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Posted April 20, 2007 by publisher in Cuban History

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I will preface this post by saying that I am not Cuban and have no Cuban relatives although I do have Cuban friends inside the US and in Cuba.

I find the need to clarify my position here as Publisher of the Havana Journal. I comment a lot about the Embargo and call it the “failed Plan A Embargo” and I mean that and there is nothing that will change my mind on it. It is a 45+ year old failed policy that hurts ordinary Cubans and restricts the freedoms of ALL Americans. I will never be in favor of a policy that restricts freedoms.

I have also made the comment that old Cuban exiles have “baggage” meaning that they continue to harbor hatred towards Fidel Castro because he either nationalized their business or forced or encouraged them to leave Cuba shortly after the Revolution.

I strongly believe that these old exiles should “get over it”. They are not going to get their property back. Kicking current residents out of their homes will do no good for anyone.

Now, I am not saying that they should forgive Fidel for being wronged but if the old Cuban exiles don’t “get over it” to me that means that they are quietly harboring some sort of reparations either from Cuba or even from the US.

I will gladly reply to comments from visitors to this site who would like to tell me why they should continue to hate Fidel and support the restrictions on freedoms to ALL Americans.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on April 21, 2007 by Damir

    I believe everybody should be able to get over the past.  Keeping ones mind in the past is no safe way to build better future. I do not think we should absolutly denie everything that went on, but a constructive way of thinking is something that should be followed.

    Regards from Europe


  2. Follow up post #2 added on April 21, 2007 by bernie with 199 total posts

    Common sense, should prevail when you see that “exiles” are ruling Iraq & Afghanistan.


  3. Follow up post #3 added on April 22, 2007 by Daniel

    I think it’s clear that you are mixing two separate issues:

    1. Expectation of reparations/reconfiscation of business and/or homes

    2. Freedoms placed on Americans

    I would say that you are right on with #2.  I myself and a Cuban-American and have never supported US policy as it is backwards and self defeating; however, I believe that your position on #1 is quite disheartening and absolutely ignorant of so many other variables that I was compelled to respond.

    First, your closing request to “tell me why they should continue to hate Fidel” is lacking any logic.  Do you expect the to suddenly “stop” hating Fidel in the name of moderation and reason?  There is much more at play in the exile’s/emigre’s mind than a simple hate due to having either had their either property or business nationalized or being forced or encouraged to leave Cuba shortly after the Revolution. 

    Are you able to grasp the fact that families have been torn apart, lives destroyed, and dreams shattered?  And that these matters extend far beyond financial issues?  To label this as “baggage” is simply insensitive, callous, and just plain ignorant.

    To dumb down this anguish to a desire to “get their property back…kicking current residents” is unbelievably simplistic.

    As a regular reader of the Journal, I am surprised that you would fail to understand that many of the “old exiles” are much deeper and moderate than what the vocal few make them out to be.  I would hope that you can ponder the matter more deeply and not reduce it to one wholly involving finances.  Do you realize many exiles who left shortly after the revolution had little or nothing (and never had it) of material value in Cuba?

    Finally, you appear to be concerned about “the old Cuban exiles quietly harboring some sort of reparations either from Cuba or even from the US.”  I would counter that Cubans are one of the most economically succesful immigrant groups in the history of the United States and pride alone would prevent them from seeking “reparations.”  I suggest you rethink your point of view and would be happy to collaborate via my email, provided to you for posting. 

    Thank you


  4. Follow up post #4 added on April 22, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Daniel,

    Thanks for taking the time to write such an educational piece. Since I don’t have the “baggage” as I call it, it’s easy for me to suggest that the old Cuban exiles “get over it” so my lack of knowledge and history affords me the ability to make such a general statement.

    With that said, I think I might be speaking for many Americans who would like the Embargo to end. What happened 40+ years ago is a long time ago and Americans’ would like their freedom to travel.

    Miami repeatedly votes in the Diaz-Balarts and Ros-Lehtinen’s of the world who enthusiastically support the restrictions on all Americans’ freedom to travel and I would like to see the old Cuban American exiles who support these types of politicians and control the Embargo.

    We Americans have had enough. We want to go to Cuba. We want to do business with Cuba. If we Americans support China by buying BILLIONS of dollars a year in products from their communist government, trading with Castro’s communist government is not an argument against lifting the Embargo.

    I also have the sense the old Cuban exiles feel they are entitled to return to Cuba to regain personal and business property as well as be involved with government policy.

    So, I understand and appreciate your passion but maybe I’m passionate about my freedoms to travel and trade with countries I choose.



    Cuba consulting services

  5. Follow up post #5 added on April 22, 2007 by Daniel

    I agree with you 110% on the embargo.  As an American, I too feel that the
    US policy is un-American and self defeating.  I also believe it is very
    hypocritical of our government to do business not only with China but
    Vietnam as well.

    You state below that you have a “sense the old Cuban exiles feel they are
    entitled to return
    to Cuba to regain personal and business property as well as be involved with
    government policy.”

    I counter that while many exiles may have that mindset, there are many who
    couldn’t care less about what they once had (and many who never had anything
    material) in Cuba.  I believe your “sense” of the exile community is,
    unfortunately, skewed by the vocal few.  There are many Cuban exiles who are
    willing to move past the idea of regaining personal and business property
    and are only interested in freedom for their motherland.  In fact, many of
    these people have no interest in returning to Cuba as the US is now more
    home than anywhere.

    I also believe they are aware that this reconfiscation will not be tolerated
    as stated pretty clearly in The Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba
    annual report which was released on May 6.

    see http://www.cafc.gov/rpt/


  6. Follow up post #6 added on April 23, 2007 by Michael C.

    As a Cuban-American, I find the suggestion of the “old exiles should ‘get over it’” a very wrong statement and approach to this issue. Rather than making a comment directed to the old supporters of the Batista regime and wealthy Cuban exiles, focus on the heart of the Cuban-American ideology: that Cuba should become a Democracy. It’s difficult to see pictures and stories coming from Cuba of old torn down buildings and edifices. Cuba as I’m sure you know was once a prosperous and bustling nation, though there were issues with the government I must say that it did not limit the freedoms of the people as much as the Castro regime does now. Now what would be the ‘right’ approach to this issue? Well quite simply one must discuss Cuban-American problem, which is that Cuban-Americans support the current regime by supplying their relatives with American currency. I’m confident in the following: If Cuban-Americans halted their sending of American dollars to their relatives the Cuban economy would not be able to sustain itself. Now this does not mean that the Castro regime would simply topple by this suggestion but it would be a start. The ‘right’ approach would also include the description of numerous Cuban-Americans fighting for a free democratic nation. I think writing a piece on the true Cuban-American ideology would be a much better piece than generalizing. Yet you do bring up an interesting and controversial suggestion!


  7. Follow up post #7 added on April 23, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Michael,

    Thanks for your post. You say “I think writing a piece on the true Cuban-American ideology would be a much better piece than generalizing.”

    I don’t think I’m generalizing when I specifically say OLD Cuban exiles. OLD Cuban exiles are the ones responsible for maintaining the 45+ year old failed Plan A Embargo without ever considering Plan B.

    This forces me to wonder why they never tried Plan B. Perhaps because they get so much money from the US Government for radio marti, cuba transition project, USAID money, funding for exploring change and democracy in Cuba etc etc.

    What would the Diaz Balarts and Ros-Lehtenin’s of the world do without Fidel to rally their people against.

    So, I am pretty much speaking about old Cuban exiles while new arrivals and children born here are out of luck because they are prohibited from going to Cuba too.

    So, I wish the old Cuban exiles would “get over it” so all Americans can travel to Cuba and buy products. As I said, we need change on the island too so let’s talk about Plan B.



    Cuba consulting services

  8. Follow up post #8 added on April 23, 2007 by Cuban American

    Publisher,

    I understand your disagreement with the economic embargo, as we have discussed that issue many times before, in which I believed we agreed to disagree.  However, your comments made regarding the mentality of the Exile community are a bit skewed.  I as well as many other exiles share the same feeling in that althought I lost property and business in Cuba, I have lived here for almost 40 years now.  In that time I along with my family and other friends who went through the same thing, have rebuilt our lives here.  There is only one thing I want to see before I die, and that is my country of birth free.  There is no economical gain associated with it.  I want to one day go back and see a free and prosperous Cuba.  I don’t care about the business I owned, or the house I owned over there, its been ages and as far as I am concerened I have plenty over here, I don’t need those as well.  That mentality is shared by the majority of cuban exiles.  The problem is that everyone views them as money hungry lunatics that are after Fidel for economic reasons only.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  As Daniel said, “Cubans are one of the most economically succesful immigrant groups in the history of the United States and pride alone would prevent them from seeking reperations.”  Our lives are here now.


  9. Follow up post #9 added on April 23, 2007 by Cuban American

    “This forces me to wonder why they never tried Plan B. Perhaps because they get so much money from the US Government for radio marti, cuba transition project, USAID money, funding for exploring change and democracy in Cuba etc etc. “

    Publsiher,

    I must say it really gets under my skin when people bring this up.  There have been over 2 million cubans in exile.  Do you really think that the majority of them get to see any aid.  I have never recieved a dime in aid.  The fact is the only people who may benefit from government aid are a very small few.  So this arguement is not valid.


  10. Follow up post #10 added on April 23, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Well said and I don’t completely disagree.

    Don’t the old (no offense) Cuban exiles donate money and support the pro-Embargo politicians?

    Don’t they/you support the (what I call failed Plan A) Embargo?

    If you want Cuba to be free, do you think the Embargo is just going to magically work someday and the Castro brothers will flee the island and all Cubans will somehow become free market democrats and republicans?

    The Embargo has had numerous opportunities to work over the years, especially in the early 1990s and it has done nothing but hurt Cuban citizens because Fidel blames the Embargo for Cuba’s ills.



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  11. Follow up post #11 added on April 23, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    As far as benefiting financially, if millions of dollars year after year are pumped into a community from the US government, everyone in that community benefits by having all that money sloshing around. No?

    You may have read this before but I am fairly confident that the politicians in Miami fear they will no longer be needed once Fidel and Raul are gone. So, that means to me that secretly they don’t want any changes in Cuba or the Embargo because it’s working “just fine”.

    See what I mean? That’s how I see things.



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  12. Follow up post #12 added on April 23, 2007 by Daniel

    Let’s discuss Plan B.  Before doing so, I think it is unfair to say that Plan B was never considered.  Although I am too young to remember, I believe rather than not considering a Plan B the thought was that an embargo would actually work.  After all, these types of actions are regularly used by the U.N. and other world bodies to encourage change.

    The question then becomes at what point should it have been recognized as the failed policy that it is?  The answer to this is clouded by the Cold war and massive subsidies given to Cuba by the Soviet Union, so in many ways you can then see why it is that this policy was left in place for so long.  One could argue that it wasn’t truly tested until the 90’s. 

    Bottom line, we need to now recoginze the embargo is a joke.  We also need to recognize that although Michael C is correct about US currency keeping the Cuban economy afloat, stopping that influx is not only impossible and unhumanitarian, but it is simply more of the same which hasn’t worked.

    So finally, Plan B, what needs to happen, is for the US to quit acting like Cuba and open up travel to all Americans.  It is comical and hypocritical that the freeist country on earth has this restriction in place.  This government should not only lift all restrictions but also encourage travel to Cuba.  This, in my opinion, would bring ACCELERATED change on the island…it would also call Cuba’s bluff as they know it would be the beginning of the end.  Need convincing, look at the limited travel permitted by the Carter administration in the late 70’s.  That did more to dispell the lies of the Cuba regime than any US program ever has….

    That leads me to another matter, although it is true that most Cubans don’t see a dime of US Aid, it is also true many of the recipients have been somewhat corrupted by it.  Furthermore, the Diaz Balarts and Ros Lehtinans of the world are shamless.  Shameless because if they had the true interests of democracy and freedom for Cuba in their hearts, they would do what they know is right.  What stops them is exactly what you mentioned, the fact that they would not only lose political significance but massive amounts of power and relevance as well.

    Thank you for so vehemently pushing for a change as I do believe we need more Americans like you to expose this policy and enact real change in Cuba!


  13. Follow up post #13 added on April 23, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Thanks. The least we can do is give it some “ink” here at the Havana Journal.



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  14. Follow up post #14 added on April 23, 2007 by Enrique

    As a Cuban American raised in the states I feel the embargo should have been lifted years ago. Flooding the Cuban economy and market with American goods is an excellent way of gaining US supporters on the Island.

    Once the Cubans see the difference between the Russian goods they use to get and compare it to the quality American products, there will be no return for them.


  15. Follow up post #15 added on April 23, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Thank you. Sounds like a great plan B.

    Imagine hundreds of thousands Americans in Cuba spending millions of dollars at casas particulares, paladares, markets, Cuban guides, etc etc and this would not be a way to drive Castro crazy and eventually to some misstep where the Cuban government would fall to some uprising somewhere?

    Nah. Makes too much sense.



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  16. Follow up post #16 added on April 24, 2007 by Michael C.

    Now the only problem with this suggestion is that it directly supports communism and the longest standing dictatorship in history. The Cuban people are instilled with the ideology of an evil corporate America and how the United States is only concerned with itself. I don’t believe the money that Americans would spend would go to the Cubans themselves rather than it would go to the Cuban government.

    I think a good plan B would be the reintroduction of a free and democratic Cuba where the Cuban people could vote and elect a government and emigrate from Cuba. Any method of achieving this, peacefully, gets my approval.

    I do not have the privilege or right to speak for other Cuban-Americans, but personally it pains me that an everyday Cuban does not know how freedom feels—they cannot meet and discuss politics, cannot go into official hotels, or even interact with the tourists. I am grateful Publisher, truly I am, for bringing this issue to light but I believe we need to solve the root of the problem not just skim the surface of it.


  17. Follow up post #17 added on April 24, 2007 by Daniel

    Michael,

    You say “Any method of achieving this (a free and democratic Cuba ), peacefully, gets my approval”...yet you turn around and say that thinking outside the box and trying something new with won’t work because “the money that Americans would spend would go to the Cubans themselves rather than it would go to the Cuban government.”

    I am very interested in hearing an intelligent elaboration of your precise ideas and perhaps clarification of your apparent contradiction.  For example, exactly how is it that your vision of thousands of Americans visiting Cuba incompatible with their currency reaching “normal” Cubans?  Don’t you realize that even the money Cubans and Cuban-Americans send to Cuba trickles down to the everyday Joe?

    If you are going to state that you are open to new ideas, then be open to them.  If you don’t believe that allowing free citizens to exercise their freedom to visit Cuba would accelerate the democratization of Cuba then explain why that is.  Finally, if you want a change in Cuba but don’t agree with the one proposed, please provide some constructive ideas as to how we can help the situation change other than maintaining the status quo US policy. 

    p.s. are you saying that you believe the US embargo is working?  If that’s the case, please educate me as to what exactly I am missing.


  18. Follow up post #18 added on April 25, 2007 by Michael C.

    Daniel,
    I’m sorry that you misinterpreted as to what I saying. You did not read the first half of that sentence: “I don’t believe the money that Americans would spend would go to the Cubans themselves rather than it would go to the Cuban government.”  I simply don’t believe that Cuba would become democratized by an influx of American visitors. Now if you believe me to be wrong then educate me as to how that would work, for I would be truly appreciative. 

    In regards to your P.S. I do believe that we should lift the embargo, yet I believe more radical steps need to be taken to democratize Cuba.


  19. Follow up post #19 added on April 25, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Well folks, I guess one person is “getting over it”.

    The President of Democracia Ramón Saul Sánchez said today that the Embargo has helped Castro.

    Maybe now he’ll push for the end of the Embargo.

    Crazy.



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  20. Follow up post #20 added on April 27, 2007 by paoli

    “lifting” the embargo is only as good as how much influence, goods and type of tourists that are allowed into the country. The government will filter what comes in…if even the left and Cuba are asking for the embargo to be lifted, that already shows that things will not be much different.

    By the way, there is already notable trade between America and Cuba. Last year alone there was a recorded 340+ million dollars in CASH trade.

    http://www.cubatrade.org

    Canada trade with them just fine, Cuba is still the same.


    What does this mean? “lifting” the credit embargo= Castro´s Alimport seeking credit with businesses and as usual, defaulting on what they owe.


  21. Follow up post #21 added on April 27, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Let’s not fall into a discussion about the Embargo unless you have a Plan B.

    Keeping the 45+ year old failed Plan A Embargo is not progress.



    Cuba consulting services

  22. Follow up post #22 added on April 28, 2007 by Ralph

    The embargo measures have proven not be good enough,but softer measures have proven be ineffective too,b/c Castrism means perpetuity in power no matter what,sometimes very repressive,murderer and sometimes they want to appear to the world as lenient enough,just one thing is clear for the most, in the international community:Castrism is among the biggest predator of freedom of expression,freedom of movement,freedom of reunion,in short very reppressive of every human rights.Castro himself in his beginning as politician fought for the Freedom but a little time later he become as a genuine tyran and you know as I do that tyrans need to be toppled with iron fist,so put down NOW, the embargo would be very benefitial for the castrism,so I strong support the embargo,it is a failure though.


  23. Follow up post #23 added on April 28, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    You make a good case for the old Cuban exiles but supporting a failure just does not make any sense.



    Cuba consulting services

  24. Follow up post #24 added on October 08, 2007 by Keith Maher

    I’m not exactly sure what Freedom’s America can offer Cubans?...except the predator capitalist system that exploits the vast majority of people for the gain of a select few, there is no argument against this, you need only look at US involvement in South America in the last 100 years, Friedman style Monster Capitalism in Chile, repressive regimes backed up supported and funded by the US..the list is endless. The US does not have the best interests of Cubans at heart, this is an ideological struggle, If Cuba were left to stand or fall on it’s own Merit without US Imperialist sanctions then there would be a clear answer as to the Merits of the current regime. Socialism is alive and well in Cuba and will not suddenly disappear with the death of Castro. If anything the sentiment is now spreading through the mainland of SA through countries like Venezuela and Bolivia. End the Sanctions, then and only then, can any hope of reconciliation for the thousands of Cuban exiles be even contemplated.


  25. Follow up post #25 added on October 09, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Fidel,

    Thanks for stopping by.



    Cuba consulting services

  26. Follow up post #26 added on October 09, 2007 by oh yes

    Keith Maher had to put down his double latte for a minute at his cozy computer to type that turd out.


  27. Follow up post #27 added on October 09, 2007 by Michael C.

    Keith, I’m not sure if you remember the state Cuba was in pre-Castro…it was experiencing a booming economy—Thanks to the United States. And remember Cubans would not risk a 90 mile journey to the United States if they did not believe that it could give them any more freedom than they already have. The El Mariel boat lift showed the world that the Cubans were not content with Castro and the socialist system.


  28. Follow up post #28 added on October 09, 2007 by Keith Maher

    I don’t like Latte actually, more of a Mocha man. Is it not a fair point?..should the US not release it’s stranglehold on Cuba’s economy so the country and it’s government in it’s current form can stand or fall on it’s own merits?, i would be the first person to stand up and demand change if the country did not improve without US interference, which i suspect it would. So i don’t take your point that people are fed up with the Socialist System, because it has been consistantly attacked by the US, there is no defending US track record in South America, the US need’s to stop refering to SA as it’s own “backyard” (a hint of the US governments mentality towards a large section the Americas) and let the people follow their own destiny. The Booming economys offered by the United States benefit always the Minority. Milton Friedman style Predator economics is not what Cuba needs.


  29. Follow up post #29 added on October 10, 2007 by oh yes

    Can the Cuban people even speak their minds about the current Cuban system? I do not think that the military leaders and other nomenklatura care about the people´s opinion, hence their stranglehold on the media and open information. If the Cuban people had a totally safe forum for them to speak freely and openly-without repression, then you would get a good opinion about what THEY, as opposed to what the government wants for its own greedy purposes.


  30. Follow up post #30 added on October 10, 2007 by Daniel

    Mr. Maher,

    The “US” doesn’t refer to the Americas as “their own backyard,” the media does.  On another note, I am amazed in this day and age that you actually believe that Cuba’s economy has any semblance of a chance to “stand” on its own (without US interference).  It would continue to fail, though I am in agreement that the US embargo should be lifted so that Cuba would lose it’s scapegoat and change would be accelerated.


  31. Follow up post #31 added on October 27, 2007 by jack

    I have read with some interest the comments by your readers.  This is my first time reading your Journal and I find it interisting.  I feel this way about Cuban exiles and their interest in what is going on is Cuba.  If they want to change things they should do whatCastro did,,,,, put his life on the line…..  They won’t because they like to talk about it unless they could have someone else’s son or daughter do it for them….


  32. Follow up post #32 added on April 11, 2011 by gungho

    I say the President of the USA should sign an executive order ending total sanctions on cuba and another executive order investigating the Cuban exile community. Libertarian minded states would vote for Obama. Of course I won’t for other reasons


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