One aspect of the law is that it punishes people and companies, domestic and foreign, who do business in Cuba in a certain context. More importantly, it is a setup for making "the Island" into a debt prison for the majority of its population. The law demands that "the Island" (this language shows us clearly that sovereignty is not even recognized!) return certain capital property to its former "owners" valued at approximately US$6 billion and pay interest and interest on interest, etc. in perpetuity. Variations of this model is quite effective throughout the third world as implemented by the IMF and World Bank. However, in this case we see that in fact it is a form of collective punishment against the entire "Island" in retaliation for the Revolution.
How long could such an unjust punishment last? Simply look to Haiti for your example. Since the black uprising and establishment of a freed-slave republic in 1804 the Haitian people have been punished by the international community for their hubris. In 1833 France forced Haiti to pay reparations for the revolution, which threw the country into crippling debt. Direct American military intervention began in 1915 and continues to this day. The Cuban people are well aware of this and other histories and understand their fate under neo-liberalism. The Helms-Burton law has destroyed any notion of perestroika occurring in Cuba. Any transition after Castro will very likely be brutal and bloody. It is in this context that the revolution must be maintained!
Nevertheless, the nation has reaped amazing results due to its planned economy focused on providing for human need. Cuba has one of the highest life expectancies in the world (over 70), boasts the best doctor patient ratio in the world, and one of the best teacher student ratios. Socialism Today has published an excellent survey of Cuba and its future without Castro. An excerpt is here:
Millions of working-class people and the poor, particularly in the neo-colonial world and especially in Latin America, are hoping against hope that the predictions of the imminent collapse of Cuba will prove wrong. The Cuban revolution, right from its inception in January 1959, and through its planned economy, gave a glimpse of what was possible for humankind as a whole if the straightjacket of landlordism and capitalism was eliminated. Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were then, and remain today, heroic figures for many workers and youth throughout the world.
If anything, Cuba's reputation has been enhanced when set against the background of the brutal neo-liberal offensive of capitalism worldwide throughout the1990ss and the first part of this century. The achievements in health, housing and education are spectacular when compared to the dismal record of landlordism and capitalism in the neo-colonial world. Even while the bourgeoisie of the world and its hirelings seek to use the illness of Castro as an excuse to pillory Cuba and its revolution, other, more serious, journals of capitalism are compelled torecognizee Cuba's achievements.
For instance, El Pais, the Spanish journal, recently outlined Cuba's impressive performance in key fields. There are 200,000 teachers in a population of 11.4 million. This means there is a teacher for every 57 people, one of the best ratios of teachers to pupils anywhere in the world, never mind the neo-colonial world. Moreover, following the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, Cuba sent 2,660 doctors and health technicians to help in the worst areas. In six months in Pakistan, they dealt with 1,700,000 patients 73% of those affected by illness and carried out 14,500 operations. In addition to this they offered 1,000 courses to young people from the worst-hit areas to study medicine in Cuba. Thirty-two temporary hospitals were left by the Cuban government to be used by the Pakistani people to combat serious illnesses. Naturally, this raised the profile of support for Cuba in Pakistan. In Indonesia, following the earthquake in May 2006, 135 Cuban health workers attended 100,000 patients. Two hospitals were built and left by the Cubans when the medical expedition left the country. Thirty-six thousand Cuban health professionals and technicians are working in 107 different third-world countries. In addition to this, Venezuela and Cuba have announced a project, "operation milagro" (operation miracle), to provide six million Latin Americans with free operations if they cannot afford them over the next ten years. Cuba has also offered 100,000 places in Cuban universities to train Latin American doctors free of charge.Socialism Today: What will happen after Castro?