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Posted December 15, 2008 by publisher in Cuban History

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By Frances Robles | Miami Herald

Fifty years ago, an attorney turned bearded guerrilla marched triumphantly into Havana and declared victory over a departing dictator. Then he became a despot himself.

Fidel Castro forever changed the landscape of both Cuba and Miami. He jailed or executed his enemies, seized private property, divided families, and drove nearly two million Cubans into exile. His nation became a Cold War pawn.

At the same time, Castro launched a massive literacy campaign. The island churned out armies of new doctors. Cuba became an international player, inspiring guerrilla movements and supplying soldiers for ‘‘anti-imperialist’’ wars around the globe. Castro’s refusal to kowtow to the United States won him praise.

As the Jan. 1 anniversary of the revolution’s triumph approaches, many of the social welfare achievements that were the trophies of the communist regime have rusted. Years of failed economic policy, waves of mass exodus, and Cuba’s inability to recover from the collapse of its patron, the Soviet Union, have dulled Castro’s touted crown jewels—the advances in health and education.

Still, the revolution that ousted Fulgencio Batista and transformed a tropical getaway into a communist state remains one of the Western Hemisphere’s most significant events of the last century.

‘‘The Cuban government is going to celebrate its 50-year anniversary—50 years of what?’’ said Andy Gomez, a senior fellow at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, who left the island in 1960 when he was 6.

“Fifty years of sacrifice and misery?’‘

In the only communist country in the Western hemisphere, many would argue that Castro had a single resounding success: staying in power. He built a strong rebel army, never bothered with civic freedoms or presidential elections, and created a vast and powerful state security apparatus that kept watch on literally every block.

His regime reigned over a population that is among the world’s best educated, but many still flee. Every year, about 20,000 are issued permits to resettle in the United States, and each year a nearly equal number risk their lives on dangerous sea voyages.

But if numbers alone could tell this story, Castro met his revolutionary goals—without any meddling from Washington.

Within two years after Castro emerged from the jungle in 1959 to seize control of the island, more than 700,000 Cubans learned how to read, and 25,000 new homes were built. Cuba’s communist revolution would eventually produce so many doctors that last year there was one physician per 155 residents, more than double Florida’s ratio. Before Castro, there was one doctor for every 1,058 people.

But today, almost a quarter of the nation’s doctors are serving ‘‘missions’’ overseas so the government can collect much-needed hard currency from their work. So many underpaid educators have left classrooms that the school system is relying on teenage interns to teach.

There is no question that Cuba enjoys a low infant mortality rate, high life expectancy, and crime statistics that any Latin American nation would envy. But experts say Castro’s early accomplishments have declined so sharply that only drastic measures can save them.

‘‘They always say the great achievements were healthcare and education, but in Cuba you don’t spend your whole life sick or studying,’’ said Lizette Fernández, a former banker and dissident who arrived in 2006 and now sells cosmetics in Hialeah. “If the medical system was an accomplishment, doctors would not be writing prescriptions without any hope that you will find the medicine.’‘

Experts stress that when Castro, with the help of his younger brother, RaUl, and other rebels, took over on Jan. 1, 1959, they took the helm of what was already one of the most developed nations in the hemisphere. Cubans led Latin America in the number of households that owned TV sets, and Cuba was outpaced by only Argentina and Uruguay in other economic and social indicators.

According to a report last week by the University of Miami, Cuba already had the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America and was among the region’s most literate countries.

But the wealth and progress were concentrated in Havana. Illiteracy rates reached 42 percent in the rural areas, while only 23 percent of urban dwellers could not read, according to early national statistics.

Castro’s government promised to change that. It set out to upend the social order, claiming that Cuba would become a nation where women matter as much as men, black people could become doctors, and peasants could read and write.

Read on from MAJOR CHANGES

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on December 15, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I think she did a fair summary of Castro’s reign over Cuba. The reader’s own experience and bias will create an internal discussion but the article is well written as is expected from Frances.

    There is also this article about the Cuban exiles’ experience in and out of Cuba.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on December 15, 2008 by gframe

    Nothing from Miami Herald is fair reporting on Cuba. In 1958 Cuba had 800,000 workers without employment and the economy was nearly bankrupt.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on December 16, 2008 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    And now all but 800,000 have no real jobs and the economy is still bankrupt!

  4. Follow up post #4 added on December 17, 2008 by Alberto N Jones

    Presumably for Ms Robles and those supporting her views, Cuba would be so much better off, had there never been a January 1, 1959.  How silly, ridiculous and selfserving!! 

    Just ask Nelson Mandela, Namibia, Angola, tens of thousands in LatinAmerica who can now see and read her trash, thousands saved from certain death around the world or the mothers, wifes and children of so many who have died at the hands of killers, who bragg publicly about their despicable acts or worse, tens of thousands of youngsters from the developing world, who have achieved middle and higher education that was until recently, reserved for her and those like her.

    Once these writers starts an article, they are all over the place, unable to focus on any given issue for the reader to compare, convinced, the facts would come out clear and loud, they would discredited and possibly, enroll in the army of unemployed.

    Because I am sure, neither Ms. Robles, Oppenheimer, the entire staff of the Miami Herald or anyone else for that matter would dare compare Cuba’s accomplishment in the past 50 years with Latin America and the Caribbean together, why not pick any item and compare it with the United States, except for their foolish analysis of TV sets, Cars or grocery stores, which not withstanding its importance in our daily lives, it means absolutely nothing for that child in Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador or Indonesia, without water, bread or medicine to save his/her life.

    In order to put things into perspective, would Ms Robles and her ilks, be willing to apply a statistical analysis of the educational, cultural, safety, social security, homelessness, health, violence, drug addition, police brutality, arson, child abuse, pedophilia, rape, collective fear, political corruption, incarceration index, school drop out, racism, prostitution, degrading TV programing, illiteracy and on, and on, and on in Miami with any city of your choosing in Cuba?

    Not even with all of the physicians that they have shamefully enticed to leave the country since 1962 and through their Cuban Adjustment act, encouraging them to betray their patients in remote parts of the world, knowing they may not have another one, come to Miami and enjoy the glow and glitter, most are unable to restore their professional practice, notwithstanding, there are still only a few or no physician for the people living in Overtown, Liberty City,  ImmokaleeTomato growers, West Saint Augustine, The Rocky Mountains or in the Ward 9 in Louisiana.

    Why can’t these salaried intellectuals write articles encouraging the United States government to hire hundreds of these well trained, pirated professionals from Cuba and send to offer these expertise to millions in dire need of help around the world?

    Just as it was in her Cuba when it was ahead of Latin America, with all of these world renowned physicians clustered in Miramar, Vedado or Kholy and thousands of people in la Cienaga de Zapata, el Realengo 18 or el Escambray, who never saw a healthcare professional before the triumph of the revolution they hate.

    These individuals may write and publish, whatever they are paid to do, but there are mute, irrefutable witness to the horrendous past they cannot excuse, deny or justify.

    I encourage the many readers of this site, whenver visiting Cuba, take the time to skip the beach, clubs or museum for a day or two and visit any cemetery in any sugarcane plantion, charcoal making or salt mining community and even in larger cities and just take the time to read the date of birth and date of death imprinted on hundreds of crosses and headstones.

    Most dramatic is Chivirico in Santiago de Cuba, where tens of crosses on the hillside reminds us where the sick coming from the sierra maestra hoping to get a ride on Mr. Teofilo Babum Lumber shipping company boat to Santiago, died while awaiting the next arrival, as the only available route from those mountain top dwellers to reach Santiago de Cuba.

    Ironically today, one of the best known and most outspoken “Humanist” in south Florida decrying the pain, suffering and unspeakable injustice the Cuban government have inflicted on its people, is no one else, than the son of Mr. Babun, one of the richest man in southern Oriente, who made millions from extracting their sweat, blood and lives from thousands of innocents peasants, who lived under such inhuman conditions, that it was denounced, even by their crime accomplices Bohemia, Carteles, El Pais, Diario de Cuba and many others.

    Not only did these individuals commit the most heinious crimes in Cuba, they have lied to the American people, they have portrayed themselves as victims and they are still attempting to canonize some of our people worst victimizers.

    That is why, the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Cuban Revolution will be a very sad day in Miami and many of its inhabitants, while it will be hailed by millions across the globe, as the most memorable day for the poor, abused and raped.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on December 19, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Very good post Mr. Jones, I totaly agree. Maybee publisher could do some pieces on the good Cubans have done for a change.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on December 20, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    Thanks for the suggestion. We do cover the good things that Cuba does but as you know, it’s hard to get accurate information and not just propaganda from the Cuban media.

    However, this story on Cuban scorpion venom being tested for cancer treatment in Cuba is a great story that I think is free of propaganda.

    The Cuban government can fool around with economic and tourist numbers and of course political information but I don’t think they lie about medical information.

    Cuba consulting services

  7. Follow up post #7 added on December 22, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    How about doing something on all the Cuban doctors and nurses etc. that are giving treatment to thosands of people in Latin America?

  8. Follow up post #8 added on December 22, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    1. I posted this article about <a href=“http://havanajournal.com/culture/entry/cuba-operation-miracle-eye-surgery-gives-sight-to-the-blind/”>Operation Miracle>.

    2. Since there is no independent media in Cuba, nothing can be independently verified therefore everything is subject to editing and control by the Cuban government. They could claim a 10% success rate or a 100% success rate and no one can call them on it.

    If you don’t know that then you are choosing to participate in the lie.

    Cuba consulting services

  9. Follow up post #9 added on December 23, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Thats not the same thing, I mean articles like the Barrios adentro project in Venezuela with Cubans going into the poorist barrios and giving medical attention to the residents, or the medical help they are giving in Haiti etc. Im sure you can find more independant reporting on this.

  10. Follow up post #10 added on December 23, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Those doctors are trading their services for oil and denying their fellow Cubans at home decent medical care.

    You know the Cuban doctors are just pawns for the Castros.

    Of course they do good things and are well trained and respected around the world. Sure I’ll give Fidel credit for raising literacy rates and producing so many doctors but when he whores them out for oil, it’s pretty sad.

    Cuba consulting services

  11. Follow up post #11 added on December 24, 2008 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    My wife’s cousin is a doctor and went on a “mision” to Venzuela. I asked her about it and she said her salary when out there was 10 times what she was earning in Cuba. This enabled her to bring back lots of electrical consumer goods for her family. With this in mind and and also the fact that it is of course much easier to escape to the US from there (if this is what they intended) I’m not surprised that so many are happy to go.

  12. Follow up post #12 added on December 24, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    We also have two family in Cuba who are young doctors, one in Venezuela the other im not sure where. One has been back to Cuba twice on vacation and brought back electronics etc. including a cell phone for her husband who she phones from Venezuela. They get some of their wages in convertible currency. I know that when she is finished she will get a house also. I think that it is pretty disrespectfull of Publisher to call them all Whores.

    Cuba has very little to trade with other countries. One of the few things they have is people with knowledge, thanks to their exellent medical schools. They don’t produce enough oil in Cuba so Venezuela is trading oil for medical Knowledge. The oil keeps the lights on. Unlike Publisher I see nothing wrong with that.
    Cuba has one of the best patient to doctor ratios in the world so the doctors have not abandoned their patients as publisher says. Cuba also sent doctors, nurses etc. in Haiti helping out after all the hurricanes.
    The U.S.A. has a policy of trying to entice the Cuban doctors to abandon their projects and come to the U.S. That I think is pretty low on the humanitarian scale. The U.S. will have to get closer to Cuba if they ever expect things to change.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on December 24, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    I did not mean for my comment to mean that Cuban doctors are whores. I respect all Cuban doctors for their commitment to their practice and they should take advantage of every opportunity that their job can offer them.

    I said Fidel is whoring them out for oil.

    Cuba has LOTS to offer other countries but Fidel and Raul squander it or won’t allow free trade. I mean they have to import sugar for Christ’s sake. How stupid is that? I suppose that’s because of the Embargo?

    Cuba can be and will be an economic powerhouse in the Caribbean and even Latin America when Communism has left the island.

    From all I’ve read and heard, I would not want to be a Cuban citizen relying on healthcare in Cuba. Sure the doctor’s are well trained but it is my understanding that there is a shortage of doctors in Cuba because Fidel is sending them around the world… not for free mind you but for oil and other benefits.

    How many doctors went to Haiti and how long did they stay? My guess is that the Cuban government said hundreds of doctors went to Haiti. How long did they stay, a few days? More PR than substance.

    Cuba consulting services

  14. Follow up post #14 added on December 24, 2008 by abh with 244 total posts

    I find these discussions interesting, if a bit repetitive. 
    I have to say that my personal perspective is that Cuba does NOT necessarily have a lot to offer other countries if we are talking about natural resources or exports.  Sure, they have fantastic music, tourism, and medical systems.  These things are extremely important culturally AND economically and I don’t have a problem with them calculating them as part of the economy. 
    My only point here is to say that after analyzing the history of Cuba I have come to the conclusion that the main struggle for the island nation has been to be self-sustaining.  If one is to criticize the Castro-led revolution, I believe that one can start with this subject.
    Did Fidel try to fully exploit the sugar export?  Yes.  I believe it was 1968 when they tried to get 10 million…(I cant even remember now what it was 10 million of to be honest) and they just weren’t able to get there.  They mobilized basically the entire country and weren’t able to meet the goal.  After that it was Soviet Subsidies, and yes now there are some programs that have problematic aspects, but it seems pretty reasonable to use the talented doctors to gain necessary products such as oil. 
    In all these discussions on this blog I have never heard anyone come up with a well thought out plan of how Cuba can be self-sustaining.  Sure, you ramp up the tourism sector, nickel prodcution, and I guess a few other industries…but does that truly change the economic dynamics that the country has been dealing with since before independance from Spain?
    That is my question for you, companeros wink

  15. Follow up post #15 added on December 24, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    With free elections, freedom of investment etc Cuba would be one of the world’s largest producers of sugar and nickel.

    They could bring in billions and billions of dollars in revenue if they open up the tourism market and allow private ownership of land.

    They could sell more cigars and license their biotech industry. They could grow more citrus and now maybe oil is coming online.

    Too bad that darn Embargo is keeping Cuba from doing all this and being a rich and powerful country.

    So, you’re right. I guess Cuba doesn’t have much to offer the world.

    Lastly, this constant argument over Cuba’s sovereignty is getting pretty old. Like the US is really going to invade Cuba and make it the 51st state.

    Cuba consulting services

  16. Follow up post #16 added on December 24, 2008 by abh

    You bring up some interesting points.  I agree that there could be some improvements in many of these sectors.  Im not sure if it would amount to a structural change.  I also think many out there in the blogoshphere and in the international Cuban community are naive about the desires of the Cuban people.  Do they want more money, better salaries, etc?  Of course.  Are they willing to sell out the health sector and undergo the devastating structural changed that agencies like the IMF impose?  I would argue no.
    And I am talking about being SELF-SUSTAINING, I’m not talking about Sovereignty.  To be honest I find it kind of funny that you assumed I was talking about Sovereignty.  Been reading a little too mucn Gramma lately? wink
    By the way, with free elections, all I’m gonna say is be careful what you wish for.  If you think the Cuban exile crowd wouldn’t front an extremely well-funded puppet candidate, I’ve got some untilled sugar plantation property I’d like to sell you.

  17. Follow up post #17 added on December 24, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    If the big sugar barons came back to Cuba do you think the profits if any from sugar would go to the populus?  Those same Cuban sugar baron are in Haiti now. Have you seen the film “the price of sugar”? Enough said. With sugar priced at 0.11 cents a lb and as we know it takes about 12 lbs of cane to make 1lb of sugar. its not that much for all the work that goes into it, cost of fuel, labour, building of new sugar mills as Cuba’s are outdated etc.
    A fewyears ago Cuba shut down some of the worst mills and plowed under some cane to use the land for domestic food production. This was a good move in my opinion. I always thought it wasn’t smart to stop the small farmers from selling their wares directly to the people as it filled a need. They reversed that again a few years ago and they have gone a step further now by allowing people to farm government land free of charge. They even assist them with technical agricultural help.
    As for nickel, the world price is way down now and Cuba is about 6th in world production now with it’s patnership with Sherritt from Canada.

  18. Follow up post #18 added on December 24, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Cuba sugar production is terrible because it is run by the Cuban government. Yes, an efficient and productive sugar industry would generate jobs and taxes.

    With your attitude Cuba has nothing to offer.

    You say the glass is empty. I say the glass is waiting to be filled.

    Cuba consulting services

  19. Follow up post #19 added on December 24, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    I think, with the way that many Latin American countries are turning to the left now I think you are going to be waiting a long time to see the Miami boys go back into Cuba and take over!

  20. Follow up post #20 added on December 24, 2008 by paul

    Until the “Miami boys” are back, the Communists, Europeans and Canadians are the mafia of today in Cuba.

  21. Follow up post #21 added on December 24, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Who said anything about the Miami boys?

    Actually I think the old Cuban exiles would hinder the opening of Cuba because they would want to claim the whole country for themselves and restrict “outsiders” from doing any business in Cuba.

    I find it interesting that people on the left think I am on the far right and that the far right folks call me a a Castro supporter. I achieve this and never change my position on the issues. That’s okay though, I am a Republican from Massachusetts so you can draw your own conclusions.

    Cuba consulting services

  22. Follow up post #22 added on December 24, 2008 by paul

    I think Cuba’s future should be lead by Oswaldo Paya. Great ideas, centered around Christian Democrat politics (not Democrat in the American sense, but more like European Christian Democrat parties).

    Jungle capitalism will ruin Cuba just like the robo-lucion has ruined Cuba.

  23. Follow up post #23 added on December 24, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    I won’t hold being a republican against you, hell I have family in the states and a couple of them are republican also. We have some good arguments.
    I think Cuba would do just fine if they opened up a bit more to the outside world and became more self sufficient.
    The U.S. blew it in 1960 when Castro went to the U.S. looking for help and got blown off, he then had no option but to go to Russia for help.
    You say you never change your position on issues, that’s not a good sign. Sometimes when you get more info you schould do so.

  24. Follow up post #24 added on December 24, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    No problem. Just for the record I am not a John McCain, Sara Palin or George Bush Republican.

    Maybe a Mitt Romney Republican. I voted for Obama and happy to do so.

    I will change my mind on issues when I am presented with facts and not lies or propaganda but haven’t changed my beliefs.

    Cuba consulting services

  25. Follow up post #25 added on December 24, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    Thank you. Finally someone who supports Oswaldo Paya. Finally.

    Cuba consulting services

  26. Follow up post #26 added on December 24, 2008 by Alberto N Jones

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of those posting or simply visiting this site.

    Maybe too frequently important subjects goes off track, choosing to discuss banalities or wishful thinking, rather than an objective analysis of the real Cuba, not the one, some of us would like it to be.

    When I listen to or read these childish assumptions about how good everything will be as soon as Free Election, Free Enterprise and Free many other things that we dispise an do not allow for ourselves, willl solve all of Cuba’s ills, it could have been laughable, had it not broken stupidometer.

    If Free Enterprise and Free Election were the answer, what is it that is wrong with Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and for that matter, the rest of the world with a different political system from Cuba?

    What more do we need to see happen, for these staunch supporters of a failed, ruinous, on the verge of collapse, selfish, greedy and individualistic sytem like ours, finds itself now on the ropes and worse yet, with no one except President Elect Barack Obama, who in desperation, we have turned into a messiah, hoping he maybe able to end the unstoppable downward spiral we are on for the past months?

    Why our Free Press have refused to identify the culprit of this monstrous debacle, beginning with President Bush, Cheney and the rest of gang, who spent billions on his man-made war against Saddam, because he wanted to hurt my Dad, or trying to take control of that country enormous natural resources, with his pathetic C average student, could not do otherwise.

    At least in Cuba they are able to produce questionable stats in the eyes of the moderator, but they can still do that, without ever having our monstrous daily corruption,  either in the governorship of Illinois, the Senator of Alaska or the Congressman from Louisiana and another hundreds like them, wall street vandals, the latest master crook who still lives on 5th ave., Felix Sixto, the hand-made Cuban-American poster boy created by Frank Calzon in the Free Cuba dungeon, advising President Bush on how to “free Cuba”.  What a joke, putting the future of Cuba in the hands of vulgar thieves!!!

    President Bush, Paulson, the Senate, Congress, Condoleezzaa, Governor Palin and the rest, with the exception of going to the Sunday Morning Talk Shows, purporting to be knowleagable, exhibit their prestigious background, No one, None of Them, have been able so far, to come up with a reasonable solution for the downward spiral of the US economy, that threatens to drag the entire world with it.

    Mr. Moderator, If ever you have had ample reasons to change your obsesive views against the Cuba leadership, especially Fidel, please be honest for once and compare his achievements and failures, with all of the other combined leaders of the system you believe in and supports, and please, do not post it, do not embarrass yourself, but acknowledge in silence, that no one else have accumulated a record in education, health, social development, human rights (except for the salaried few in Cuba, who can be found on US-AID yearly reports and tens of fake foundations), but rather, focus on the millions who owes their education, health, independence, sovereingty and material support of that tiny, poor, developing country, made up of a genetic fabric that enable it to defeat Spain and its 300,000 strong army and others thereafter.

    Why not promise ourselves that this December 31, we will join hands, change the past disastrous 50 years of hatred, bitterness, pain and suffering and become what the world is demanding of us, brothers and sisters with a different vision, but respectful of one anothers decision.

    Much good for the entire region could come out of this decision, that only require me leave behind our arrogance and self-annointed “decider” of who we are, how we should act and when we are allowed to think.

  27. Follow up post #27 added on December 25, 2008 by paul


    You can achieve great things for people without having a police state. Even if the stats the Cuban government show were true (as they cannot be objectively checked, as even international organizations just accept the information that the Cuban government gives them, or have sympathetic leftists that want to promote Cuba), ONE day of repression, lack of political expression, restriction of travel, lack of freedom of assembly, is one day too many.

    To be totally honest, I hate the style of your post. You want to sound like we should be tolerant of authoritarian communism.

    The Cuban people have not spoken for themselves for 50 years. The spokespersons have been the government, fellow travelers/weekend communists that travel and “work” in Cuba, and government authorized people who say what the government wants them to say (and “appear” like it is the own opinion).

    Lastly, huge LOL at your implication that there isn’t rampant corruption in Cuba. In America we air out our dirty clothing to the public/or it gets out, but in Cuba, the government tolerates no dissent, and keeps very tight control over the spread of non authorized information.

    So yeah, Happy New Years, Communist spam bot.

  28. Follow up post #28 added on December 25, 2008 by paul


    Look into the politics of Christian Democrat parties. They focus on plenty of social issues, from a center right position. Leftists and Social Democrats appear to be the only folks who focus on these issues, but Christian Democrat parties have been around for a long time, just not present in the United States.

    This is the reason why I like Paya. Politics which gyrate around Christian humanism. Neoliberalism will turn Cuba into McCuba, so what is needed, are laws that regulate capitalism with human dignity at the core (which is totally possible, without having a military dictatorship).

    I’m also a republican but laissez-faire capitalism gives leftists more fuel to demonize capitalism, and create more instability.

    Anyways, read about CD a bit:


  29. Follow up post #29 added on December 25, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    Thanks for the education. I’ll look into it.


    Why are you communists always so long winded without ever saying anything?

    Let me counter your “join hands, change the past disastrous 50 years of hatred, bitterness, pain and suffering” by saying that maybe Raul should make the first move and release some political prisoners.

    Oh, right. There aren’t any political prisoners in Cuba.

    Are they such a threat to the Castro machine that they need to rot in jail. I suppose they are a big threat and that words are more powerful than guns.

    Cuba consulting services

  30. Follow up post #30 added on December 25, 2008 by Alberto N Jones

    No time to respond and will comply with your request for short answers.  As a person who accidentally was born in Cuba and could be from anywhere else in the world, why are you guys so obsessed with Cuba’s wellbeing, demanding certain preconditions, that I am sure, nothing, absolutely nothing would forbid you from turning any country of your choice in the region, into a CD demo, doing all the good deeds you are so good to put in writing.

    No one,  who do not believe that as humans we can do much better, help to create a different human relation in this world, needs to join hands in anything.

    I do suggest repeatedly, put together all of your likes, promote your wonderful, albeit wishful ideas in any Caribbean Island, Central America, Asia or Africa and call back in 50 years with your report card.

    Stop kidding yourselves.  As you purport, we all would like to see Cuba advance, achieve the mental progress you dream of,  in which every Cuban could enjoy the social development of my dog, with food, bones, ice water, veterinay care, or the living standard we enjoy without the price you omit, free of the same prostitution that surrounds us and you never complain about, the daily revolting TV news, increasingly sickening human degradation, living in constant fear, pervasive drug infestation, terrified for lack of healthcare, job security and most recently, thrown out of your home, police brutality and the highest encarceration per capita in the world, should require an open discussion and a final decision on the world you want your children to grow up into.

    Do you need to have the skinheads, other extreme groups come after you, before recognizing how sick our society have become?

    Would Frank Calzon be your Cuban Secretary of State of choice?  Would any of the hundredes of Cuban-American in south Florida being sought by the FBI for defrauding Medicare/Aid, be yourpick for Minister of Health?

    Would your very incapable Mel Martinez or bitter Diaz-Balart be your President of choice for the new Cuba?  Please visit Banes and see how it was when his father and grandfather ran their own version of a Cuban Soweto as the Afrikaners did?

    Can you honestly equate the educational level,  working capabilities and minimalist achiever of our shinning Carlos Gutierrez,  US Secretary of Commerce, with any of the people governing the country, you so vehemently disagree with?

    And please, do not include in your list, Congresswoman Ros-Lethinen, who neither speaks Spanish or English, but was complictly silent with her beloved Santa Clara rabid racism and proudly segregated main Square, Parque Vidal.

    More next year.  Got to go! hope this may be of help.

  31. Follow up post #31 added on December 26, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I do not like the opinions of Frank Calzon, Diaz Balarts, Martinez, Ros Lehtinen or even Marta Beatriz Roque, do not support them and even have criticized them all here in public.

    I don’t like the right or left extremes here in the US or in Cuba.

    Our goal at the Havana Journal is about truth and freedom and open dialog about truth and freedom. That’s why I go out of my way to shine the light on propaganda from Cuba and from Miami. Funny how I and the Havana Journal are not liked in Cuba or Miami and that’s fine with me.

    Someday both extremes will loose and truth and freedom will be available in Cuba.

    Castro will be out and the Cuban Americans will not have control over US policy/restrictions on Americans citizens’ freedoms.

    Cuba consulting services

  32. Follow up post #32 added on December 26, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    I did look up Cuban medical aid to Haiti, and it seems they have had doctors giving free aid since 1998. This reported by people outside Cuba, so not just a propaganda move by Cuba. One day the Castros will not be there, but some people in the wings will take over I’m sure. To be fair, you schould also try to shine the light on the good things in Cuba also. Later.

  33. Follow up post #33 added on December 27, 2008 by paul

    With so much gushing praise everywhere else on earth for Cuba (sources that never criticize Cuba), its good that this site shows/discusses the bad stuff (which there is more of, but seldom talked about).

  34. Follow up post #34 added on December 27, 2008 by abh

    Paul: fair enough, every government should be subject to criticism, especially one in which so many people are struggling and suffering.  I will say personally that I have been extremely frustrated with day to day life in Cuba, the struggle for very basic things and the lack of freedoms has basically made the revolution a joke for many people, especially the youth.  However the question is where do we go from here?  I believe most people who read the Havana Journal agree that there is work to be done inside the US, specifically to end the embargo. 
    For me, that’s where this discussion leads.  We can spend our free time criticizing the problems in Cuba, but we should work to end the embargo and normalize relations between these two countries 90 miles away from each other.

  35. Follow up post #35 added on December 28, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    I think that we all agree, no matter where we come from in the political spectrum, that the embargo has to go. I also think that Cuba has to lighten up on little self employed type buisinesses so they can fill in all the voids left between the government entities. They schould assist the small buisinesses like they do with people that farm the small plots of government land. The land they let them use, give them seeds, give them technical help etc. for free. This in turn resolves some of the needs in that local area. No need for costly transportation, refrigeration etc. These people in turn get extra money to buy in the CUC stores etc.
    Lets hope that things change after the embargo goes.

  36. Follow up post #36 added on December 28, 2008 by paul

    But Cuba already purchases many goods from the United States (400+million last year http://www.cubatrade.org), trades with Canada, EU member states, gets aid from Venezuela and China.

    I think it’s pretty good that Cuba can purchase so much from the United States, considering that the Cuban government has spent 50 years demonizing the country, fighting/contributing to wars in Africa/Asia with Soviet money, nationalized American businesses and was willing to put Nuclear Missiles on its soil for the Soviet Union.

    I also believe that the embargo should end, but the Cuban government has been shamefully authoritarian and intolerant of anything that opposes its power. I mean think about it, all the trade that Cuba does now, and the government is STILL extremely intolerant of dissent (apart from “WOW” being able to buy cell phones, and stay at foreigner hotels…how nice of the government…..).

    I don’t want to see a Cuba where its citizens (like you, since you “say” you are Cuban), cannot criticize the government, travel freely,have more economic freedom, and a bigger role in the future of the society. Even if you have socialist “elections”, a small group of officers and nomenklatura have taken the shameful role of speaking for the people.

    I don’t care what is going on with China, I care about Cubans. I’m scared that if certainly useful idiots/fellow travelers influence the right people, and get the embargo lifted without criterias for the Cuban government to follow, then the country will remain the same.

    So yeah, as you want to “work” together to get the CREDIT blockade lifted, we should “work” together so that your government officials take off their military uniforms and give power back to the people.

  37. Follow up post #37 added on December 28, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    The U.S. government only sells them foodstuff and medicin for cash unlike the other countries that sell them other goods. Also, the U.S. has stopped Canadian companies from dealing in Cuba because they have operations in the U.S. Quite a democratic action I guess you would say.  I suppose Bush speaks for your interests. He was only supported by a small part of the populous in the US when you look at it and I don’t think the majority think like him or his government. The U.S. lost an opportunity to keep ties with Cuba when it told Castro to go to hell in 1960 when he visited the Pres. and N.Y. Fidel had no choice but to turn to the Soviets.
    I am not Cuban but have lived there and have family there. I am just a plain old Canadian pinko as you would probably say.
    If you truely care about Cuba, you would be hesitant to see Cuba open up only to let the old Miami Cuban mafia get in and exploit the people as they did under Batista and will do again if given the chance.

  38. Follow up post #38 added on December 28, 2008 by paul

    Your reply is full of ASS-umptions.

    First off troll, I don’t want to see Cuba become McCuba. I would like to see a society like Canada or Western Europe in place. A place where there are certain social safety nets in place, without having a military dictatorship telling people what to do or think. You don’t need military mafia to guarantee second generation rights, and it’s damn scary that a “Canadian Pinko” like yourself is willing to tolerate/defend a military run society.

    Considering that Cuba nationalized American businesses, Cuba is fortunate that they can even purchase goods at a cash only basis (Castro chose to unite with America’s enemy, so Castro had/has to deal with the consequences of that relationship…). Nationalization is a huge political no-no, which takes a lot of reconciliation to overcome.

  39. Follow up post #39 added on December 29, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    The U.S. Gov has just nationalized a bunch of companies, how do you like living in a socialist country?
    Se privatiza el carne y se socializa el jueso, as they say in South America.
    They also back countries run by military assasins. Look at Columbia for example.

  40. Follow up post #40 added on December 29, 2008 by paul

    What a terrible analogy.

    The US Govt loaned a certain amount of money to those companies, and now own a part of those companies (from my understanding).

    What Cuba did was nationalize foreign interests, as well as companies from Cubans as well. I’m not on the side of the rich and the big corporations, but Cuba can’t just “expect” normal relations when they nationalize American companies AND used some of those facilities to help the Soviets.

    Colombias are fighting the FARC, are you going to paint them also in a rosy hue? maybe you should talk to Ingrid Betancourt about them. Or maybe the “pinko commie” Dutch girl who defended the Marxist FARC, went there, and became a prisoner.

    Creo que lo que querias decir es “se privatiza LA carne, y se socializa el Hueso”.

  41. Follow up post #41 added on December 29, 2008 by abh with 244 total posts

    isnt it kind of a chicken and egg argument about the nationalization?  It was my understanding that the US refused to process the Soviet Crude oil, and at that point Castro was “forced” to nationalize it.  Obviously one can argue that Fidel knew that his flirtation with the USSR would not be taken kindly by the US, but thats the way it went.
    To a certain extent I can understand the argument that it was the cold war and they were enemies, etc.  But I just dont think we can explain it anymore…the free market, free trade ideology that we espouse ad nauseum to the rest of the world just isnt consistent with the embargo.  It’s that simple.  It’s so funny to hear communists advocate more free trade and right-wingers talk about how we need to restrict it…to me that’s the value of the publishers view, he is more consistent in his viewpoints than some others here.

  42. Follow up post #42 added on December 29, 2008 by paul

    I’m glad to see “right wingers” talk about a more regulated form of capitalism. I don’t agree with the whole laissez faire/invisible hand nonsense.

    Regulation is needed to an extent, so that extreme economic liberals don’t strip society to the bone, with barely any safety nets in place. Canada and Western European countries practice that, and they have mix market economies that are open to capitalism, are not authoritarian and repressive like Cuba, and concern themselves with the welfare of individuals/families.

    The Cold War is indeed over, but Cuba just wants to sweep away 50 years of demonizing the United States, being the hitman for the USSR, nationalizing American/Cuban businesses, and saying “oh hey world, the big mean USA is the cause for our economic woes, so they should open their doors first”.

    Fact is that their benefactor sank into the pages of history, and now they use this “oh we are a widdle innocent military government” position, in an attempt to revise history.

    I would be for lifting the credit blockade if the CMM (Cuban military mafia) would make concessions in a relationship which they also made sour.

    -Let Cubans travel/migrate freely.
    -Regular non socialist elections. If it’s really about social rights and all that jazz, then they can make that mandatory for every administration to follow.
    -Tolerate dissent, something that all of the America bashers freely enjoy, which people in Cuba can’t do against the government.
    -Make arrangements on how to compensate people for confiscated businesses/property.

  43. Follow up post #43 added on December 29, 2008 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Well Paul you are correct, I never could get the spanish masculine-feminine thing.

    On Columbia, you must be getting “filtered” news. If you havn’t heard the political opposition to the government, union leaders etc. somehow get shot by the armed forces and dumped by the roadside. The government is tied up in corruption, drug cartels, killings and vote buying etc. At least that doesn’t happen in Cuba.
    When the Miami boys owned the cane and fruit plantations the Cuban workers got peanuts.

    We have had three of our family from Cuba up to visit for a month each.
    I know of one person who was just refused by the U.S. gov permission to visit her daughter in the U.S.

    It is clear that you need some regulations, look what has just happened in the U.S. with mortgages etc.
    I guess the U.S. hasn’t deamonized Cuba in your view.
    I don’t think we have the right to dictate how another country is run. Look what happens when you try to impose “democracy” on another country. 
    There are capitalist companies operating in Cuba now in profit sharing with the Cuban gov. and they are happy with the arrangement.

  44. Follow up post #44 added on March 19, 2009 by L J Cordle

    I have just finished reading all of the above posts.  There are interesting and, for the most part, civil and restained.  I have never been in Cuba.  My first employer after college intended to send me to Havana, but the operation was nationalized shortly before I was to arrive.  I have lived in Latin America and in Spain most of my adult life.  There were still a few Spanish ex civil servants from Cuba and Spanish War veterans (guys in their 80’s) around when I was a kid.  I have been hearing about Cuba all of my life.

    I have known many Cubans in the USA, in Spain and in various Latin American countries.  They are far from united in their views of Castro’s revolution.  Many of the Cuban doctors I knew in Latin America were anxious to return to Cuba and many of them did.  They were excellent doctors, by the way.  They treated their patients as people and not as dollar signs, as often happens in the USA.  The Cubans who had exiled themselves to the USA were typically the only ones who seriously complained regarding the Castro government.  I met and had a “conversation” with Luis Posada Carriles on the North Coast of Honduras a few years ago.  If he is typical of the Casto oposition and his sort of person eventually gains power in Cuba, then, gracious.  Poor Cubans!

    In any event, Publisher, it is an interesting forum.  Thank you.  L. J. Cordle

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