Cuba: Between Political Repression and the Complicity of the US Left

By Isabel M. Estrada (Café Fuerte)

A Cuban welcomes the reopening of the US Embassy in Havana on July 20, 2015.
A Cuban welcomes the reopening of the US Embassy in Havana on July 20, 2015.

HAVANA TIMES – I am a disciple of Emiliano Zapata. I don’t want bread without freedom or freedom without bread. I want both bread and freedom. I guess that makes me bourgeois.

The United States and Cuba have reopened their embassies and the US Left cannot contain its excitement, assuming the island conceals a lost paradise.

Many of us are fuming over the plethora of benefits the Castro regime is being offered without making any significant concessions. However, I wonder why we’re asking the United States and Obama to do the work for us…again.

Cuba’s situation can only be blamed on the regime, which has stifled the island for more than five decades. Everyone, however, is partially responsible as well. I firmly believe that we Cubans, particularly those of us living abroad, have plenty to blame ourselves for. We talk a lot and very fast, but we never do anything and we never miss an opportunity to go back and have our pictures taken at sunny beaches and the cafes now in vogue…and hand the government easy hard currency. And let’s say nothing of those who bribe everyone they can, with no qualms about shaking hands of dubious integrity, so that they will get a good slice of the cake, now that everything is going cheap. Nothing is quite as disagreeable as this shameless opposition.

Fleeing the Fight

Why should the United States continue to go at it in a fight that we Cubans have no trouble putting aside?

Hugo Cancio, who runs the digital journal OnCuba – a man who left Cuba in the Mariel exodus of 1980, incidentally – is taking full advantage of the situation in Cuba today. He admits most of the money invested on the island comes from Miami. As a recent article published by The New Yorker rightly explains, Cancio is a very attractive figure for the Cuban government: a capitalist Cuban-American who is also a patriot and who unscrupulously abides by the game rules set down by the Party (it’s Guidelines, as they are called), particularly if he stands to profit from it. “Cubans like Cancio have deduced that expressions of resentment won’t get them anywhere,” the article concludes.

The US Left has also discovered the wonders of the cruelest form of capitalism in this new Cuba.

It is disheartening to see how those who criticize the worst of an individualist system that devalues common efforts and penalizes the poor for their condition pile praise upon praise for the transformation of Cuba, from a socialist to a market dictatorship – or, to borrow a friend’s concept, the Stalinism-market hybrid they would have us believe is the best of all worlds.

The positive reaction towards the “rapprochement” process of the Left and right-wing US entrepreneurs demonstrates that Jose Marti was only partially right about the “tumultuous and brutal North that despises us.” It reminds me of Casablanca, when Ugarte says to Rick: “You despise me, don’t you?” And Rick replied: “If I gave you any thought, I probably would.”

The Illusion of the Forbidden Fruit

Americans don’t despise Cubans, particularly average Cubans without a dime to their names. They don’t even think about them. They only think about the forbidden fruit, the film images of Havana’s nights and uninhibited sex. Those who stick to an ideological position despite the evidence in front of them perhaps want to admire a country that stood up to imperial power, and they cling to their illusions like a hanging man to a burning nail.

Why do celebrities and multimillionaires travel to Cuba? Are they trying to divulge the island’s great medical breakthroughs, or do they simply want their pictures taken in Cuba’s vintage cars, ironically the heralds of what is to come?

Yes, US citizens ask themselves what sense there is in maintaining a failed blockade, a blockade I am also opposed to, as it is one of the hypocritical foreign policy stances the United States still maintains. There are no problems with China, but Cuba…well, it’s communist. Obama’s actions are an admission of failure. That, perhaps, speaks of the greatness of the United States.

When I get hard-headed, I ask myself why they should re-establish diplomatic relations with a brutal and anti-democratic regime. I see two options: to have blind faith in the market’s ability to bring about democracy or to be completely indifferent to the fate of most Cubans. I believe these two attitudes describe the positions assumed by the United States everywhere.

I know what to expect from the US government. What I cannot tolerate is the position assumed by my friends on the Left. If the only way to have equality in society is through repression, I don’t want that society and I doubt many people would either. We know that line of reasoning is fallacious.

Needed Relations

We condemn violence against women in India, genital mutilation in countries of Africa, the murder of women in Honduras, but we have nothing to say about the women who are beaten in the streets of Havana for staging a peaceful protest.

We fight against the United States’ overcrowded prison system and its genocidal effects on the black population, but we keep quiet about the declining living conditions of black people in Cuba, their growing exclusion from sources of hard currency and the growing numbers of black people living in poor neighborhoods or in prison.

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba are needed. The United States doesn’t have to solve these problems. We Cubans ought to do so. The United States, however, should at least condemn this regime a little more emphatically.

On July 20, Enrique Pumar, head of the Sociology Department of the Catholic University of America, went on the radio show Kojo Nnamdi and said that the two governments should make an effort to move forward, because it is of “no help” if, in the midst of negotiations, human rights abuses continue to be perpetrated in Cuba. “That doesn’t help. In any democracy, elected leaders have to answer to the public and when people see these thing on the news, they become disillusioned,” said the academic.

I would like to know what democracy and what elected leaders Pumar was referring to. Imagine the reaction people would have if someone said that it doesn’t help that ISIS continues to kill people, that bloggers continue to be flogged in Iran or that Saddam Hussein keeps imprisoning and torturing opponents. It certainly doesn’t help those being beaten, that’s true.

Ah, but it’s not the same, see, because health and education are free in Cuba.

75 thoughts on “Cuba: Between Political Repression and the Complicity of the US Left

  • I don’t just go to Cuba, my home is there and it is where I spend the majority of my time. Yes, my wife is Cuban and I am related to some 67 Cubans. When in Canada we are in daily e-mail connection with Cuba. As one living in Cuba and at times travelling in Cuba – I have been from the Guanahabibes Peninsula in the west to Baracoa in the east, I fail to see the changes of which you vaguely speak and yes the people of Cuba have had hope for 56 years. Hope that sometime they will have liberty from a repressive regime.
    Raul Castro Ruz has said that he is stepping down as President in 2018 – no word about his military office. The Castro family regime will maintain control of all security including the CDR through Alejandro Espin Castro, Raul’s son and control of GAESA through Raul’s son-in-law and GAESA controls 80% of Cuba’s economy.

  • Please tell your friend JG, to point out even one of my “mistakes”. It is true that I am no fan of those socialist regimes that use the banner of socialism to mask totalitarian agendas. Thanks for your concern for my heart health. I can assure you that I have never been in better health and my efforts to express my anti-Castro views have only served to invigorate my ‘joie de vivre’.

  • Re-fighting the past does change anything today.

    As a country, Cuba has failed to be able to support their citizens and the government simply steals what there is available with both hands and a scoop shovel so hardly anything is left for the common citizen.

    Move on, create the country you want and accept responsibility for what happens.

  • You suspect too much, this is going to affect your health; is there no end to your negative speculations about anything even barely “pink” in the grand scope of your deluded mind? How much time a day do you spend dreaming up these ideas about the Castro Demons giving Maduro orders; this is backwards. It was the USA Ambassadors who used to give orders fresh from Washington to all their Latin American puppet presidentes and military despots so WRONG AGAIN! In fact, my good friend John Goodrich the Anarchist was right when he detected 8 mistakes in one of your diatribes…I tell you Moses, you sure-enough gonna get yourself a coronary with a sirimbilla on the side if you keep this up…

  • Of course it was not the “official” reason but it was one of the main reasons, these things are international financial conspiracies done under the guise of something else but everybody involved knew what happened. In my conversations with Cuauhtemóc Cárdenas (Mayor of Mexico City and 2-time candidate for the National Presidency) in his Playa house (Havana), we discussed this situation as an attempt by the USA to sabotage the Mexico/Cuba trade relationship, punish Mexico and put an economic ball and chain around it’s ankle, but it failed miserably. Mexico got its loans at a reasonable interest rate and told Uncle Sam to go take a hike with it’s “Emergency Loan” set at usurious rates. So there, Mr. Griff, it seems neither you nor Wikipedia know everything…

  • Sorry IC, but have you ever been to Paterson (NJ), or Detroit or Baltimore, Mattapan (Mass), South-Philly, Algiers (LA), Jackson (MISS), Phoenix City (ALA), Beaumont (TX), Oklahoma City, Kinman (AZ), Oakland (CA) Medford (ORE), I could go on… and seen how the majority of the People there, full USA Citizens, live? Ask the people there how they like the “American Way” and how they are profiting from the “American Dream”. You were never in any of these places (I was!), you know only Miami and even there, when have you ever gone to Liberty City along 79th and checked it out? Did you go to S.E. DC when you were in the Capital and along Jefferson Ave to the areas where the “American Way” have people living like animals and victimized by crime and drugs, disease and lack of services because they are black or brown and very poor? You know absolutely nothing about Cuba since you left except the Miami Gusanera Radio Bemba (Cuban American gossip network) crap, Fidel has now “died” 314 times in Miami. And because you were too young when you left, you did not have your own mind distinct from that of your parents. And besides all of that, you have not refuted any of John Goodrich’s POINTS (by the way, a good friend of mine); so stop demonstrating your absolute lack of anything to say and respond to my good friend John if you dare

  • What the hell is this; rambling away again, MacDuff? These comments do not belong in this forum, they are simply you talking about your favorite subject, Yourself: what you like and don’t like, what you think about the USA, what you don’t understand about the USA, how you feel about Israel and Palestine and finally how you feel about us Mutts and what we are all about (again incorrectly) in 3 short lines…What happened to Cuba? This is actually quite revealing, so let go of the mirror, pack up your wife and move from the tenebrous depths of Cuban Socialist Hell to the Happy Land of toilet paper in Sunny Edmonton, Alberta.

  • 5) The Labour Party of 1948 WAS a leftist entity that represented the democratic aspirations of the working class in the UK at that time;
    “Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here”
    I know every word of its very militant anthem (since changed) and some of its history; it’s been sold down the river and gutted of its socialist spirit by now but: Frankly Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn! This is Cuba, 2015 and We have our own way of Walking, Dude!
    Cuba made many mistakes trying to apply a system of government made in the USA and one made in Russia, neither fit well so we have to invent one of our own now. Watch us build it and shut up!
    If you had been my OIC in a war scenario you would have understood the full meaning of the American-English verb to “frag”.

  • 1)It was You and Informed Consent who started and keep on bringing the lack of toilet paper as a major problem in Cuba, as if it was penicillin, and I simply made you aware how BANAL and UNIMAGINATIVE this big concern of yours really is; I’m sure IC already asked his parents/older family members and they informed him We never used TP in Cuba until very recently, in some places it never was seen before the Revolution. So it’s not like “sharing something personal”, We (Cubans) all practiced this act of simple hygiene. Your incredulous reaction to the notion really says a lot about your lack of appreciation for personal hygiene.
    2) I did not chose to leave but was taken out as a young adult after the Bay of Pigs in fear of an imminent, new invasion, this one by USA troops. The USA has had a long record of ending the People’s democratic aspirations in Cuba and any other Latin American country with an invasion, usually Marines, the famous “Walk Softly And Carry a Big Stick” doctrine.
    3) I do not “deprecate” the Canadian System”, you are generalizing in a crude attempt to put words in my writing that are simply not there. This Canadian Democratic System” is far from perfect but not too bad in the world stage unless you are an Aboriginal Canadian; then it was and to a large degree still is a nightmare. I said We in Cuba had already tried that “Democratic System” and it was a sham of corruption up to the highest level, it didn’t work. Our elected officials up to the President got their speeches from the USA embassy just before air time, parliamentarians were bought by USA $, anyone who resisted was killed by the Mafia or the secret police…I believe in Democratic Socialism, one We Cubans have to create on our own without your help or permission.
    4) I really do not care what you do or don’t do about John Goodrich or why, all I know is that your attempts at demonizing the Castro Family and the Cuban Revolutionary Government, depicting Cuba as a hell on Earth or trying to ridicule me for being clean have been clearly exposed for what they are: the single minded ramblings of a know-it-all foreigner who doesn’t even speak Our language, Mr. Gordo, tries to tell me what I am or not, criticizes everything We do and pretends he knows what we peons should be doing instead. We Cubans have heard it all before.

  • carlyle, Marino Murillo, The Chris Christie look alike who sure seems to eat well.
    I’m not a big fan of this guy but hey, just an observer so take that with a grain of salt. The only positive is he is animated and doesn’t have that thousand mile stare that is so often seen on the old timers faces. I just wouldn’t want to share a meal with Marino as it would be slim pickings after he passes the plate over!

  • I only read about what you’re referring to alohajoe and have to agree the glass is half full. The other amazing fact is that Good Friday is now a national holiday. That caught me off guard. You have some pretty anti-party bloggers who not only have websites but visit miami and give pretty radical speeches.
    Social Media!! That’s going to shake it up big time.

  • Miami Gusanos are the ones who supply Cuba with up to a billion dollars a year m. Don’t piss us off. We are the ones whi keep the failed Castrisra model going year to year….oh the irony!

  • Well said. But you have to understand that John rarely leaves his moms basement. He wouldn’t know the truth.

  • He doesn’t care about the reality if it conflicts with hid perceived truth.

  • “If the only way to have equality in the society, is repression, then I don’t want that society.” This is the very problem of the new intolerant American left. The American left, indeed has lost it’s soul to a an ends justifies the means strategy. Strategies that involve taking and redistributing are sure losers. The only form of collectivism with sustainability is one that involves bottom up shared productivity. Education, infrastructure, rule of law are all worthy public goods. The repression in Cuba will not be ended by heavy handed diplomacy. The transformation must come from within. The best way to help is to stop fueling the paranoid delusions of the regime.

  • Come on, It doesn’t take much training to shoot ack-acks and all Cuban men do obligatory military service, but I will not argue this point; there were Cuban soldiers there and we fought back when attacked by not only a better armed, but an overwhelming USA force supported by jets and helicopters. I’m glad the Cuban CO surrendered, he had no choice other than to sacrifice all his men and create a much larger conflict than what it was. I also hated Bernard Coard for his cowardly assassination of Maurice Bishop and for opening fire on an unarmed crowd. Reagan just took advantage of an opportunity provided by Coard and stomped the Democratic aspirations of Grenada.

  • The Left never seems capable of comprehending the basic principles of economics. The hyperinflation in Venezuela was caused by the Chavez & Maduro governments printing reams of paper money to pay for social programs and pay off political supporters. Printing too much paper money causes inflation.

    The Mexican Peso Crisis of 1996 was caused by Mexican government & central bank fiscal policies and had nothing to do with installing a fibre optic network in Cuba.

  • Again, I go there. There are a great many changes all throughout the country. The people have hope. You could sense it if you go there. I don’t go to the tourist areas, the US government won’t let me. You seem to be caught up in the same old Miami rhetoric that I myself believed until I became an adult and asked myself, would I leave my home if the US government was coming to take it or would I fight to the death. You guessed it, I would not flee. That’s a concept I think most Americans would do, although we have our share of cowards too. Raul is stepping down in 2018. Merging even a minimal amount of capitalism into Cuba was a HUGE deal over the Fidel years. Gay rights in Cuba. That one TOTALLY caught me off guard. The Pope holding a mass in front of the Che building in the Plaza de la Revolución. How is THAT not a major change. Have you ever been there? I’m not sure what you’d consider change, but if you are expecting a foreign government to go from Communism to free market capitalism in a day, that’s just not how it works. The change is in the wind there and I hear it even from my watchers there when I corner them.

  • Carlyle, what a surprise that you do not address my points but resort to personal comments and what you think of as insults, you are just outing yourself for the ignorant and unsanitary person you are. As a Cuban I sought “shelter” by going to Chile in 1973 and defending the democratically elected Allende Government from the USA planned and executed coup d’etat with a gun (actually 3) in my hand. My “shelter” earned me shrapnel all over the left side of my body and a blown-apart knee. I also started a foundation to send supplies to Cuba during the Periodo Especial and traveled to Cuba with the Pastors for Peace caravans. I am a recognized Cuban Citizen and travel with my Cuban Passport.

  • There are several scams employed.

    One scam goes like this: you’re a Venezuelan general and you exchange a million Bolivars for US dollars at the special rate of 6.3 Bs to the US dollar, which is available only to the regimes’ closest supporters. Then you take your US dollars and exchange them for Bolivars on the open market at the higher rate, thus multiplying your pile of cash. Repeat this a few times and you made an easy million in U$.

    Capital flight is soaring. Anybody with money in Venezuela is getting it out:

    Another scam is in the import business, which is controlled by the regime’s friends:

    The military is also ranking in huge profits smuggling cheap state subsidized gasoline across the border to Colombia where they sell it at world prices.

    Leaked documents from HSBC have revealed huge accounts owned by a handful of Venezuelans:

    “Venezuelans are questioning why a former treasury minister and ex-bodyguard of late President Hugo Chávez is linked to a Swiss bank account with HSBC holding billions of dollars.”

    The Maduro government is intimately involved in the corruption which is syphoning wealth out of Venezuela:

    The Venezuelan military controls the drug trade, receiving drugs from FARC and transporting them on to Europe, Mexico & the US:

    And this:

    If you care to read the above documents, you will learn about pattern of corruption, embezzlement, drug trafficking and fraud in the highest circles of power of the Chavez & Maduro regimes. You can google up hundred of more articles on the same subjects. Or you can dismiss it all as a CIA plot, which is what you will do.

  • Good point!

  • Thank you! I was planning on being there on 8/14 but my invitation to the flag raising ceremony at the embassy didn’t come yet. I’m still hopeful, but it’s getting a little tight for scheduling. I’ll send you a note here. I usually stay at the Telegrafo on Neptuno in Old Habana, as the Parque Central across Neptuno Ave is outside of OFAC’s spending limits. I do go over there to use their WiFi and cigar shop though! 🙂 There is a camaraderie among former combatants that most people just never understand.

  • Thousands did take up arms, but they were in Cuba and did not include the cowards in Miami. This was before the Bay of Pigs. Look up the “Yankee Comandante”. His name was Morgan. He led one of Castro’s regiments of guerillas holding to the tenants of the Manifesto of the Sierra Maestra during the overthrow of Batista and once he saw Castro turn away and usurp power, he was gathering his regiment for a counter revolution to purge the new dictator. He was found out and put to death by Castro, who then had his name wiped from the revolution’s history. That’s the thing with truth, you can do everything you can to hide it, but its always found.

  • Indeed! …and the construction workers knew how to maintain and fire the double a’s! 🙂

  • Sure, I’d take Fidel at his word over someone that was actually there. Look how he held to the tenants of the Manifesto of the Sierra Maestra from ’57. Lies are a lot easier to believe when you weren’t there and have no first hand knowledge. I distinctly remember a couple of Ack acks just on the island side of the runway. So no, you are absolutely wrong. But hey, don’t let someone who was actually there help you with the truth. I didn’t pay much attention to what Reagan said or did, my job was to get in, secure the strip, and get out in one piece. Politics isn’t why I served. At least read Wikipedia before you post about something you really know nothing about.

  • One can only sit and grin about you criticizing anyone – including myself about talking about them selves.
    You are the guy who sitting in the comfort offered by Canada described your method of anal cleansing – how personal can you get?
    As a Canadian citizen who has raised his family in the safety of a free country with free multi-party elections, you choose to deprecate the system whose support you sought and to praise a totalitarian communist dictatorship – but one you chose to leave!
    In your own words you admit that Cuba did not actually have a multi-party system – “a sham”.
    The UK Labour Party was the one which introduced the world’s first national health system in 1948. I have always given credit to them for it and Fidel Castro tried to copy it well over a decade later. But if you think that it wasn’t a concept of the left, then stick to your opinion and say that Fidel Castro copied the capitalists.
    My memory is that Circles Robinson in exerting his rights as Editor remonstrated with Mr. John Goodrich for contributions which didn’t even address Cuba but expressed repetitively his views upon State Capitalism.
    You may also note that since that time I have not responded to Mr. Goodrich at all!
    The Cubans are blessed in that they don’t have you assisting them to forge their own way!
    Stick to what your good at – The Gomezz Method!

  • I have been spending the majority of my time at home in Cuba for a lot more than three years. I cannot agree that there has been change during the last three years. Everything is just the same old system. The shops are still short of supplies of everything from toilet paper, to coffee, to Cuban beer, the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba is still plastering the towns and countryside with huge posters praising the regime, the TV is still dominated by similar propaganda – with one channel carrying all Maduro’s rantings full length – he hasn’t the endurance of Fidel, only lasting 40-60 minutes, but he makes up for that with delivering daily.
    As far as hope is concerned, many Cubans have had that for many years – without any change occurring.

  • You may observe some surface change in Havana, but there is no in non-tourist Cuba. I know, my home is there where I spend the majority of my time.
    In case you think that military activity is a form of superiority, I should add that I too have been a military officer.
    I agree that it is good to call a spade a spade – which allows me to observe that Fidel and Raul Castro Ruz have in turn been Socialismo dictators over a subjugated people for a total of fifty six years and most Cubans in consequence, know no other system.
    Marino Murillo as Minister of Economics made it quite clear in his presentation to the Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in January 2015 that there would be no increase in incomes for Cubans.
    Raul Castro Ruz has made it clear that he intends no form of political change. Yes, there has been some wishful thinking, but just try to define and list any specific ‘changes’.

  • Oh! come on, come on!
    While the Cubans were busy trying to ‘resolver’ their daily lives, and the Castro family regime was consolidating is power, you as a former Cuban but a Canadian were sheltered in Canada from the reality of the Castro dictatorship.
    To my knowledge the expression “the royal we” was given to Queen Victoria of Great Britain following her saying: “We are not amused! So when you use the expression “we”, we are not amused!
    Our only resort when reacting with a degree of scorn to your “we” is to go and use The Gomezz Method

  • The heck there wasn’t! I was there and part of US advance party. Again, some of us get our reality from the Internet and some of us get our reality by BEING THERE. That’s as stupid as calling Seabees “construction workers”. …and yes, they were indeed armed, regardless of what you read somewhere.

    At least include Wikipedia in your Internet search…

  • The Cuban system is preferable? …Even Fidel doesn’t believe that claptrap. And who are you to know what the Cuban people prefer? You don’t even know any!

  • Proof John? Ask the Cubans who live in Cuba what keeps them poor…..they know. The government of Cuba denies its citizens opportunity. The communist party of Cuba has only one purpose, and that is to stay in power. The average Cuban is simply considered as chattel by their government.

    You are so deluded as to what the reality is in Cuba. Go back and read your
    Castro speeches

  • Hey Griff, I already answered your first paragraph above and you’re repeating your mantra again.
    No, this unnatural inflation rate is called Economic Warfare, the USA did it to us and we had to internalize the Cuban Peso, they did it in Chile during Allende, they did it to the Mexican Peso because they resisted giving concessions to USA companies and had agreed to install a fiber-optic, telephone network in Cuba. Now they are doing it to Venezuela to plunge the People into abject poverty and thus make Maduro and his government unpopular, just like the Cuban Blockade was supposed to. Your myopic speculations about who will benefit are to be expected from you and discarded off hand: We all will, the Cuban People and the Cuban Government!

  • I suspect that under orders from the Castros, Maduro will take another tack. He will declare a Venezuelan version of martial law. He will then cancel elections, all in the name of national security. He is not smart enough to flee Venezuela. He would be doing Venezuelans a favor if he did.

  • How’s ceasing hostilities, not allowing Cuban-American terrorists from attacking Cuba from USA territory, or opening diplomatic relations plus taking Cuba off the lists of States That Sponsor Terrorism and States That Engage in Human Trafficking. What about the relaxing of travel restrictions to Cuba for USA citizens and increments in the amount that those tourists can spend there, and in the amount USA citizens can send their relatives in Cuba, also the increased trade in food and medicine many States of the Union have been trading with Cuba for sometime now. There is already more $, food and medicine available for Cubans and more coming, as well as a lot more contact with the people of the USA and thus opportunity to learn, share, trade and mutually benefit. This is already happening and, as the Blockade crumbles like the Berlin Wall, the USA will be eager to invest and to trade with us. Thanks Obama!

  • The Cuban military was ensconced in Grenada. Just because Fidel minimized the number of soldiers by calling them construction workers doesn’t make it true. He is more likely to be lying than not because of how these soldiers compote themselves. They surrendered to the better-trained and better-armed US Marines. This pissed Fidel off so much he had the commanding officer court-martialed. Don’t be so naive.

  • Interesting observation. Cuba and Venezuela are like two ships passing in the night going in different directions. Cuba has seen it’s worst. Venezuela is headed for its worst days. The weakness in the positive changes taking place in Cuba is that these changes are not grounded in improving productivity or operational efficiency. Cuba only APPEARS to be improving. Most of the changes are cosmetic. The infrastructure continues to crumble and crop yields continue to decline. Nonetheless, something is better than nothing. Sounds like Venezuela, upon the advice of the Castros, is heading towards more nothing.

  • Agreed

  • No it’s not a racist comment, you Cuban Americans are only ~10% of the Cuban Population and most of you are, by now, born in the USA, having never seen Cuba. Alohajoe is not talking about all Cubans, he is talking about you specifically, Cuban-Americans; and I (100% Cuban) agree with him about your cowardice. You folks talk and talk all you want, that’s all you do, but our Revolution is still in power.
    The only thing that is racist, is the fact that you, Cuban-Americans, are 95% White and constitute one of the most racist groups in the USA against African-Americans, Chicanos, other non-White Latinos, Asian-Americans and Aboriginal-Americans and even Afro-Cuban-Americans. This is the pot calling the brand-new, shiny kettle, black.
    However, the USA is totally at fault for the direction the Revolution took by plotting against Fidel and then planning and executing the Bay of Pigs and thus driving Cuba into the waiting arms of the Soviets. Cuba had no choice then but to seek the only other defender large enough to protect them from Uncle Sam’s wrath.
    We were then played as pawns by both sides, Cuba’s Socialism became very, top-down Russian and Cuba became the “Boogie Man” of the Americas as the USA tried so hard to isolate us. Any attempt at Democratic change anywhere in Latin America, from Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic through Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Uruguay and Haiti, were snuffed out by military coup d-etats planned and organized by the USA
    under the banner of anti-Communism and the false allegations of “Cuban Involvement”.
    But through our own efforts we were able to survive the catastrophic collapse of the Soviet Block and the Periodo Especial, and are moving forward now that the hostilities with the USA are over, and the Blockade will soon crumble.
    By the way, The USA invaded Cuba for the first time in 1898 (the Spanish-American War), not 1989 and you seem to decry the USA giving up support for the Batista Regime, the only right thing they did. Would you have preferred their continued support for that blood-thirsty tyrant?

  • Where is your evidence to back up your claim that Maduro and his government are stealing money ?
    Sources please.
    Anything asserted without evidence can and should be also discarded without evidence.

  • “Yet there are those mutts – most of them American – contributing to these pages who prattle on suggesting that Cuba under the Castro family dictatorship is a preferable system to that which prevails in the US.”
    Your wording is so slanted that you should post this in Pisa .
    The Cuban system IS preferable .
    Oh certainly not to a vociferous , U.S. sponsored and very small minority of people in Cuba but it is the overwhelming majority of the Cuban people and electorate that prefer their revolution, their life, as bad as the United States has endeavored to make it to what they had before and that was the same failed free-enterprise economic system and the (eminently corruptible under FEC) multi-party electoral system that the USG and totalitarian-minded people like you wish to inflict upon that nation again.

  • BRAVO!!! M Gomezz
    I wish I had said all that .
    I agree with every point you made
    Carlyle, because you support free-enterprise capitalism and one dictatorial government form or another and, I would guess, the oligarchy in the United States you are on the far right of the political spectrum which tends toward the fascistic .
    As someone on the very far left ( anarchist ) I have never witnessed anything in your posts other than right-wing sentiment.
    I take special note of the fact that you never call yourself a democrat nor did you make any reference to democracy as central to your belief system in your self-defining post .
    You can have free enterprise capitalism or you can have a democratic economic system …but you cannot have both.
    But that’s YOUR problem.

  • “In Venezuela, WE ( emphasis mine JG) got things moving for Lopez’s movement on our last visit and we’re hoping …..”
    Who or what is the “we” in the excerpt above ?
    Are you with one of those “democracy promoting” State Department subdivisions like USAID ?

  • Sounds like your proposed scenario would be totalitarian heaven for you free-enterprise capitalists and all those who support a government controlled by the enormously wealthy which amounts to a dictatorship of money.
    Have you ever considered the benefits of a DEMOCRATIC society where you live ?

  • The embargo works.
    Cuba is not the United States as regards its medical system or how the population’s health, education and welfare are maintained so
    the embargo causes all Cubans to live in poverty as it was designed to do
    I won’t bore you with all the proof of what I say which you have always ignored.
    You’re repeating your sorry self, you know.

  • There were either no or few Cuban military at the construction site at Point Saline (sp?) at the time of the U.S. invasion.
    The Cuban government listed the name, age and affiliation of everyone on the construction crew. Further, the construction crews were not armed because constructions crews operating in friendly, peaceful countries do not need arms . (Cuba and the Bishop government were best of friends,.)
    U.S. troops took unarmed Cuban workers as human shields to advance across the area.
    And …Forbes Magazine used to be the only ones claiming that since Fidel COULD walk into the national treasury or drive in in a truck and leave with all he could carry , he was one of the richest people in the world.
    He lives in sweat pants and in a real nice house as befits a retired leader in a poor country.
    You’re confusing Fidel et al with all the dictators the U.S. installed and maintained in power like the Duvaliers who left their countries with millions/billions .
    As a veteran of Grenada you might want to go back and look up Fidel’s comments on the invasion in which he listed and explained in detail all of the thirteen (13) lies President Reagan told in his speech attempting to justify the invasion. (look it up on the net)
    Do come back and tell me how many of the lies you knew about both back then and now if you can bear to look at the truth.
    I doubt you’ll ever be able to do this especially since the truth would be told to you by Fidel Castro’s in his own (translated) words.
    My bet is that you’ll stick with all the comfortable lies you choose to believe .
    Welcome to the club … more ways than one. .

  • As someone who goes to both Cuba and Venezuela 3+ times a year, I can tell you this. There is both change and hope in Cuba. There is nothing but dispare and desperation in Venezuela. In Venezuela, we got things moving for Lopez’s movement on our last visit and we’re hoping for an opposition landslide in December, but even at that, we still have the PSUV controlling the CNE and Maduro pulling all International observers that aren’t friendly to them. So, we’ll see. Back to Cuba, things have changed there radically in just the last three years. Things will start changing even more rapidly once the hoards of American tourists start going there. It will be a Castro nightmare and give those of us in the shadows a LOT more room to work and stretch the already thin government “watcher” brigade.

  • Such baloney, “Thousands of Cubans” did not take up arms against Fidel; the Bay of Pigs invaders (~1800 men) were Miami-recruited mercenaries from several countries, later a few bands of “proto contras”, recruited, parachuted into Cuba and supplied by the CIA between 1962 and 1965 were effectively wiped out and had no support at all from the population at large.
    Miami Gusanos are a bunch of cowards who talk a lot but do squat except throw pamphlets off airplanes and beat their chest, in this I agree with alohajoe. Furthermore, these Gusanos have been meddling in USA politics from the assassination of John Kennedy, we know the alleged killer was working for a CIA front purporting to be a pro-Cuba org and that Kennedy was killed over his decision not to invade our Island after the Missile Crisis Accord and to rein in the CIA. Then came the Watergate Scandal, the B.B. Rebozo-Reagan affair, the pseudo-election of Bush II, just to name a few.

  • Now you know and I know we could spend a very pleasant time shooting at each other, literally, (it could have happened if you were in Chile in 1973), but we have one thing in common, we have both entered combat for whatever we believed in, we are doers, not talkie-talkers. You called a spade a spade, thank you.
    There has been a lot of change in Cuba in the last 3 years and it’s been for the better, now the opening of relations and cessation of hostilities should make Cuba buoyant and ease the People’s lives as it has. Anytime you are in Havana, I’d love to buy you a drink of Caney Añejo and a good cigar, we can also get into a good fist-fight after and you know this is not a big deal in Cuba…

  • WOW, all that you wrote above is nothing but talking about yourself, not this article; we know your jaded opinions already, you don’t miss the chance to denounce Fidel and his Family for any reason at all. I do not understand how Circles Robinson gives you such latitude while warning John Goodrich for the same. Is this a Miami-based publication? Please enlighten us.
    Your simplistic view of either-or, black-white is ridiculous but suits you to a T, claiming the UK Labour Party is “leftist” has to be the most inaccurate statement you have ever uttered. And why are you talking about that? Who cares if you have NDP friends, are a “pink conservative” or who you deprecate? This is about CUBA!
    We had a multi-party “democracy” in Cuba before 1959 and it was a sham, the People did not have a voice through or were represented in any way by their “freely elected” politicians. There were no civil rights, no education, no roads, no jobs and no justice; foreigners (USA) ran our economy and corruption was the rule, not the exception. In order to succeed in this Brave New World, We Cubans most forge our own way and develop a more effective Socialist economy with support for small and middle-sized business and relaxed but effective government control as these changes are implemented. We must never let Uncle Sam get back on our saddle again.

  • …and indeed. thousands did take up arms against Castro. Those I salute …and a few cowards fled with their money to the US while the others fought.

  • Sorry Informed. It seems that most US citizens have never read the manifesto of the Sierra Maestra. It indeed, as President Kennedy said, was “true and proper”.) Ignorance unfortunately runs high here in the US. It’s the same asking people in the US who Morgan was. circa 1957 (English)

  • You are dead wrong. In 1960 Morgan realized Castro turned away from the principles of the manifesto of 1957 and was starting a counter revolution. He was found out and killed for treason. You are also dead wrong on the “no improvement” there. I actually have been going there under OFAC for quite a while. Over the last 3 years there has been quite a change. For God’s sake, the Pope is holding a service in Communist Cuba shortly. When has that ever happened before. It’s people that just read and don’t “do” in the US who get caught up in the agenda of the author. You have to actually “do” to see reality. Having been a US military officer, I have NO fear of the Cuban military OR Castro when I am in Cuba. Sure, something bad could happen to me. Esso si que es. I will not live in fear of a guy who craps himself daily. I know of 100’s of little eateries in old Habana that are turning meager profits and that’s a HELL of a change in the last 3 years. Yes, it’s communist. …and it will be communist until we engage the people there. If you’d go there, you’d see it. I go to Venezuela as well, there you don’t sense the hope of change….at all. In Cuba, you do… That is if you have the cajones to go there and engage the people.

  • Who the freak are you talking to? First, there was no war in 1989 that I know of with the Spanish. Second, what’s “racist”? Calling out the Miami Cuban Batista supporters? …and I totally agree that we f’d this up in 1960 as John Kennedy even said.! ..and lastly, I’m not telling anyone “What to do.” I’m saying allow me to be free to do what I want to (help them out of this).

  • I always read certain commentators and one in particular, who I find to be a tad negative but highly
    intelligent, gave you a bravo Isabel so I didn’t just quickly read your post, I carefully read it and yes,
    bravissimo! One note that I disagree with, personally, is that I watch videos coming out of Cuba and look for children and elderly and their expressions to get a glimpse of a microcosm of Cuba. We in the States are not looking to take advantage of the folks in Cuba but try to understand what you’re going through. I even believe that some in the entertainment and glamour stars, with their paparazzi, are allowing the world to see another scene that otherwise wouldn’t have been witnessed. It also gives the young a chance to get a spark of glitter. Pax Isabel and thanks to you and Mr. G for educating me.

  • IC, great message regarding health care being free in Cuba. You made a blind man
    see! Don’t agree with you many times but this message was sick! (i.e. great!)

  • As a Cuban I can say that you are full of it. ….Let’s just leave at this, Fidel Castro should have kept his two main promises: restore the 1940 constitution and not seek political power. He lied about both and now instead of a prosperous Cuba we have….well, we have what we have.

  • As one accustomed to the constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy system, I would find it difficult to comprehend the US political structure. We who are not Americans find it difficult to understand why Americans are allowed to purchase sub-machine guns, 9 mm Glocks, Colt 45’s and the rest and to carry them around to it appears regularly shoot innocent bystanders.
    We find it difficult to understand how Republicans can view a bouffant styled braggart as their trump card. We find the evident power of the Christian Right – which supports Netanyahu building more and more houses on the West Bank astonishing.
    We find the sums of money spent in the US on elections extraordinary.
    But above all bjmack it is confusing to watch two political parties regarding preventing each other from governing in a sensible manner as achievement. Success being when one can claim:
    “We stopped them from doing anything.”
    But despite my comments, the USA leads the world in so many spheres. My memory is that either 6 or 7 of the leading universities in the world are American.
    Yet there are those mutts – most of them American – contributing to these pages who prattle on suggesting that Cuba under the Castro family dictatorship is a preferable system to that which prevails in the US.
    But none of them have a home there – as long as they stay in the States they can say what they like!
    The US is a peculiar creature – but the world, especially the free part, is better off with it than without it.

  • Health and education are NOT free in Cuba. It is dearly paid for with an effective tax rate about 98%. This leaves the average Cuban with about $20 or so a month to supplement their state ration card [which only provides enough low quality food for two weeks, when you can find it] and pay for clothes and other necessities. ….in other words its not enough.

    But unlike Griffin, I have seen improvement in the lives of Cubans, albeit to the ones who have access to American dollars, or/and CUC’s . Those who have been able to take advantage of the private work space , few though they are, have a distinct advantage in Cuba. Its why more and more professionals turn away from their chosen profession to become taxi drivers and such. The Cuban system is broken John. You know the system is broken when a jinatera makes more money than a doctor in Cuba!

  • Let’s talk change, like in 1989 the Spanish American War or 1902 Puppet Republic or 1959 when the US gave up supporting Batista any longer. Cut the bullshit, The US is equally or more at fault than Cubans for this disaster. Your comment is racist and quite stupid. America fucked this up ROYALLY and we choose the wrong guy to fix it and paid dearly. Now you come all high and mighty and tell the Cubans what to do, again!

  • Ken,

    But who will benefit when the embargo is lifted? The Cuban people or the Castro regime? Sadly, it will be the latter. The regime will take in billions while the people get the crumbs. I wish it would work out differently, but I don’t see how it will.


    The unofficial inflation rate in Venezuela is now over 800%. Hyperinflation has hit. The economy is in a tailspin. By the time the election rolls around, Maduro & his clique of thieves will have fled to Spain or Panama or Cuba to live off the billions they stole from the wealth of Venezuela. The poor will be left to clean up the mess.

  • Thousands of Cubans did take up arms to fight against Castro & his tyranny. They were surrounded by Castro’s Soviet armed military and exterminated. Try learning a bit about the subject before shooting your mouth off. It was not the opposition to Castro who made him a billionaire, it was the steady stream of foreign corporations ready to do business with the Castro regime and the millions of tourists who fill his resorts, who made the Castro’s rich and kept them in power.

    I recommend the following book: “Unvanquished: Cuba’s Resistance to Fidel Castro”

    So far, there has been no improvement in the lives of ordinary Cubans since Obama changed US policy toward Cuba. The repression of dissidents has increased (over 600 arrests last month). Raul Castro has specifically ruled out any political change. The Cuban military continues to dominate the political realm and control the economy.

  • I have welcomed the resumption of diplomatic relations. I don’t think that is the same as endorsing Obama’s policy overall.
    “What benefits has it brought to the Cuban people?” Not much. Perhaps a few more tourist dollars and easier remittances from Cubans in the US to their families back home. The benefits will be small unless we can end the embargo.

  • Carlyle, sadly you’re Canadian but if you ran for US President I’d give you a thumps up!
    Never met a nasty Canadian!!

  • No argument here. That’s why I write “ONE of the benefits”. I also share your regret that at a time when we have the CASTROS on the ropes, Obama’s rapprochement appears to be a safety net. However Griffin, it has not happened yet. Even a significant increase in American tourism to the island alone is not enough to bail out this sinking ship. By the regime’s own official estimates, Cuba needs at least $2B in outside capital investment every year over 5 years to turn the moribund economy around. That’s significant corporate investment. This will not happen overnight, if at all. In the meantime, Fidel is celebrating his 89th birthday in a few days. Time is running out for these guys. The Venezuelan opposition is sure to win a majority in their legislature this fall. Cuba is sure to lose the Venezuelan subsidies once that happens. I don’t see Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba changing anything anytime soon.

  • Not nit picking, but there are companies from many countries investing in Cuba, so I very much doubt the claim that:
    ” most of the money invested in the island comes from Miami.”
    Reads to me like US myopia!
    There is the rest of the world out there!
    The Castro family regime is however glad to welcome hard currency from anywhere. They can’t afford to be too picky! read list of companies!

  • A correct and interesting comment Ken. As one who has been described in political circles as a “pink conservative”, I differentiate strongly between those of the “left” who wish to impose control of the people by the State and those who recognise freedom of political views and open elections – which happen to include friends of mine.
    Examples of the former include Stalin’s Russia and the Castro family regime in Cuba. The latter include Britain’s Labour Party and the New Democratic Party in Canada.
    Although I disagree with my NDP friends regarding some of the policies they support, I respect their opinions.
    However, I deprecate and sometimes despise those who in expressing their “Left” views, seek to impose or to support a system of dictatorial control. Adherents to, or supporters of the Socialismo system of the Castro family regime are in my view either ignorant of the reality of life in Cuba for the average Cuban or supportive of repression and oppression.
    I have similar views towards dictatorships of the “right”.

  • Personally, as someone who spent 20 years in the US Army and actually faced and shot at the Cuban Army in the 80’s in Grenada on the runway, I take offense to any minuscule minority controlling US policy on ANY country. I also hate being called “left”. Yes, the republican party is now filled with idiots (read Rubio and every Florida politician), but this isn’t a left or right thing. It’s “THE” right thing to do, not “A” right thing. Cuban American’s have had 50 years to go back and “fix” the government in Cuba. You’ve failed miserably. You’ve made no progress either through ineptness or just plain cowardliness (pick your choice) and made the Castro family BILLIONAIRES. Now it’s your turn to get the hell out of our way and watch us change “YOUR” government without 1 shot being fired. The one thing I never got, was how you could flee your country without fighting to the death for what was right…. unless you didn’t believe you were in the right.

  • You, for one.

    You have praised Obama’s new policy, have you not?

    What benefits has it brought to the Cuban people?

  • Surely there are more significant benefits to the US system of government than the ability of the sitting President to blame previous presidents. Obama, for one, has overused that excuse time and again.

    On the subject of US foreign policy towards Cuba, there certainly is a long history of bad policy. Obama can accurately say that the 50 plus years of the embargo have not succeeded in overthrowing the Castro regime. He is less than honest if he fails to mention that the Castro’s have always had a sucker to bale them out. First it was the USSR, then European & Canadian tourists & resort corporations, then it was Hugo Chavez and Venezuela’s oil. Now the latest sucker seems to be President Obama himself and the the US capitalists & tourists who are falling over each other to send money to Cuba, which will inevitably funnel into the regime coffers.

    It is beyond ironic to read here at HT all the Leftists cheering on this new phase of US-Cuba relations, when it is painfully clear what the end result will be: a re-invigorated Cuban dictatorship, dominated by the military and controlled by the Communist party, in alliance with foreign capital enslaving Cuban workers.

    It’s enough to cry!

    Bravo to Isabel Estrada for her powerful essay!

  • What a load of crap! There are NO errors in my comment, and if there were, they would be errors in understatement not ignorance as is often the case in your posts.

  • “Ah, but it’s not the same, see, because health and education are free in Cuba”
    I will not deal with any of the other gross inaccuracies in your post except this one.
    Health and education are not free in Cuba .
    In order to keep those revolutionary benefits the Cubans people have had to bear up under the poverty created by the U.S. embargo.
    This the same embargo which hasn’t worked well at all according to all our resident “experts” but which all the professional imperialists in 12 or so U.S. presidential REGIMES ( see, I can do it too) have thought worked very well and not only kept but strengthened over the years.
    Evidently the author knows more about the effective measures of imperialism than do the people now running the show and all those in the past 50 years or so.

  • I counted eight inaccuracies in your post.
    To avoid boring you , I will not go into the details which I have already done for you too many times .
    I’ll let you know the numbers if errors in any and all of your future posts that catch my eye.
    This is a lot easier . Thanks Circles.

  • Cubans struggle to understand that Obama can disavow the policies that preceded his administration without diminishing the respect he holds for those previous administrations. That’s one of the benefits of changing Presidents every 4 or 8 years. The Castros struggle to make the needed changes in Cuba because to do so is to admit they were wrong previously. Obama can easily blame previous Presidents. The writer of this post would do well to look up in the dictionary the words “blockade” and “embargo”. Perhaps because of the Spanish to English translation or because she is a unwitting victim of Castro propaganda, she uses the word blockade when embargo is better fitting. There are no US naval ships surrounding Cuban ports. I agree and I have often commented here at HT that Cubans should do more. It was ultimately the African-American who shook off the shackles of Jim Crow and led the fight during the Civil Rights movement. It must ultimately be Cubans themselves who send the Castros packing to usher in a more democratic Cuba.

  • The “Left” is not a monolith. There is a range of opinions on all the questions raised in this article. If the writer were to quote a group or an individual, we could get a discussion going. But I find it hard to defend or to criticize a “Left” that is amorphous and unnamed.
    For example, which person or group “has also discovered the wonders of the cruelest form of capitalism in this new Cuba?”

    I note that the writer and I agree in opposing the economic embargo and in supporting the resumption of diplomatic relations.

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