Having spent three weeks in Cuba, one week in a 5* hotel for my brothers’ wedding and the other two weeks trekking round the island on my own I thought I'd add some comments from my experiences there:
Yes it is a poor country but as far as quality of life goes I have to say I’ve seen a lot worse (India, Thailand, even rural Mexico to name but a few... Don’t even get me started on Africa). The people I met were friendly and largely happy with what they had.. I say largely because I did hear complaints but these were mostly along the lines of “I want a better TV.. my car needs new parts.. etc. Nothing you wouldn’t hear from a more wealthy first worlder.
Whilst travelling I tripped and cut my leg in Cauto Cristo. This is not a tourist destination and I have to say the medical attention I received was excellent and, best of all, free.
I didn’t see any food shortages – in fact people were continuously inviting me round for dinner (and only once was I asked to contribute and it was only for the price of ingredients rather than an attempt to con the foreign devil)
With regard to the “opulent” resorts mentioned by a previous poster I have to say they were great. But hardly “opulent” when compared to a Las Vegas hotel. Tourism is a major source of income for the country so why wouldn’t they spend money making it a place people want to visit? These resorts are hardly hidden from the populace either and instead offer job opportunities that everyone I spoke with were pleased to have.