"Underground capitalism: Throughout our visit, we've seen small flares of capitalism: the man selling pizzas out of his basement; an elderly gentleman dressing three dachshunds in hats, coats and sunglasses charging $1 per picture; the Cuban Coco cabs that charged $6 a trip; vendors in the crafts shops selling carved ebony statues or colorful canvases. Capitalism is alive, thriving actually, in the deep bowels of Cuban life. Capitalism may even be the dark underbelly of successful communism. In a totalitarian state, the underground micro economy keeps the engine running and the populous content and fed."Where I disagree with him? Well, when he started repeating the broken record on who’s to blame for the shameful state of a country that was ahead of the region five decades ago.
[Introduce here my deja vu thinking I was reading Granma or watching la mesa redonda (round table]
“Cuba has learned to recycle, out of embargo necessity.”Excuse me, but Cuba has learned to recycle out of communism-induced misery and chronic scarcity. Cubans are some of the most miserable individuals in the region thanks to the failed economic policies of socialism, despite having been constantly fed by the former Soviet Union, the East European communist and now, Hugo "Monkey" Chavez -with his 200 Twitter assistants - petrodollars.
“The embargo: Our days passed and our opinion of the anti-Castro embargo has changed. It does not hurt Castro or his oblivious government; it hurts the children, old men and women and everyone in between.”"The children, the old men and women and everyone on between" that are tied to the communist elite of Cuba’s Communist Party, high rank military officials, high class intellectuals a-la-Silvio Rodriguez and those who have relatives living in exile and sending them hard currency are not hurting. For Christ's sake, not even THE Cubans living in Cuba believe that story of the embargo anymore!
I’ve seen, personally, some in those ranks living in Cuba like any middle class family would live here. There is no embargo when you have connections.
The ones that do not fit in any of the above categories are the ones really hurting, and not precisely by the embargo. American credits to the communist dictatorship WILL NOT change an iota of their misery.
If what is left of the embargo is gone tomorrow, regular Cubans will continue recycling our of necessity, will continue starving with the rationed food that lasts only the first two weeks of the month, kids will continue not having milk after age seven through the rationing book, and their parents will continue stealing from their workplaces and trading in the black market in order to eat the remaining two weeks of the month.
And all that, while American taxpayers – in the era of hope and change, government bailouts and power grabs - subsidize the defaulted unpaid credits extended to the plantation’s owners.
However, there is another face of Cuba that Mr. Norton didn’t mention. Maybe he didn't see it... who knows?
(Click here to keep reading)
Is the one I referred to in my comments earlier this morning at Babalu Blog, after watching this video:
Here is Alberto's take on a disease that knows no borders, and goes way beyond The Stockholm Syndrome, but Mr. Norton's didn't seem to notice: the Castro’s Syndrome.
The worst part of communism’s failure in Cuba is the minds and values – or lack thereof – of three generations of Cubans that have been born under Castro’s regimen.
Take for example, the fact that young people don’t support the regimen and know the future is on the other side of the malecon, but they are not willing to take on the responsibility to change anything.
Except the cases of the dissidents we know here, basically NOBODY cares and are in a state of mind kind of waiting for a miracle or a solution to fall from a tree.
One of the most depressing things from the trip I had to make there last year to see my sick father was to witness, up close and personal, the high level of apathy and disdain towards anything and anybody.
Only a handful show solidarity and genuine human concern towards dissidents, independent journalists and bloggers, and even when someone dares to criticize the government, they always disregard the dissidents as mercenaries paid by the US and constantly the repeat the government’s approved story line.
Do you think everybody in Cuba knows who Yoani or Biscet are? Think again.
It’s easier – and safer, if I may add – to whisper against Castro amongst your inner circle of friends than to stand and speak-up for your rights.
It’s easier to steal whatever you can from your job and sell in the underground black market. It is not technically stealing, you know, is called resolver.
And no, no all young Cubans are willing to take upon personal responsibility, civic values and principles while living in a free society, where they will need to be in charge of working decently to pay a rent and support their families.
It’s easier to operate under the table, por la izquierda, and sadly, we have a lot of that amongst some of those that have been lucky enough to leave that hell hole.
But, by taking the easy way out, what type of individuals are we breeding? The type that won't know what to do with freedom the day they finally have it. Those that when having the change to live honest and productive lives, for the improvement of society and their own, won't know how to do it.
IMHO, that’s the worst failure of Cuba’s communism and the biggest damage to Cubans. That's the damage that will take the longer to repair: they have rotten the minds of three generations of Cubans born after 1959, myself included.
Allow me to illustrate an example: before I left, many people questioned why would I do that if I had a house, a job in tourism, relatives leaving abroad that could help if needed and direct access to hard currency.
My simple answer would leave them puzzled and scratching their heads. Without even going to the fact that I wanted to leave in freedom and with no government idiots deciding how many feminine pads I could use in a month – pardon the over sharing, but that’s Cuba’s reality, whether you like or not.
I had one simple answer: “I want to live in a place where I can put my head in the pillow every night knowing that did the right thing.”
And that is not possible in Cuba.
Sadly, those in my generation that think like I do are living in the exile or died in the Florida’s Strait.
Too bad Mr. Norton didn’t go there; it's where the unforgivable failure of communism in Cuba lies.