On Wednesday’s Up All Night, presenter Rhod Sharp spoke to BBC foreign correspondent Humphrey Hawksley about his new book “Democracy Kills”. It opens, he explained, with a puzzle:
HH: Basically I’m trying to paint a scenario whereby a catastrophe is sweeping the world and you’re sitting in your house moments before you’re gonna be destroyed with your partner and your two children. One’s very bright and is a musician and wants to be a biologist – your daughter, about 13 – and your 11 year old son who’s a little lippy, gets into trouble at school but again very intelligent. And an elderly relative – mother, with diabetes, perhaps a little frail on the legs resting in the corner. And you’re very privileged because you have two choices of countries that you can actually flee to and you’ve been given sanctuary there. One of them has got pretty good health, pretty good education, you’re thinking of building a future for your family, your grandchildren, but not a lot of political freedom. The other one has got a great cell phone system, internet connection’s fine if you can pay for it, but you live 20 years less than the other country and people are fairly illiterate and it’s a fairly violent place. One of those countries is called Cuba, and the other is 90 miles away and it’s called Haiti. Which one would you take your family to to go and set a new life for yourselves.
RS: That’s a great question! That’s a great question!
The point Hawksley is trying to make of course, in his far from subtle way, is that the nascent democracy in Haiti compares badly with the communist regime of Cuba. Rhod Sharp chose to take his version of Hawksley’s family of overachievers to Cuba, naturally. I think I might have enough faith in my family’s resilience and resourcefulness to take our chances in Haiti and forego the wonders of the communist idyll. What would happen to my intelligent children when they question the Communist Party line in the classroom, for example? Not so much of a worry where Hawksley’s kids are concerned, I would imagine.
It’s interesting that Hawksley chose Cuba and Haiti as the basis for his argument and not, say, North and South Korea, or Israel and Syria.
Perhaps we could chip in and buy Hawksley and his BBC colleague Matt Frei one-way plane tickets to the communist dictatorships of their choice?
[If any Firefox users are having problems using the new comment system (as I was) try ticking “Accept third party cookies” in Options]