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Castro the Leader

            From the outside, particularly from the United States, Fidel Castro's Cuba often is seen as a nation of hardship and poverty with its people cowed into submission by Communist oppression. .
             Inside Cuba, another view emerges. .
             It is true that tough Communist control directs virtually every segment of Cuban life and shows no sign of easing. .
             It also is true that about 1 million Cubans have fled since Castro seized power in early 1959 and that up to 500,000 more would leave the island if given the chance. Yet most of the nearly 10 million Cubans know no rule but Communism. They support and admire Castro. And, with their living standard improving, it seems apparent to a reporter who has covered Cuba since prerevolutionary days that they will continue to do so. .
             For a closer on-the-scene look at life in Communist Cuba today-- .
             Living Standards: On the Rise .
             Even the most skeptical foreign residents of Havana admit that life today for the average Cuban is better than when Castro took over. Luxuries may be few, but the state satisfies the basic needs of the people for food, clothing, housing, education, medical care and jobs. .
             The quality of daily life is rising slowly, although Cubans still must queue up to board crowded buses or to enjoy restaurant meals that are better and more varied than their rationed fare at home. .
             The government operates 750 nonration supermarkets where Cubans can purchase better-quality local goods and imported consumer products--at higher prices. "I paid 120 pesos (U.S. $140) for a pair of shoes," says one Cuban. "That's tough because my husband and I each earn only 130 pesos a month." .
             A senior Cuban official claims that the purchasing power of the people is "high and rising." He reports that 2.9 million Cubans, 40 percent of them women, have jobs. In some families where several persons work, pesos are available to buy better-quality goods. .
             In a major revision of economic policy, the government has abandoned the Communist tenet that all citizens should share equally for their labors.

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