Made in the U.S.A.

A few days ago the foreign press revealed that when the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos traveled to Havana, a message from the American administration came with him. It suggested that our leaders take steps to improve civil liberties in order to move in the direction of ending the dispute between our countries. The hidden message was not mentioned in the official Cuban media which, at that time, heightened the critiques of the economic sanctions imposed by the United States. It is these trade restrictions, so clumsy and anachronistic in my judgment, that can be used as justification both for the setbacks in productivity and to repress those who think differently. I am struck, however, that on market shelves the labels and the fourpacks reveal what the anti-imperialist rhetoric hides: much of what we eat says, “Made in USA.”

Never before have we had so much riding on the ups and downs of Washington or Wall Street. In reality, the vaunted sovereignty of this island and the supposed example of independence we show to the rest of the world hide how dependent we are on that nation where thousands of our compatriots live. To the extent that the political slogans against the Yankees become stronger, people become more interested in the economic and migratory flow that has been established between the two shores. The Florida Straits seem to separate us, but in fact there is an invisible bridge of affection, material help and information that links this island to the mainland.

The poor people’s shoemaker was born a couple of years before the United States broke relations with our country, but the glue he uses for repairs was sent to him by a brother in Miami. The flash memory that young man hangs around his neck he received from a “Yuma”, an American, who docked his yacht at the Hemingway marina; the hairdresser on the corner sent to New Jersey for her dyes and creams. Without that flow of products and remittances, many people around me would be begging and neglected. Even the whiskey that the highest Party leaders drink exhibits the unmistakable seal of the forbidden.

45 thoughts on “Made in the U.S.A.

  1. The following excellent article makes solid points against lifting the embargo without meaningful changes in Cuba. The author lays out good reasons why lifting the embargo will benefit the Cuban dictatorship, no the Cuban people.

    [b]Lift the Cuba Embargo?[/b]

    By Humberto (Bert) Corzo*

    You don’t need to look further; here you have the answer from the “horse” mouth:
    “It is necessary to impose financial, economic and material restrictions to dictatorships, so that they will not take roots for long years….Diplomatic and morals measures do not work against dictatorships, because these make fun of the Governments and the population”. Fidel Castro*

    *Excerpt from the book “Fidel Castro and Human Rights”, Editora Política, Havana, Cuba, 1988.

  2. #42 Chris:
    Perhaps there is not such a thing as “misguided” ideals …
    Perhaps there is such a thing as “the evil that man do”
    Torture is not confined to the prisons, nor it is confined to the “other” places.
    Liberty while is not taken for granted, is more times than not considered an entitlement by most of the people whom enjoys it from birth to death with the guarantees of a social contract.
    The ones that do not have it to enjoy, only to dream do not have (I think) the time for platitudes of humanity & moral boundaries.
    The quest for survival goes deeper than the philoslophy of democracy; this is not to say there is an inability to dream, to long for what instinctibly is known to exist.
    The understanding of such an oppression, the knowledge of the brutality of man … if unchecked is what makes the difference between a right to be free and the entitlement of Liberty if such a concept is valid (I doubt) …
    So ecologically Cuba is at the forefront, what what good does it do if the human, as part of the ecology is not repected & valued?

    You are right Chris, there is no justification for the evil that man do …

  3. David Broatch,
    While it is honorable that Cuba has a beneficent ecological profile it is useless to the Cubans who have no liberty. The last thing that the evils of totalitarianism and communism need is sustainability. In fact it would be much better if they had an ecology that were self destructing.
    So should we justify the imprisonment and torture of dissidents as a boon to the environment? Give me a break.
    Have you ever met a person who suffered at the hand of the torturers in the prisons of Cuba? I have. There is no way you can justify the suppression of their right to freedom of speech unless you side with misguided ideals or evil.

  4. “No region, nor the world as
    a whole, met both criteria for sustainable
    development. Cuba alone did, based on the
    data it reports to the United Nations.”

    Click to access living_planet_report.pdf

    WWF has judged Cuba as the world leader in sustainability.

    Put briefly..

    “Cuba is developing without damaging the ecosystem, says report
    25 October 2006

    While the rest of the world is busy destroying the ecosystem, a report published by the World Wildlife Fund claims that the only country in the world with “sustainable development” is Cuba.

    WWF includes in its report a graph which shows two features: the human development index (established by the United Nations) and the so-called “ecological footprint” which shows the per person energy and resources consumed in each country.

    Surprisingly, only Cuba has passed in both arenas, which is enough to be designated a country that “meets the minimum sensitivity criteria”.

    The study’s authors credit the high level of literacy, long life expectancy and low consumption of energy for this success.”

    IMHO this is in great part due to the US embargo, which has prevented the bulk importing of degrading agro-chemical, such as polluting pesticides and fertilizers, together with the intelligent use of organic production methods, preventative medicine etc.
    It is unfortunate if contaminated US goods were to gain entry, particular concern is with GM contaminants and nano-particles. I am primarily interested in this in connection with our consultancy helping establish a hospice in Cuba which deals mainly with cancer cases.

  5. Is this a statement against the embargo? Have you written critically of the US travel ban? I have posted on thehavananote that exit visas and travel licenses are functionally the same, a vehicle for each government to use travel for its own political purposes.

    “It is these trade restrictions, so clumsy and anachronistic in my judgment, that can be used as justification both for the setbacks in productivity and to repress those who think differently.”

  6. The People of Cuba need to fix there own problem. If your not satisfied with your Government take to the streetw with a sign and some cameras. Instant Revolution for the People. Panfilo also has some new words to say and this time its not just JAMA or food, he’s rehab treatment did not go well, it appears. Check him out. The world is getting a better picture of what and why happens there. Yoani, your one hell of a girl. I love to read your blog even though I don’t post or tweeter, but today, I had to BREAK OUT and let my opinion be know. You give me strenght and help me cut my day too. I also got your back and your in my prayers every night.

  7. Hank

    The United States does not gain a thing by repealing Helms-Burton, on the contrary. If the Embargo is lifted, The totalitarian regime in Cuba is the one to benefit. Since the system is bankrupt, they will immediately ask and will receive lines of credit to buy all kind of goods to supply the resorts in Varadero, Cayo Coco, etc. But, guess what? Castro will laugh all the way to the bank since they had never repay any other country, they will do the same with this one. The regular Cuban will continue to pay excessive prices at Special Stores, with US Dollars sent to them by the so called “gusanos” and you all will be happy because the Embargo is being lifted!

    Wake up, people! We have enough problems (financial and otherwise) in this country to add any more.


    Nik Steinberg is a Saphardic Mambi!

    Humberto Capiro

  9. “New Castro same Cuba”.Why I don’t think of something like that?

    Thanks H.Capiro for your links..

  10. Julio,
    The new post of Yoani is amazing.Anyway my grandpa wrote in that kind of paper because he thoght that recycling was a good idea.He was an enviromentalist, back in the 60’s and 70’s. He had access to regular paper ,he just choose not do so.


    NPR PIECE: Study: Repression Continues In Raul’s Cuba

    “The report, “New Castro, Same Cuba,” documents the cases of more than 40 political prisoners since Raul Castro took over from his brother Fidel on an interim basis in 2006 and permanently in February 2008.

    The report’s lead author, Nik Steinberg, says the Castro government uses an “Orwellian” clause in the country’s criminal code to keep dissidents behind bars.”

    TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE: Group Says Rights Abuses Continue in Cuba

    “Human Rights Watch described the report as its most comprehensive analysis of conditions for Cuba since Raul Castro took power. The report echoes the group’s past criticism of Raul Castro’s government. ”

    “While giving the Cuban government “full and exclusive responsibility” for rights abuses, the report says that while the embargo continues, “the Castro government will continue to manipulate U.S. policy to cast itself as a Latin American David standing up to the U.S. Goliath, a role it exploits skillfully.”,8599,1940291,00.html

  12. I don’t think anyone in the US really thinks the “embargo” works at bringing about democracy in Cuba. The only people who support it do so for its symbolism, not efficacy. But what can we do in the US to end it?

  13. I am a Canadian that has visited & cycled annually in Cuba for the last 9 years. I stay in Casa Particulares, not resorts. I see the “Made in USA” goods in the stores where I have to use my CUC monies, also last year there were apples being sold on the street from the US.

    re the embargo – is part of the reason the embargo is still in place the fact that “property” of US companies was nationalized without reasonable compensation to these companies & no expectation of compensation from the “bearded one”?

  14. Concubino

    I do not think publishing should be about money but important ideas to transmit.
    It is fortunate we live in an age and country where it is extraordinarily simple to publish even hard print publishing in book form and very inexpensively I may add.

    I have seem many books that do not deserve to be publish and on the same token how many good books have we lost because they have never been publish?

    I will try reading back at home where I can straighten the PDF page with Adobe PDF so as to make the read easier.

    Wow your grandpa actually wrote his book on milk carton!!

    Any reason for it?
    (Because of no paper or is there a symbolic meaning?)

  15. Julio
    Thanks for the info, I did not know that website existed.However even if the book is good(it is good to me that what matters)I’m not interested in making any money .All I want is that book to be read for as many people as possible.

  16. Julio
    I’ve already sent the PDF files of my granpa’s book to somebody else in this forum, but some how I lost your email.Could you please send me your email again?

    My grandfather wrote his books in the back of evaporated milk paper wrap.
    So it will be better for whoever is interested to download the PDF files and then make the necesaries changes to make them even more readable

  17. Totally agree Concubino!

    The thing is we all know the embargo is mainly symbolic
    we know the Cuban regime is allow to buy in the US food and medicines

    We know the embargo has not done the action we expected from it
    in 50 years and the change has not happen the Cuban regime has used the embargo as an excuse for limiting freedom.

    So why should we continue on this path?
    Why not change?

    This time it will not be us they have to convince it will be the entire world.

  18. I understand THEY will come with excuses of any kind. But this time it will a tough sale…

  19. I will ask maybe in a different way
    how many of you believe in this?

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”?

    I do!

    That statement is the kernel of freedom.
    We as individual that support freedom should be tolerant of people that think different than we do. Our freedom can not be limited to just allow people to vote for whom we like but also for whom we do not like otherwise we will be as guilty as they are.

    A freedom that does not allow a dissenting point of view is no freedom at all.
    So we will be in fact mimicking what they did to us.

  20. Concubino, that sounds very interesting, I would like to read it. I will send you an email. Thanks.

  21. MENTIRAS, is what the Cuban Regime is about. Estatue of Liberty has it right. If you end the embargo, Cuba will invent a new excuss to justify there abusive actions. The change needed starts with the Cuban Government.

  22. ***
    Economic theory says that all countries benefit from free trade. Embargoes hurt all economies. Command economies steal from the people–free business gives better lives for all.
    La theoria economica dice que todos paises reciben beneficios de negocio libre. Los bloquios danan todos las economias. Economias de mando roban la gente–negocio libre da vidas mejores por todos.
    John Bibb

  23. Statue and others I do understand your point they will always find an excuse for their failures. I agree with that but then it will be evident to the world that is their failure!

    Let me re-post part of a comment I posted earlier

    “My point of view on this matter as you know is that I am against the embargo.
    My reasoning apart from the other things I have mentioned have to do with this point

    The US have not right to force the vote of the Cuban people and by having an embargo they do influence the vote of the Cuban people. The Cuban people should be able to vote using their own free will. By maintaining an embargo against Cuba. The US is sending a clear signal to Cuban voters that the US government does not approve of the exiting Cuban government and therefore forcing the hand of Cuban citizens to vote against the exiting regime.

    Cuban citizens should be allow to vote freely without any influences by any foreign power. I do understand there is no such freedom in Cuba now but hope will exist if the US embargo goes away.”

    If we are to defend freedom you will have to agree that a government should not be able to tell the people of some other country what they should do whom they should vote for or not. That is actually against our own principles. So we must be consequent with those principles because otherwise it may seem to everyone that we apply principles as we see that feats us best.

    We know that their is a group of people that do support the Cuban regime. Why should we infringe on their right to support it?
    I do understand I know for fact that maybe the great majority of people on Cuba are oppose to the regime but still that should not gives us the right to tell you can not vote for this particular person.

    That is infringing upon the sovereignty of Cuba.
    As they say two wrongs do not make a right!
    We should make it right. If we do believe in freedom then Cuban people should be allow to vote for whomever the choose. Even if it happens to be someone we do not like.
    There is no excuse to changing our principles in this way because then if we do
    we have none.

  24. Cuba buys what ever it pleases from other countries also. Through Panama they used to shop at Sears, with the SEARS cataloge. The big shots there get to travel and also buy in volume to send home. The Embargo is a big story Fidel tells its people to justify their poverty. Cuba lacks nothing ( other than CIVIL RIGHTS) if you have money. Cuba needs to become more productive itself and stop blaming others. Cuban sovereignty is also a joke… Who is that has invited the RUSSIANS, the chinesse, Venezula,SPAIN, and even England to build and own property in Cuba. ONLY FIDEL.
    Keep the embargo and make it tougher. Put the brakes to a nation that harbours terrorist and talks bad about the Yankees.

  25. Julio, you seems like an intelegent person, if is not the Embargo they will create a new theme. I really don’t mind their excuses, to me it is irrelevant.


    HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT ON CUBA 11/18/09:Cuba: Raúl Castro Imprisons Critics, Crushes Dissent

    “Washington, DC) – Raúl Castro’s government has locked up scores of people for exercising their fundamental freedoms and allowed scores more political prisoners arrested during Fidel Castro’s rule to languish in detention, Human Rights Watch says in a report released today. Rather than dismantle Cuba’s repressive machinery, Raúl Castro has kept it firmly in place and fully active, the report says.”

    WASHINGTO POST ARTICLE:Human rights group says Cuba is holding scores of political prisoners

    “Human Rights Watch issued what it called the most comprehensive report yet on civil and political rights in Cuba under Raul Castro, based on a two-month unofficial visit by its researchers to the island and supplemented by telephone interviews from the United States. ”

    LOS ANGELES TIMES ARTICLE: US rights group says Cubans’ lives unimproved under 2nd Castro and worse in some ways

    Human Rights Watch says conditions in Cuba have not improved under Raul Castro and in some ways are worse than they had been when his brother Fidel was president.

    In a report released Wednesday, the group accuses Raul Castro’s government of systematic repression and creating “a pervasive climate of fear among dissidents and, when it comes to expression of political views, in Cuban society as a whole.”,0,148764.story

  27. Julio

    I know the Helms Burton law.That law gives USA the extraterritorial part of the original law Torricelli Law.Under the Helms – Burton law , the USA can sue any firm that do bussinnes with Cuba if that firm has any USA license on the products that is being sold to Cuba.However the law has been ammended and so many exceptions that basically that law is a piece of paper with no functions whatsoever.

    Lets be clear Castro needs the embargo. Without the embargo the Castros wont have any excuses. They won’t have anybody to blame but themselves.

  28. …Be sure to cover all the bottles with these blank stickers. Let me know if you need more…

    This was the last part I remembered of the instructions I received that morning a long time ago at that supermarket store where I used to work in Cuba. I wouldn’t call it instructions but unquestionable orders. Looking back on it I wish I’d have made a different decision. I still feel guilty and filthy inside of me for being part indirectly and against my will of the so many times repeated slogan “Propaganda Americana” or American Advertising if you will.

    I am talking about covering with blank stickers the nationality of these Baby powder milk bottles that the store was selling at unthinkable prices. Of course and as I am sure you might have guessed already, the bottles were labeled and MADE in THE USA.

    Just for the records, that very same morning the so called instructions were spread to the four corners of the store and suddenly everybody was involved trying to “Tapar a el Sol con un dedo” or covering the Sun with a finger, if you will.

    The clouds will never hide the stars. The Sun of Freedom that dwells alive and warm within every Cuban heart, mine included, will never be shadowed by the index finger of a dying dictator.

    The rise of this Sun is imminent.

    Cuba was there before him and will be there after.

    Please check this website:

    This is how the cars, the food, the clothes, the fashions, the fancy stuff and everything that comes from the Archenemy of Cuba and that the regime have always tried to keep us away from have spread to pollute the minds and lives of those who pursue them. Not even Satan’s children can escape from such deadly fate, ironically speaking.

  29. The question of who is imposing the embargo on whom is moot. For obvious reasons, food has to be imported directly (although this doesn’t stop Castro groupies claiming that the US is trying to starve Cuba into submission). But, although pharmaceuticals are exempt, the regime insists on importing them via third countries, which is more expensive, open to corruption, and often results in counterfeit products. The BBC recently carried an account of a mother whose child’s anti-cancer drugs were often ineffective.
    It is unlikely that Cuba has much to export to the US of money to import more, irrespective of the embargo.
    I believe the travel ban will be lifted at some time during the Obama administration. As far back as the 1960s, Robert Kennedy, acting as Attorney General for Lyndon Johnson, produced a report declaring it to be unconstitutional.

  30. The official toilet paper of Cuba “Granma” never mentions the millions of dollars that Cuba buys from their number one enemy, the Imperialists”, the bad guys.
    Last year alone, over $700 millions, IN CASH, yes, CASH!
    Ask yourself, where is the Embargo?

  31. Concubino
    The blockaded is mostly symbolic.
    But yes.
    Cuba can not freely trade with the US.

    Can they sell their products here?
    Can we buy any product from Cuba here?

    Also can Americans freely travel to Cuba?

    I think is very important that this imbalance is eliminated I have the hopes that will eliminate the only real excuse they have for not allowing opposition to their regime.

  32. The system always finds a reason to blame the “Imperialists” when in essence the blame belongs to communists.
    The restrictions are imposed by the suppressers of truth, the system and enforcers; they lie from morning to midnight. That is why there is so much ignorance and misunderstanding.
    If it wasn’t for the Cubans that live abroad who help their family back in Cuba, the system would have collapsed long time ago or the economic situation would have been worse than what it is now.

  33. Hank
    In response to your last comment from Yoani’s last post.The answer is yes .I’m working in a book that my grandfather wrote in the 1970’s In there he chronicled almost every crazy idea of Castro.He went to jail for his writings against Castro.
    It’s kind of cool, very well written and very funny ( Spanish).I was thinking to translate into English but it will be a dishonor to him.As you can imagine he was never published in Cuba.
    I will publish his book and I will posted on line for everybody to see. Free of charge.
    That’s is the least I can do for him to honor his memory.

    He even has a nick .Like he knew that the internet age was comming.

    I’ve already everything in PDF.I’m just waiting for my son to come home for Thanksgiving break to help me to put everything together,but if you want(and anyone else for that matter) to read it just the way it is as today you can email me at

  34. Hey Guys,
    I’m all hangover from last night.I was celebrating the funerals.After reading this post of Yoani.My hangover is over.My question is Cuba being blocked?

    Embargo anyone?

    Cuba depended economically from the USA before 1959.50 years Cubans still depend from the Empire.The Castros however are so ungreatful that still the blame Cubans Americans for Cuban missfortunes.

    They even call names to the Cubans Americans who live in Miami and make tons of sacrifices to support their relatives in Cuba.Castro calls them the Mafia from Miami,that was one of the reasons for the Cuban Revolution, to get rid of that Mafia

    The Mafia was running Havana economy before Castro.50 years later the very same “Mafia” still is.This time however Castro can’t get rid of it.In fact Castro needs that “Mafia” now more than ever.

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