Jul 29, 2009

The Denver Post, Colorado businesses and the Cuban embargo

(Warning: rant ahead)

Not that I am a big fan, but searching for news on Cuba today I stomped with this Denver Post editorial where they - yet as another member of the useful idiots crowd - support the lifting of the economic embargo against Cuba. [Actually, with the only two provisions that are left of it, they should have added.]

Getting over the nauseated feeling of repeating the same story over and over, the former reporter inside me refuses to let the go the chance charge back with facts, yet one more time.

"Nearly five decades ago, at the height of the Cold War, the U.S. imposed a trade embargo on Cuba, hoping to push Fidel Castro and his communist government from power," says the Post.

History books, please. [ Or Google, at least?]

The embargo was a legislation approved by the US Congress in the early sixties, when Castro expropriated countless American industries and properties without proper payment compensation to their lawful owners, as required by international laws. [FYI, he started with the Americans and every single Cuban business or property owner followed through...]

Nowadays, the embargo is, in a nutshell, a cosmetic measure. Over time, its restrictions have been loosened and the only two in place are:

1- Americans are forbidden to travel directly to Cuba. And I emphasize directly because many, many, many Americans travel to the island every year, using the loopholes of different types of special authorizations issued by the State Department or through a third country.

2- The Cuban government has to pay its transactions in cash to the American buyers. US financial institutions can not issue soft credit to the castros to buy its products in the US.

Analyzing #1, from a Libertarian point of view, it is true that no government should deny its citizens the right to travel freely wherever they want.

I would be OK with that as long as no useful idiot, trust-fund hippie, organic Subaru driving tree-hugger tries to convince me -from the coziness of his half million dollar house in the People's Republic of Boulder- that by doing that, they will bring freedom and democracy to Cuba.
Give. Me. A. Break.

Since the collapse of the Berlin wall, when castro had no other choice to pocket hard currency, Cuba has been inundated with tourists from all over the world.

I know that first hand because I worked as waitress in several restaurants and hotels reserved, in the most modern apartheid fashion, for foreign tourists only.

Why would be Americans different? I know the people of my adopted homeland are remarkable human beings, but they don't have any special super power that I'm aware of.

How could they be any different from the hordes that have been taking Cuba as an affordable (not necessarily cheap) Caribbean destination where is easy to find cigars, rum and sex - underage and college educated included? (The beaches are gorgeous, though.)

AmeriCorps bringing democracy to Cuba, one mojito at a time? Really?

Cuba is a island that lives on two parallel realities: the tours and destinations orchestrated by the regimen to those who want to be "guided", and the real life of your average Cuban Joe, the one that spends hours of his days without electricity, the one that survives on the rationing card the first two weeks of the months, the one that is being watched over by the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the one that is being paid in Cuban pesos but has to buy the chicken imported from the US in the convertible pesos... ultimately, it will be up to the individual which island he or she chooses to meet.

And, how about demanding prince castro II to respect the same right to freedom of travel to the Cuban nationals? I mean, human rights apply to everyone, regardless of nationality, or not?

Going over #2, and I say this as the American citizen and law-abiding taxpayer that I am: Do I really want to end up footing the bill for one of the worst payers in the world? In this situation my adopted homeland is living and with the dark future of inflation and national debt that my children will inherit? Hell no!

A few months ago The Paris Club rated castro's regimen as one of the world's worst creditors, and you only need a quick search online to read about all the problems Spanish and other European companies are having to get their money out of castro's pockets.

Ergo, the requirement to have castro paying in cash is, itself, a safeguard to all those Colorado ag business that are drooling over the dough they could get trading with the gulag. (Good luck on that!)

Ultimately - with the current tides we're surfing, between bailouts, boondogles, porkulus bills and goverment takeovers - it is also a safeguard for my wallet, which I am really trying to keep closed.

On the other hand, vaguely, states the Post: "One issue that will remain problematic, just as it has with other U.S. trading partners, is human rights."

I have an idea! Why don't you include in your editorial the opinion of thousands of Cubans, conservatives, Republicans, Libertarians, myself, you name it, that support lifting the restrictions but not without getting something back from the dictatorship?

How about we concentrate on three: free the political prisoners (not blackmail allowed with the five spies lawfully tried and currently serving prison terms in the US), free elections and allowing Cubans to own private property?

The current US administration has a golden opportunity to make history to help the Cuban people by peaceful means. If they waste it because they are too busy trying to turn this country into socialism... wait a minute, I am not making any sense, am I?

Now, a word or two about the Post comments:

Comparing Cuba and China does not help much. US reinstated trade with China after they both reached a payment agreement on the properties the Chinese confiscated from American lawful owners. That has not happened in Cuba. Please, drop it.

To Daneel O (aka ) 5:01 PM on Tuesday Jul 28: Honorable individuals respect their elders, even if they do not agree with them. Obviously, you know nothing about honor.

FYI, I am a Cuban, born and raised under castro's communist dictatorship, and I am not elder and I VOTE. And no, my values and core principles, those that go beyond party affiliations, have not been kidnapped by the radical left and the progressives.

Credits to Dave C 9:03 PM on Tuesday Jul 28: Florida 27 electoral votes are a powerful piece of the puzzle. We, Cubans, loved our homeland and still bleed for her wounds after 50 years, but we are also Americans, endlessly grateful to our adopted homeland. We have integrated to mainstream society, we get involved, we care and again, we vote.

Finally, to lousy Jimmy (aka ) 7:24 PM on Tuesday Jul 28. Honey, you need to get a life. You're sputtering your nonsense out of ignorance. That usually happens when you have never tasted a good Cuban food and/or have never seen a Cuban woman dancing or... never mind.

H/T to Face The State and Babalu Blog.


Juju said...

O this is a great post. I'm going to print it out so I can read it more carefully and share it with my husband.

Juju said...

I wanted to thank you for this post. I did print it out and read it to my husband. We both learned quite a bit.
Thank you.

Cubanita said...

Para nada... it is just the rant of a simple Cuban girl who, from time to time gets really frustrated in front of some much idiotic usefulness, wishful thinking and ignorance of what's going on beyond the picket fences of our nice houses in America.

Mi Tierra said...

hey from one cuban living in colorado to another, great article