Last night, the Congressional Black Caucus returned from Cuba. One of those in the delegation was Long Beach Democrat Laura Richardson. This was Richardson’s first trip to Cuba. And during a meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro, she asked if they could meet with his brother Fidel. It turned out to be the first time (that we know of) that US officials have met with the Cuban revolutionary leader since his intestinal surgery three years ago.
Richardson said she wasn’t even born when Fidel Castro led the Cuban revolution. And she came to Cuba expecting to see what others had told her about modern Cuba: people without shoes, without jobs, without even ice cream. Instead, she said, she saw Cubans in better situations than people in parts of her own district. Her district includes Watts and Compton, where unemployment is over 18 percent. Richardson said unlike southern California, in Cuba she didn’t see “rows of homeless people,” she didn’t see “trash,” or “mentally ill people living under bridges.” Instead, she said she saw “a community where they may not have much,” but people were “working, taking care of their families.” She also praised Cuban health care and education, and pointed out that one of her own constituents from Long Beach is attending medical school on a complete scholarship. “Where’s that happening in my district?” she asked.