Same Old Cuba – by Humberto Fontova


When Fidel Castro’s brother Raul assumed the reigns of power from Cuba’s ailing dictator nearly two years ago, hopes ran high that the transition would usher in a new era of political reform inside the communist country. But recent reports suggest that so far from improving the lot of the Cuban people, Raul’s government has introduced new forms of repression and corruption. As the new year begins, Cuba is facing its worst economic crisis in 20 years, even as political repression persists and the promised “structural” reforms have never materialized. For most Cubans, another difficult year looms.

Perhaps the best guide to understanding what has happened in Cuba since Raul’s takeover, and what lies ahead, comes from a November report from Human Rights Watch. Titled “New Castro, Same Cuba,” the 123-page report examines the conditions inside Cuba since Raúl Castro took power.

The report was difficult to produce. The Cuban regime, though it sat for years on the U.N.’s “Human Rights Commission,” prohibits any human rights agency, including HRW and even the International Red Cross, from visiting any of Cuba’s 200 plus prisons (under the Batista government deposed by Fidel Castro, Cuba had 12 prisons). So the HRW’s Nik Steinberg visited Cuba and conducted his study secretly, interviewing Cubans in 7 of the island’s 14 provinces. “We wanted to put on the table where Cuba stands on human rights,” he said in a recent interview with the Miami Herald.

“In July 2006, Fidel Castro handed control of the Cuban government over to his brother Raúl Castro” summarizes the HRW report:

“As the new head of state, Raúl Castro inherited a system of abusive laws and institutions, as well as responsibility for hundreds of political prisoners arrested during his brother’s rule. Raúl Castro’s government has used draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores more who have dared to exercise their fundamental freedoms. Scores of political prisoners arrested under Fidel Castro continue to languish in Cuba’s prisons. Rather than dismantle this repressive machinery, Raúl Castro has kept it firmly in place and fully active. ”

Particularly alarming to Human Rights Watch is the “judicial process” employed by Raul’s regime for the continued repression. HRW reports:

“Raúl Castro’s government has relied in particular on a provision of the Cuban Criminal Code that allows the state to imprison individuals before they have committed a crime. This ‘dangerousness’ provision is overtly political, defining as “dangerous” any behavior that contradicts socialist norms.”

Cuban dissidents have corroborated accounts of this new repression. “The wave of repression we witnessed on Dec. 10th is the worst we’ve seen in this country in decades.” reported Elizardo Sanchez, President of the (dissident) Cuban Commission on Human Rights, this December. In a smuggled report, Cuban dissident González Leiva adds that during an attempted march commemorating “Universal Human Rights Day,” on December 19, hundreds of Cubans were arrested and beaten by regime goons.

The HRW report fully backs the findings of two polls conducted secretly in Cuba recently by dissident groups. One poll was by El Centro de Información sobre Democracia and the other by Alianza Nueva Nación. The groups interviewed 1000 Cubans in 9 of the nation’s 14 provinces and found that 70 percent not only report that their (precious few) freedoms have diminished under Raul, but that life in general has become harsher: there is less food available; more regime corruption; and more economic hardships in general.

It’s not just political freedom that has worsened under Raul rule. The economy has also suffered. In 2009’s Index of Economic Freedom, the Heritage Foundation had already found Cuba as more economically repressive under Raul than under Fidel. Under Raul’s rule, Cuba slipped down 1.1 notches to number 155, where it runs almost neck-and-neck with North Korea. For many Cuba watchers, the HRW report and the dissident appeals are no surprise.

If the HRW report has a weakness, it is that it fails to recognize that many of the repressive features now seen under Raul have existed in some form since it fell under communist control For instance, the Stalinist detention provision HRW sees employed in today’s Cuba in fact dates back almost half a century to Che Guevara‘s stint as the “brains of the Cuban Revolution” (as Time magazine crowned him in a 1960 cover story). As Cuba’s chief prosecutor and executioner, Guevara had instructed his judicial subalterns that “judicial evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail. We execute from revolutionary conviction.” And indeed they did. “We send to Guanahacabibes people who have committed crimes against revolutionary norms,” explained Guevara. Guanahacabibes was a forced-labor camp in extreme western Cuba. “It is hard labor” said Guevara, “the working conditions are harsh.”

Likewise, the HRW report notes that “fear is a central part of the Cuban government’s strategy.” True enough, but again, this dates back not just to recent pre-Raul rule, but to the initial days of Castroism, half a century ago. “Terror is an essential political instrument,” instructed Che Guevara to his “revolutionary tribunals.” “Only hypocrites refuse to acknowledge this. We must establish the pedagogy of the paredon (firing squad)” Televised firing-squad executions were one element of this “pedagogy.” Even earlier, during the guerrilla skirmishing in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra, Che had written in his diaries, “Now comes a period when terror will be exercised against the peasants.”

A more serious error in the HRW report is its condemnation of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. This embargo has long been a talking point of the regime, distracting attention from its role in brutalizing the Cuban people and destroying the country’s economy. But when it comes to the “U.S. bloqueo,” the vast majority of Cubans part ways with Human Rights Watch. They know full well who runs Cuba, and how, and that that is the real reason for their persistent penury.

Cuba is a military dictatorship in the most genuine sense of the term. Raul Castro and his military cronies have been running Cuba for over a decade and doing quite well in the process. Of the nineteen members of Cuba’s politburo, nine are military men. This is more than the typical Soviet-bloc state had, or the Soviet Union itself. One Raul Castro crony, General Julio Casas Regueiro, does much of this running, controlling 300 different “companies” (state agencies often in partnership with foreign investors) in Cuba under a holding company named GAESA.

Another typical company is the Corporacion Gaviota, headed by Raul Military crony General Luis Perez Rospide. Gaviota started operating in 1990. The Cuban military’s Gaviota tourism group, is a corporate umbrella encompassing, Aerogaviota SA, (airlines) Almest SA Hoteles Gaviota,(hotels) Gaviota Tour, (bus touring company), Marinas Gaviota, (marinas), Tiendas Gaviota, (tourist souvenir stores, restaurants) Parques Naturales Gaviota, (national parks, museums). Thanks to this monopoly, the government and its allies prosper, while the Cuban people are no better off.

In a presentation on November 18 at a hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Committee debating travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Simmons, a recently retired Defense Intelligence Agency Cuba specialist, explained the issue in detail. He showed how Raul Castro’s military owns virtually every corporation involved in Cuba’s tourism industry, the regime’s top money-maker.

The presentation also revealed something that goes a long way towards explaining the Raul Castro regime’s confident entrenchment. Last year Cuba enjoyed record tourism revenues: 2.35 million tourists leaving $2.7 billion in military-regime coffers, and precious little else due to the regime’s tourist apartheid, where Cubans (especially darker-skinned ones) are strictly segregated at billy-club and gun-point from tourist areas, except as waiters, maids, bellhops, shoe-shine boys, foot masseuses, etc.

With this tourist revenue windfall, ongoing for over a decade, Cuba’s ruling military robber barons are making a killing. Why would they voluntarily upset their own apple carts by democratizing the system and opening it to competitors? Given that they’re the only ones in Cuba with guns, who’s going to challenge them? On this question, neither the HRW, which misguidedly recommends an end to the U.S. travel ban, nor the legion of foreign experts on Cuba, can provide a clue. The more things change in Raul Castro’s Cuba, the more they remain the same.

  • andyFree

    Cuba is indeed a nasty place. But it's nowhere near as nasty as its next door neighbour, Haiti, which has had the benefit of US influence for 200 years (and occupation for some of those years). The US carried out regime change there twice more recently, overthrowing the elected leader in each case.

    Or compare Cuba with a country for which the US has total historical responsibility – Liberia. In August 2003, the US sent three ships, carrying around 4,500 sailors and marines. Just 225 of them went ashore, of whom 50 succumbed to malaria. Two months later the Americans were gone.

    Meanwhile, Cuba has quite a good record for some things. Providing medical care to its citizens for instance, not up to European standards but a lot better than some places we can think of. And as you leave the airport for Havana you'll see a giant placard. “There are millions of children living on the streets of the world – not one of them is Cuban”.

  • 2maxpower

    “As the new head of state, Raúl Castro inherited a system of abusive laws and institutions, as well as responsibility for hundreds of political prisoners arrested during his brother’s rule. Raúl Castro’s government has used draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores more who have dared to exercise their fundamental freedoms. Scores of political prisoners arrested under Fidel Castro continue to languish in Cuba’s prisons. Rather than dismantle this repressive machinery, Raúl Castro has kept it firmly in place and fully active. ”

    the above quote is laughable. HOW CAN ONE INHERIT WHAT HE HIMSELF DID. Raul was the force that maintained the repression.

    good essay Humberto

  • lukeweyland

    Same old United States pursuing the same old failed policy just because they can't have another fascist like Batista in charge of the Island.

  • 2maxpower

    how to respond to your veiled praise of Cuba?

    Haiti (all the worst of Africa in an island) is a very different story and it's failure is not the doing of the USA in spite of the USA (and the world) trying to help. (your history comprehension is very troubling).

    As for the medical care in Cuba. (you must have like Michael Moore's movie/fable). I really hope you do not get sick or ill in Cuba. “not up to European standards” …were you drunk when you wrote this??

    the children know better to be on the street in Cuba (if you are referring to homeless people) they are quickly put in prisons.

    GO and LIVE there for 3 month …or one YEAR and then let me know what you think of paradise. ….unless you are helped by the government as a propaganda tool I doubt you will write anything nice about life there. And try to live on just triple the average salary, because I know you would not survive on even double.

  • Steve Chavez





    Let's start by emptying our prisons like Fidel did in the Mariel Boatlift. “Once you are healed, you can STAY there and live in paradise. No questions asked.”

    Let's empty our mental institutions like Fidel did too.

    “Broken bone? Gate 4. Heart attack? Gate 1.

    “Colon problem? Direct flight to Fidel's hospital. He can teach you how to change your COLON SHIT BAG SINCE THAT WHAT HE HAS. OH, AND BRING A EXTRA LARGE WARM-UP SUIT TO COVER THE BULGE IT LEAVES.”

    Cuba also doesn't have a shortage of In-DOCTOR-nators! “We'll fix you up and make you a commie in no time!”

  • USMCSniper

    Ahhhh,,,errr… been munching on those magic mushrooms again ehh Steve?

  • USMCSniper

    Cuban officials, under diplomatic cover in Hanoi during the Vietnam War, brutally tortured and killed American POWs whom they beat senseless in a research program sanctioned by the North Vietnamese. This was dubbed the “Cuba Program” by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the CIA, and it involved 19 American POWs. Recent declassified secret CIA and DOD intelligence documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal the extent of Cuba's involvement in the torure of American POWs captured in Vietnam. A Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report states that “The objective of the interrogators was to obtain the total submission of the prisoners through severe physical and mental torture – .

    According to former POW Air Force Colonel Donald “Digger” Odell, “several POWs left behind in the camp were 'broken' but alive when he and other prisoners were released [1973 Operation Homecoming]. … They were too severely tortured by Cuban interrogators” to be released. The Vietnamese didn't want the world to see what they had done to them so they were executed and buried in obscurity,

    POWs released during “Operation Homecoming” in 1973 “were told not to talk about third-country interrogations. …. This thing is very sensitive with all kinds of diplomatic ramifications.”(4) Hence, the torture and murder of American POWs by the Cubans was swept under the rug by the U.S. Government.

    The “Cuban Program”

    The “Cuban Program” was initiated around August 1967 at the Cu Loc POW camp known as “The Zoo”, a former French movie studio on the southwestern edge of Hanoi. The American POWs gave their Cuban torturers the names “Fidel,” “Chico,” “Pancho” and “Garcia.” The Vietnamese camp commander was given the name “The Lump” because of a fatty tumor growth in the middle of his forehead.

  • Humberto

    Just for fun, let's survey what the Beltway's darling academic “Cuba Experts” were prognosticating for Cuba when Raul took over 2 years ago:

    “Raul Castro represents potential change. He will have to seek an improvement for Cubans' standard of living. He has also signed two human rights accords,” (Marifeli Perez-Stable, V. Pres. at Washington D.C's Inter-American Dialogue, Florida International Univ. professor, Miami Herald contributing editor.)

    “This is a time when Cuba's leadership moves toward generational change. It's Carlos Lage for Cuba's next President.” (Phil Peters, V. Pres. of Washington D.C's Lexington Institute, often quoted and published in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal AP, Reuters, etc. etc. etc.)

    “Raúl Castro said in recent months that he has an obligation not only to lead but also to yield to a younger generation of leaders. (Julia Sweig , Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.)

    “Castro is now going out on his own terms, securing a smooth transition to his brother and to a younger generation of leadership in Cuba such as Vice President Carlos Lage.” (Peter Kornbluh, director of The National Security Archive at Washington D.C's George Washington University)

    “It is clear that the recent leadership changes in Cuba have created an opportunity for the United States to reevaluate a complex relationship marked by misunderstanding, suspicion, and open hostility.” (Republican Senator Richard Lugar)

    (the above mentioned Carlos Lage, BTW, vanished from the Cuban leadership scene almost a year ago and appears to be either in prison or under house arrest.)

    Now, just for fun, let's see what some Mc Carthyite crackpot was prognosticating in Frontpage Magazine:

    “meet the new boss–same as the old boss”, entire Mc Carthyism here:

  • jcperez

    “Raul, Prince or Pawn?”

    Cuba in the 21st Century
    J. C. Perez.
    Political Transition in Cuba.
    Everything seems to be going as Fidel planned, transitioning his undisputed power to his brother Raul seems to be going without a hitch, and not that he would allow any hitch, or allow his subservient brother to make any changes that would challenge his 50 year grip and autonomous rule on his Island nation. We must remember what he has touted as Cuba’s objective, “Socialismo o Muerte”, “Patria o Muerte”. “Socialism or death”, “Patriotism or Death”.
    With this in mind we must remember that little brothers transition into pseudo power did not occur overnight, but through 50 years of communist indoctrination at the hands of the world’s longest lasting dictator, big brother Fidel. The meek and mild look that we see strewn across Raul Castro’s face whenever we see photos of him is not one of kindness and compassion as the pictures might suggest, but that of a man who has been brow beaten and made to be subservient to his older brothers overpowering alpha male personality. The face is that more of a man who fears his older brother and the consequences that might be incurred if older brothers word is not followed to a tee. Change, I don’t think so.
    Let’s not forget that at the onset of the revolution one of Fidel’s closest comrades “Camilo Cienfuegos” was assassinated upon the orders of Fidel simply because he did not agree with his political philosophy or the road he was paving for Cuba and its already unstable situation. Rumors also ran rampant that Fidel had something to do with “Che Guevara’s” untimely death in Bolivia. Che was getting to many headlines, becoming too famous, and Fidel was not happy with the Argentinean garnering a following. Are we to believe that Raul Castro was not aware of these atrocities, or what his arrogant, overbearing, dais slamming older brother was capable of? There are countless examples throughout history of brother killing brother over power issues. Change? I think not.
    The look on Raul’s face is one of fear and retribution if big brother Fidel’s words and orders are not adhered to their entirety. You don’t have to go far to see those same expressions; just look to the faces of the Cuban people who have lived under that grip of fear for the last 50 years. I think little brother Raul is feeling the heat a little more than he’d like to and the realization of the consequences if he doesn’t do as told are all too real to him. He is a reluctant figure head at the behest of his older brother, he was not asked if he wanted the position, he was told to do it, and do it as told.
    Examining some of Cuba’s so called political changes since the transfer of power to Raul Castro only adds to the ongoing comic relief that the Cuban people both in and out of Cuba have become accustomed to. As a nation and a people who have lived under the gun for those 50 years, Cubans have learned to take a bad situation and turn it into a joke so as not to be weighed down my more rhetoric and lies from the central Politburo. Laughing in the face of the odds that are stacked against them and not allowing their absurd living standards and ridiculous political system which has failed them for those almost 50 years, (Just take a look back in history; there’s something to the fact that the Cuban Peso has no value anywhere in the world except Cuba, and even there, the Dollar and the Euro are the preferred currency.) Amazing, can one really believe that if there is fiscal stagnation, social stagnation, and the complete inability to provide the basics of life to a people in need is any kind of progress, I think not. When a leadership fails to provide, and does not allow its people the freedom of choice, then it is an oppressive leadership. I’m sure I have not awakened anyone to this realization on the Cuban situation, but then again no one should think that under Raul Castro things will get better. Human rights are still nonexistent, freedom of speech is a jail able offense, and arrests are up.
    Change in Cuba under Raul; see for yourself, I think not. Until the regime is gone, or better put, the Castro brothers are gone; the road to change in Cuba will be slow and arduous if not at all.

  • eerie Steve

    two words:

    Death Cult

  • andyFree

    Haiti is rather a good example of the shocking effect the US has had on the unter-mensch. Though you may prefer to consider the lesson of Liberia, which is wholly the US's responsibility.

    Meanwhile, life-expectancy in Cuba is slightly better than the US, 78.3/78.2 (or so report the health authorities, quoted at Wikipedia, anyway). Infant mortality in Cuba is much better than that of the US, 6.0/7.2 from the results I can see! That's not bad for a third-world nation under crippling blockade. Maybe Cuba is hated because it's hated.

  • suprkufrb

    I'm a great admirer of Mr. Horowitz, and a dedicated follower of Frontpage. I believe that the greatest extant threat to civilization is the encroachment of islam (please note that I eschew the term”radical islam” – islam itself is inherently evil.) Still, I am troubled by the continuing irrelevent criticism and vilification of Cuba, and the absence thereof with respect to brutal right-wing dictatorships elsewhere in Latin America.
    Cuba is far, far from perfect, that much is obvious. Still, let us consider what the current regime overthrew fifty years ago: Havana was completely owned and ruled by George Raft and his mafia cohorts, while the countryside was the fiefdom of the United Fruit Company. Prostitution was rampant. Fulgencio Batista was one of the most brutal dictators on the face of the earth. Today, Cuba enjoys a 100% literacy rate, and its medical care system has been declared the finest in the world by the WHO. I submit these facts not in an attempt to suggest that Cuba is in any way superior to other western states, but rather to show that neither is it among the most reprehensible.
    My family (three generations) visits Cuba once or twice a year; we are all Spanish speaking, and travel the length and breadth of the country on public transportation. We visit friends in their homes, and frequently engage in raucous political debates late at night in restaurants and bars. Unlike Detroit or Philadelphia, it is perfectly safe for my attractive daughter to walk down the street at 2:00 am. Every Sunday we attend mass in one of the country's historic and overflowing churches or cathedrals.
    Now, let's look at the repressive regimes the US has so shamelessly supported over the years: Batista, Trujillo, Strössner, Pinochet, Fujimora, Somoza father and son, Noriega… Then we come to the infamous School of the Americas, formerly in Panama, now banished to Fort Benning, GA. Virtually every atrocity and massacre perpetuated in Latin America during the last forty years can be laid at the doorstep of one or more of its illustrious graduates. (Yes, I can provide names, dates and locations ad infinitum.) My wife and I, owing to family circumstances, are obliged to spend extended periods in Panama. I can tell you that I have seen with my own eyes the mass graves, and the endless blocks of low-income housing systematically firebombed in El Chorrillo and San Felipe.
    I know it may not seem so to you, but I am in fact quite far to the right of centre. I submit the preceding not in any spirit of criticism, but rather to stress the need to
    recruit Latin America into our life and death struggle against islam. Contrary to their stereotypical portrayal as indolent welfare recipients and criminals, the great majority of Latinos are industrious, conservative and family-oriented Catholics. They come to America not to impose a world caliphate, but rather because they like what they see, and wish to become a part of it.
    In closing, I submit a chilling statistic; the US birth rate is presently 2.11 children per couple, the rock-bottom figure to replace the parents. If one subtracts the Latino population, the rate plummets to 1.6, perilously close to irreversible. In the meantime, moslems are reproducing at the rate of 4-5 offspring per breeding polygamous pair. Do the math and weep.

  • 2maxpower

    you obviously will not allow critical thinking to influence your world view.

    Haiti had one brutal dictator after another. (it was a french protectorate) and Liberia was an attempt to help african americans who don't like to take responsibility for themselves. The american “meddling was an attempt to help, just that they try to be democratic and a despot always takes over.
    The thing with Haiti and Liberia is that they have had little influnce from the USA in the times that they decended into the state they are in today. When the USA was involved they were improving. When the USA left they declined. Please learn to associate cause and effect and not just parrot socialist propaganda. If you think you can do better no one is stopping you.

    the infant mortality numbers in Cuba are fixed, they are not under a crippling blockade ….you can buy Coke-a-Cola at the government stores. Cuba is not hated just the government.

    do you actually comprehend what you wrote ? stop using wikipedia for your references as they are often just propaganda for one group or another. Please go there and find out for your self but don't just go to the beach and tourist hotels.

  • 2maxpower

    Raul was always the force and Fidel the face of the government. (funny isn't it …that makes Fidel the nice one)

  • jcperez

    Not that there isn't oppresive regimes all over the world, but I'm Cuban, thats why I have given a humble opinion on the Cuban situation. As far as 100% literacy, you need to pay more attention on your jaunts to the Gulag. I, like you, have visited and seem to see and hear a completely different Cuba. I guess the decrepidness and stravation I saw was a Cuban Comedy Club skit. For health care, you can bet your bottom peso that the world health organization visits the Beards special little places, and only them. Countless upon countless of Cuban don't get the proper primary care let alone anything serious.(Even if they wanted to they couldn't, they're broke). Stop watching Michael Moore over embelished situaions.
    To run a long story short, I'll tell you that I am against the embargo as much as you are, there are many parties at fault for Cubas problems. But the reality is that the only ones who suffer are the Cubans on the Island. Castro has not gone without a meal, I go to MacDonalds whenever I want, and you and your family get to fly off after your wonderful little vacation. I appreciate that you love Cuba and the Cuban people and your whole family speaks spanish, but you come off a little patronizing.
    You and every other tourist get to enjoy the wonders of Cuba while the Cubans are treated like endentured slaves.
    How many little care packages have you taken to your Cuban friends, how many messages have you delivered for them which they couldn't get to their family abroad, how many favors have they asked for out of necessity. Is that a sense of a people doing good. Since they've been so gracious to you, why don't you return the hospitality and invite them to share a little time in your home in your country. I guess you know that won't happen. Another sign of the wonderful freedoms the Cuban people have which the rest of the world is so envious of.
    In having an opinion on everything, ( Cuba, Panama, the whole of the Arab world, the USA) you do exactly what you blame the US for doing, your medling with everything, Ah, but isn't it nice to have freedom of speach, ask your Cuban friends if they can do that.


  • 2maxpower

    good post

  • andyFree

    I'm sure defenders of the British Empire claim something similar to what you said “When the xxx was involved they were improving. When the xxx left they declined.” – but the British Empire still has 54 members, and only Zimbabwe and Burma (and possibly Nigeria) have gone seriously wrong since.

    Bit different from Haiti and Vietnam and Cuba, hey? Even the Philippines and Mexico are racked by really serious crime/terrorism problems that US influence only makes worse.

    And don't complain when Wikipedia figures show you up, since it's under total US/Israeli domination, spreading ridiculous lies about everyone else in the world, such as “Israel was attacked in 1948 and 1967″. When we read that Cuban life expectancy and infant mortality is better than it is in the US we must still be a little bit cautious – but for a third-world nation under attack from the US, it does superbly well.

  • 2maxpower

    I will not waste any more of my time on some one with such a f@%ked up world
    view. I wish I could say it in a way that wasn't harsh but that
    would diminish my intent. you are way out there with your thinking and I am
    well aware that you are not going to be critical in your analysis nor would
    you be capable of accepting that you are incorrect.

    you missed the point of my comments and that tells me enough about your

    good luck with everything.

  • david black

    It seems that when a country gets into a bad place it is nearly impossible to drag them back out. In fact many times it gets worse for them.

    Same old cuba indeed, going from bad to worse.

  • jackbelias

    Medical care may as well not exist for the average Cuban. Tourists get the good hospital with full services while the Cubans get a run down clinic with hardly any services.

    Cuba solved its homeless problem with arrest and imprisonment. I suspect you think we could solve the problem in the same way.

    Cuba isnt under a crippling blockade. Many nations do business with Cuba, its just us that refuses to do so. Since you blame the US for the economic problems of every nation we do do business with maybe its a good thing we dont? You cant have it both ways little democrat. We are either good for business or bad for business.

    Blaming us for every last problem in Liberia is a joke. So is blaming us for Haiti. Those people want to rule themselves and they have been doing a piss poor job of it. Things will continue to suck in those hell holes until they figure out how to govern themselves. They arent our responsibility and wouldnt want us governing them anyway.

    As a typical democrat you hate everything about the US. Mexico has a crime problem, you blame us. How absurd. We have nothing to do with corrupt Mexican police or military officials. The heart of the issue there has forever been corruption. Try going on vacation in Mexico sometime. I know a couple who was pulled over simply because the cops thought the wife looked good. They beat the husband and molested the wife, they then said the couple could choose arrest or pay a fine with all of their cash, wristwatches, jewelery, etc… They chose to pay a fine to the Mexican police personal enrichment fund for being harrassed. The locals are treated the same way on a daily basis.

    Mexico even blamed us for their gun crimes, claiming we were importing them. They refused to share serial #s with our BATFE however which led to law enforcement questions our current president failed to investigate. AK 47s were among the most common firearms found (we dont manufacture those), several BATFE officials including an old Marine Corps friend of mine suspected that several in a pile were of Norinco manufacture. A closer look led them to beleve that most of the other types were clones, something China is well known to produce. He and others were asked to stay out of the investigation after voicing this theory. Mexico may be buying weapons for military and police from Norinco ( a violation of the current arms embargo), given their corruption it doesnt come as a surprise to learn that gangs are getting govt weapons shipments.

  • jackbelias

    Same old youth revolutionary rhetoric. Cuba is as fascist as fascist gets. We get alot of desperate immigrants from your utopia. They come here telling tales of being arrested for disagreeing with govt, having no access to healthcare because only tourists are allowed in the good hospital, and a general failure of the state to provide them with basic needs such as refrigerators to keep their food from spoiling. They arent allowed to work for personal profit and fix these problems on their own, but they arent allowed to complain when the state fails them either.

    What would you call us if we solved our homeless problem by arresting and imprisoning all of them?

  • suprkufrb

    Thank you for your most thought provoking reply. I'm sorry that my comments have conveyed to you the impression that I am a new left, uncritical idealisor of Cuba and its government. Nothing could be further from the truth. I, like you, am fully aware of the privations which daily confront rank and file Cubans. As I said, our family does not travel the country as tourists, but rather as do ordinary Cubans. We have seen first hand the distressing line-ups for eggs, cereal grains and meat. We have always chosen to sink or swim using Cuban currency instead of the convertible. Some, but not all of Cuba's ills have been brought about by the inflexible marxist dogma of its rulers; others, however, by the equally culpable policies of the US government. There is no single exclusive villain here.

    As I related, my wife and I are obliged to live in Panamá for extended periods; we have spent two and one half years there out of the last four. I can tell you categorically that the Panamanian campesinos are much more deprived than are their Cuban counterparts. On countless occasions I have lined up at 3:30 am for my mother-in-law at either a local

    policlinica or the caja de seguro social, only to be told @ 3:00 pm that she could not be seen. Campesinos who have travelled all night from the interior are summarily told to return at some future date. Most prescribed medications are unavailable. Panamá is a staunch ally of the US, and is presently in the process, in my view foolishly, of ratifying a free trade agreement with the US.

    As stated, I am not attempting to glorify the Cuban regime – what I am trying to show is that Cuba has as many good points as bad points, and is in reality no worse than any of its Caribbean and Central American neighbors.

    My central argument, however, is that we are squandering valuable time and resources

    on a complete non-issue while the islamic world continues to saw away at the branch upon which we are sitting. And that's exactly what they want.

    Please, panameños y cubanos – drive these dreadful traitors from your countries, and get on with the job of persuading the bears back up into the high country where they belong.

  • jcperez

    I can see that as a person who takes the time to give thought to his fellow man and the struggles that they suffer, and finds it important enough to convey his thoughts of the atrocities that exist to others, I neither think you are from the left, new left, nor are you blind to what you have experienced or seen. I think you are a humanitarian who detest the horrors that man allows to happen to his fellow man.
    It's in the conveyance of thoughts that someimes things get a mixed review, we will never be able to satisfy everyone with our thoughts of what Utopia should be.
    I know very well of all the ills being laid at the feet of the poor and down trodden throughout South America and the Caribbean, and how it only represents a place to extract wealth from, or go have a wonderful vacation at, it's been that way for a few hundred years. By the way, it's not only the US taking advantage, it's the European Nations, and the leaders of the countries themselves who wish to fill their pockets instead of helping the people.
    In comparing Cuba and the Cuban situation to any other in the world presents a problem, and discussing the issues that would arrise in a discussion as such would take way to long. But putting it simply, everyone in Panama and other like places, has the right to leave if they can gather the means and the gumption, Cubans cant', they're in a like it or lump situation. We have all heard the statement being used hundreds of times in the US by patriotic souls, “If you don't like it leave”. Cuban's can only wish that their Government cared about them enough to allow freedom of choice. For the simple lack of “Freedom of choice” let alone all the other lacks, the Cuban situation can not be compared to any other. I am not in any way turning a blind eye to the situation in the region, and I think in a lot of cases it is deplorable, but it's economical, not political. Who's to blame, that's another debate for another day. Cubans are bound hand and foot, economicaly and politicaly, and when they are told, “If you don't like it leave”, They take to the ocean by the hundreds of thousands, most to their deaths in the treacherous waters of the Gulf stream. I don't see anyone from anywhere else jumping into shark infested waters to get away from their homeland, in an inner tube.
    At this time I will take the liberty to speak for most Cubans and let you know that if I had a family member living poverty, and deplorable conditions in a third world country, or anywhere else for that matter, I would put them on the first plane out of “Dodge”, and immediately better their situation. Once again we as Cubans do not have that option.
    Comparisons are touchy, discussing politics can sometimes create deaf ears, therefore proper conveyance is crucial.


  • johncarens

    Good Lord. We can rest assured that, if this little vignette about the “Cuban Program” seeped out of the swamps of Vietnam to our safe, little ears back home, then there was likely much worse actually going on. And I hope our Loving God has built some special rooms in His House for these indescribably brave young heroes. (-And that the Devil has some treats reserved for their tormentors.)

    Mother Theresa is without peer in her assertion that America is under judgment. Our willful disinterest in Cuba is one of the reasons why, in my estimation. How on earth can a supposed Christian nation, for fifty years, sit beside the festering, oozing boil of thugocracy like Cuba without liberating it is beyond my ken. The suffering, the injustice, the murder, the privation, the terror of the Castro cabal is partly the fault of America for not have the cultural confidence to enforce not only the Monroe Doctrine (the USSR was funding Castro in his nascent, jungle form and we suspected as much even then) but to stand up to Franklin Roosevelt's ash-canning of the Platt Amendment in favor of his own self-styled “Good Neighbor Policy”. Which was neither a real policy, nor did it involve being a “Good Neighbor”.

    If Richard Nixon was ever right about anything (and I don't know that he ever was), he felt that we could have prevailed in an outright action against Cuba during the Missile Crisis, that he would have found “appropriate legal cover and gone in”. (What was not known at the time, though, was that there were tactical nuclear weapons on the Cuban beaches, with Russian commanders holding the launch buttons, so who knows.) But, we DO know Kennedy should never have given the pledge to “never invade” Cuba to Khrushchev. This severely truncated our later-date options. We had (and still have, now that the USSR no longer exists) the “proper legal cover” (-the Platt Amendment, with Cuban signatories), and we should have reserved the right to invade at any time we had a President with enough stones to reverse Roosevelt's stupid policy (which was never done as a formal treaty, but only an executive action).

    The grandfather of a good friend of mine was once Mayor of Cienfeugos (Cuba), and he often reminded his grandson that Batista may have had his faults (not the least of which was being overly impressed with American mobsters), but he at least allowed genuine anti-government protest and stood for two national elections against real opposition. The Cuban people made the mistake of boycotting these elections, which I bet they would give anything to have the chance to re-do today.

    Speaking of today: Things have never looked darker for the poor, ravage and enslaved people of Cuba. America is now governed by a man that not only looks beyond their suffering to his hallucinations of socialistic cherubim, but that smiles and shakes hands with Fidel's brother-in-murder Hugo Chavez. God, I hope they can hold on for another three years.

  • YourNewBestFriend

    Depending on who would replace these people, here's my “shopping list” for those I would approve for political assassination: Kim Jong-il, Hugo Chavez, los hermanos Castro, Lula da Silva, Ahmedinejad, Barack Obama (although I thnk the media martyrdom of all these spacetakers would be completely nauseating).

  • jcperez

    “Raul moving forward in Cuba, or is that just smoke and mirrors.”
    1. Agricultural decision making power from National to municipal.
    This move has allowed more produce to stay local, therefore more food in the bodegas. But complaints of high prices still abound. The problem still lies in the availability of funds for the necessities of production and the freedom to distribute it in a truly free market. Both still State controlled. Ah, yes, freedom to vend your own products and determine your own path, damn that freedom, it got in the way again.
    On the other hand it has eliminated many, many unneeded governmental departments that produced all the red tape between the State and municipalities, thus assuring more revenue to be freed up for the Central Government. As to how this new found revenue will be used is yet to be determined, and how much will filter back to the municipalities is yet to be seen.
    Cuba’s annual yield in produce and livestock is below all of the Caribbean and Central America. More than half of the countries produce comes from 20% of the tillable land and the State owns the other 80% of the land. The States inefficiency to manage the country’s economy and their agricultural sector in particular is well documented and has been on a down slide since the onset of Fidel’s revolution.
    Raul Castro’s move to put more decision making power into the local hands is unprecedented in a communist State that a few short years ago simply asked it’s people to tighten up their belts and hang in there, their struggle was for the revolution. Viva la Patria, viva comunismo, viva Fidel, “Socialismo o Muerte”. It’s hard to believe that Fidel would let all those wonderful clichés that are plastered all over billboards and the sides of buildings throughout Cuba go to waste. If Capitalism wins out in Cuba, doesn’t that make his revolution(Fidel) a looser? The jury is still out on his agricultural reforms, and until the people can actually feel the economical restraints loosened and the peso begin to flow their way, well then everything remains status quo. Remember that the State owns 80% 0f the tillable land and controls all pricing. Like the old saying goes, “Easier said than done”. Now that the world economy is at a basic stand still, things will continue to get worse. We’ve seen no reform to speak of, the money never made back to the municipalities, and the only thing we’ve heard from Raul lately is the same old Revolutionary rhetoric. “Tighten your belts, and work harder.” Sounds like an echo.
    On another subject:
    Raul commutes death sentences.
    The sentences of some death row inmates have been commuted to life and in some cases to thirty year terms, including a Guatemalan National and a Salvadorian National accused of being involved in a 1997 bombing.
    This comes under the Human rights issues of which Cuba has been accused of relentlessly violating over the years by the world community.
    As a Cuban American born in Cuba and a victim of the revolution having been forced from my homeland at a young age, my view is simple and to the point. By commuting a death sentence to thirty years in a Cuban jail just might be a worse sentence then death. After having spoken to many people over the years that had been in Cuban jails and many people who still to this day have members of their family in Cuban jails, they seem to feel the same way. Death would be more welcome. I’ve often heard them say that their loved ones anxiously await their deaths and it couldn’t come too soon as far as they’re concerned. The atrocities they are subjected to in their Cuban Gulags are beyond the boundaries of humanity. Raul needs to start with Human rights reformation then Cuba might not have to commute so many death sentences.
    The Latest reports from independent and international wire services is that arrest are up, and Raul’s new government continues to crack down on dissidents, and anyone else who dares speak against the revolutionary policy. Same old same old, Raul learned well; Rhetoric about prosperity, without delivery, and if you make waves, speak your mind, or in any way are in disagreement with the central governments revolutionary policies, you are labeled a dissident, and tagged for harassment and arrest. When the Cuban Government speaks I feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy begins to rant and rave, all I hear is “Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah. A lot of talking and no visual sight of any changes in fifty years has given the Cuban people a Missourian Motto attitude. Don’t tell me, show me.

  • Obama4Life

    Che is a hero

    Fontova is a douche.

  • Life

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