OK, the whole discussion of whether a literacy program is a good trade-off for totalitarianism (and no, it isn’t) is inane when it comes to Cuba. Because all of the stats on Cuban literacy rates come exclusively from the regime itself. I met quite a few functionally illiterate adults in Cuba. I also visited a school in the countryside where the school was housed in a former pigsty and kids were unfamiliar with the concept of a pen.
I also hung out with students at the University of Havana. They could read. But there was nothing to read. Their ignorance was at the level of peasants in tsarist Russia.
What’s the point of literacy if there are no books and all you are allowed to read or hear is propaganda?
Another one of my sentimental favorites is the myth about the low infant mortality rates in Cuba. That one really makes me mad. “Infant mortality in Cuba is lower than in the US!” As somebody intimately familiar with infant mortality in the US, I see red when I hear this stuff. In Cuba, both of my children would be aborted at five months of pregnancy because nobody would bother with a high-risk pregnancy. But infant mortality would be avoided, yippee.