Chamber of Commerce Chief in Havana: End the Embargo

chamber-of-commerce-building-thumb-436x363-7342-thumb-436x363-15416U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue was barely finished calling for the further impoverishment  of American workers (i.e. “immigration reform”) when he shows up as a guest of Cuba’s Stalinist regime and gives a speech at the University of Havana calling for a further fleecing of American taxpayers (i.e. ending the so-called Cuba embargo.) 

“For years, the US Chamber of Commerce has demanded that our government eliminate the commercial embargo on Cuba. It’s time for a new approach,” proclaimed Donohue this week to an ovation from communist  apparatchiks, some who in 1960 stormed into almost 6000 U.S. owned businesses (worth almost $ 2 billion at the time) and stole them all at Soviet gunpoint.

A few American business-owners resisted. One of these was Howard Anderson who owned a filling stations and Jeep dealership (not a casino or brothel, which were relatively rare in pre-Castro Cuba, by the way.) I’ll quote from Anderson v. Republic of Cuba, No. 01-28628 (Miami-Dade Circuit Court, April 13, 2003). “In one final session of torture, Castro’s agents drained Howard Anderson’s body of blood before sending him to his death at the firing squad.”

The Inter-American Law Review classifies Castro’s mass burglary of U.S. property as “the largest uncompensated taking of American property by a foreign government in history.”  Rubbing his hands and snickering in triumphant glee, Castro boasted at maximum volume to the entire world that he was freeing Cuba from “Yankee economic slavery!” (Che Guevara’s term, actually) and that “he would never repay a penny!”

This is the only promise Fidel Castro has ever kept in his life. Hence the imposition of the Cuba embargo, not that you’d know any of this from the mainstream media, much less from Thomas Donohue.

The burglarized (and often brutalized) American owners filed those property claims against Castro’s regime with the U.S. government. They’re worth $7 billion today–and must be settled before the so called embargo is lifted. This settlement provision for lifting the embargo was codified into U.S. law in 1996 by the Helms-Burton act, which means only Congress can lift the embargo, obviously after a vote. But the votes are not there. 

Shouldn’t the President of an outfit like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce be aware of this?  Or is Donohue calling for more of Obama’s “executive overreach?”

“The reforms under Raul Castro’s government demonstrate that Cuban leaders understand that direct economic investment can be a powerful tool for economic development,” proclaimed Donahue to another ovation from his communist audience.

Oh, Cuba’s Stalinist kleptocracy understands this alright. But this “economic development” via foreign investment exclusively benefits the tiny Stalinist nomenklatura that has run Cuba since 1959—and enthusiastically hosted Thomas Donahue this week. All foreign trade with “Cuba” is still conducted exclusively with the Stalinist regime—no exceptions. In fact private property rights still do not exist in Cuba, much less an independent judiciary and the rule of law.

According to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. has transacted almost $4 billion in trade with Cuba over the past decade. Up until four years ago, the U.S. served as Stalinist Cuba’s biggest food supplier and fifth biggest import partner. We’ve fallen a few notches recently but we’re still in the top half.

For over a decade the so-called U.S. embargo, so disparaged by Thomas Donahue, has mostly stipulated that Castro’s Stalinist regime pay cash up front through a third–party bank for all U.S. agricultural products; no Ex-Im (U.S. taxpayer) financing of such sales. And that’s the catch with Donahue’s gracious hosts. They’re desperate to abolish that provision.

Enacted by the Bush team in 2001, this cash-up-front policy has been monumentally beneficial to U.S. taxpayers, making them among the few in the world not screwed and tattooed by the Castro regime, which per capita-wise qualifies as the world’s biggest debtor nation, with a foreign debt estimated at $50 billion, a credit rating nudging Somalia’s and an uninterrupted record of defaults. Standard & Poors refuses even to rate Cuba, regarding the economic figures released by its Stalinist apparatchiks as utterly bogus. Just this year the Russians wrote off almost $30 billion Castro still owed them.

Regarding the disconnect seen above between historic truth and Castroite propaganda, what we have here, amigos, is not a “failure to communicate.” Instead it’s perfect communication– between Castro’s propaganda ministry and the U.S. media (and “business leaders”) to whom they issue press bureaus and visas, after careful vetting. These latter amply live up to their side of the bargain, “reporting” exactly what Castro wants them to report.

A Spanish businessman named Fernandez Gonzalez has an interesting story that might serve as an education for Thomas Donahue, or for those who might fall for his siren song, as composed by the kleptocratic Castro brothers:

“A few years ago, I created in the Hemingway Marina, a tourist zone near Havana, a bar/restaurant…then during a farce that would not hold water in any Western judicial system — my business was taken from me and I became “an enemy of the people.” Today, I remain deprived, without recourse, of the property that I steadfastly and honorably worked to create for many years.  I don’t want other foreign investors, who travel to Cuba under some siren song to suffer the same fate as I did. Thus I recommend, I beg, that you don’t contribute with your money and knowledge to shore-up Cuba’s dictatorship…Because there is not the slightest judicial guarantee. There is no Rule of Law that protects investors, nor anyone else. In Cuba, what prevails are not rights, but the will and whim of those who govern. The same thing that happened to business owners at the beginning of the revolution can happen, and does happen, to today’s investors and businessmen.”

One fine morning in February 2009 the Castro brothers woke up and decided to freeze $1 billion that 600 foreign companies kept in Cuban bank accounts. Another fine morning in April 2012 the Cuban regime arrested the top officers of Britain-based Coral Capital that had invested $75 million in the Castro brothers’ fiefdom and was planning four and luxurious golf resorts. These hapless (greedy, unprincipled and stupid, actually) businessmen find themselves with no more recourse to law than the millions of Cubans and Americans who had their businesses and savings stolen en masse in August of 1960 by Castro’s gunmen.

After all, Che Guevara who served as Cuba’s “Finance Minister” during the initial mass burglaries of Cuban and U.S. owned properties explained the regime’s legal guidelines very succinctly in January 1959, when he served as chief hangman. “Judicial evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail. We execute (and jail and torture and steal) based on Revolutionary conviction.”

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  • Dick Joose

    As soon as Fidel is dead you’ll see things change. They won’t happen while he is alive because then he would win. Seeing that the Castro family has fairly long life expectancy it could be awhile. Or not.

  • Erudite Mavin

    One of the big mouths on ending the embargo on Cuba is Ron Paul and the Libertarians. Typical of these loons


      MORON Paul, friend of every regressive despot in the world.

      MORON Paul justified Fascist Irans nuclear program.

      • Erudite Mavin

        It is more than interesting that people who call themselves
        conservatives get sucked into this libertarian propaganda
        which is in line with the radical left on national security, most
        social issues, and more.

    • American Patriot

      There is no embargo on Communist Cuba. That is a lie fabricated by the Castro family dictatorship in order to get undeserved sympathy on the world stage. The United States is one of Cuba’s top overall trading partners. There are only limited sanctions on the island country.

      • Erudite Mavin

        Yes there is an embargo.
        The only crack was Obama allowing 360 million in export in 2013.
        Obama would only be too glad to use an executive order to
        further help his Marxist friends.

        • American Patriot

          How is being one of the largest overall trading partners of a totalitarian regime (including one of the largest food suppliers of the regime) constitute an embargo? Every dictionary defines embargo as preventing commerce. In other words, no trade at all, period. That is not the case with Communist Cuba. That was the case with South Africa’s former apartheid regime, when the whole world decided to embargo that regime in the 1970s and 1980s. But there is no real embargo on Communist Cuba. There are only limited trade sanctions on Cuba.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Members of the Chamber of Commerce need to be boycotted by the tea party. Maybe then they will stop pushing amnesty down our throats and ending the Cuban embargo. They need to be hit where it hurts. In the pocket book.

    It’s the Gramcian Long March run amok, as the chamber has obviously been hijacked and co-opted by the Marxist totalitarian left.

  • sasdigger

    So predictable. I believe something else is afoot as well. Guantanamo is an agreement in perpetuity. It can be ended, however, by mutual agreement of both signatory country leaders.
    Perhaps a little end-the-embargo on the side then we (Castro and Obama) can silently agree to close down Guantanamo.
    Just one new way to side-step the US Congress and keep that promise to close down Guantanamo.
    But what do I know?

    • American Patriot

      There is no embargo on Communist Cuba. The US is one of Communist Cuba’s largest overall trading partners, including being one of the Communist dictatorship’s largest food suppliers. There are only limited trade sanctions on Cuba.

      • sasdigger

        This administration has indeed loosened the trading and especially the cash flows between the US and Cuba contravening X trade between the US and Cuba.
        Thanks, I understand precisely what an effective embargo entails. Please forgive my three AM grammatical indiscretion.
        I merely sought to make a point that any progressive hater of Guantanamo wishing its demise would have the means at their disposal should warmer relations ensue. All that would be required would be the signature of both heads of state ending Guantanamo.
        Food for thought, nothing more.

  • Albert Darringdon

    End the embargo/ trade sanctions. Castro just uses it as an excuse for everything wrong with Cuba when it’s actually all his fault. Take away his fig leaf of legitimacy.

    • American Patriot

      There is no embargo on Communist Cuba. There are only limited sanctions on the Communist dictatorship. The United States is one of Cuba’s largest overall trading partners. Anyway, lifting sanctions would not do anything to improve conditions in Cuba at all. In fact, lifting sanctions would only strengthen the regime and increase its repression. The only way for there to be regime change in Cuba would be for the world’s countries to embargo the regime like they did with the former apartheid regime in South Africa thirty and forty years ago. Isolating a regime is the only way to have regime change in a country.

      • Albert Darringdon

        With sanctions lifted what would Castro blame Cuba’s poverty on? Increased sanctions may end up as a propaganda victory for the communists. It’s not like the Castro crime family will ever starve either way.

  • John T

    Cuba has a Chamber of commerce?

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  • Joe A

    Get some facts on the net macroeconomic impact without the political spin…

    Cuba Under Embargo: The Macro Impact