26 January 2007

"Arbeit Macht Frei"

Everybody from South Florida, to Madrid, to China, to Washington have their eyes on Havana.

They are hoping that once Fidel is buried, that the island’s doors will open.

Great, you say. Freedom at last for the long suffering Cubans. Think again. It’s not about the Biscets or the Fariñas or the Roques in Cuba, it’s about the Benjamins.

There’s money to be made. Plain and simple. And those who would like to put things like freedom, multi-party elections and human rights before profits are cast aside as hard-line reactionary political hacks.

The Cult of the Absurd is alive and well and getting more converts everyday.

The Economist has two articles on Cuba and what the opening of trade with Cuba would mean.

This articles examines the trade between the Gulf States of the US and Cuba.

Some excerpts:

The state port authority's director, James Lyons, hopes this will change. “We're trading with Vietnam, we're trading with China. These are both communist states,” he says. “It's silly to have tense relations with a neighbour that close.”

In 2005 Alabaman companies did roughly $140m in trade with Cuba, according to Ron Sparks, the state's agricultural commissioner, who is aggressively pursuing Cuban business. “We've sold cotton, we've sold cookies, crackers, fruit juice, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressing—a lot of processed foods,” says Mr Sparks.
Even if the embargo were to be lifted tomorrow, Mr Lyons cautions that trade would not boom immediately. “They don't have the currency to buy what they need,” he says. But trade works both ways—so how about some Cuban cigars and rum for America?

Whole Article here

Pressure is growing for a re-think of policy towards the island

This article’s premise is that with the newly seated 110th Congress with Castro sympathizing leftists and amoral capitalists in key positions, will ram Cuban policy changes down the throats of the deaf George W bush and his allies in la Calle Ocho.

Some Excerpts:
…The relevant committees in the 110th Congress are now headed by longstanding critics of the embargo. These include Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Max Baucus, who heads the Senate Finance Committee. In the Senate Joe Biden of Delaware, a liberal and non-ideologue, has taken over the Foreign Relations Committee.
William Delahunt, the Democrat who now heads the oversight panel of the International Relations Committee in the House, has already announced that he will hold hearings shortly into Cuban aid programmes. Other hearings could be held on scandal-plagued Radio and TV Martí, the Miami-based government broadcasting outlets directed at Cuba. A government report has already exposed flaws in aid to Cuba's tiny dissident movement, as well as in funding for anti-Castro projects in the United States.

Critics say all these programmes have done a good job of fuelling the anti-Castro industry in Miami, while having little impact in Cuba. That, of course, has long been the dirty secret of America's Cuba policy. “The administration is not interested in Cuba, it is interested in Calle Ocho,” says Philip Peters, vice-president of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, referring to the main avenue that cuts through Miami's Little Havana district. Miami's Cuban-American electorate and campaign contributions have long been seen as politically vital, less because of their actual size than because of Florida's perennial importance as a big presidential swing state.

But the travel and money limits, while popular with some hardliners, are disliked by many Cuban-Americans, especially those who have arrived in the past two decades and still have ties to family on the island. Many now advocate personal contacts as a useful vehicle for change.

Last month, a group of Cuban exile organisations in Miami echoed the call for easing restrictions on travel and remittances. Consenso Cubano issued a report saying that the policy violated “fundamental rights of Cubans”. It was endorsed by the influential, and extremely conservative, Cuban-American National Foundation. Four prominent dissidents in Cuba also signed a statement in late November asking America to lift its travel restrictions. American laws “in no way help” their struggle, they said. Will George Bush listen? It's not what he's best known for.

Whole Article here

Like a commenter added to the previous post, lets get ready to say good bye to Radio/TV Marti and for the easement of Travel Restrictions and remittances soon. And maybe even for what is left of the embargo to come down.

The Cubans on the island will of course, get no benefits from this whatsoever, they will just be forced to be more efficient and produce more while they only get about 4 cents out of every dollar that the regime receives from the fruits of their labor.

Cuba will continue to be a concentration/work camp and its captive population slaves.

That’s OK with some people. As long as some farmer is selling more rice and some yuppy in Boston can smoke a Cohiba, it’s all good.

Might as well hang a sign in every street proclaiming:

"Arbeit Macht Frei"

Just like Fidel’s hero did.


Mambi_Watch said...

Its the awful truth. The "Benjamins" are leading this cause to collapse the US embargo, not plain human rights. But, that's just plain reality to many. I find it strange that you point it out, even after years of sanctions have not changed the behavior of the Cuban government.

That's an important point to make. Even the Bush administration has realized that the US embargo is not a tool to change the behavior of Cuban politics, but rather to draw a line in the sand, and give no attention to human rights. Bush made it very clear last year when he was interviewed by Radio Mambi: the main purpose of the US embargo was to stop US funds getting in to Cuba. That's it. He never mentioned anything about bringing human righs or setting examples for Cubans.

I've had long debates with others about the issue of profits and principles. Its an important debate to have.

Essentially there some who believe that trade relations really have no bearing on issues of human rights, such as their conceptual exportation. Take China for example. Then there are others who believe increased trade between two nations brings freedoms like free exchange of ideas.

I lean more to the idea that trade between two nations is a small, to irrelevant, part in creating a social movement for human rights.

If one want to support and advance such fundamental rights, then it takes great efforts in organization, and mobilization. It takes marching into the streets, for the sake of non-violence, and putting pressure on power centers of society.

Sanctions, especially unilateral ones, don't do these things.

El Gusano said...

well we've got some common ground, here, mambi. good points.

i think the embargo was the moral thing to do, but i agree it didn't accomplish its objective "line in the sand" is exactly what it is, now. if other nations had forgotten the benjamins or their fear of fidel, it might have worked . but who knows. academic.

imo, the trade approach wouldn't have worked with Mao or fidel

might work with the new crew.

we'll see what kind of changes they make once he's gone. they HAVE to do SOMETHING.

i'm seeing moves where they seem to be positioning themselves to remove some of the objections that the US has agaisnt them (ETA for example)

Its not going to be overnight.

hopefully we can count on you to help us in the next stage, getting some idea exchanges. its important for cubans to experience diversity and tolenrence of many different viewpoints.

we have to remain positive.

the non violence is crucial. MLK is a huge influence on the island with idependent libraries named after him and his methods revered.

have a good w/e.