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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Thursday, March 08, 2007

¡Que Potaje! -- Surviving In "Modern" Cuba

(Welcome Babalublog readers!)

To anyone who has the slightest illusions as to modern Cuba...

...of its overwhelming health care advances, of its stellar education, of its magnificently humane welfare programmes (positive factors always mentioned in litany together as if in prayerful regard), courtesy of the Cuban Revolution of El Comandante-en-Jefe, Fidel Castro Ruz, I want you to read this below.

This is the real Cuba, my friends. The Cuba I witnessed with my own eyes.





The Cuba of peeling, rotting edifices, not the result of US embargos or collapse of Soviet funding, but because the once elegant buildings of yore represent the intolerable affectations of the bourgeois-colonial culture, and must not be allowed to flourish -- like the golf course in Havana bulldozed in 1959, but not before Che and Fidel had a last round before its decadent elitism was paved over.


Put that on your T-Shirt


The Cuba where health care means forced IUDs at best, and abortions at worst, for women who dare to have more than two children.

The Cuba where road stand vendors are today winked at, but tomorrow picked up by police at the whim of a dictator who chooses when to enforce his capitalist indulgences (or to exchange his revolutionary fatigues for Armani suits).

Vamos a Cuba? Sure. If you want to dance whilst people wallow in misery, scrounging, selling themselves body and soul, not because they want to, but because they have to, or die.





Here's hoping you get a glimpse of how things really are in Cuba today, via The National Post, one of Canada's leading newspapers.

A week ago, this newspaper ran a news article with the headline "Castro Speaks, The People Rejoice." Well, I'm finishing up an extended visit to Havana, and I've heard no cheering. Perhaps that's because the people are too busy searching the markets for any sign of meat. Glance up at any balcony in this city and you may catch sight of a woman quietly flapping her hands in the direction of a neighbour's balcony. This is the signal for "Any black market chicken today?"


The city's Habaneros are still scratching their heads over their government's latest hare-brained scheme to install a new refrigerator in every home, along with a new cooking element. There is no choice in the matter, and the cost is deducted, over years, from the family's monthly salary. That's how things work in this "workers' paradise."


Most Cuban people have American refrigerators from the 1950s, which are still running because they were built like tanks, and Cuban ingenuity keeps them going. These are being forcibly replaced with cheap Chinese models that are oversized bar fridges. Already, the Cuban people have nicknamed them el llovisnao ("the drizzler") [ed. vbspurs -- "llovisnao"/llovisnado is a slangy Cubanism which is closer to a more comical, "the piddler" as in rain, or "the leakmeister" in English], because the inadequate freezers weep constantly over the floor.


Cubans cook with gas, either on a two-burner hotplate or an ancient gas stove that, like the Yankee fridges, just keep on going. Every month, the people line up with their empty gas cylinders and replenish them for a small sum in national pesos. This was a blessing during electrical blackouts because dinner would continue to cook in the dark. Now things have changed. The government has bought millions of one-element electrical hot-plates, which are being delivered door to door. An electrician friend told me they are not designed for cooking, but rather for heating water or warming a baby's bottle. Yet this has become the main way to cook a family meal. The sale of gas for cylinders is being phased out, in case a smart-aleck thinks he can keep his old stove going.


When I visited an old friend, I expressed astonishment at the thought of cooking for a family with a one-element hotplate. He bristled. "They came to my door with that piece of garbage and I told them, 'You can put that in your ass.'" I asked if he wasn't afraid of getting into trouble. "Yedi, you know I was in the Sierra Maestras with Fidel and Camilo and Che," he told me. "I have a certain amount of flexibility. Remember the time my son was caught one mile out on a raft for Miami? Instead of jail, he was kept from his work for two years." He told me he will buy gas for his stove on the black market.


That's the way things work in Cuba.





Was there any cheering in the streets last week? Walking down my favorite thoroughfare, Neptuno Street, I noticed a dramatic change. Where were the batido ladies, the pork sandwich and ice cream angels who slaked my thirst and hunger in the heat? It wasn't till I reached the La Epoca store that I found any sign of private enterprise. And even then, what a shock to see my manicurist reading Granma newspaper instead of attending to what had always been a line-up of customers. "Maria, what happened?"


She rubbed her fingers together. "No money."


She told me that the new regime was hard at work, sending inspectors all over the city of Havana to shut down any entrepreneur who was unlicensed. From the look of the street, this meant about 90% of them. And without black market money, life was grinding to a halt. Trekking back to my home, I heard no cheering. What I saw everywhere was a people, long-suffering and patient, sitting in wait.

I wonder, I just wonder, if all those people who flock to Cuba, like Jimmy Buffett, Naomi Campbell, Kevin Costner, Steven Spielberg, and all the rest of this shortlist of multi-millionaire useful idiots...

I wonder if they could leave their palatial homes, and safe, boringly democratic countries FOR ONE MINUTE, TO LIVE IN MODERN CUBA.

Just one minute, having to beg the merchant for more boniato and maybe a pedacito of pork for la abuelita, por dios no sea malo.





You think Barbra Streisand could exchange her multi-cubic Malibu freezer for the llovisnao? Never.

There used to be a saying in the England of the 1920s which led to the General Strike, about the lordly coal mine owners.

"They don't care as long as they're all right, you know."

How true that was then. And apparently, it STILL is.

Only this time, the ones protecting the workers are their torturers.

Renato

P.S.: Oh, golf is back in Cuba, don't you know.

In 2000, that self-same portrait of Che and Fidel putting with a 7-iron was, without a trace of humour, the showcase poster at the Varadero Golf Course, hosting the first professional golf tourney since the Socialist Revolution said 'ni muertos' to the hobby of millionaires.

Just like "Cuba Libre" is a drink masked in linguistic irony, soon the "Cuban Open" will describe something which isn't, and never will be, with a Castro in Cuba.

Labels: , ,

21 Comments:

  • Hmm. Well, there's that. And then there still is the US embargoing a nation on principle. Something that I do not like.
    But on a slightly different subject: Did you ever take the time to watch Oliver Stone's Castro interview film thing "Commandante"? Considering that Mr. Stone is, let's say, a little different in his political views, that film needs to be taken with a rather large pinch of salt, but it is still interesting to watch.
    IMHO Castro is a very fascinating person, but then again, most dictators are, on some level.
    Cuba is a topic that can be discussed endlessly, but there is always the danger of ideology blinding discutants (is that a word?) so they do not see the facts clearly.
    I personally know next to nothing about Cuba, the last time I came into touch with it was while I was researching how them Cubans put their Baseball results - you do remember that discussion on a certain usenet group, no?

    Nice post, anyway. :-)

    By Blogger madcynic, at Wed Mar 07, 10:31:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Hmm. Well, there's that. And then there still is the US embargoing a nation on principle. Something that I do not like.

    Well, did you agree about the anti-apartheid embargo many countries had, which made South Africa FINALLY and at long last, do away with their disgraceful racist policies?

    Because I have the suspicion that for some people (not yourself, I mean some other people), it's very much a question of what is right, based on what kind of politics they have.

    I don't have any such qualms.

    I was against apartheid, and when my father suggested we travel to visit a friend of his in South Africa, mother and I vetoed it immediately.

    I went to Cuba, simply to escort as it happens an ex-boyfriend of mine, who was visiting his dying grandfather there.

    Otherwise, I would NEVER have stepped foot on the island, and I made sure I didn't spend a penny more than I had to, whilst there.

    Embargoes hurt people, for sure. They even hurt the WRONG people at times, since the higher-ups rarely suffer privations, like Castro and Saddam Hussein are living testaments to.

    But to make a stand against a nation's policies is never a bad thing.

    I would agree with that even if that were the case against the US.

    But on a slightly different subject: Did you ever take the time to watch Oliver Stone's Castro interview film thing "Commandante"? Considering that Mr. Stone is, let's say, a little different in his political views, that film needs to be taken with a rather large pinch of salt, but it is still interesting to watch.

    I did. :)

    But I have no comment on it, because it makes me sick to think of it...

    (Especially the circumstances around it, which might amuse another less interested party)

    IMHO Castro is a very fascinating person, but then again, most dictators are, on some level.

    Without a doubt, that is true.

    Diana Mitford, later Oswald Mosley's wife (the leader of the British "Nazis", if you will) went to her grave saying that whilst she understood later that Hitler was a monster, he was still the most fascinating CHARACTER she had ever met, and she knew EVERYONE.

    Cuba is a topic that can be discussed endlessly, but there is always the danger of ideology blinding discutants (is that a word?)

    Perhaps debaters is the more apposite word. Discutants is too Frenchy Latin. :)

    so they do not see the facts clearly.

    Absolutely.

    I frankly admit I cannot see the opposite side of this argument, as much as I claim to be balanced about most things in life (or try to be, or at least, can be shamed into being...).

    I believe in absolute truths, and this is the absolute truth:

    Cuba under Castro isn't free, and in fact, it's a hell hole on earth.

    I personally know next to nothing about Cuba, the last time I came into touch with it was while I was researching how them Cubans put their Baseball results - you do remember that discussion on a certain usenet group, no?

    I remember. ;)

    Nice post, anyway. :-)

    Thanks, Malte! And thanks for taking the time to read it, whatever your feelings or philosophies on the matter. You're a level-headed guy, and I appreciate that. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Mar 07, 11:27:00 pm GMT-5  

  • If I remember correctly, food and medical supplies are allowed to be traded to Cuba. Additionally, other countries can always choose not to obey an embargo. Clearly there is trade going on with Venezuela and a few other countries. After all, they had to get those new fridges and hot plates from somewhere.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Mar 08, 01:18:00 am GMT-5  

  • Not to stoke any fires or anything, but the most odious remark about the Cubans came from Alexander Cockburn of the Nation, who wished for a bomb that would specifically blow up all the Cubans in Miami, as they were distractions from The True Faith... simply beyond the pale.

    By Blogger Ron, at Thu Mar 08, 01:32:00 am GMT-5  

  • If I remember correctly, food and medical supplies are allowed to be traded to Cuba.

    There have long been flourishing "envios a Cuba" courier companies here in Miami. You used to see DOZENS of them, peppered everywhere, although it strikes me it's less prevalent now (considering the need is greater than ever, but perhaps succeeding generations lose touch with their relatives over there, or indeed, they have come over at last).

    I personally took in my 'gusano' -- which is the name of the black duffle bag which is practically the only allowed form of luggage one is entitled to take to Cuba, and in part gave the term to the "traitors" here -- filled with medicine up the wahoo, to take to my ex's family there.

    Additionally, other countries can always choose not to obey an embargo.

    I think there is only the US left, which doesn't trade with Cuba, right?

    But oh sure, the US is the only cause of all their problems, due to that damned embargo.

    Canadians, Europeans, Brazilians, everyone can do business in Cuba, as easy as pie...

    Clearly there is trade going on with Venezuela and a few other countries. After all, they had to get those new fridges and hot plates from somewhere.

    Quite right.

    ...hot plates and mini-fridges, argh.

    Cuba is now one huge dormroom. Ugh.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Mar 08, 02:44:00 am GMT-5  

  • Not to stoke any fires or anything, but the most odious remark about the Cubans came from Alexander Cockburn of the Nation, who wished for a bomb that would specifically blow up all the Cubans in Miami, as they were distractions from The True Faith... simply beyond the pale.

    OH MY GOD, you had to mention HIM -- that Cock person.

    Didn't he actually suggest that Cubans in Miami should be "nuked"?

    What do you expect from rubbish offspring like Claud Cockburn's...

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Mar 08, 02:45:00 am GMT-5  

  • Yes, I think the US are the only ones embargoing Cuba.
    I remember a neat anecdote about German Bundeskanzler Schröder giving an US president a box of Cuban cigars as a present - I think it was Clinton way back.
    Funny.

    Anyway, I'm not sure an embargo is the right way to put pressure on a country. I mean, no one was actually embargoing (on the Cuba scale) the rest of the communist bloc and still...
    Plus, I somehow doubt that the US embargo has much of an effect if they're the only ones. Ah well.
    The historical reasons for the dictatorships in the Caribbean are another thing entirely, and while the US is not the main factor in their rise, I think an argument that their politics may have been a rather large factor.
    With regard to South Africa - here again I know next to nothing about the transition from apartheid to that society form they have there now, but I wouldn't be so quick as to put the embargo at the top of reasons they abolished it. Ah well, I say again.

    By Blogger madcynic, at Thu Mar 08, 08:33:00 am GMT-5  

  • Thank you for an excellent post Victoria! For too many years the communist castro regime has mostly gotten a free pass from the left leaning MSM. Posts like yours are slowly beginning to spread the ugly truth about the totalitarian abusive regime in Cuba. The horrors that castro has inflicted on Cuba are too numerous to list and many will probably never be fully revealed.

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Thu Mar 08, 08:48:00 am GMT-5  

  • I can't wait for Fidel to pass on to his reward. The Cuban people deserve better than what they have suffered under Socialism for these many years. But the MSM will never report the truth of life there. It violates their own agenda.

    As for the US Embargo against Cuba ... how many countries also embargo Cuba? Not too many, are there? So what can we possibly do to the Cubans with our embargo? Damned little. All the whining that the US is hurting Cubans by embargoing them is utter nonsense. Cuba can purchase nearly everything it needs, or wants, from the rest of the world. Should Cuba ever produce anything capable of earning money or credit, they will see their standards of living rise.

    Until Castro and his ilk are gone, I support the Embargo. For principles if nothing else.

    Great post, Vicks!

    By Blogger benning, at Thu Mar 08, 11:45:00 am GMT-5  

  • Yes, I think the US are the only ones embargoing Cuba.
    I remember a neat anecdote about German Bundeskanzler Schröder giving an US president a box of Cuban cigars as a present - I think it was Clinton way back.
    Funny.


    Yes, especially when you consider where it probably ended up...en la chocha de Monica (sounds like a sitcom).

    Anyway, I'm not sure an embargo is the right way to put pressure on a country. I mean, no one was actually embargoing (on the Cuba scale) the rest of the communist bloc and still...

    But Europe nor Asia are not in America's backyard, and Europe didn't receive the most amount of Cuban emigrés.

    The embargo is tied to the hip to the Cuban missile crisis, but there are also other considerations.

    Plus, I somehow doubt that the US embargo has much of an effect if they're the only ones. Ah well.

    Yes, that goes both ways, as well.

    When people mention, look at the poor, suffering Cubans, folks around the world of that mindset point to the Americans for the blame -- and that's simply not true.

    The historical reasons for the dictatorships in the Caribbean are another thing entirely, and while the US is not the main factor in their rise, I think an argument that their politics may have been a rather large factor.

    Well, Castro was the only real leftist challenger in the Caribbean, even if you include Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua or the pseudo-coup in Grenada YEARS later.

    It's arguable if a Papa Doc Duvalier or a Rafael Trujillo (the only two real dictators of the Caribbean) would have happened with or WITHOUT the Cold War, in their countries, sustained as they were by the US' policies.

    My guess is that they certainly would have, especially in Haiti. That place is sadly, sadly a mess.

    With regard to South Africa - here again I know next to nothing about the transition from apartheid to that society form they have there now, but I wouldn't be so quick as to put the embargo at the top of reasons they abolished it. Ah well, I say again.

    I think the embargo sent a clear, multi-voice message of clarity to the South American boers. You may do what you find right, but the rest of the world does not.

    Ah well. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Mar 08, 04:50:00 pm GMT-5  

  • South African!

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Mar 08, 04:50:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Thank you for an excellent post Victoria!

    Thanks, Jose!

    For too many years the communist castro regime has mostly gotten a free pass from the left leaning MSM.

    And from the frankly fawning CNN via Lucia Newman...

    Posts like yours are slowly beginning to spread the ugly truth about the totalitarian abusive regime in Cuba.

    Well, I'm just a relay messenger. ;)

    The real work, and good work it was, was by the pseudonymed journalist who dared to buck the Canadian newspaper party line about Cuba.

    It may not be read by many Canadians, but then they can't say they "didn't" know what was going on there, when considering Cuba as their winter destination...

    The horrors that castro has inflicted on Cuba are too numerous to list and many will probably never be fully revealed.

    I don't know about that.

    Well, to be sure, not ALL. But more than what we know of the Kremlin and their little outposts in East Europe -- that I think yes.

    There is enough of an American mentality in Cubans (that of public pressure, intolerance of corrupt BS, which they have to take from Castro, but they don't believe it).

    Moreover, unlike exiles from the Eastern European bloc, you can bet the people here will return if not to live -- at least to monitor.

    We'll know a lot, believe me. Maybe not all, but a lot.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Mar 08, 04:58:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I can't wait for Fidel to pass on to his reward.

    A Cuban priest was asked recently by a woman troubled for wishing him to die.

    He said, no it's not right for a good Catholic to wish anyone to die, but there's nothing wrong with hoping he would go "a la Gloria".

    To his glory, or as you put it exactly, to his reward. ;)

    The Cuban people deserve better than what they have suffered under Socialism for these many years. But the MSM will never report the truth of life there. It violates their own agenda.

    Well, they do report it, and people do know things are awful down there -- but it's not enough, and it's NEARLY as important to their agenda, as exposing US mistakes around the world.

    As you infer, they skew their reports on Cuba to insinuate that it's all America's fault that they are this way.

    As for the US Embargo against Cuba ... how many countries also embargo Cuba? Not too many, are there? So what can we possibly do to the Cubans with our embargo? Damned little. All the whining that the US is hurting Cubans by embargoing them is utter nonsense. Cuba can purchase nearly everything it needs, or wants, from the rest of the world. Should Cuba ever produce anything capable of earning money or credit, they will see their standards of living rise.

    Heh, true. Sugar ain't what it used to be.

    If it weren't for Chavez' rescue, Castro would've fallen a decade ago.

    The Cubans can take much, but not living without chicken, rice and sugar rations.

    Until Castro and his ilk are gone, I support the Embargo. For principles if nothing else.

    Quite right, too.

    Great post, Vicks!

    Thanks, Benning! Nice to see you 'round these parts again. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Mar 08, 05:03:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Speaking of South Africa (which you weren't exactly), I always thought folks in favor of the Iraq War should point to that country more often in defense of overthrowing Saddam.

    South Africa is a mess, it has across the board one of the worst crime rates in the world, grinding poverty continues, and Soweto continues to be one huge massive cesspool of a slum.

    Violent death is more pervasive 16 years after the end of apartheid than before (FIFA is slightly mad to think South Africa will be able to host the World Cup in 2010)

    And all that said, it's still a blessing that apartheid ended.

    Creating a functioning pluralistic society out of a fascist state is hard work.

    The chaos that ensues should never be used as an argument against ending those regimes.

    Cuba will be wild, wooly, and dangerous in the aftermath of the collapse of Castro-ism, but Cubans will be far better off when his (or his successor's) grip on that country is ended.

    And embargo, divestiture, and every other possible pressure should be placed on regimes like Castro's, and Kim Jong Il's.

    It is not to Europe or Latin America's credit that they never joined in the USA's shunning of Cuba.

    By Blogger XWL, at Thu Mar 08, 05:50:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Timely post, I think, but few want to listen. I was genuinely appalled by an article I read a few days ago about the American Librarians Association and their complete lack of concern for those imprisoned in Cuban jails for attempting to set up independent libraries. (Their latest excuse is that none of these librarians have library science degrees - no sh*t Sherlocks - most of you didnt not so very long ago, either.)

    What it really amounts to is that they are in thrall with Fidel. When he dies, we shall see what the Cuban people think of their support, shant we?

    By Blogger Internet Ronin, at Thu Mar 08, 09:49:00 pm GMT-5  

  • There are some things that can be tolerated only so much before one has to make a stand for one's deeply held beliefs.

    I think this one of those times.

    Are you insinuating that one cannot successfully putt with a 7-iron?

    Because I beg to differ.

    That is an old duffer's trick to avoid having to chip from the fringe, to take out the 7-iron and use it to (gently) putt.

    Now, it doesn't look like Che is particularly being troubled by the fringe in that photo. But still. It's the principle of the thing.

    Adam

    By Blogger Adam L, at Thu Mar 08, 10:18:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Speaking of South Africa (which you weren't exactly), I always thought folks in favor of the Iraq War should point to that country more often in defense of overthrowing Saddam.

    South Africa is a mess, it has across the board one of the worst crime rates in the world, grinding poverty continues, and Soweto continues to be one huge massive cesspool of a slum.

    Violent death is more pervasive 16 years after the end of apartheid than before (FIFA is slightly mad to think South Africa will be able to host the World Cup in 2010)

    And all that said, it's still a blessing that apartheid ended.

    Creating a functioning pluralistic society out of a fascist state is hard work.

    The chaos that ensues should never be used as an argument against ending those regimes.

    Cuba will be wild, wooly, and dangerous in the aftermath of the collapse of Castro-ism, but Cubans will be far better off when his (or his successor's) grip on that country is ended.

    And embargo, divestiture, and every other possible pressure should be placed on regimes like Castro's, and Kim Jong Il's.

    It is not to Europe or Latin America's credit that they never joined in the USA's shunning of Cuba.


    I cannot improve on this reply by commentary.

    IT IS PERFECT.

    If you want to know what I feel on the topic, and by chance, you still don't know -- just read XWL's commentary here.

    In every point, I agree.

    Bravo!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Mar 09, 02:12:00 am GMT-5  

  • Timely post, I think, but few want to listen. I was genuinely appalled by an article I read a few days ago about the American Librarians Association and their complete lack of concern for those imprisoned in Cuban jails for attempting to set up independent libraries. (Their latest excuse is that none of these librarians have library science degrees - no sh*t Sherlocks - most of you didnt not so very long ago, either.)

    How's that? I hadn't read about this...I shall look up some links.

    Some people point to Code Pink, or Amnesty International, etc. etc. when nominating the most left-leaning organisations around.

    But brother, Code Pink have NOTHING on the American Librarians Association.

    What it really amounts to is that they are in thrall with Fidel. When he dies, we shall see what the Cuban people think of their support, shant we?

    We shall...oh brother, we shall.

    And the same things that they claimed when the Soviet Union satellites collapsed (oh it's not as bad as we thought -or- they lived better lives than under capitalism), will happen there too.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Mar 09, 02:15:00 am GMT-5  

  • Are you insinuating that one cannot successfully putt with a 7-iron?

    Because I beg to differ.


    Hehehe.

    I was hoping SOMEONE would mention the putting pic, which is a gem of hilarity on so many levels.

    That is an old duffer's trick to avoid having to chip from the fringe, to take out the 7-iron and use it to (gently) putt.

    Tiger uses that trick no? Or am I thinking of his Tiger wedge, of using the 3-wood to putt from the fringe?

    Now, it doesn't look like Che is particularly being troubled by the fringe in that photo. But still. It's the principle of the thing.

    PRINCIPLES ARE EVERYTHING!

    P.S.: I once went around Granada Golf Course with a 3-wood and a 7-iron, only. No putter, but then, I went after sundown for the reduced rate, and had no partners.

    Now, it's a full-sized 9-hole golf course, but without water hazards.

    And I got away with it too.

    Only shot a 21 over...

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Mar 09, 02:18:00 am GMT-5  

  • Great post on the reality of Cuba.

    As for those who criticize the effectiveness of the embargo please consider this.

    1. The embargo was put in place in response to the largest confiscation of American assets in the history of the US, not to topple castro.

    2. Cuba did very little saber rattling about the embargo during the time it was being subsidized by the Soviet Union. Of course it didn't need American trade or tourists when it was soaking up billions of Rubles.

    3. The only (mild) economic reforms Cuba has made have been as a result of economic pressure during the "special period" after the USSR collapsed.

    4. If you think the embargo doesn't keep cash out of the castro coffers you are kidding yourself. Just today a Cuban official told a reuters reporter that they expect 1 million US tourists in the year after the travel restrictions are lifted. I don't have to tell you that that money (in the hands of castro) would be spent on anything except helping the Cuban people. They may get some incremental benefit in a twisted version of trickle down but more than likely the money would go toward rebuilding Cuba's decaying military.

    5. The Americans that lobby the hardest for removal of the sanctions are the people that work for or represent agriculture in the US. Although they already are free to sell to Cuba on a cash basis, they want Cuba to get credit so it can buy more of their products which would be fine except that their products are highly subsidized by the US tax payers. I don't want to pay for crops that are raised specifically so castro can receive them and never pay. Communist Cuba is a deadbeat country that doesn't pay its debts.

    6. Some of the liberals that oppose the embargo are the same people that are stalling free trade agreements with other countries because they claim they want to protect the rights of workers in the countries we trade with. But any trade with Cuba would be an exploitation of the Cuban workers. The government is the employer in Cuba and so any joint venture must pay the government in hard currency while the government pays a much lower wage to Cubans in relatively worthless pesos. That's an organized and government-sanctioned exploitation of the workers. No thanks.

    7. Other countries have been trying to dialogue with Cuba and use economic engagement since the fall of the USSR. What results can they claim? Why should the US abandon the original reason for the embargo and subsequent reasons if the alternative is just as unlikely to produce the results we all claim to want?

    By Blogger Henry Gomez, at Fri Mar 09, 09:08:00 am GMT-5  

  • Great post on the reality of Cuba.

    Hey, Henry! Thanks for taking the time to post this. :)

    I'll be back to our usual stomping grounds (tu sabes adonde), in no time. Just a little busy at the mo'.

    As for those who criticize the effectiveness of the embargo please consider this.

    1. The embargo was put in place in response to the largest confiscation of American assets in the history of the US, not to topple castro.


    Good point. I had not remembered that.

    2. Cuba did very little saber rattling about the embargo during the time it was being subsidized by the Soviet Union. Of course it didn't need American trade or tourists when it was soaking up billions of Rubles.

    YES. That I mention many times. The embargo was very rarely mentioned when Castro was being subsidised by the Soviets.

    After they fell, it was embargo this and that.

    3. The only (mild) economic reforms Cuba has made have been as a result of economic pressure during the "special period" after the USSR collapsed.

    Including the self-same small businesses mentioned in the article, but as I said, they are allowed at his whim.

    He giveth and he taketh away, whenever se da la gana.

    4. If you think the embargo doesn't keep cash out of the castro coffers you are kidding yourself. Just today a Cuban official told a reuters reporter that they expect 1 million US tourists in the year after the travel restrictions are lifted. I don't have to tell you that that money (in the hands of castro) would be spent on anything except helping the Cuban people. They may get some incremental benefit in a twisted version of trickle down but more than likely the money would go toward rebuilding Cuba's decaying military.

    Great point. Varadero would be the new Santa Monica...

    Although the day when communism, not just Fidel falls, I will be investing in a day-cruise thingie to Cuba -- we'll all make a fortune, and we would be helping the LOCAL economy, not lining his cronies' pockets with ill-gotten dollars, as now.

    5. The Americans that lobby the hardest for removal of the sanctions are the people that work for or represent agriculture in the US.

    YES! like ADM (Arthur Daniels Midland) who are desperate to be the first to secure the Cuban market.

    Rumour had it, they paid for the abuelitas of Elian to come over...

    Although they already are free to sell to Cuba on a cash basis, they want Cuba to get credit so it can buy more of their products which would be fine except that their products are highly subsidized by the US tax payers. I don't want to pay for crops that are raised specifically so castro can receive them and never pay. Communist Cuba is a deadbeat country that doesn't pay its debts.

    So are many South American countries, though...

    6. Some of the liberals that oppose the embargo are the same people that are stalling free trade agreements with other countries because they claim they want to protect the rights of workers in the countries we trade with. But any trade with Cuba would be an exploitation of the Cuban workers. The government is the employer in Cuba and so any joint venture must pay the government in hard currency while the government pays a much lower wage to Cubans in relatively worthless pesos. That's an organized and government-sanctioned exploitation of the workers. No thanks.

    One of the most unconsciable sides to the progressive political movement, is their avowed refusal to denounce anything to do with Castro -- simply because he's their hero.

    They merely do so with China, because they are only nominally a Communist country. They're as capitalist as any country around.

    Horrible double-standards.

    7. Other countries have been trying to dialogue with Cuba and use economic engagement since the fall of the USSR. What results can they claim? Why should the US abandon the original reason for the embargo and subsequent reasons if the alternative is just as unlikely to produce the results we all claim to want?

    Why indeed!

    Argued like a true, knowledgeable lawyer, Henry. You've given me much ammo in future. Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Mar 10, 02:40:00 am GMT-5  

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