US-Cuba: A Historic Decision

December 21, 2014


I took my time writing about the historic agreement between the US and Cuba to reestablish diplomatic relations, exchange prisoners and end the embargo of the island, for the simple reason that it is a complex issue with many different edges. No matter how it eventually plays out, it is a historic event that will change the relations between the United States and Latin America. Let me say right off the bat, that I am in total agreement with the decision: The embargo is obsolete, made no sense and in the end, and it was just hurting the people of Cuba the most.

To begin with, the normal state of things is to have diplomatic relations between countries, no matter how unfriendly they may be and how deep the political divisions between the are. Relations are normally broken only when countries threaten each other and it has certainly been a while since this has happened between the US and Cuba beyond the rhetoric of claiming the US is the enemy of Cuba (and vice versa), something that will now simply have to go away.

The blockade of Cuba has certainly not worked, neither has it helped human rights on that island and it has had a negative impact on the people of Cuba, but not so much on the economy of the island. After all, in Venezuela, with no embargo, lots of trade with the US and lots of oil, the Government has tried the imitate the Cuban model and its economy is fast becoming the same failure as the Cuban one.

So, for the US, the policy has not worked at all, why keep it? How do you reason that you will keep it: We decided this 50 years ago, it has done nothing, we screwed up, but let’s just keep it because we are all used to it or is by now programmed into our DNA?

That’s precisely why it needs to end: The embargo was an utter failure!

If the US, or any other country for that matter, broke relations with any country that violated human rights or was run by a Dictator, countries would then  save a lot of money on diplomats, because they would have to reduce their Ambassadors significantly. If this were the criteria, neither Egypt, China, or for that matter Venezuela, would qualify for having diplomatic relationships with the US and European countries that value Human Rights. And while people may support sanctions on Venezuelan individuals, I don’t think an economic embargo would help Venezuela or Venezuelans on Human Rights, but would create the same “blame the US” propaganda tool that has been used in Cuba to blame the failure of the revolution on the US.

I do agree that the agreement reached between Obama and Raul Castro seems so far  fairly one-sided: Cuba appears to have gotten the best part of the deal. But do we really know all the details? I imagine lots of details are still being worked out. But this is not a short term decision, this is in my mind a deal struck thinking long term by both sides. A deal that has been decades in the works, given that Kissinger tried in the 70’s (via Fausta) to end the embargo, and he was part of a Republican administration! Imagine that!

And the US-China rapprochement in the 70’s can be a good comparison. It was started by Kissinger, but relations did not become formal for some eight years. Eight years from now, Raul will be 91 and Fidel 96, if any of them are alive. Clearly, Obama is planning ahead to the demise of the most visible leaders of the Cuban revolution and likely Raul is thinking long term too, no matter how much he claimed that the revolution will not steer away from its course. Obviously, Obama thinks he can convert Cubans to the capitalist mode, while Raul is thinking more of some Cuban-style mixed system, which would benefit the population of Cuba. Just think, US tourism alone could become the main driver of the Cuban economy, while keeping it under the control of the Government. In the end, an open relationship between the USA and Cuba will certainly lead to a more open Cuba. How can I be against that? How can that not help change the Cuban mindset?

But I am sure that Obama’s gambit with US-Cuban relations also has a fairly large electoral component. That is, a component aimed at helping the Democrats retain the White House in the next Presidential election. After all, the Republicans face a shift in demographics that does not help their chances of taking the White House, unless the candidate’s name is Marco Rubio. And Rubio now has to be very careful if he decides to fight the removal of the embargo, because if he fails, he will look like a loser. And he is likely to fail, even if the Republicans control the Senate, simply because it is an issue which no longer has the passion that it may have had in the past. The ineffectiveness of the embargo is the best argument against it. But at the same time, the end of the embargo will remove a very emotional topic from the political table, particularly in ever important Florida.

As to whether Maduro knew or not about what was going on, my feeling is that he clearly was left out in the cold. Just think, not only did Maduro hold on Monday a rally devoted exclusively to the issue of anti-Americanism (When was the last time Chavismo held a rally only against the US?), but Maduro spent the whole week prior to that making sure he made the US the enemy, “thinking whether we should have relations or not”, accusing the local Embassy of conspiring against him and saying that the US was behind the drop in oil prices, only to hurt Venezuela. But the worst part was, that as the details of the US-Cuba agreement were being ironed out, Maduro spent last weekend in Cuba.

And he was clueless and out of the loop.

Nicolas can´t be happy about all this. But maybe he was told it was not his problem anyway.

Nicolas is not Chávez and such a shift in policy (and history!) is likely to confuse him and maybe even make him screw up. It is not an easy change, his idols have decided to talk to the Evil Empire, leaving Venezuela alone in blaming all of its ills on the US.

For now, people are just wondering how the agreement will affect the Cuban cigar industry, Major League Baseball, Tourism, communications and the like. Many US companies are salivating at the possible opportunities. Cubans are also happy, but some are also somewhat bewildered by the agreement. It is not easy to change the party line 180 degrees in a country where all of the media is controlled and the story had a single script up to now.

And who knows what it all means for Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution. If it creates divisions between Cuba and Venezuela, then it is all for the better. The same is the case if it creates differences among the various Chavista groups vying for power. But for now, there is not enough information. The agreement is historic, but only history will be able to tell us its significance and how it changed (or not) the region.

74 Responses to “US-Cuba: A Historic Decision”

  1. Yuzhou Lin Says:

    Let’s drink a cup of Cube libre to celebrate this moment! merry Christmas!

  2. Kepler Says:

    Why can’t we get a better index of purchasing power? If I just compare the hours a school teacher has to work in Venezuela, Colombia or Belgium to make a living, I see clearly the picture: Venezuela is worse off than “poorer” Colombia.

  3. Kepler Says:

    OT: does anyone know how one can get an approximation of the real GDP in Venezuela now? It seems to me that the current figures are the product of pure statistical massage. I suppose one of the reasons for the existence of the lowest SICAD rate (apart from the corruption it generates) is to be used to calculate fictitious salaries and income for pure propaganda purposes.

    If this is so: is it possible one day the outside world will present a different GDP figure than the one one could get from regime’s figures?

    • moctavio Says:

      GDP is calculated in Bs. the problem is at what exchange rate you translate it.

      • Kepler Says:

        OK, we know they will calculate it at an surreal rate. Now: is there an alternative?
        This doesn’t make any sense to me either:

        According to that Venezuela would be better off than several West European countries and that is rubbish. I just need to compare the purchasing power of people in the Benelux, Switzerland or Sweden with those in Venezuela.

        • moctavio Says:

          The last one published in Bolivars is 2012 1,635,451,060,000,000, let’s say at Bs. 50, you would get 32 billion, the problem is that if you devalue everything to Bs. 50 certain components of GDP are dollarized right away.

        • Boludo Tejano Says:

          Kepler, try this. Purchasing Power Parity attempts to smooth out exchange rate fluctuations and anomalies. I doubt that anyone has a idea of what the current GNI/GNP should currently be for Venezuela,given all the different exchange rates being used. Last I read, in constant Bs or in constant PPP dollars, Venezuela’s per capita income had increased 15% from 1998 to 2012- compared with 25% for Latin America.
          IIRC, World Bank stopped calculating PPP data for Argentina around 2007, given the fudged inflation data coming from the government.

  4. Miguel Octavio Says:

    Well, I stopped believing in politicians a long time ago…

  5. Roger Marcus Says:

    Candidate Obama, 2008:

    “My policy towards Cuba will be guided by one word, liberty. The road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba’s political prisoners, the right of free speech, a free press, freedom of assembly, and it must lead to elections that are free and fair. That is my commitment.

    I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with leverage to present, so do not be confused about this, I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with clear choice. If you take significant steps towards democracy, beginning with with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That is the way to bring about real change in Cuba, through strong, smart, principled diplomacy. We cannot keep playing political games on this issue. It is time for us to finally bring about the changes that will release the enormous potential of the people that are currently trapped in Cuba.”

    Bottom line: Obama did what he said he wouldn’t do and guess who comes out way way ahead with the deal? A Communist regime.

    Obama is a POS. Just like the Castros.

    • Valued Customer Says:

      First things first.
      > The embargo still stand, the dropping of that needs congressional approval.
      > The restrictions on travel to Cuba for tourists still stands, restarting tourism travel needs congressional approval.
      > There will be an American Embassy in Cuba, but no yet provision for an Ambassador.
      > As far as political prisoners are concerned. 53 were released.
      Internet access for Cubans was increased.

      Now let’s take the whole crux of the matter. Here is what the President said: ” That is the way to bring about real change in Cuba, through strong, smart, principled diplomacy. We cannot keep playing political games on this issue.”
      So basically the President is doing exactly what he said he would do.

      One last thing:
      > You can’t make changes to Cuba without diplomacy.
      > You can’t exercise diplomacy without negotiations.
      > You can’t negotiate if you don’t recognize the existence of the other party.
      The other party at this moment is a Communist government. Do you actually think that the will make a change just for the sake of making a change? Forget about those two tired old men and realize that the United States will be talking to people in their 50s, not their 80s.

      BTW, your final statement that “Obama is a POS. Just like the Castros.” kind of shows your hand. No matter what the President of the United States does, he will always be a POS to you. Whatever the President says, or whatever actions he takes, he will always be a POS to you. Your hatred of the man is obvious and I feel that clouded your whole understanding of what he said in that speech. Not once did he say that no matter what happens the status quo remains, that embargo will stand.

      • moctavio Says:

        With Sen. Paul backing Obama I think it will be easy to change the laws relating to the embargo, except for a select few, it is no longer the die hard issue it used to be. Moereover, even with Florida voters it is not such a deal breaker, let alone hispanics elsewhere. My gut feeling is it will be easy to override the Bills.

        • Valued Customer Says:

          Yes, I agree fully. What I find interesting is that Obama is once more creating “treasonous acts” when in reality he is fulfilling the will of the people. It has become evident to Democrats and Republicans alike that the last 60 years of embargoes and lack of communication has not done a thing to shake the Castros out of the tree, it’s time to try something else.

          The bellicose rantings of Raul Castro or Ted Cruz really mean nothing at this point. Both sides are just posturing now. In reality it will be technocrats and civil servants who will hash this out, not people of either side of argument making fiery speeches to empty halls of both houses of congress.

        • Senator Paul may not be backing Obama once the debate gets started in the USA senate. We are not going to be sitting on our hands.

  6. Morpheous Says:

    If the embargo would be lifted (which I doubt it would), how would that help the Cuban opposition?

    • Miguel Octavio Says:

      There is the opposition and there is the people, more money into Cuba will help them. Again I ask: Should we propose an embargo on Venezuela? If not, what is the difference?

      • What’s the difference? The economic sanctions on cuban trade are written into usa law. There is a position, and such a position isn’t traded away for nothing.

        And In venezuelas case the country is already headed for cannibalism, so why bother to push when Maduro is doing such a nice job of destroying the economy as Capriles babbles on about unity and elections? You venezuelans are doing a magnificent job of destroying your country. We cubans already destroyed ours, and allowed castro to genocide us.

      • Morpheous Says:

        I didn’t say I was against lifting the embargo. It is just not clear to me whether or not it would bring something better; and so, I was leaving an opened question. Anyways, this is going to take several years to see the results in case the embargo is actually eliminated. I hope for something much better but there might be surprises; you may want to check this interesting point of view:
        “The US is going to get a new, capitalist Cuba—and it might not like it”

    • Roy Says:

      Doing so would/will create expectations among the population that the government be unable to meet. To wit:

      – Ok, so where are he drugs for my sick child?
      – Where are the parts for my car?
      – Where is my new refrigerator?

  7. Boludo Tejano Says:

    Just think, US tourism alone could become the main driver of the Cuban economy, while keeping it under the control of the Government. … ….Because US people are very close and represent the number one tourism group in the world. They will travel there, in droves and things will change. I was in China beofire there was change, it is still communist, but they opened up.

    Miguel, you claim that an influx of Yanqui tourists will help open up Cuba, and use the analogy of China tourism. We find that since 1978, the number of foreign tourists entering China has increased approximately 200 times- from 230 thousand in 1978 to 1.4 million in 1984 to 56 million in 2010. You state that this increase in tourism has helped open up China. You are probably correct.

    There are already over three million tourist arrivals in Cuba every year, without the Yanquis. Where your analogy breaks down is that currently Cuba has about 7 times more tourists per capita than China does, yet China’s economy is much freer than Cuba’s, and while China is not a free country, its citizens have more freedom than Cuban citizens do.

    The conclusion is that increasing freedom in a poor, totalitarian country has much more to do with freeing up the economy than with increasing tourism . China freed up its economy while simultaneously increasing tourism: better life for the Chinese. Cuba increased tourism after the fall of its Soviet sugar daddy but did not free up its economy. Result: Castro bros still in control, and Cubans still equally poor- excepting the Nomenklatura, of course.

    • Miguel Octavio Says:

      Of course it does, but the alternative is to do nothing. And it is easy to do statistics with all of China, but it is obvious that rural Chinese did not participate in the first waves of openings of China. How many rural Chinese went in the educational programs in the first decade after 1979? My guess is none. But those that did came back, todl stories. The US is the closest country to Cuba, it has bbaseball, and Raul and Fidel are no spring chickens. I cant prove what will happen, I just hope in ten years you will remember what you read here.

      • The alternative is to sit down at a table and exchange the end to economic sanctions for an end to the serious human rights abuses we have suffered. Or do you think the only one getting ill treated is lopez? The regime has stated they won’t negotiate an end to “socialism”. Let’s see if they think repression and slavery are congenital with their brand of socialism. In that case the USA has to lean on Canada and the European Union to impose economic sanctions. The unilateral sanctions don’t work very well, but broader sanctions have an excellent chance. As for Latin American governments, and what they think, they can all go to hell.

        • moctavio Says:

          Fernando: I know I am not going to convince you. But neither I, or you know what will happen afterwards. I saw the demise of Franco and Salazr in Spain and Portugal, it came out nothing like what people expected. I dont think Obama and/or the Castros will get what they want. But by easing embargoes, you open up the possibility that tjings will not be controlled internally. Thats my opinion.

          • Here´s what I wrote for my son, who is considering a trip to Cuba. He happens to be a local activist where he lives, and is mostly involved with local US politics.


            I don´t think “opening up the possibility” is worth ending economic sanctions unless the move is exchanged for something tangible. The US is in a position of strength. And if you want to argue it will give the US an improved reputation with Latin Americans….as far as I´m concerned Latin Americans might as well be another Soviet block. They are mostly concerned with making cash and support human rights abuses if convenient. I wouldn´t shape foreign policy based on what a bunch of corrupt and meaningless governments think about it. If they want to stay out of Disney World, that´s their choice.

  8. Getting the economic sanctions changed requires USA Senate approval. To get it Obama will have to negotiate with the Castro dictatorship. And the USA negotiators will have to deal with the pressure we will be putting on the government. I’m afraid your opinion is running into a strong headwind calked Yoani Sanchez. As negotiations stretch out in time the two dinosaurs are likely to die. We will have to wait to see who takes over the White House in 2017, but I suspect you got your usa politics a bit off. I assume you realize the democrats just got defeated in November?

    • mick Says:

      The democrat senators and reps got defeated, not the President. People still blame Bush for the recession & the Gulf wars. Unlike Venezuela, the US Congress and the white house often run contradictory paths. It has to do with incumbent congressmen bringing home a lot of bacon for their constituents regardless of party affiliation(often when one retires or dies he is replaced by the other party).
      I agree with Miguel, waiting for the old men to die is foolish. They are up against the ropes now and are willing to come to the negotiating table. I am pretty sure that Halfempty is not delivering his toothpaste and aspirin to the regime. So if he can bring twice as much, how can that be bad for the oppressed.
      The Castros can tax the heck out of their $50/month paychecks, but plenty of American cash will make it into the hands of those waiting the tables and changing the sheets. I have never been on a resort vacation anywhere that I didn’t give out $50 a day in gratuities. Multiply that by a half a million vacationers.
      And as far as Rubio and his threats to block an embassy. This is a blowhard first term senator with 4 years under his belt. Anyone who thinks Obama was too inexperienced and naive will probably not want to vote for this Washington novice who doesn’t care what his constituents think. Besides, the President could always use the military base we have leased from the Cubans for the last 110 years. We’ve only got about 6000 people there.

      • Ok, so they come to the negotiating table. I’m with you. And what do you negotiate for? Equal rights for us corporations to screw the Cuban people the way the Europeans and Canadians do? A guarantee that cuban prostitutes won’t have Aids? International arbitration for us businesses building whorehouses and casinos? What’s your aim? I just ask for that goddam regime to accept UN human rights conventions, end censorship, and accept that cubans have the right to thnk different from their rotten ideas.

  9. Roy Says:


    Firstly, I am in agreement that this is a positive development. However, in judging the “blockade” policy, you need to recall the origin. It all began in connection with the Cold War. It was imposed originally, because the USSR was installing missiles on the island. It was only with collapse of the Soviet Union in ’89 thru ’91 that the U.S. policy became obsolete. Since then, the U.S. tried several times to restore relations with Cuba. However, each time it did so, Fidel managed to torpedo the negotiations, because “El Bloqueo” served his political purposes. The U.S. is often late in seizing the initiative, but they aren’t as stupid as the world often sees them.

    In any case, putting aside the history lesson, this is a good thing for all the reasons you outlined and it happened because Cuba knows it doesn’t have a choice any longer.

    • moctavio Says:

      Well, it actually started earlier, the first embargo was over expropriations, the missiles came later.

      • Roy Says:

        Correction noted. My point was that the Embargo has been obsolete and ineffective for less than 25 years. During that time, the Castros were very good at using U.S. domestic politics to prevent the U.S. from changing their policy.

  10. Valued Customer Says:

    Miguel, I do believe you are running into the “tail that wags the Republican dog” today. Rubio himself said the other day that he doesn’t care if 99% of his constituents agree with the President, he will fight any moves towards normalization – doesn’t sound very democratic to me, but hey, it serves his needs at the moment.

    I hear things like tourism only fills the Castro brothers pockets. Fidel at this point is more worried about how full his catheter bag is and Raul, although he looks good for his age is one good illness from eternity. This was not done to make the Castro brothers look good, it was done to open a channel to men and women who have no great ideological yearning for the ‘revolution”, those men who remember the revolution are in their ’70s. What are twentysomething Cubans studying more – the tired words of Che or the the stats of Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, and Yoenis Cespedes?

    Here are the telling figures. From
    > “This year’s annual Cuba poll from Florida International University found that only 48 percent of Cuban-Americans in the state still favored a blockade against the Castros’ country. The only age cohort on the “pro” side: Cuban-Americans older than 65. They approved the embargo by a 20-point margin. Everyone younger was opposed, and among those younger than 30, opposition was at 62 percent.” <
    Just as the Fidel and his fellow revolutionaries have become museum pieces to be trotted out for special occasions, so their mortal enemies have become elderly and embittered for acts committed nearly fifty years ago.

    One other quick thing. Don't let anyone try to correct you on your "imperfect" English. It's beautiful, and from the heart

    • moctavio Says:

      I know Rubio will fight it and I think he will lose resoundly and that will hurt his chances, I think that is what Obama is betting one.

      People minimize the influence that so many people visiting Cuba can have on the country. Again, I saw it in China. Toursim will make the Government richer but there wikll be more jobs too. Even at slave labor salaries. the alternative is no jobs.

      Thanks for the compliment, it is from the heart. That is all my blog is about.

      • Ira Says:

        I think you’re forgetting that after the first of the year, the Senate will also be ruled by Republicans.

        And they are not going to allow any Obama policies to stand if they have the chance–especially with a presidential election coming up. It’s simply the same old scorched earth practice.

        And remember this:

        Regardless of how the American people poll on the subject, no one here really gives a shit one way or the other. Cuba would rank LAST on what Americans care about. And next to last would be all of Central and South America.

    • The youngsters will fall in line behind Yoani when she asks, as she is doing, for the USA to demand the cuban government accept basic human rights conventions and make them part of cuban law. I myself was for ending the economic sanctions, but now things have changed, and this isn’t the time to give up and let cuba fall into another 50 years of darkness.

  11. Alej Says:

    Not sure if anyone asked before but what happens to the policy that if a Cuban makes it to the USA soil they can stay.

    • Yaya Says:

      If you are referring to the Cuban Adjustment Act that allows cuban refugees to skip the line and stay in the USA with entitlements to government aid that still stands. That is a federal law enacted by Congress which the President does not have the power to over turn at all. In The US there separation of powers. It will take Congress to repeal that law and the embargo which also still stands. Obama agreed to a prisoner swap and to opening an US embassy in Cuba (and I guess agreed to be friendly). By the way, the same Congress has to approve the money to open an embassy. If Congress does not grant money for an US. Embassy then there won’t be one.

      • halfempty Says:

        I suspect the money running the U S Interests section will be plenty to change the stationary and signage.

        And the President as CIC can move a Marine Detachment which goes with a U S Embassy.

  12. Roger Says:

    Lest we forget, in the 50’s and before, LatAm was run by dictators and juntas. Even Mother Spain was run by Franco. Revolutions came and went with all sorts of political theory. Some survived and many failed. 50 plus years later, many countries have made government work and some are still failing. It may take another 50 years to solve this. Cuba’s great sin in the cold war was to use the term communist.

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  14. Jeff Says:

    The Castros decided to confiscate the property of US citizens (and everybody else’s) in Cuba without paying ANY compensation. The US government of the day didn’t want this example to proliferate elsewhere in Latinamerica. This was the real reason behind the embargo. An example of what was going to happen to others who tried the same trick. And it worked! It still works! However, Obama now thinks he is smart ant the others love him and the US.

    Human rights? The good of the Cuban people? Please…!

    • moctavio Says:

      Again, I dont see an embargo of Venezuela for doing exactly the same. In Venezuela it has beenselective. Does it work? I dont think so.

      • Jeff Says:

        Venezuela is not confiscating US property without compensation. When the compensation has not been enough, the Venezuelan goverment is taken to court, usually losing the case. Maduro et al. don’t dare sell PDVSA assets in the US for fear of losing the money. Wouldn’t you call this a blockade?

  15. Shrillary Clinton Says:

    one wonderful consequence will be that retiring obnoxious northeastern yankees can move there instead of continuously screwing up Florida…. Cuba stand to make out like a bandit

  16. Yaya Says:

    I usually like to read you. I stopped reading at “blockade”. Where are the naval ships that block Cuba from supplies? The comments make much more sense and are far more accurate. USA was and is the number one trade partner of Cuba. The only problem the embargo presents for Cuba on that front is they cannot get US credit. Guess who is never going to pay back the loans they are going to get from uneducated and greedy US businesses? Also, I can’t stand the hubris of those who believe only US tourists can “enlighten” the poor deluded Cubans.

    • moctavio Says:

      The Cuban people call it the blockade, ships or no ships.

      • Boludo Tejano Says:

        The propaganda emanating from the Castro bros calls it “blockade.” You are going to inform me that the propaganda emanating from a totalitarian regime speaks for the “people?” Decime otro de vaqueros, pues.

        • moctavio Says:

          Talk to any Cuban that has emigrated in the last ten years, they call it “el bloqueo” whether because they have been told to call that, brainwashed or whatever, that is what they call it.

          • Yaya Says:

            But that’s not what it is. I guess you are cool with the philosophy that if you repeat a lie many times it is the truth. It’s offensive to repeat this lie. The poor people have been lied to enough. defines blockade as: the isolating, closing off, as a port, harbor, or city by hostile ships or troops to prevent entrance or exit. If you are going to write in English at least have the decency to qualify that word in this context.

            • moctavio Says:

              No, I am using a word that is commonly used to describe the embargo, whether the dictionary likes it or not. I am certainly not hung up on it. The dictionary also says obstruction, obstructing the flow of goods is a blockade and that is what is happening. It also says forces used to isolate.

          • Cubans coming out in the last ten years are all brainwashed. I call it economic sanctions. Maybe I need to start writing chavista slogans and remind you that chavez is your eternal commander so you get the idea?

  17. geronl Says:

    It is a terrible decision that will benefit the tyrants and nobody else

    • moctavio Says:

      So, you think Venezuela shoulde be embargoed?

      • I’m not venezuelan. I think the regime in Cuba should be forced to capitulate. And if this requires economic sanctions, then the effort should be made to EXPAND them. I got the feeling you don’t realize this is a fully dynamic system. ANY moves which fail to advance the regime’s destruction should be avoided, because they can encourage the dictatorship to expand. And this is something you haven’t really thought much about. This is a struggle to the death, not because we are killers, but because the evil embodied in that dictatorship isn’t static, it WILL expand. Thus we really have little choice. A venezuelan who is seeing his country utterly destroyed by these forces ought to know better after 15 years.

        I want to close by offering you this link

        Maybe music will penetrate where my words can’t. And good luck surviving the next six months if you are in venezuela.

  18. Ira Says:

    Why in the world would anyone think that American tourism to Cuba would significantly benefit Cubans? When the rest of the world has been traveling there for years?

    And how could anyone claim the “embargo” has had no effect? Have you considered the “what if” scenarios of an “embargo-free” Cuba?

    Basically, people on both sides of the issue have become “bored” with the status quo. And for some crazy reason…and a lot of wishful thinking…they think that “normalization” with Cuba…with Cuba making zero concessions and even spouting they will not change their political thinking just a few days after the announcement…will make things better for the average Cuban.

    When in fact, it could make things a lot worse via further repression.

    Keep dreaming, folks. Cuba ain’t changing, and all Obama did was throw them a lifeline.

    • Boludo Tejano Says:

      Why in the world would anyone think that American tourism to Cuba would significantly benefit Cubans? When the rest of the world has been traveling there for years?


    • Miguel Octavio Says:

      Because US people are very close and represent the number one tourism group in the world. They will travel there, in droves and things will change. I was in China beofire there was change, it is still communist, but they opened up.

      • Ira Says:

        Miguel, do you really think that American tourism to China made them decide to change their economic model? Come on.

        It was a trickle, and did nothing to change their policies.

        • Miguel Octavio Says:

          No, but Chinesebecame fascinated with anything America, going to America, American culture and realized that Americans are just people like them.

      • Miguel, I’m cuban, and I don’t see turning Cuba into China as a positive development. I realize some of you look at it as a business issue, but I see it as a war we have to wage on a very evil system, which has to be fought tooth and nail because in this fight there is no static front. Either we push them back and kick them as hard as possible whenever possible, or the will advance. They take this seriously. And I studied in their schools and learned how they think. So I know their thoughts. And I’m not about to back Obama if he indeed wants to back the emergence of a North Korean dinasty in Cuba. . Maybe Obama is laying a trap and plans to let negotiations take their sweet time, if he isn’t then he’s a complete failure.

  19. Boludo Tejano Says:

    Just think, US tourism alone could become the main driver of the Cuban economy, while keeping it under the control of the Government.

    European and Canadian tourists currently constitute a considerable amount of Cuba’s dollar earnings, and yes, this tourism is under the control of the Government. Who benefits more from this influx of tourist dollars- the Cuban people or the Cuban government? This headline says that the Cuban government is the greater beneficiary of tourist dollars. Cuban Gov. to Keep 92% of Worker Salaries.

    HAVANA TIMES — Cubans working for firms with foreign capital on the island received a bucket of cold water Tuesday when a new resolution published in the official Gazette fixes their salaries at only 8% of what the joint venture or foreign companies must pay the government in hard currency for their services.
    The announcement published by Granma daily quotes Vice-minister of Labor and Social Security, Zamira Marín Triana, as saying the new wage involves a “significant increase” for workers.
    Ever since the government announced in October that prospective employees of foreign companies at the Mariel Special Development Zone would be receiving nearly 40% of their real wages before taxes, workers of companies operating with foreign capital on the rest of the island were expecting to receive a higher cut of the wage paid by their employers to the State.
    It is the custom in Cuba that if a foreign firm wants its employees to be productive they must pay them an additional amount of hard currency under the table, since the amount they officially receive after the government takes the lion’s share is not a living wage.

    I for one would not want to spend my tourist dollars in a country where a totalitarian government is taking a 92% cut of the wages paid locals working in tourist hotels. but apparently a lot of Europeans and Canadians have no such qualms.

    I doubt that I could walk around Cuba with my Che T-shirt without suffering some negative consequences, [Si sos hincha de Che sos pelotudo sin cerebro. Tr: If you are a fan of Che, you are a brainless asshole.]

    • Miguel Octavio Says:

      Yes, but imagine all of the US tourists, That couldmantain Cuba, Raul thinks ge could control it, but will he?

      • Boludo Tejano Says:

        The Castro bros have been able to maintain control with millions of European and Canadian tourists. Are US tourists Supermen who will achieve what the European or Canadian tourists have not – help undo the stranglehold of a totalitarian regime? Methinks not.

        • Valued Customer Says:

          I’m not even sure that Fidel can maintain control of his own bowels at this point in his long, slow decline. Raul, despite the massive amounts of hair coloring looks very old and very tired. The old guard is dying out, why not make overtures to the new people. Why harden their hearts for no reason other than cold war rhetoric? They are the ones Obama’s overtures are for, not the geriatric revolutionaries.

          • The “new people” is Raul’s son Alejandro, who coordinates all the intelligence and repression agencies. He has been promoted to the power circle, a tightly knit group which includes Ramiro Valdes (former cuban “chief advisor” in Caracas), but excludes the civilian VP, Diaz Canel.

            The key consideration in my mind is Fidel’s senile dementia, and Raul’s and Ramiro’s advanced age. If the USA takes its time negotiating terms those two will be senile or dead, and Alejandro Castro would take over. But that puts the regime on a clear North Korean path. Don’t forget this regime was caught sending weapons to North Korea last year, and they are trying mightily to have a semi colony in Venezuela. These guys are a lot worse than you think.

            Therefore, what makes more sense is to negotiate with them for a couple of years. The USA has absolutely nothing to lose, and the dictatorship will be under pressure as Venezuela goes to hell. In another 18 months Venezuela wii be full of cannibals and zombies, a country run by a mad hatter and a bunch of gangsters, with bonds in default, high levels of violence and a portion of the population trying to flee by foot and by raft. The Castro dinasty isn’t going to have it easy getting much out of venezuela, and the cuban people may explode as soon as the two dinosaurs die.

            I say we need to block Obama in the Senate and go for europeans to impose sanctions, rather than ease off.

      • Ira Says:

        Of course he can:

        Any American tourist activities that go against the government–and BJ meant to say “Che Sucks” t-shirt–would be “rightfully” considered an act of sedition (is that the right word?) against their sovereignty.

        And he would be arrested.

  20. Miguel Octavio Says:

    Discussions began 18 months ago, maybe that clinched it, but it was not the main reason.

  21. Kenneth Price Says:

    With the decline in oil prices, Cuba can no longer get “milk” from the Venezuelan cow! Therefor, Castro will cozy up to the Great Satan, in place of their eternal friend.

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