Cuban migrants on a raft near Florida. (AP)

Cuban migrants on a raft near Florida. (AP)

Escape from Cuba

Posted: March 2, 2015

Three men huddled onto a raft. They were about to sail across 90 miles of ocean. The three men—Jose Lastre, Antonio Cardenas, and Yennier Diaz—had nothing but the clothes on their backs. They were running away from home.

Cuba and Florida are neighbors. In fact, they’re only 90 miles apart. But they are two very different places. Florida is in the United States. The people there generally have many freedoms. Most have enough money to live. Cuba is a Communist country. Life there is very, very hard. Thousands of Cubans have escaped from Cuba to Florida. Many have died trying.

If someone asked you to describe Communism, could you do it? It can be a hard idea to explain. Under Communism, the “state” owns most property and businesses. Usually individuals would own those things.

Imagine that your job was to run a lemonade stand. Under Communism, the government would decide how much money you earned. It wouldn’t matter how much lemonade you sold. You’d still earn the same amount. In Cuba, people get about $22 a month on average. That’s not much! The government does give people some services—like school and some healthcare. But the people have few chances to earn more money. That means one thing: They stay poor. 

That’s bad enough. But Cuba has an even worse problem. Cuban authorities mistreat Christians. They drag Christians from churches. They knock churches down. They beat pastors. The Communist government doesn’t want people to worship God. It wants to be God.

Mr. Lastre, Mr. Cardenas, and Mr. Diaz made it to America safely. U.S. President Barack Obama made a promise. He said the United States would become better friends with Cuba. Could that help Cubans live better lives in their own country—without running away?