Cuba is up shit creek and there’s no paddle in sight. It truly is an economic disaster that came and went, compliments of “El Lider Supremo,” Fidel Castro and his little brother Raul.

Of course it is so simple to blame the U.S. embargo for the Cuban situation, but that is way too simple and inaccurate to be the real answer. You have to put away the pseudo-socialist, rosy-colored glasses in order to find the real cause of Cuba’s problems.

Sure, the embargo sucks. What most folks of this generation don’t understand is that the real reason for the plight of the Cuban people is the rationing of even the most basic goods from the shelves of state-run stores. Here the average Cuban is forced to shop on the meager wages he or she earns and yet pay exorbitant amounts for the most minimal of staples.

By the way, rationing was in place a bit before the embargo actually took effect, and it was in place during the Soviet era, as it remains today.

There are many other nations that are politically aligned with Castro’s regime, yet they just sit there, lauding the good of what they refer to as socialism while preaching the downfalls of capitalism, and do nothing to help Cuba or her people.

Where did all the Soviet rubles given to Castro during their alliance go? If anyone had done their homework they would know that the Supreme Leader thrives on the romanticism of spreading the good word of socialism to all corners of the earth. And as we all know, spreading revolution is not cheap. It takes AK-47’s, RPG-7’s, SAM-7’s and all sorts of other Soviet weaponry and hardware that was gladly being provided to Fidel at a cost of many rubles that could’ve been used to feed the Cuban people and eliminate the rationing that is sapping Cuba’s life blood.

Another source of the disappearing funds are Castro’s Swiss bank accounts that hold rubles converted to dollars for his retirement fund. It is nice to see the Supreme Leader has his 401k laid out, compliments of the Cuban people’s faith in him and the Soviet funding of his Potemkin Village.

Let us also not forget the amount of finance dumped into “state security” by little brother Raul in order to quash any sort of dissent against the Castro regime. It takes a lot of cash to spy on your countrymen.

As a Cuban, born in Cuba, I only wish it were that simple to say that Cuba’s problems are solely due to the U.S. embargo. But anyone of reasonable intelligence knows better, unless the socialist cause blinds them to what is the absolute truth.

With this said, imagine my amusement regarding the comment Steven Spielberg made on a recent trip to Cuba and meeting with Fidel Castro. He referred to the meeting as “the most important eight hours of his life.” Sounds like somebody had the wool pulled over his eyes, as do many Americans who proclaim Cuba to be a wonderful socialist state. Maybe that’s why many of Castro’s countrymen flee to the U.S.

In its original form and structure, the Cuban revolution was meant with good intentions and had the good of the people in mind. But absolute power corrupts absolutely, and thus we have the end results: Rationing of basic necessities, a flourishing black market and state-sponsored prostitution to supply the current tourist industry.

Castro has survived 10 U.S. presidential administrations and many attempts to depose him, but solely at the expense of his countrymen. Ever wonder why you see Cubans risking their lives to come to America, but never see any Cubans doing the same to get back to Cuba?

Castro’s rule has been one of smoke and mirrors further backed by the hypocrisy of his love for the American dollar. His fear is not that the U.S. would ever invade Cuba. It is simply that Cuba will be bought out and his true side will be seen by the world. He doesn’t want that since his inflated ego will be punctured and he will be seen for what he truly is: A despotic dictator grasping at straws to preserve the last of his fiefdom. Forget the embargo; it is the Supreme Leader and his rule that has the Cuban people by the short hairs.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.