Tag Archives: Cuba

Disguising the enemy


It apparently isn’t enough that the Obama Administration is going out of its way to try to reset relations with some of our longstanding enemies, but the State Department is muddying the picture.
It is what the French call deformation professionelle, the tendency to judge problems solely on the basis of your professional skills. If you are a lawyer, you want to litigate them away, a physician, you want to prescribe medicines to wipe them out, a surgeon to cut them away, and if a diplomat, to bargain them away – whatever the sacrifice and cost to reach a “successful negotiation”.
It’s not enough that Washington has made a deal with a bankrupt Cuban regime, actually throwing them a line of support when their last Sugar Daddy, Chavez of Venezuela and his heirs, can no longer afford to give them oil. At the very moment, the agreements were being initiated, Raul Castro, ageing dictator once-removed, was throwing new political prisoners in jail.
There’s a good deal of ballyhoo about how Cuba has now opened up to foreign [that is U.S. if the embargo is lifted] investment, and will turn into another China. What’s forgotten is that our allies, including the Canadians, have had open sesame to the Cuban economy and its supposed markets for decades but unable to do much because of the restraints of the Castros’ incredibly incompetent Soviet economic policies. Now, of course, in sheer desperation, some small business ownership is being permitted. And soon there will be a few more luxury hotels and boutiques only available to foreigners and Cubans with dollars remitted from their kith and kin in the U.S.
If all that weren’t enough, now the cookie-pushers at State have decided to mask the continuing human rights cruelties of the regime with whom they have chosen to sup. In this year’s annual report by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons – or J/TIP [read slavery in non-diplomatese], Cuba was removed from the “Tier 3” blacklist. There was the claim, even though the Department’s own trafficking experts laid out evidence to the contrary, that it had made notable improvements in its sorry record of kidnappings and imprisonment without cause.
The State Department’s own Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau completely refuted these claims that Havana is making any progress toward decency. Nor is there any attempt to show the incredible lengths to which the regime goes to indenture its citizens. The Castros’ highly touted extension of medical services – again of questionable quality – to other Latin and African nations is not as presented a voluntary activity by its medical community but a carefully disguised penal servitude for its medical students and graduates in which the Cuban regime rakes in most of their earnings. Meanwhile, an epidemic of dengue fever has broken out in the city of Trinidad on the south coast of the Island, a UNESCO Heritage site and tourist mecca, apparently as a result of a virtual breakdown in sewage facilities.
The careful exposure of the very complexity of the Cuban tyranny, developed over a half century, which has impoverished the nation and driven much of its elite abroad, is all the more necessary if the President’s grandiose initiative to improve relations is to have meaning. Instead, it is impossible to find a single concession that the Castros have made in return for the offer of respectability that the Obama Administration has given them with the diplomatic interchange.
Unfortunately it is one more instance of the inability – or is it unwillingness – of the Obama Administration to defend American interests and those of subjugated peoples such as the Cubans – in its foreign relations. No one asks for the Johnny-one-note of on human rights of Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy, but there is some limit to what the U.S. should tolerate when it extends the prize of diplomatic relations to a foreign regime.
A new Administration in 2016, whatever its party and personal affiliations, will have a huge diplomatic mess to clean up.
sws-08-04-15

Funding the Castros’ tyranny


The amateur ideologues of the Obama Administration have fallen into another snakepit with their tacit endorsement of the notorious Cuban dictatorship. That’s despite all the nonsense about a blossoming Cuban economy if Washington just relents.
In reality, Washington is buckling in its opposition to one of the world’s most hideous regimes. Now its death throes will be perpetuated for Cuba’s 12 million people with the help of such deep thinkers as Sen. Rand Paul who dreams despite all the evidence in China and Vietnam to the contrary that contagious capitalism will bring down a police state.
Even more shameful is the helping hand – which Pres. Barack Hussein Obama acknowledged – of Canada and the Vatican in this new Obama enterprise. For half a century Canadian nickel interests and the always anti-American wheat lobby have blackened Ottawa’s reputation with its support of the Castros. At the Vatican, whose help Obama also acknowledged, there are echoes of the Church’s tacit support of Franco and other cruel dictatorships, as well as Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s ambiguous relationship with Argentine totalitarians as Jesuit Father Provincial in his native country before mounting the papacy. [Nor is this gesture likely to help stave off the growing influence of Evangelical Christians on the old Roman Catholic monopoly of Christian believers throughout Latin America.]
Despite all the talk of the regime moderating , Raúl Castro holds more than 57,000 political prisoners. And his dungeons have sucked in more new victims in the past year than the five previous years. Conditions are as bad as in the worst days of the Soviet Union and the East Eruopean Communist Bloc, producing hunger strikes in a noble if feeble effort against solitary confinement, beatings, restricted family visits and denial of medical care. There is no redress except for American citizens like the naïve and very lucky Alan Philip Gross who had maximum U.S. support for his release on trumped up charges, but only after five years..
The fiction that Cuba has anything to sell or that investments there could pay off has been refuted by decades of failed efforts by the Europeans – especially Spain – to circumvent the now tattered American embargo. Little Cuba has no hope of repaying some $25 billion it already owes these ambitious “investors”. Prepare yourself for the coming suggestion that the International Monetary Fund and World Bank [with the U.S. carrying its quarter or more of support] to “amortize” these bills.
The destruction of a thriving if troubled Latin American society in the 1950s came with the help of the same cheering section of the current White House strategy [notably The New York Times]. When Cuba left the real world a half century ago, it ranked fifth in the Hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in ownership of cars and telephones with a 76% literary rate. [The fact that it was 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita gives the lie to the Castros’ claims of creating a new medical miracle.] Cuba’s prosperity then was largely paid for by a guaranteed sugar import quota in the U.S., its principal industry and income producer, and tourism for a glamorous if corrupt nearby tourist capital in Habana..
Now Cuba comes back into the world not only with its sugar industry in ruins, but in a world with a half dozen “new” sweetener competitors [including highly subsidized U.S. domestic beets], no possibility of a guaranteed American market, and a world drowning in subsidized sugar programs. [This week the U.S. has hauled Mexico up on a charge of dumping its subsidized sugar in American markets in violation of the spirit if not the letter of the North American Free Trade Agreement.]
After decades of Communist repression and mismanagement, Cuba has reached a desperate crisis. Its Venezuelan ally which had provided subsidized energy in exchange for Castro assistance in setting up its own police state can nolonger foot the bill for Cuban energy.
That was the situation when Obama and his speechwriters rushed to fill the gap.
Now greedy American exporters – supercharged with their own program of an annual $14 billion in corruption-ridden agricultural and export subsidies – will be bidding with their Canadian taxpaying counterparts for supplying the starving country. Any extension of aid – private or government – will end up in the hands of the regime in its effort to survive by continuing to exploit an impoverished population.
Not only did Raúl Castro not make even the nominal concessions he has made in the past toward a liberalization of the regime, but so-called “reforms” permitting small scale private enterprise are a sham.
To the extent Obama can carry out his tactics despite formidable opposition in the Congress, his strategy will only intensify the implosion when it comes in Cuba. Rather, the American government should be preparing for that day, not the least for the tens if not hundreds of thousands of refugees who will flow toward Miami. Fifty years of dealing with the problems of another small Caribbean tropical island, Puerto Rica, a third Cuba’s size, have taught us just how difficult those problems will be.
sws-12-21-14

Fidel’s beauty shop closed!


Cuba‘s beauty salons dropped from government payrolls

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By Frances Robles | The Miami Herald

The Cuban government is getting out of the beauty business. The communist country that acknowledges it has an extra million people on the government payroll has come up with a solution to battle fraud and cut costs: Turn salons over to employees to operate.

Experts say the move is a “capitalism light” step toward the kind of economic measures that Cuba hopes will help alleviate its heavy economic burden amid a financial crisis. But the industry affected is so small that experts say it’s too little, far too late.

Although Cuba allows self-employment in some sectors, this measure is the first time employees were offered the chance to operate state-run, retail establishments since they were nationalized in 1968. Experts say this government move could lead to others, such as allowing employees to run the restaurants where they work.

The decision, which was not announced by the Cuban state-run media, was first reported by the British news agency Reuters.

Ye Olde Crabb sez:

Does that mean that Fidel will stop saying things that curl your hair?