Your Man in Havava 3. It could have different

Between 1989 with the  end of USSR and its  subsidising of Cuba and 2005 the  socialist island state went through its Special Period. GDP fell 30%, oil imports fell 90%,transport, industry and agriculture were paralysed. Electricity only ran for eight hours a day, it was normal to wait three hours for a bus. The average Cuban lost a third of his/her body weight and cats and dogs disappeared from the street. It became illegal to kill a cow and the punishments for that crime were more severe than for murder. Socialism o Meurte took on a new twist.

For the record starvation and Socialism are old bed fellows. See Russia, China, North Korea et al. It may  be that starvation is seen rather like cold baths at old fashioned public schools. Something  for reasons lost in time that do you good on the basis  that most religions feel that pain in this life is rewarded in the next. Of course capitalism does not feed all the people all the time but its doesn’t go in for mass starvation.

But for Cuba all this could have been avoided. In 1763 Britain driven by the  eye of Hawke(Admiral) and the heart of a Wolfe(General) bestrid the world like a colossus. America and India were  conquered. From now on the sun would not dare set on where the union flag flew.The rich sugar island of Cuba and Martinique were all part of the war booty. The Bourbon empires of France and Spain lay prostrate before  John Bull and his British lion. Quite right.

In the Treaty of Paris the British magnanimous in victory swapped Martinique for Canada and Cuba for Florida. 250 years later the Cubans starved.

If we had held onto Cuba, Florida would have fallen to the USA as surely as did Texas, Louisiana and Alaska. Britain would have come to a satisfactory arrangement with the Spanish settlers in Cuba as surely as it did with the French in Quebec and the hundreds of millions of Hindus and Muslims in India.  The strong British Empire would have been far more effective in developing Cuba than the feeble and dieing Spaiish version. It would  have also kept the  burgeoning USA at bay.

In the 1840s The Spanish settlers of Cuba did not follow  their cousins in South and Central America and push for independence. The reason ? They were petrified their slaves would go the way of Haiti and successfully revolt. This feeling of insecurity would have tied them  even closer to Pax Brittanica.

And so instead of becoming a corrupt semi colony of the USA, which they did after the Spanish-American war of 1900,Cuba a would have developed more like Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana. By no means perfect but not starving and locking up anyone who put their hand up either. Of course  this would have meant the old  cars of Cuba would have died, sex tourism would not be such a big industry, corruption would have been more obvious.Fidel Castro may well have been called Fred Castle and the world would never have heard of an Argentinian doctor called Ernest Guevara.

Actually since Castro rose as  radical lawyer in the 1950s when the wind of  change was raging in the British Empire and it was to his middle class educated type we usually handed over our colonies, he may well have taken power over a semi parliamentary Cuba. Maybe the Queen would not  have been amused by the samba and the rum but her sister Margaret loved the ways and wiggles of the Caribbean and she would have visited regularly.

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