The least free places on Earth

Great feature from, which, from what I can gather is a “think tank“ – whatever a think tank actually is. Anyway, it’ll come as no surprise that North Korea tops the list. FP says:

All power is held by Kim Jong Il, who assumed power in 1994 upon the death of his father, North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il Sung. The regime maintains a network of prison camps in which thousands of political prisoners are subjected to brutal conditions. All facets of a person's life – including employment, education, place of residence, access to medical facilities, and access to stores – are determined by a semihereditary system of social discrimination that classifies citizens into 53 subgroups under broad security ratings (from “core” to “wavering” to “hostile”) based on their family‘s perceived loyalty to the regime.

But worse news for the middle class students who are always asking me to sign their petitions on Upper Street is the inclusion of Cuba. That’s right, funky, salsa-dancing, Bueno Vista Social Club-listening, George W. Bush-hating Cuba. Are they serious? Apparently so:

Fidel Castro may have stepped down last year after 49 years in power, but Cuba remains a one-party state, now under Fidel’s brother, Raúl. Freedom of movement and the right to choose one’s residence and place of employment are severely restricted, and attempting to leave the island without permission is a punishable offense. Owning a cellphone and accessing the internet from home were finally legalized in 2008, but the costs of both are far outside the reach of most Cubans.

Surely, there must be some mistake. Don’t FP realise that there are thousands of young British SWP-ers who own Palestinian keffiyehs and everything who would give their parents’ second home in the Dordogne just for a two-week working holiday on a collective farm in some faraway corner of this socialist paradise? Can they not see that “freedom” is a small price to pay for the chance to watch an 80-year-old fella in a white cap* sing a song about shagging a farm girl in 1933? Some people will never learn.

* Have you noticed that old people with brown skin are considered cool, whereas your average blue-rinse British OAP is someone who holds embarrassingly patriotic views and doesn’t own any Bob Marley records?

More here
Tip: Harry’s Place


  1. You need to escape from the perils of North London for a bit.

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