agree with everything he includes, but much of what he writes is spot on. In particular, note the decay of the early "grand and glorious" achievements.