The Evil Master

bicitaxi
One of the most frequent topics of discussions when talking about Cuba, is whether the reality in which we live can really be called “socialist.” For my generation, which grew up with books on Marxism, manuals on scientific communism, and volumes of the writings of Lenin, it is difficult to find the Cuban model in those works. When someone asks me about it I say that on this island we live under state capitalism, or, as one perhaps could call it, on the Party’s plantation… the family clan’s plantation…

My theory derives from those ancient books I was forced to study, where there was one factor essential for characterizing a society as socialist: the methods of production were in the hands of the workers. But what I see around me is an “omni-proprietary” state, owner of the machines, the industries, the infrastructure of a nation and of all the decisions made about it. A master who pays the lowest possible wages and demands applause and unconditional ideological fealty from his workers.

This miserly owner now warns that he cannot continue to employ more than one million of those working on the public payroll. “To advance the development and actualization of the economic model,” we are told payrolls must be drastically reduced, while opportunities for self-employment will see only the smallest and most controlled expansion. Even the Cuban Workers Center — the only labor union allowed in the country — reports that the layoffs will come soon and we must accept them with discipline. A sad performance for those whose role it is to represent the rights of their members vis-a-vis the powers-that-be and not vice versa.

What will the antiquated owner, who has possessed this Island for five decades, do when his unemployed of today become the dissatisfied of tomorrow? How will he react when the labor and economic autonomy of the self-employed turns into ideological autonomy? Then we will hear cursing and stigmatization of the prosperous, because any surplus — like the presidential chair — can only be his.

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70 thoughts on “The Evil Master

  1. CastroFidel Barbudo: Zapata is dead, Che Guevara is dead and Fidel is not feeling so well.

  2. … sometimes opinions are based on perceptions … as such are they honest & balanced? …

  3. WHAT MODEL: The observations that you make might be simplified ( hopefully, not over-simplified) as follows, as choices between:-

    1. Complete state control; or

    2. A laissez faire system with maximum private ownership of the means of production; or

    3. A mixed system with the state having a role and the central tenets of government playing its role in governance.

    If one considers the US system, then one is not even at point 2. My reason for saying so is that if I ran a large company and failed in a truly laissez faire system, then my bankruptcy would be my final entrepreneurial demise of my ownership of that enterprise. The recent example given by the US is one of a bail-out in the trillions for the “banksters” of Wall Street accompanied by unprecedented “corporate welfareism”. The foregoing statement is fact, not merely born of my imagination.

    Cuba, brings us to point 1, which does have inefficient levels of production because of its large and oftentimes inefficient state employed personnel accompanied by state control over many of the island’s productive sectors.

    Making a blanket choice between 1 or 2 is not the answer. One must honestly consider the US abysmal record in its health care ( i.e. despite being the world’s wealthiest country). Additionally, its average educational accomplishments for the general citizenry pales when compared to Cuba. Surely, if the benefits of production do not enhance the welfare of the people – then for whose benefit is the production to be?

    This brings me to point 3. If the US was compelled, and indeed it was, to have a monumental intrusion of the state into the “free market” when the system as is known there was likely to collapse, then can the argument be honestly run that state involvement is automatically a bad and undesirable option in governance for the welfare of the people – or – is that intrusion ultimately to be an intervention for the perpetuation and welfare of the system? This question is compelled because of the recent economic experiences of the US and Cuba. In whose interest ultimately is the state to be run? That seems to be the question.

    My choice? I make a simple point. Any society that wants wealth has to advance beyond subsistence production and produce a surplus. The hands that control the surplus so produced, will then also have some measure of power and control over the direction that the wealth then goes in. The controlling forces of government will likewise, relative to the balances between private and public control of power ( i.e. be this political or economic) will influence/guide/ control the directions in which the wealth(once produced ) is invested, re-invested, directed and applied relative to some overarching philosophy of the desired “good”, by reason of such application/expenditure/re-investment.

    I don’t think that my observations go simply in directions of right or left in political terms, but I am trying ( hopefully am) saying two things:-

    1. Neither Cuba nor the US are all “good” or “bad” – subject to one’s value judgments of those politically subjective words; and

    2. The welfare of the citizenry relative to the GNP and GDP must fairly be assessed and on that measure, Cuba with all its admitted shortcomings has so far come out ahead of the US,over the past 50 years, at least in these regards:-

    A. Universal health care.

    B. Education of the populace.

    C. A progressive foreign policy that has assisted the world from the period when Reagan and Thatcher were bolstering the White racists in Apartheid South Africa and Cuba was being the pivotal military point in the struggle in Southern Africa – through to – the contributions to many countries of doctors, nurses, medical and educational facilities contributed to levels far in excess of the productive means of the Cuban state.

    There is no Utopia on planet earth – neither Cuba, nor America. Now – make the criticisms of Cuba, as is only just and fair and necessary for constructive advances. But, do so with integrity and honesty.

    My web site ( http://www.globaljusticeonline.com)

  4. CastroFidelBarbudo! How good for you to drop in and give us such words of wisdom!I hate to tell you buddy but the “anti-capitalists, marxists, socialists, communists, revolution youth” are unfortunately uniformed and subject to “ideology cause du jour”!! That can only lasts so long! I have many communists friends that have
    repented when it comes to “THE MUMMY”! I respenct their beliefs and the fact that they can say “we were duped and are sorry”!!

  5. A message for Avalanchito:

    After 50 years of making Cuba a proud state in the nose of USA, whithout any help and attacked by every servant of USA and European Union, the Castro brothers gave you (and others) some joy. But remember: Fidel is 84 and ill, Raul 79. They will stay forever in the hearts of the anti-capitalists, marxists, socialists, communists, revolution youth, all around the world. Viva Zapata! Che Guevara! Fidel!

  6. The constant recycling of government minsters is a sad and longstanding joke. Who gets to fire the real culprits? When are the perpatrators of the cruel reality that is cuba get shown the door? A firing squad ala the Ceausescus would be ideal but at this point we’ll even take an abdication and self-imposed exile.

  7. Pingback: A view from the belly of the beast - People of NI -

  8. The master of Cuban bass lives on. Cachao: Uno Más, the Andy Garcia-produced film about Israel “Cachao” Lopez, the Cuban bass player and composer who invented the mambo, will air on PBS’ American Masters series at 9 p.m. Sept. 20, the first time the series has featured a Latino artist.
    The film, a warm, personal look at Cachao that also explores his music in depth, premiered at the Miami Film Festival in 2009. (A favorite quote, from Cachao on working conditions for musicians in 1950s Cuba: “If you took a bathroom break the club owner would follow you with a machete.”)

    The movie is the latest Cachao tribute from actor Garcia, an ardent fan of the maestro’s music since he was a teenager, first heard it crouching outside a Miami Beach jazz club. In 1994 Garcia helped produce a concert with Cachao at the James L. Knight Center that relaunched the musician’s career and produced a number of albums with him. Before Cachao died in 2008, the two had developed a close relationship. But Garcia always treated the man he called “Maestro” with great respect; that feeling lives on in this film.

    Cachao: Uno Mas

    Mon Sep 20 at 9:00PM on KCET

    Tue Sep 21 at 9:30AM on PBS World
    Tue Sep 21 at 3:30PM on PBS World
    Tue Sep 21 at 8:30PM on PBS World
    Wed Sep 22 at 1:30AM on PBS World

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/cacao-uno-mas/about-the-film/1547/

  9. I THINK THIS ROAD WILL LEAD TO NOTHING! THEY ARE STILL PUSHING THE IDEOLOGY TO A TIRED POPULATION!

    REUTERS AFRICA: CHRONOLOGY-Raul Castro’s road to reform in Cuba-Mon Sep 20, 2010 – By Marc Frank

    HAVANA, Sept 20 (Reuters) – The pace of economic reform is picking up in Communist Cuba with the announcement last week that 500,000 state jobs will be shifted to the private sector.

    It was the most important policy move since President Raul Castro took over day-to-day governing from his ailing brother Fidel Castro in July, 2006. He assumed the presidency in 2008.

    Castro signaled from early on that one of the world’s last Soviet-style economies was due for an overhaul under his watch, but he has ruled out any switch to Western-style capitalism.

    By October, 2006, the official media had started publishing criticism, taking aim at everything from the state monopoly on buying and selling food, to retail fraud and poor services.

    In a closed-door session of parliament in December, 2006 Castro bluntly declared “we are tired of excuses,” and demanded an end to “bureaucratic red tape”.

    What follows is a chronology of Raul Castro’s most important reform-oriented measures and statements:

    2007

    July – In his first major speech, Castro calls “absurd” the state milk collection and distribution system and says farmers will deliver directly to local consumers where possible.

    “To have more, we have to begin by producing more, with a sense of rationality and efficiency. To reach these goals, the necessary structural and conceptual changes will have to be introduced,” he said.

    August – Castro signs a law ordering all state companies to adopt a system of “perfecting” management. This was developed by the military when Castro was defense minister to improve performance using capitalist-style management techniques.

    2008

    February – In his formal inaugural address as Cuban president, Castro says: “We must make efforts to find the ways and means to remove any deterrent to productive forces. In many respects, local initiative can be effective and viable”.

    March – Computers, cell phones, DVD players and electric appliances go on sale for the public and bans on Cubans renting cars and staying in tourism hotels are lifted.

    A sweeping reform of agriculture begins. This includes decentralization of decision-making, orders to state bureaucrats to stop favoring state farms over private farms, increases in state prices paid to farmers, leasing of fallow state land and loosening of regulations on farmers selling directly to consumers instead of to the state.

    August – A significant labor reform ties wages to individual productivity, not company performance, and caps on earnings are eliminated.

    Government announces domestic freight transport and housing construction will be decentralized to the municipal level.

    Despite economic devastation caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike in August and September, and a liquidity crisis triggered by the global economic downturn, Castro says his reform program will move forward.

    March – Castro purges his brother’s economic cabinet and places trusted military men in key economy and planning posts. The central bank head quits two months later and is replaced.

    April – The new cabinet slashes the budget and imports, the first of a series of adjustments.

    Plans are unveiled to develop suburban farming around most cities and towns, using mainly private plots.

    June – The Communist Party daily, Granma, begins publishing letters for and against small private business, elimination of some government subsidies and other reforms.

    July – A statement issued after a meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee says that the search is on for “innovative formulas that will release productive potential.”

    Castro is quoted as stating “ideas chart the course, the reality of figures is decisive,” a ground-breaking statement in a nation where ideology and politics trump economics.

    August – National Assembly establishes office of the Comptroller General of the Republic. Castro says it will aim to improve “economic discipline” and crack down on corruption.

    He calls for “elimination of free services and improper subsidies — with the exception of those called for in the constitution (healthcare, education and social security).”

    Santiago mountain dwellers are allowed to sell fruits and produce at roadside kiosks. Spreads to adjoining provinces.

    September – Licenses are issued to food vendors in various cities, making them legal. Studies begin on switching some small retail services and manufacture to cooperatives.

    October – Granma announces state work place lunchrooms will close in exchange for a daily stipend.

    December – Economy Minister Marino Murillo tells parliament: “We have begun experiments … to ease the burden on the state of some services it provides.”

    2010

    January – Municipal governments are ordered to draw up economic development plans that may include cooperatives and small business. A pilot project where taxi drivers lease cabs instead of receiving a state wage begins in Havana.

    April – Barbershops and beauty salons with up to four chairs go over to a leasing system, the first time state retail establishments are handed over to employees since their nationalization in 1968. Rules for home construction and improvements are liberalized.

    May – Murillo announces plans to “create in the majority of municipalities supply markets where farmers can acquire directly the necessary resources to produce, substituting the current system of assigning resources centrally.”

    June – Sale of construction materials to the population is liberalized. The government authorizes farm cooperatives to establish mini-industries to process produce.

    August – New rules authorize Cubans with small garden plots to sell produce directly to consumers at roadside kiosks.

    The state increases from 50 to 99 years the time foreign companies can lease land as part of tourism and leisure development projects, such as golf courses and marinas.

    Stores open where farmers can purchase supplies in local currency without regulation.

    September – The government announces the lay-off of more than 500,000 state workers and 250,000 new licenses for family businesses over six months. Some 200,000 of the state jobs will go over to leasing, cooperatives and other arrangements.

    Regulations governing self-employment are significantly loosened and taxes tightened. The family businesses are authorized for the first time to hire labor and rent space. (Editing by Jeff Franks, Pascal Fletcher and Kieran Murray)

    http://af.reuters.com/article/metalsNews/idAFN2025994420100920?pageNumber=5&virtualBrandChannel=0

  10. DENIAL, DENIAL, DENIAL! FUTILE LAST ATTEMPT AT CONTROLING THE CUBAN PEOPLE, SPECIALLY THE YOUNG GENERATION! LAST TWEET FROM YOANI!

    THEY have Increased the ideological rigor in colleges. They fear that these children of the Special Period no longer believe in anything

    Aumento del rigor ideologico en la universidad. Temen que estos hijos del Periodo Especial ya no crean en nada

    http://twitter.com/yoanisanchez

    BOSTON HERALD: Cuba fires minister for oil, mining industries-Monday, September 20, 2010
    HAVANA — Cuba’s Cabinet minister in charge of oil and nickel production has been removed for incompetence, the government announced on Monday.

    The government of Raul Castro discharged Yadira Garcia Vera as minister of basic industry due to “her deficiencies in heading the institution, particularly reflected in the weak manner in which she controlled resources destined for investment and the production process,” said a small but sternly worded item in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

    Garcia Vera, 54, will be replaced by her vice minister, Tomas Benitez Hernandez, until a permanent new minister is named by the Council of State, Cuba’s supreme governing body. Garcia Vera is also a member of the island’s powerful Politburo, and apparently remains in that post since the announcement made no mention of it.

    It was unclear, however, if the move was related to last week’s announcement that the government will lay off half a million state workers, remake its official salary and tax structures and encourage pockets of private enterprise in what could prove to be a major overhaul of its communist system.

    Holding a chemical engineering degree, Garcia Vera was viewed as an ideological hard-liner and rising Communist Party star when she took over the basic industry ministry in 2004, replacing Marcos Portal Leon, who was fired amid a wave of electricity shortages.

    When she assumed the post, Granma praised Garcia Vera as a “young but experienced leader of the (Communist) Party” who is “modest, capable and efficient.”

    It also noted then that she played a role in the high-profile custody battle between U.S. and Cuban relatives for ex-castaway Elian Gonzalez. She was a top official of the party in Matanzas province, where Gonzalez’s father lived.

    There were no such kind words in Monday’s blurb, however.

    Nickel is Cuba’s top export and expanding oil output is a major priority. The government has laid out zones in the Gulf of Mexico where private energy companies, mostly from Canada and Europe, have said they could one day drill test wells searching for crude.

    A 2004 test well by a Spanish company was not considered commercially viable, however, and Washington’s 48-year-old trade embargo prohibits U.S. companies from investing in Cuban oil exploration and production, even though the island’s Gulf waters are close to the Florida coast.

    Raul Castro, 79, succeeded his older brother Fidel as Cuba’s president in July 2006. Since then, he has moved to reshape the island’s Cabinet.

    His government replaced the health minister in July, a month after the transportation minister was fired for professional mistakes and the head of the Sugar Ministry was ousted after admitting incompetence.

    Attorney General Juan Escalona Reguera, who fought under both Castro brothers in the rebel army that toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista on New Year’s Day 1959, was replaced in March. Health problems were cited as the reason.

    Also in March, Rogelio Acevedo, who as a teenager fought alongside the Castros and Ernesto “Che” Guevara, was abruptly dismissed as the overseer of Cuba’s airlines and airports for unexplained reasons. Cuba has since been awash with rumors that Acevedo was secretly running his own airline and otherwise misusing state aircraft.

    This year’s changes come after a major March 2009 house-cleaning that saw Cuba fire Vice President and de-facto economic czar Carlos Lage, as well as the island’s foreign minister and economics minister in a shake-up involving the removal, transfer or demotion of more than 20 officials.

    http://news.bostonherald.com/news/international/americas/view/20100920cuba_fires_minister_for_oil_mining_industries/srvc=home&position=recent

  11. BLOOMBERG: Cuba Fires Industries Minister for Inefficieny, Failure to Lure Investment-By Blake Schmidt – Sep 20, 2010

    Cuban President Raul Castro replaced the island’s minister of basic industries, citing mismanagement and a failure to attract investment.

    The move to dismiss Yadira Garcia Vera is part of Castro’s reforms to reduce inefficiency that is crimping economic growth, said Arch Ritter, professor of economics at Carleton University in Ottawa. The minister oversees the energy and mining sectors, including the island’s largest commodity export, nickel.

    “There are long-term question marks over the nickel sector,” Ritter said in an interview. “For the last 20 years, nickel has been a bright spot in the Cuban economy.”

    Garcia Vera had been at the post since 2004. She will be replaced by deputy minister Tomas Benitez, according to a statement on the website of the Communist Party newspaper Granma. Garcia Vera’s dismissal comes a week after the government announced it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce by March in a bid to reduce waste.

    The government’s statement criticized Garcia Vera for allowing “deficiencies” in the ministry and “weak control over resources set aside for investment and production,” without giving further details.

    Garcia Vera also served as a liaison with the family of Elian Gonzalez in 2000 when Cuba negotiated the child’s return to the island from Miami, according to a biography posted on the website of the University of Miami’s Cuba Transition Project.

    Nickel Demand

    Demand for refined nickel has dropped worldwide due to China’s increased production of nickel pig iron, a substitute used in stainless steel production, Ritter said. Cuban production of nickel products fell 2 percent in 2009 to 8,648 metric tons, according to government statistics.

    Michael Edmonds, spokesman for Toronto-based Sherrit International Corp., Cuba’s largest nickel producer in a joint venture with the government, didn’t respond to request for comment.

    Fidel Castro, 84, began transferring control to his brother Raul in July 2006, when he underwent intestinal surgery, and officially stepped down as president in 2008.

    Raul Castro replaced the foreign minister, finance and planning minister and the secretary of the council of ministers in a March 2009 Cabinet overhaul.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-20/cuba-fires-industries-minister-for-inefficieny-failure-to-lure-investment.html

  12. @#37
    I hear your pleas for my help … son!
    The part that has me perplexed is -“unsolicited insult”- perhaps it is all in my imagination yet I have read your comments, full of insults & sexual quotes.
    I know is not something I’ve dreamed, your comments are on the record, name calling, propositions to commit sexual acts, racist comments, religious biases & insults … all on the record …
    I wonder what is it w/your fixation w/sex or your neeed to insult anyone who disagrees w/you.
    Perhaps you believe to be “entitled” to be an abusive person but, I belive you are confusing entitlement w/choice.
    It is clear to me you choose to behave the way you do & by doing so, you are “entitled” to responses in kind.
    Please don’t be surprised, the consecuences of your actions are after all part of the “human nature”.
    How can you be respectful to others if you don’t respect yourself ?
    Once you learn to respect yourself, things may change for you …
    The bitterness can be helped if you choose to … son.

  13. REUTERS AFRICA: Cuba fires minister in charge of oil and nickel-Mon Sep 20, 2010

    HAVANA, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Cuba fired Basic Industry Minister Yadira Garcia, in charge of the oil and nickel industries, on Sunday and said the first vice minister would stand in until a replacement was named.

    A government communique said Garcia was let go due to “her deficiencies manifested, especially in poor control of resources destined for investment and the productive process.”

    First Vice Minister Thomas Benitez was named as a temporary replacement “until a new minister can be appointed,” the statement said.

    The ministry is also in charge of the cement industry and domestic pharmaceutical industry.

    The Cuban oil industry is preparing to drill with foreign partners in the Gulf of Mexico next year and in partnership with Venezuela is developing its refining and other oil related infrastructure.

    Unrefined nickel is Cuba’s most important export at around 70,000 tonnes per year and a joint venture with Venezuela plans to add 60,000 tonnes of ferronickel by 2013.

    Garcia was the last economic minister inherited by President Raul Castro in 2008 when he replaced ailing brother Fidel Castro.

    Raul Castro replaced the other ministers in 2009.

    (Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

    http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFN1921340920100920

    BUT SEE COMMENT #55

    “In the new global economy, there would be plenty of other pitfalls for a late arrival. Cuba, the worlds ninth-largest nickel producer with a third of the globes reserves, finds its No. 1 foreign exchange earner threatened by new Chinese techniques that can refine Asias poorer quality ores. That hasnt stopped Beijing from selling to the U.S. stainless steel products using Cuban nickel that circumvents the embargo, however. Canada, one of Cubas major trading partners, is also on the nickel – and cobalt – take. But its Cuban sales dropped 60 percent in 2009. Beijing, too, is involved in a search for oil just off the Florida Keys – something American opponents of deep-water drilling will eventually have to face – but so far with dry holes. There likely wont be any magic solutions.”

  14. SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE LAYOFFS IN CUBA. BELOW ARE SOME STATISTICS TO MAKE MY POINT. THERE IS ACTUALLY 8 MILLION CUBANS OF WORKING AGE (15-65) AND MANY OF THEM ARE NOT WORKING FOR THE GOVERMENT (20% LETS SAY) SO 80% OF 8 MILLION IS 6.4 MILLION WORKERS, WHICH 5% IS ABOUT 320,OOO WORKERS WHICH IS OFF BY 180,000 FROM THE CUBAN GOVERMENTS ESTIMATE OF THE FIRST ROUND OF LAYOFFS! INTERESTING WHEN YOU SEE HOW THEY UNDERESTIMATED THE NUMBER BY MORE THAN 50%!

    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 18.3% (male 1,077,745/female 1,020,393)
    15-64 years: 70.4% (male 4,035,691/female 4,030,103)
    65 years and over: 11.2% (male 584,478/female 703,242) (2010 est.)

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cu.html

  15. WASHINGTON TIMES: SANDERS: A Cuban time bomb? By Sol Sanders-Sunday, September 19, 2010

    When satellite communist countries imploded with the Soviet Union’s collapse, the debris scattered. A united Germany still copes with moral as well as economic degradation left behind by the Soviet blocs star performer, East Germany.

    Unfortunately several misbegotten regimes still hang on, relics of a totally discredited past. And communist Cuba, perhaps the most anomalous, staggers on only 90 miles from the U.S. The Havana regime has its peculiarities – just as East Germany had its omnipresent surveillance; Czechoslovakia its trade union base; Romania its megalomaniac Ceausescus. Cuba has Fidel Castro, the charismatic dictator who recently returned from a near-death experience.

    Fidel waxed philosophical recently in a lame-leading-the-blind interview by an American reporter with no knowledge of Cuba – slightly aided by an apologist from the Council on Foreign Relations. Although he later backtracked, Castro made one of his few honest statements: Communist Cuba doesn’t work. That doesn’t surprise the more than a million Cuba-born Americans. Their former countrymen still risk body and soul to swim to freedom, if they can touch down on American soil after evading both Fidel and before U.S. interdiction at sea.

    Whatever Fidel intended, his words shortly were followed actions by brother Raul Castro, the familys generalissimo who has taken command of the sinking ship. Raul announced he would drop by March next year a half-million workers from the bloated, 5 million-strong government “work force.” In a country of some 12 million, with 20 percent of the population under 14, that would constitute a huge shift. Absorption into a harassed private sector that was almost wiped out in the decades of ruthless Soviet social engineering is a fantasy, withconditions worse now than when the Moscow dole ended in the 1990s.

    Only repression, guile and luck – and the naivete of would-be friends – have kept Cuba going. Spain, former colonial overlord that held on for a half-century after losing the rest of Iberoamerica, has invested modestly. European tourists have trickled in. More recently, Fidels ideological blood brother, Venezuelas Hugo Chavez, has partially picked up the energy bill. But Fidels attack on Mr. Chavezs newfound friend, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, indicates that the help from Caracas may be ending, given Mr. Chavezs own difficulties.

    Can Rauls Cuba muddle through to a new era when, inevitably, even the now-straitened Western world would extend aid?

    The brothers Castro, and much of the rest of the world, had counted on the Obama administration lifting the U.S. embargo to encourage reform. Lifting the blockade is debated – even among embittered Cuban-Americans. But as always, the Castros are their own worst enemies. Havana recently reneged on releasing some political prisoners to the Catholic Church, with some trying to take their lives in hunger strikes. That’s one reason why, despite minor concessions on travel for Cuban-Americans and despite lobbying by sympathetic U.S. business groups, the blockade remains in place.

    If and when Cuba re-enters the real world, the road couldn’t be more difficult. Sugar, the monoculture that at the beginning of the communist era gave it one of the highest per capita gross national products in Latin America, is moribund – with half the agricultural land lying fallow. Moreover, Cubas once-cartelized U.S. market is gone. Havana now would face competition from corn fructose, beet sugar and synthetic sweeteners, as well as the difficulties of just getting access to one of the worlds most heavily protected industries.

    In the new global economy, there would be plenty of other pitfalls for a late arrival. Cuba, the worlds ninth-largest nickel producer with a third of the globes reserves, finds its No. 1 foreign exchange earner threatened by new Chinese techniques that can refine Asias poorer quality ores. That hasnt stopped Beijing from selling to the U.S. stainless steel products using Cuban nickel that circumvents the embargo, however. Canada, one of Cubas major trading partners, is also on the nickel – and cobalt – take. But its Cuban sales dropped 60 percent in 2009. Beijing, too, is involved in a search for oil just off the Florida Keys – something American opponents of deep-water drilling will eventually have to face – but so far with dry holes. There likely wont be any magic solutions.

    Remembering how suddenly other seemingly iron-clad communist regimes fell, the possibility of a Cuban implosion is real. That, of course, would be a nightmare for the U.S. The memory of Fidel Castro dumping 125,000 political opponents and jailbirds he called “worms” on Miami in the summer of 1980 is all too vivid in Florida, now the fourth-largest state. A sudden refugee flood would tax U.S. facilities already inadequately handling illegal Mexican immigration. Although Cuba crisis studies are stacked in dark corners at the State Department and the Pentagon, Washingtons response – given all the other crises the U.S. faces – might be Katrina-like to a sudden Cuban collapse.

    Maybe it wont happen. But it is one of many largely unanticipated events that could turn U.S. policy upside down overnight. In the longer term, a post-Castro Cuba on Americas doorstep is likely to be more bereft than Fidelista propaganda has led us to believe and eventually will put new demands on American generosity.
    Sol Sanders, veteran foreign correspondent and analyst, writes weekly on the convergence of international politics, business and economics. He can be reached at solsanders@cox.net.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/19/a-cuban-time-bomb/?page=2

  16. Buenas noches.
    Hoy, en Turín, fui testigo de su entrevista maravillosa y estoy particularmente afectados por la situación en la que se encuentra el pueblo de Cuba que están muy cerca. Yo, por mi trabajo, voy muy a menudo en Rusia y sabía que en ese paesel la persona que fue asistente de Castro durante 14 años. Creo que he entendido, incluso por él, su buena voluntad hacia la libertad. Estoy muy cerca de ella como todo el pueblo cubano.
    Marco

  17. Buenas noches.
    Hoy, en Turín, fui testigo de su entrevista maravillosa y estoy particularmente afectados por la situación en la que se encuentra el pueblo de Cuba que están muy cerca. Yo, por mi trabajo, voy muy a menudo en Rusia y sabía que en ese paesel la persona que fue asistente de Castro durante 14 años. Creo que he entendido, incluso por él, su buena voluntad hacia la libertad. Estoy muy cerca de ella como todo el pueblo cubano.
    Marca

  18. ANOTHER IMPORTANT VOICE BREAKING RANKS! THERE IS NOTHING WRONG IN SAYING YOU WERE WRONG IN SUPPORTING THE CASTROFACIST! THEY LIED TO AND MANIPULATED EVERYONE!

    Cuba: Ignoring the cruelty-BY MARTIN GUEVARA

    In the second half of the 1970s, the military junta of the Argentine Republic broke the grain embargo imposed by the United States and sold wheat to the Soviet Union.

    The USSR, under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev, expressed its gratitude by awarding The Order of Lenin Medal to several high-ranking Argentinean junta generals, with no thought to the thousands of leftist militants that were being held in the concentration camps of Argentina. These men were being savagely tortured and then thrown into the Plata River from low-flying airplanes, disappearing forever into a wet variation of the Auschwitz ovens.

    The Argentinean generals responded in kind. They awarded the medal of José de San Martin to a group of high-ranking Soviet government officials who traveled to Argentina for the occasion. Money is money.

    Those of us who were Argentineans exiled in Cuba, listened to Fidel Castro’s interminable discourses year after year waiting for some word of protest. Not once did he denounce the practices of the fascist government in the land that had once been the land of his best friend, and by his own description his most valued guerrilla leader, Ché Guevara.

    Fidel’s silence had been bought for a handful of rubles.

    Occasionally he denounced the abuses of “the fascist governments of Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, and “others.” “Others” became his new name for Argentina — a nonoffensive moniker that would not risk a halt to the flow of currency.

    My friends had no idea why we were exiles in Cuba. My explanations were met with looks of disbelief. It appeared our government in Argentina was not sufficiently evil to justify our exile. How to explain my father’s 8 ½ years of incarceration in Argentina or the 30,000 people who disappeared, double the number of dead in Chile, to people who had never heard Fidel mention such injustices?

    For many years and for reasons of family loyalty and, perhaps, some leftover indoctrination, I abdicated my right and my freedom to speak of what I had seen. I have been silent, and in that silence I have risked becoming an accomplice to evil.

    I owe nothing to the Castro regime. It separated not only the Cuban nation

    from the world, the Cuban people from one another, but it also affected my family with the repugnant hypocrisy and corruption that Fidel left in all he touched, including myself.

    When Orlando Zapata, a Cuban dissident, died in a Cuban prison on March 9 after going on a hunger strike, many of the intellectuals who had spent their lives defending or ignoring the brutality of the Castro government said, “Enough.” They could no longer give Fidel the benefit of the doubt just because he had declared himself a champion of the poor of the world.

    This must have bothered Fidel, because throughout his life he has been able to behave badly without risking the disapproval of the progressive intellectuals of the world. Their declarations against his treatment of Zapata must have been worrisome for his government’s image. In this day of instant communication, image is of the essence to a government that wishes to also become a family dynasty.

    Why is it so difficult for us to condemn any excess, crime, violent act or abuse committed by self-proclaimed leftists, revolutionaries or communists? What part of our brain falters or becomes anesthetized when the time comes to protest against these injustices?

    In any case, it appeared that Fidel was approaching his hour of shame. If there is anything that Fidel hates worse than not being the center of constant attention it is losing face. He cannot bear for anyone to know the truths of his life. He doesn’t want the world to know that he drinks Castilian wines that cost more than 200 euros a bottle every day, even as he asks his people to sacrifice all for the revolution.

    Concerned about his place in history, he came up with the idea of instituting the cruelest capitalism, in order to befriend the current fashion. It will be a system that pits Cuba’s severely impoverished people, who after years of being supported by the state have no ability for business and little knowledge of technology, against the investors of the world who have been longing to make a profit on the island.

    The Cuban workers have no power. The Cuban labor unions have no experience working in a free market. The Cuban worker who works for a foreign investor has fewer rights than an Indian. None.

    The vigilance required now is extreme. We need to see what repressive measures the government will use as soon as there is any type of discontent expressed by the Cuban people when changes begin to affect them, and we must guard against the acquiescence of the international community, which is likely to be infinitely more concerned about the success of their investments and the profit they generate, than about the welfare of the Cuban people.

    Martín Guevara is Ché Guevara’s nephew. He was expelled from Cuba by the Council of State and is currently writing his memoir in collaboration with Adrianne Miller, a Cuban Pedro Pan.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/09/19/1830125_p2/cuba-ignoring-the-cruelty.html

  19. Mandy Marcelo, you can post ANTHING you like! I NEED A BREAK!

    “The Socialist government (actually a marxist dictatorship) has billboards bearing Fidel Castro’s likeness and his most quotable quotations. But one does not see roadside signs pitching much else.”

    If these “billboards”, which are actually propaganda slongans replaced by CUBAN OWNED businesses advertisements I think there is hope for the future!

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