On establishing relations with Cuba

Sun, 04/19/2009 - 5:07pm
By: Cyclist

The liberal side in me thinks it's time to establish relations with Cuba. This self-imposed embargo on all contact with the Cuban people and government has clearly not accomplished anything. Let's move forward with this. What are some thoughts out there?

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Submitted by Reality Check on Fri, 04/24/2009 - 11:22pm.

Can someone explain to me why we talk about the evils of communism and Cuban's abuse of human rights, and yet we do business with the Chinese. It is simple, America has never cared about these things just look at all the countries just in Latin America where we have directly and indirectly helped overthrow democratically elected governments and replaced them with puppet dictatorships. The reason the embargo exists is because we didn't get our way and are punishing Cuban for it or better said the innocent citizens for it. All this ridiculous embargo has created is given the Castro brothers a scapegoat to blame us for all of Cuba's problems. In essence we have kept Castro in power.

Now, if the spread of Communism is so dangerous and the abuse of human rights must stopped, the why are they are doing business with the Chinese?

Simple, the mighty dollar rules!!! After all 11 million people is no big deal, yet 1.3 billion Chinese drinking coke is.

Good grief the Chinese hack into our Power grids, steal data on the Pentagon's newest fighter jet; exploit their people and provide cheap labor so American businesses can make their product over there and pay less taxes here; Abuse human rights against the Tibetan people; should I go on???

Stop the embargo and allow Cubans dream a better Cuba.

Spear Road Guy's picture
Submitted by Spear Road Guy on Wed, 04/22/2009 - 11:18pm.

I was appointed to a military commission on developing foreign policy regarding the communist threat in the Americas and specifically Cuba. President Carter didn't listen to a blasted thing we had to say.

Opposition to the U.S. is the only thing the Castro brothers have going for them. They are pulling a North Korea kind of shell game on us.

Seriously, think about what would happen to the Cubans if they opened the gates to the free world. Castro couldn't take it.

Vote Republican

JeffC's picture
Submitted by JeffC on Thu, 04/23/2009 - 12:08am.

PC has always supported opening up to Cuba. I agree that Castro and his puny island regime would very quickly be overwhelmed.

Please elaborate.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Tue, 04/21/2009 - 6:09am.

I don't think it is a liberal or conservative decision, simply a practical one. The embargo is useless now and it is time to remove it. Even those few who remember the reason for the embargo in the first place have to admit that it is no longer useful or helpful.

Opening Cuba up to US tourism is a win-win situation. The next leaders will certainly be younger and less rigid than the Castro brothers and that can only lead to a huge economic boom. Time for all of us to get out of the past and move forward.

And with Chavez and those other nuts in South America, we need to have a friendly nation so close to Miami.

Submitted by Davids mom on Mon, 04/20/2009 - 10:44am.

Having relatives in Cuba with dual citizenship - it hurt when they chose to remain in Cuba. We visited in 2004. What the embargo has accomplished is a devastatingly poor Havana. (We were not allowed to visit other cities in the country - where many of our relatives live.) What were the reasons that our relatives chose to stay? Free education for their children; allowed to remain in the family home; free medical care; etc., family and friends. (They were not part of the 'ruling' class of Cuban citizens before Castro's takeover - and they had too much melanin in their skin to try to deal with the racism in the US) Under Castro - they felt that they had an opportunity to have a higher standard of living. They love their country - it is beautiful. I feel that the younger generation is looking for a China - style of capitalism under the ideology of communism. Were their dreams realized? I don't think so - but I have no idea what their life was like under Bautista. (I've read some of the histories - and I imagine that I would have supported the Castro regime if I were not considered 'favored' in pre-Castro Cuba.) It was difficult observing the many beautiful homes that have been turned into 'state' properties that were once private homes. The salaries of professionals are almost non-existent. Everything is 'for the state - for all) I did not feel the power of suppression/oppression from military/law enforcement in Cuba that I felt in China. . .but we were very sheltered during our 'guided' tour. Opening 'some' relations with Cuba - certainly based on an improvement in the human rights policies - would improve the living conditions and business opportunities in Havana. Actually, we were surprised at the American products that are available - sent through their European-based companies. Business always finds a way. China (urban) is a technological wonder. I also feel its time to establish some relations with Cuba - especially what has already been sanctioned - families being able to communicate freely with American family. We've missed our Cuban relatives at family reunions!

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Mon, 04/20/2009 - 11:25am.

Interesting comment about the Cuban ruling class and skin pigment.
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Submitted by Spyglass on Mon, 04/20/2009 - 8:56am.

Much less something as complicated as this. Smiling

And then I found these comments...chew on them as you will.

There seemed to be one giant Communist elephant in the room during this summit .. the fact that Cuba was not participating. While the topic of US-Cuban relations was not even on the agenda, Latin American leaders made it a point to go there anyway. And their position was clear: America needs to lift the embargo.

I've got bad news for Latin America .. you aren't going to get what you want. Look, I will be the first to tell you that our relationship with Cuba needs to change. I'll spare you the arduous details right now, but there are 500 steps that come before an all out lifting of the embargo. What you need to remember is that Cuba is a communist nation. That sounds like a plebian statement, but it really does change the playing field. You are dealing with a country that owns the means of production. Thus, any change in economic policy only further legitimizes and helps the Cuban government, not the Cuban people. As of right now, almost every Cuban works for the government. They earn a whopping $19.70 a month. Even if you open up trade, what makes you believe that these living standards are going to change under a Communist regime? The answer is that they are not. That is why we have a long long way to go before lifting the embargo is even possible.

Take for instance the few steps Obama has taken just within the last week. He lifted all travel limits for Cuban-Americans to Cuba. He also ended restrictions on how much money Cuban- Americans can send family members in Cuba. On the surface, sounds great. Right? Did you also know that when money is wired to relatives in Cuba, the Cuban government gets a 20% cut of that money? This is a huge boost to the Cuban economy. Get this .. in 2007 the amount of cash sent to Cuba was equal to 42% of the island's tourism income and 4.7 times more than its sugar exports.

Luckily, Raul Castro says that he is willing to discuss "everything" with Barack Obama including human rights, political prisoners and freedom of the press. That doesn't mean that he will end oppression of the Cuban people who are treated as second-class citizens compared to foreigners. That doesn't mean he will release librarians and journalists and political dissidents whom are currently held as political prisoners. That doesn't mean that he is going to allow Cubans to own their own businesses. Foreigners are a different story - but, again, their investments benefit the government of Cuba .. not the people.

While Raul promises to "discuss," he has done quite a good job of consolidating his own power, purging his government of younger people who would be more sympathetic to the idea of a democratic transition. He has replaced them with generals from the armed forces who have been ordered to implement new laws to "perfect business." On the surface, it seems promising because this includes the adoption of capitalist management, but there is one gaping hole: privatization. The Cuban people will not benefit from seemingly capitalistic changes.

Overwhelmed? Yeah, there's a lot to chew on here. You can probably tell that as a first generation Cuban-American, this hits close to home. (Don't tell Neal that I used a hyphenated Americanism!) But what we have learned from Obama's summit in Trinidad is that he really has no clue what is going on. He may be Latin America's star pupil because of his willingness to "listen and learn," but are these dictators and leftists really the people Obama needs to be learning from?

The answer is a resounding no.

birdman's picture
Submitted by birdman on Tue, 04/21/2009 - 9:42am.

Why have we chosen to deny any access to Cuba for 50 years? In those 50 years China has become our biggest owner, we conducted and lost a 10 year war in Vietnam and opened relations with them inspite of the fact that they killed over 58000 of our soldiers. We fought a cold war with Russia yet worked very hard for good, peaceful relations with them. We do business with many dictatorships and kingdoms. Yet we deny any relationships with Cuba, a country only 90 miles away, with many many former citizens in this country. And why? Because by opening relationships with them would somehow "legitimize" the Cuban Govt. Well, ya think our embargo has worked? Of course not.

Say what you will, but ending the embargo will improve the lives of the citizens. If the Cuban Govt. takes 20% of the money sent from here, that means 80% gets through. Will you deprive your relatives of the benefit of 80% of what you send them to deprive the govt. of 20%? I suggest that the 80% they get does wonders for their lives.

Wouldn't opening relations like we did with China, USSR, Vietnam help the people like it did in China, USSR, and Vietnam? Won't it create jobs, give us a voice on treatment of citizens? If we trade economically with them, creating greater wealth for them, doesn't that give us leverage that we haven't ever had?

By improving their economy won't that create the desire of the masses for more economic freedom as it did in the USSR, China, and Vietnam?

It's been 50 years. It hasn't worked. Let's move on.

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