The Wall Around Cuba is Falling

Fernando Ravsberg*

The 5 Cuban agents who served sentences in the United States are considered national heroes.

HAVANA TIMES — I got wind that Cuba and the United States were exchanging prisoners while interviewing a group of medical doctors who left for Brazil this Wednesday. When I told them the Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States were on their way home, there was applause, cheering and plenty of tears.

Later, we would find out of the exchange between the two presidents, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, the opening of embassies in the two countries and, most importantly, the willingness to begin talks aimed at arriving at normal bilateral relations.

To say that all Cubans are happy about this would be too absolutist, but the truth is that I haven’t run into one who isn’t celebrating. People believe that the blockade is over and, even though this isn’t the case, it is true that important steps in that direction are being taken.

I immediately headed for the office of Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban agents who had been imprisoned in the United States and was recently released. The atmosphere there was festive. For Rene, “this is a first step, the daring step that was needed to break the inertia.”

The Cuban agent acknowledges Obama’s merit, because “these steps run into opposition in US society and you need willpower and firmness to make headway.” Olga, his wife, wears a wide smile on her face. “I’m thinking about their families,” she says to me, as though apologizing.

The US Interests Section in Cuba will become the US Embassy in 2015.

I also feel happy – 5 people are seeing their families again after serving long prison sentences. In some way, all journalists working in Cuba have had contact with the relatives of the Cuban agents and those of US contractor Alan Gross.

To put an end to this situation with a humanitarian gesture that benefits everyone was a wise step by both governments. It is also a just step, as Washington and Havana were the ones that gave these people the clandestine missions for which they were ultimately detained.

A Good Start

A reciprocal humanitarian gesture will always be a good start if one is seeking a more constructive relationship. This is only a first step, but it was preceded by talks between the two presidents and accompanied by the re-establishment of diplomatic relations.

Obama’s pragmatism seems to have triumphed and his reasoning appears impeccable: “We can’t continue to do the same thing and expect different results.” The fact of the matter is that, with the “lever” of the economic embargo, 11 US presidents had been unable to make Havana budge.

Rene Gonzalez and his wife Olga moments before receiving the other agents released from prison.

For the first time in fifty years, the United States is seeking a different relationship with Cuba – but these are merely the first steps. I want to believe that we are seeing a new beginning and not a new strategy to achieve the old objective of destabilizing the Cuban government.

Will the covert operations that began in 1959 with the CIA’s Operation Mongoose and continue today under the USAID, which creates clandestine Internet networks, finances groups of young dissidents and persuades Cuban musicians to criticize the government in their songs, come to an end?

They may well come to an end, considering that the current director of USAID, Rajiv Sha, announced that he would be stepping down, saying that “with mixed feelings, I informed President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry that I am stepping down in mid-February of 2015.”

Will Cuba cease sending agents to infiltrate the United States? Will Cuba’s discourse vis-à-vis Washington become more moderate? Will the “city under siege” mentality, which leads to an attitude of constant suspicion, change? Is Havana willing to make concessions?

Raul Castro has been inviting Washington to sit down and negotiate the very year he entered office. He has referred to Obama respectfully and, during his mandate, the constant rallying against the United States’ diplomatic headquarters in Cuba ceased.

A Mined Field

Obama and Castro surprised the world announcing the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

After so many decades of conflict, the most difficult thing of all will be to achieve a minimum of mutual trust, indispensable if there is any interest in moving towards good neighborly relations. The train has just left the station and any misstep, misinterpretation or confusing declaration could derail it.

What’s more, there will be enemies lying in wait at every step of the way, ready to attack them to keep them from reaching their destination. To advance down this road successfully, we need capable, moderate, pragmatic and astute politicians willing to put the past behind them definitively.

But they won’t be alone. To get to here, they had the help of the Canadian government and Pope Francis. They will also have the support of the international community, which welcomes that the last flame of the Cold War be put out.

(*) Visit the website of Fernando Ravsberg.

47 thoughts on “The Wall Around Cuba is Falling

  • mao said it too.

  • The relationships between the US and Puerto Rico and Cuba were different. During the Spanish American War, in 1898, US troops occupied both islands. Eventually, the US annexed Puerto Rico, and the people of that island became US citizens in 1917. The US never annexed Cuba (although there were those who wanted to). Instead, the US established a hegemonic power over Cuba, with laws such as the Platt Amendment, and by integrating the Cuban economy closer into the US economy. Cuba was not a US colony, but not exactly fully independent and sovereign either.

    For the record, and in case you accuse me of supporting this foreign policy, I do not. The Platt Amendment was a gross abuse of US power. While it was good of the US to defeat the Spanish army, which brought Cuba nominal independence, they were acting in US interests, not those of the Cuban people. Perhaps if the US had recognized the Cuban rebels earlier in their fight against Spain and provided military, economic and diplomatic assistance, the Cuban people would have defeated Spain themselves, without the negative effects of the US occupation. Cuban history would have been far different.

  • It was Lao Tzu who said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” –

    Not Mao.

  • So there is now another human rights violation in Cuba – the right to eat in a McDonalds. In a world where kids work long hours in sweatshops or down mines in highly unsafe conditions, don’t you think your priorities are a bit misplaced. You conservatives are a joke.

  • Formerly the Platt Amendment was repealed (though not dropped – Guantanamo is part of it). However, Cuba remained a semi-colony in all but name, a bit like Puerto Rico.

    I agree that the hostility has been on both sides and I am so glad that things appear to be finally changing.

    Regarding the boat incident, the link you provide is dead and I’m a bit dubious about it since this is the only news outlet to report on it. But the issue of emigration is one that needs to be tackled as soon as possible. The Cuban Adjustment Act wet foot / dry foot only encourages illegal and dangerous emigration from Cuba. There isn’t any excuse given that Cubans can emigrate legally and safely through normal channels and it is as much the US pressing Cuba to curb these boats than from the Cuban side.

    This agreement hasn’t anything to do with human rights issues on either side. It is about normalising relationships between both countries and with Latin America. Todos somos Americanos.

  • John wrote:

    “sociopathic, …psychopathic, …unintelligent, …disingenuous, …unlettered drivel, …intellectual embarrassment, …not a happy or rational state of mind, …Alzheimer’s patients”

    That was perhaps a record for ad hominem attacks from you. What is it about the Left that they cannot debate facts in a reasonable manner but must always resort to personal insults?

  • The US recognized Cuba as an in dependent nation several decades ago, long before Castro seized power. The Platt Amendment was repudiated and repealled in the 1930’s.

    As for the aggressive relationship, it’s been a two way street. Both the US and Cuba have contributed to the hostility. I do agree with you, less hostility is better.

    However, there has been no improvement in human rights in Cuba. The Castro regime continues to press the Cuban people, as the attack by Cuban coastguard on a boatload of refugees a few days ago brutally demonstrated. The Castro regime remains intensely hostile toward the Cuban people.

  • Better than some, worse than others. In one aspect, the Castro regime is worse than all others, in that they have lasted so much longer.

  • This is all pathetic Plattist nonsense. The recent announcement recognizes Cuba as an independent nation and reduces the aggressive relationship between the two countries. What is wrong with that?

  • Then admit it. Cuba’s human rights record is better than US backed Capitalist countries in Latin America. I’m waiting.

  • a trip of a thousand miles begins with a first step – mao

  • That is a positive and intriguing interpretation of this week’ historic events. I believe it’s a given ther is more to this than meets the eye. Perhaps some off he record agreements have been achieved? Raul gets to create about standing up tot the Empire for a couple weeks, to keep his hard core flank mollified. That’s pure speculation, but it’s possible.

    Having a full US ambassador in Havana is a positive step. But I have not heard that Cuba will be posting a full ambassador to Washington, have you?

    Anxiously, I await the second shoe to drop.

    In his televised announcement, President Obama advanced the proposition that countries which make peaceful transitions to democracy achive more lasting transformations. That’s argueable, as it hasn’t always been thus. However, the alternative is a violent transition, which is not desirable. When the political dynamic turns violent, those who are the most willing to do the most extreme violence usually win. In Cuba, there are many ordinary people who might want revenge upon the regime, but it is the regime who own all the guns. If push comes to shove, the killers with 56 years of experience will win.

    Better to go the way of peaceful change. I have my doubts, but I wish Mr Obama success in his gambit.

  • I want to believe that despite the initial appearance that Obama was on the losing side of the deal, in fact, in time, this will turn to the US’ favor. An US ambassador speaks directly to Cuba’s foreign minister at the very least and can demand an audience with Raul. International tradition is that an ambassador is the representative of the President of his country and must be afforded the same protocols. With this in mind, a US ambassador is more likely to garner the international media’s attention when speaking out against Cuba’s all too frequent human rights abuses. Raul will be very reluctant to expel a US ambassador that took 55 years to earn. Secondly, without a “Free the 5” campaign internationally, the next likely gripe will be the embargo. That sets up the ideal debate. They say “lift the embargo” and we respond “free the Cuban people”. I remind you of what took place in Myanmar. When the military junta cried out for lifting the embargo, the pro-democracy movement responded with “give us an election”. I am suggesting Griffin that when the dust settles and the pro-Castro crowd has finished taking their victory lap, the reality will set in that no new capital investment and no great wave of US tourists will emerge until Cuba is a free country.

  • Bingo.
    You nailed it .
    Whether this crew is sociopathic or psychopathic their self-esteem is tied up with never admitting error.
    Were they not so unintelligent and disingenuous in their responses I would think that they were working for the State Department /USAID but the ease at which most of us can pick apart their arguments does not permit that possibility .
    What kind of person would unceasingly post the unlettered drivel they do , suffer the intellectual embarrassment they do on a constant basis and continue to do so as if they were the winners in the debate ?
    It’s not a happy or rational state of mind for them .
    And because of all that, I for one, do not bother with them anymore.
    It’s like working with Alzheimer’s patients; the facts are always both new AND unacceptable to them .
    Save your time and effort for more worthy opponents.

  • Of course there is a range of opinion in the press. What is significant is that a newspaper that has usually been rather supportive of all that he does, the Washington Post, has criticized Obama in very harsh terms over this move. And it’s not the only critic.

    Solidad is a lovely talking head, but nobody has ever accused her of being the most thoughtful commentator in TV.

    Rubio’s family history is constantly misrepresented by people who don’t like him. His father opposed Batista and fled Cuba when things got too hot for him. He returned to Cuba shortly after the Revolution when he heard things were getting better. He stayed for a few months and discovered that Castro was even worse than Batista and went back to Florida.

    I have consistently spoken out against the human rights abuses in China every time some Castro bootlicker has attempted the weak argument that the US should lift the embargo on Cuba because the US long ago lifted the embargo on China. I correctly point out that China remains a dictatorship which abuses the human right of the people. Trading with China has done nothing to bring democracy to that country. Therefore, there is no reason to expect trading with Cuba will bring democracy to that island.

    It hilarious the pro-Castro clan here at HT habitually assume anybody who criticizes the Castros MUST be a Miami Mafia Batistiano. Sorry to disappoint you, but I am born and raised in Toronto, of British, Scandinavian & Native American stock. Not a drop of Cuban blood in my family. I base my anti-Communism on my profound respect for human rights, democracy and my love of freedom. I happen to think the Cuban people deserve those things, too.

  • I’m not suggesting he should have consulted the full congress. Nothing would ever get done if a President attempted to conduct foreign negotiations like that.

    The President has the authority to conduct foreign policy without consulting Congress. That’s an executive power the office holds. No argument there.

    However, any treaty would have to be ratified by congress, and he would be wise to build bridges with allies in congress to help that happen. At the very least, Obama could have consulted his own party member, Robert Menendez. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, this matter would be of keen interest to him. Perhaps Obama chose not to because he knew Melendez would object to what he was planning on doing: giving away a raft of concessions while getting very little in return.

    This is pure speculation here, but perhaps Obama did consult with certain members of congress who he knew were more supportive of his goal of lift the embargo. A few weeks ago Senators Lake (R) and Udal (D) travelled to Cuba. It’s quite possible they carried a message from Obama to Raul Castro as part of their mission. Such things have been carried out in that manner before.

    I don’t object to Obama negotiating with Cuba on these issues. I do object to him giving the Castro regime a huge win without getting much in return, aside from Gross and a Cuban spy. I would love it if this move spurs the Castro regime to adopt a program of political reforms, that they start to respect the human rights of the Cuban people. But like you, I think it naive to believe it will turn out that way.

  • That’s the problem with pro-Castro folks. You don’t read the fine print. Cuban cigars WILL NOT be legal for import. Visitors to Cuba will be allowed to bring up to 50 cigars with them in their personal luggage. I am personally thrilled to know this. I had been sneaking them into the country up until now. The travel restrictions are still pretty stringent and licensed travel to Cuba remains expensive. Yes, it is a start. But not as good as you seem to think.

  • the cuba people have been harmed by the embargo and the new policy will help them greatly as they receive more funds from family and friends and expand their businesses.

  • but advances have been made in terms of money transfers, import of cuban cigars, export of additional items, expansion of travel. it’s a good start.

  • It is funny how you cherry pick the reactions in the U.S. press! Just this morning there was an interview with Solidad O’Brien where she was very positive concerning the re-establishment of relations. She even went so far as to say that many members of her family benefited from the Revolution (though, generally, she herself was critical). Also, like Marco Rubio, her family, specifically her mother, came to the U.S. before the Revolution (but unlike Rubio, she didn’t pretend that her family “fled Castro,” even though his family came here during the mid-1950’s!) Since–at least ’til recently–you’ve never complained about China, nor a host of other countries where so-called human rights are in far worse shape than Cuba, you seem to be in bad faith, a fact that suggests that such hatred is probably inspired because you or your family were burned by the Revolution in the early 1960’s (despite you saying that you’re a Canadian). Otherwise, you wouldn’t have such a pathological obsession against the Revolution!

  • Consulting with Congress would have been a waste of time. Opposition leadership is not interested in doing anything that would be a win for Obama. Not conferring with pro-democracy Cubans was a mistake. Judging from his press conference today, he doesn’t see his actions as a betrayal. He reiterated again that his change in policy is because the old policy wasn’t working. He ran on a platform of talking to our enemies so this is in line with that promise. I am disappointed that his efforts towards normalization are construed by pro-Castro folks as a validation of the Castros’ failed policies. But take heart, the Cuban reality has not changed overnight, nor will US efforts have an impact on Cuba in time to save Cuba from the Castros. There is still plenty of time for things in Cuba to get worse before US efforts begin to make things better.

  • The issue is not who is more informed than whom. Especially when you consider where you got your information from. Who caused what is also debatable. The issue is when and how will Cuba be a FREE country to decide for themselves what their future will be. Now that the US will open a dialogue with Cuba, it is hopeful that our influence with hasten the day that Cuba is free.

  • …”some of who are NOT idiots”

    So you feel the need to point that out, Wayne, that you’re not on idiot? Ok, let’s all agree you’re not an idiot.

    In the post of mine above which you responded to, I quoted the comments of several Cuban dissidents. You said that makes me come across as “an arrogant know it all”. Could you please explain that non-sequitur? Do you think those Cuban would be more pissed off at my comments or at yours?

    I read Tracey Eaton’s excellent reporting on Alan Gross, published here at HT. So I think I can easily say I am well informed as to why he was arrested. I don’t see why that is relevant to the post of mine which you responded to, given how Alan Gross wasn’t mentioned in it.

    Why do you say I don’t listen to other’s opinions? I read your comments. I also read others and carefully respond to them. I don’t always agree with others, but I do try to show basic respect & decency to my fellow HT commentators, which is more that I get from the likes of you. I have never called anybody here at HT “an idiot”, although I have been called many bad names by others. Why is it the leftists here feel the need to insult people they disagree with? Can’t you simply discuss the issues in a rational and civilized manner, with resorting to insults and cuss-words?

    Oh, and Merry Christmas to you, too.

  • The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Senator Robert Menendez, who happens to be a member of Obama’s own Democratic Party, condemned Obama’s concessions to Castro and lamented the fact that the President didn’t bother to consult with him about it.

    So yes, I think we do know Obama did not consult with Congress.

    A few weeks ago, as reported here in Havana Times, a senior US diplomat stated that the Obama Administration was not planning on any changes to the US policy toward Cuba. Did you forget that?

    As for “Griffin knows all”: in the previous post you referred to I included links to the op-ed from Menendez. Are you suggesting that knowing the facts in the case, and backing it up with references, is a detriment to an argument?

    PS: I have never worked on any US political campaign, as I am Canadian. I’m no fan of Jeb Bush, and while I do wish Marco Rubio well, but I think he’s still a little young for the big job. We have already seen how an inexperienced Senator can screw up as President.

  • Amen, amen, amen. In another post our friend Griffin even claims to know that Obama hadn’t discussed his policy change with anybody in Congress. That’s so full of it, numerous congress people have been requesting he make the change for over 5 years. But like you say, Griffin knows all. I think he is actually trying to get a job on the Marc Rubio campaign team, or maybe its Jeb Bush. Good luck Griffin.

  • Come on find out the REAL reason why Mr Gross
    Was incarcerated…..don’t assume….don’t just read the US propaganda….you criticize Cuba propaganda…and of course there is lots of that…..US propaganda is out there every bit as much

  • I’m so sick of you and your “like” coming across like arrogant know it ALLs….there are some of who are NOT idiots…and in fact know MORE about Cuba situation…past and present than you do…differing opinions are ok…..but the arrogance that comes across as ALWAYS being Right…..and not being OPEN and LISTEning to others….is exactly what pisses off many Cubans and some of us non Cubans….anyways Peace…enjoy the Festive Season

  • Unfortunately, Obama chose not to consult with anybody in Congress, nor with any pro-democracy groups in Cuba as he had promised to Berta Soler and Guillermo Farinas.

    He negotiated this sordid deal with Raul Castro, who does not represent the interests of the Cuban people.

    I can’t see how Obama expects to get Congress to do his bidding after treating them with such contempt and especially after betraying the Cuban people.

  • Dan, grab a mirror. I am full aware of the brutal repression of the people in other Central American countries. It is you who refuse to consider the facts of the murders and repression of one group of people, simply because you support the ideology of the Castro regime.

    I support the freedom, democracy and human rights of people in ALL countries, not just a select few. When are you going to stand up for the freedom, democracy and human rights of the Cuban people?

  • Mc Donlalds is a franchise business model. …so if true freedom comes to Cuba and a Cuban wishes to open a Mc Donald’s, you would deny him/her the right? If he were to open such a store it would mean there was demand, right? So you would also be denying Cubans the right to eat at McDonalds if they do choose. And it really comes down to that doesn’t it…..the right to choose.

    In many ways Cuba has become a “white board” where idealists of the socialist bent overlay their utopian ideas. They never seem to notice those ideas always entail some sort of repression. They are so quick to deny others the right to do something or other. Well how’s that worked for Cuba so far?

  • Agree

  • Sir Moses….we areNOT idiots herein Canada…we KNOW…that the embargo hasnt been lifted yet…Congress approval ect…the fact that “diplomatic relations” is resuming…..first step to TRY and clear up this idiotic mess…..”mostly” caused by your Imperialist country….wake up Moses to the FACT some of us are actually MORE informed than you…and even know more about Cuba….past and present….2 eyes with an OPEN mind is sooooo much much better than 1 eye half open….with a closed mind….Anyways….enjoy your Festive Season Moses

  • Griffin, how lightly you find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to the Cuban government. A traffic accident with a wild driver who had lost his license and a death of a patient in a hospital. But of course ! What else could it be but murder by the government ? Now, care to talk about what goes on in Mexico, Colombia or Honduras ?

  • Laura Pollan and Oswaldo Paya faced some serious hardship, Dan. Both of them are dead at the hands of the regime.

  • So you think it’s a great idea for US corporations to go into partnership with the Cuban military oligarchy which controls Cuba?

    The Cuban people are been sold down the river and you cheer it on ?!?!

    I cannot express the depth of the disgust I feel toward so-called “progressives” such as you who claim to care about the Cuban people while showing them such contempt and disregard.

    The Cuban people get no democracy, no freedom, no human rights, but they do get to be exploited by a US corporation in collaboration with the Cuban military dictatorship.

    Oh, but no Golden Arches to be seen, so that makes it all fine?

  • Por supuesto. These gravytrain riding shills are afraid of losing there usefulness to their Washington/ Langley bosses. They are by and large mediocre personalities Yoanni foremost, who confront minimal hardship compared to activists in US supported regimes. Dare to compare, Griffin ?

  • The embargo is not lifted. Many people are so excited by this announcement that you have failed to read the not-so-fine print. The embargo must be lifted by Congress and that is not likely to happen anytime soon.

  • This is awesome news to everyone! Raul Castro just eliminated the common denominator the “Yankees”, now when the cuban people take the streets to show their discontent no one can say that they are being paid by Raul’s new Best Friend, the same new friend that is sanctioning Maduro, the same other dictator that is doing now what Castro has been doing for more than 50 years, violating human rights, murdering and stealing money from all Cubans. Yay!!!

  • That is a really good model to follow when deciding if and when to allow American businesses in: Foreign ownership of the business limited to 49% or less, foreign ownership of the land still prohibited.

    A large American fast food chain could, for instance, invest in El Rapido and elevate that chain’s presence, service, and food quality — without any Golden Arches, etc.

  • When you say “Cuba” you mean the dictator Castro’s government. Cubans don’t have the right to decide for their country.

  • Sadly the wall the Castro regime erected to protect itself isn’t falling.
    that is why the move by Obama was irresponsible at best, criminal at worst.

  • Cuban dissident leaders react to President Obama’s announcement to normalize relations with Castro’s dictatorship:

    “Sadly, President Obama made the wrong decision. The freedom and democracy of the Cuban people will not be achieved through these benefits that he’s giving — not to the Cuban people — but to the Cuban government. The Cuban government will only take advantage to strengthen its repressive machinery, to repress civil society, repress its people and remain in power.”

    — Berta Soler, leader of The Ladies in White.

    “[Alan Gross was not arrested for what he did, but for what could be gained from his arrest. He was simply bait and they were aware of it from the beginning… Castroism has won, though the positive result is that Alan Gross has left alive the prison that threatened to become his tomb.”

    — Yoani Sanchez, Cuban blogger and independent journalist, 14ymedio.

    “The Cuban people are being ignored in this secret conversation, in this secret agreement that we learned today. The reality of my country is there is just one party with all the control and with the state security controlling the whole society. If this doesn’t change, there’s no real change in Cuba. Not even with access to Internet. Not even when Cuban people can travel more than two years ago. Not even that is a sign of the end of the totalitarianism in my country.”

    –Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of murdered Christian Liberation Movement leader, Oswaldo Paya.

    “[Obama’s announcement] is horrible and disregarding the opinion of [Cuban] civil society sends a bad message. The acceptance of neo-Castroism in Cuba will mean greater support for authoritarianism in the region and, as a consequence, human rights will be relegated to a secondary role.”

    — Antonio Rodiles, head of Estado de Sats.

    “Alan Gross was used as a tool by the Castro regime to coerce the United States. Obama was not considerate of Cuban citizens and of the civil society that is facing this tyrannical regime. In Miami, Obama promised that he would consult Cuba measures with civil society and the non-violent opposition. Obviously, this didn’t happen. That is a fact, a reality. He didn’t consider Cuba’s democrats. The betrayal of Cuba’s democrats has been consummated.”

    — Guillermo Fariñas, former Sakharov Prize recipient.

    “The Obama Administration has ceded before Castro’s dictatorship. Nothing has changed. The jails remain filled, the government represents only one family, repression continues, civil society is not recognized and we have no right to assemble or protest… The measures that the government of the United States has implemented today, to ease the embargo and establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, will in no way benefit the Cuban people. The steps taken will strengthen the Castro regime’s repression against human rights activists and increase is resources, so its security forces can keep harassing and repressing civil society.”

    –Angel Moya, former political prisoner of the Black Spring (2003).

    “We are in total disagreement with what has transpired today. It’s a betrayal of those who within Cuba have opposed the regime in order to achieve definitive change for the good of all Cubans.”

    — Felix Navarro, former political prisoner and co-head of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU).

    “It’s discomforting that the accounts of the Castro regime can grow, as the first step will be more effective repression and a rise in the level of corruption.”

    — Jose Daniel Ferrer, former political prisoner and co-head of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU)

    “This is a betrayal that leaves the democratic opposition defenseless. Obama has allied himself with the oppressors and murderers of our people.”

    — Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez,” former political prisoner and head of the National Resistance Front.

    “I feel as though I have been abandoned on the battle field.”

    — Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, former Cuban political prisoner and U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.

  • Big corporations are already in Cuba. The Canadian mining corp, Sherritt International is there, Spanish & French hotel resort operators are there, and Labatts, a subsidiary of the world’s largest beer conglomerate, AB-InterBev runs the brewery in Holguin. The French corporation Ricard-Pernod operates the Havana Club distillery.

    Meanwhile, the Cuban military corporation which runs the Cuban interest in the hotel partnerships is the largest Latin American hotel chain.

    In fact, over 70% of the Cuban economy is run by one huge corporation, GAESA, which is owned by the Cuban military.

    Which all goes to show how clueless the Castro apologists are: while fretting about GMO foods and McDonalds, you are cheering on the complete corporate-fascist take over of Cuba by the military oligarchy around Raul.

  • This deal is not getting much good press in the US. Most observers agree that Obama gave away too much in exchange for too little. Even the liberal Washington Post editorial board wrote a scathing op-ed piece denouncing the deal:

    “Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.

    The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely. Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life.”

  • If as an outsider, I could offer advice to Cuba; it would be for the country to be very selective of what companies you let in. Do not under any circumstances allow large multinationals to take root. Be very vigilant.

    The US industry usually establish a range of fast growing fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Gloria Jeans. All of these will quickly destroy your local small business operators and then dominate the supply chain capturing and controlling every aspect. They have unlimited capital to destroy competition and a licensing model that allows all proceeds to be expatriated out of the country. The only thing Cuba will receive is obesity and diabetes.

    At the moment, the US is experimenting with genetically modified organisms GMO’s as a control mechanism for agriculture I would suggest that you do not allow this in your country because (A) it does not increase crop yields (2) it locks you into a monopoly seed & pesticide supplier (3) once contaminated you cannot return to a natural crop. GMO products are less attractive to global consumers so this destroys any chance of obtaining a premium for quality.

    Cuba should only accept the good and turn away the bad. Focus on small & medium size US businesses to partner with at an equal level and slowly build your own businesses to export and distribute products & services into the US.

  • Indeed “small” free enterprise..NOT…big CORPORATE free enterprise…..McDonalds….Wallmart….Starbucks….STAY OUT

  • It was past time to end the embargo and establish full diplomatic relations. Cuba can succeed if it realizes that it is necessary to encourage small private enterprise and expand private sector employment and to allow a wide range of thought through an open press.

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