This is an article that I wrote to save my skin[long story]
The truth is…………….
The truth is not so much what as where or when.
When Bautista was in power, things were pretty bad from a Cuban point of view—even by Caribbean standards. When the Castros came in, many people died. The same was true of the American Revolution. We fought to control our own lands for our own benefit. Cuba nationalized foreign holdings and broke up the large estates. This was a carbon copy of what Mexico did in the 1930s. Land ownership is a real hot button issue in most Latin countries. In 1958 half of Cuba was owned by foreigners. After the revolution the U.S. turned their back and shut the door. This was more or less fine with Castro because he knew that the U.S. finds it difficult to refrain from meddling in other countries. Cuba was dirt poor. They aligned with Russia to market their sugar and receive a little protection.
The Russians put missiles on the island to check any moves against the Warsaw Pact. This came very close to worldwide disaster in 1962. Kennedy promised Khrushchev that he wouldn’t invade Cuba and the missiles were withdrawn.
Cuba is still relatively poor and needs markets and capital. Canada, Mexico and Spain just don’t fill the bill. The U.S. has passed laws to keep other countries from trading with Cuba.
China is now starting to warm up to Cuba. They both need partners. I don’t believe the Cubans would knowingly allow China to bring in weapons. They know the risks all too well. I do believe though that China could pull a fast one on Cuba and bring in weapons of mass destruction unbeknownst to the Cubans. The Chinese are talented.
The next time we have to send aircraft carriers to the Formosa Straits, the Chinese could threaten or attack. A missile shield would be ineffective. It would be check and mate.
The U.S. needs rapprochement with Cuba ASAP.
There are a few U.S. lawmakers that really hate Castro. They have their reasons. Theirs’ is a vendetta though. It’s not protectionist. The current military threat is 0. Economically they aren’t a threat except to the Rum and Tobacco industries. If Cuba were opened tomorrow it would siphon off agriculture and tourism from Mexico. Can we afford to have this vendetta jeopardize the security of the U.S.? If we don’t show some kind of interest, the Chinese certainly will. They would love to station a few “fishing boats” loaded with biological agents near our coast. I wouldn’t even want to have the job of second --- guessing the Chinese.
For better or for worse Cuba is in our back yard. After the revolution thousands disappeared. Thousands disappeared in Salvador .Thousands more in Mexico, without even the excuse of a revolution. Did we say anything to P.R.I. or Echeveria or De La Madrid? NO!
The whole Caribbean is going all to hell except for the resorts. We cry and moan. Haiti is total chaos. Panama is catatonic. Belize, Salvador, and Honduras have no real organization or future. Columbia is costing us billions and is going to drag us down.
Costa Rica and Cuba are models of stability. Cuba is the model for the Caribbean. It excels in health, education, organisation and stability. Can we afford to snub this bastion of stability in a dangerous backyard because a few lawmakers have a vendetta? These lawmakers need to walk the streets of Colon, Panama or Guayaquil, Ecuador. I have and I wasn’t in a motorcade with Secret Service. It’s dangerous. They cry about the poor in Cuba, but they haven’t been in the slums of Panama City, Mexico City or Tijuana. I have. I’ll take Cuba’s poor barrios over a lot of others.
Yes Cuba is communist.This is a real hot topic with Americans .Yes Castro is autocratic. Marshal Tito was autocratic----he was the only one who could hold Yugoslavia together. Kemal Attaturk was autocratic. Look how far forward he brought Turkey - one of our strongest allies. You can’t compare Attaturk to Hussein. You can’t compare Castro to Khrushchev .Castro hasn’t built palaces like Hussein. Castro hasn’t raided the treasury like Daniel Arap Moi. Castro knows his people. He knows that they need a strong hand to guide them. Cuba isn’t Estonia or Czechoslovakia, it’s Cuba. Castro knows that Cubans need firm guidance. The Spanish know that they need a strong hand to control their country. That’s why they recognize the necessity for the Guardia Civil.
In America we have freedom of choice. For most this is the freedom to do good. For some it is the freedom to do bad. Our prison population is 1,850,000. In Cuba the government has more of a presence to deter crime. This results in fewer criminals and far fewer victims. It’s a different approach. It’s not as heavy handed as Myanmar. It’s something like Singapore. Cuba prefers to deter criminals rather than incarcerate them. They provide more police officers and fewer parole officers. The price is a certain degree of loss of freedom. The payoff is a huge reduction in the number of crimes, victims and losses. It’s an alternative to our criminal system here which is referred to as “catch and release”
There are various possible futures for Cuba
The U.S. could take an active interest in Cuba for the sake of promoting stability, trade and regional security.
China could enter the vacuum and take an interest in Cuba to promote trade. It would also use it’s presence in the Florida Straits to counter our presence in the Formosa Straits
The Medellin cartel or Mexican mafia could move in to Cuba if Castro starts to feel desperate.
Something similar to F.A.R.C. could spring up in Cuba if Castro dies.
The U.S. cannot afford to let Cuba follow any of the last three paths. They are in our back yard. Look what happened when we walked away from Pakistan and Afghanistan after the Russians left.
The Mexican mafia is gaining enormous power in California If the Castros die; nothing will keep them out of Cuba if there is no U.S. presence. If Cuba were to embrace the drug business like Columbia did or facilitate it like Noriega’s Panama did, the cost to the U.S. would be enormous. Our inaction lays the groundwork for a dangerous future. This is done not in the name of logic or security, but in the name of retribution and vendetta.
Who is Fidel Castro?
Most know that Castro went to Harvard. His trusted advisor Ernesto Guevara was an Argentine doctor. He is not the typical ignorant strongman. He has been in power for almost a half a century. He started out as a lawyer. He did not have the experience or education necessary to run a country. He made mistakes but he persevered. He has a great love for his country and he’s willing to sacrifice for his country. His weakness is that some of the communist ideals that he follows don’t work in the real world. A large percentage of Cubans don’t have a clue what the revolution was. They have no interest in sacrificing for the good of the country. He’s out of touch simply because He’s from a different generation He talks about 45 years of revolutionary success. The younger generation tunes him out completely. They watch “Christina” and they know that the rest of the world doesn’t have the same problems they do. Castro will never motivate the young people unless he gives them some kind of incentive on top of altruism and patriotism. Today’s Cubans are a whole different people than the fighters and patriots that he has associated with for years. Like it or not he has to update his message and give his young people more jobs and more avenues for their aspirations.
He presides over a poor country. He hasn’t had to fire on demonstrations of college students as Mexico did in 1968.(over 300 dead) In spite of occasional crop failures he hasn’t had the famines of so many other countries. He hasn’t had to machine gun enormous packs of street kids like Brazil. He hasn’t had the power struggles of Salvador and Columbia. He hasn’t had the large-scale disappearances that have racked Salvador, Brazil and Mexico. He hasn’t had the Indian revolts that have troubled Chiapas State, Mexico. These things happened in Mexico even though they have fairly good freedom of the press and 3 main political parties; PAN PRI PRC. Elements of the Mexican federal and state police are regularly being caught shipping large quantities of drugs. I’ve spoken with Indians all over Mexico. They don’t contribute to the economy and the central government would prefer that they all just go off and die. Cuba has none of these problems. Could it be that Castro really does care about each and every Cuban? He has limited resources. He has to spread them very thin and allocate them very carefully. He doesn’t build palaces a la Hussein. He doesn’t invest in an expensive offensive military at the expense of the people--- like North Korea. He doesn’t leave part of his population disenfranchised like the minority Kurds in Iraq. He doesn’t squander the money to his cronies like Daniel Arap Moi (Kenya) I’ve never heard a single person claim that Castro was corrupt. Castro only sees black and white. People who didn’t have his vision or his patriotism often suffered. People who dissented died by the thousands. He isn’t capable of being wishy-washy and some of his actions have been draconian, never crazy, never stupid, but very harsh.
He guides with a heavy hand but, the Cubans are a passionate people. They need a heavy hand. Cuba and Panama are similar ethnic mixes. There is no control and no security in Panama. Evidently the Cuban leaders believe that a heavy hand is necessary. Cuba hasn’t experienced upheavals. Panama hasn’t experienced security or prosperity.
A small number of Americans hate Castro. America was embarrassed in the Bay of Pigs. Carter was duped in the Mariel boatlift. These things need to be taken in perspective. We can’t jeopardize U.S. security for such small things. Brothers to the Rescue rants and raves about how bad Castro is, and U.S. lawmakers pay way too much attention to them. They’re a bunch of passionate Cubans who are very disgruntled about being left out of running things in their own country. It’s possible that they could do a better job than the present government, but the truth is Cuba is poor. There are expatriates from dozens of countries that talk about how bad their government has ruined the home country. The truth of it is that they couldn’t do any better operating within the same financial restrictions.
Mexico has the freedom to vote. Up until Vicente Fox came along Mexicans usually voted for some corrupt power monger who cared not at all for the people and had to leave the country at the end of his term.
Mexicans have the freedom to travel. Millions of Mexicans go to the north and squeeze into slums near the border. Freedom is great for people who make intelligent rational decisions. If Mexico had as little tourism and petroleum as Cuba, they would be flat on their backs, broke
Cuba has done an extraordinary job considering their limitations. 45 years ago they had extreme poverty. They have very poor soil and a very hot climate with frequent destructive storms. They have almost no oil and very few mineral resources beyond nickel. Their infrastructure isn’t much to speak of and the embargo makes things tough.
The authoritarian government has kept AIDS, drugs and crime very low. The level of education is very high. Infant mortality and life expectancy is on a par with the U.S. They have more doctors per capita than the U.S. (365 vs. 42). The backwoods rural areas have better medical care and education than some areas in the U.S. such as the Deep South and Appalachia. The percentage of female university students is higher than the U.S. (60 vs. 56) .The divorce rate is lower than the U.S. (3.72 vs. 4.34).
Many things happen in parliament or congress. Recently big things have started in the street. Indonesians took to the street and Wahid was out in short order. Argentines took to the street and shed 3 presidents in 2 weeks. What is the mood on the street?
Cubans are unhappy with transportation. Cubans are unhappy with the quality of food and manufactured goods. They’re unhappy with the lack of recreational opportunities. The young are unhappy that the future looks pretty austere. They see little in the future as far as opportunities for jobs and family. They have education and aspirations and a surprisingly good attitude. They just don’t see much in the way of opportunities. They believe that the rest of the world spends their time driving around in cars for endless shopping sprees at the mall. All of the above complaints and perceptions are also true about Teguicigalpa or San Salvador or Delhi or dozens of other cities. The people in 3rd world cities all feel pretty much the same Almost all countries have a safety valve for their people who are unhappy. They can always go somewhere else. This isn’t really true of Cuba. Every year 5% of all Cubans apply for the lottery slots available to go to America.
In Cuba many people told me that they don’t have real freedom. They didn’t tell me that the government was corrupt. They didn’t tell me that they felt unsafe because of criminals or the government. The general feeling was that some of the limitations were because of the government, but that many of them were because of poverty and lack of opportunity. They told me that the government was very controlling, but not really intrusive. I didn’t find any one who felt that the poverty was the fault of the government. Cubans are educated. They can see the obvious connection between resources, capital and jobs. The proceeds from the tourism industry are invested in more tourism. This rankles some people but the hard currency is critical for the medical industry as well as a few others. Many Cubans are unhappy with their lot in life but they don’t see the government as a big evil force holding them down and sucking the life out of them. They know that the embargo has created hardships and restrictions. They support a military of 250.000. The armed forces draw off a certain amount of money. All in all the Cubans are poor, but the have equality of poverty. Mid level government employees earn about 17$ a month. The average worker earns about 7—8$ a month. Cubans are of course very wishful ,but they don’t see a magic cure for their lot in life. No change of government is going to bring them instant prosperity and they know it.
· Brothers to the Rescue drop leaflets and urge them to revolt. Evidently they don’t know their countrymen Cubans know that revolt brings death and destruction not prosperity. If they revolted and executed the present government, chaos would prevail. If they could keep out the Mexican mafia, the Medellin cartel, and F.A.R.C. et al----- then they could normalize relations with the U.S. There is however no guarantee that Cuban—Americans or any other group could control Cuba. Cubans tend to be hot headed. Florida is the leading state for crime (6205 major crimes per 100.000 people). Miami is the second leading city (1446 per 100.000 people. The Cuban Americans haven’t proven themselves good at self-determination in Miami. Why should they be any better in Havana? When Spain was free of Franco, everyone cut loose.
· Cuba has invested an enormous amount in the medical field and education .Cuba is an agrarian society with almost no investment in tractors, trucks and farm implements. Why? It’s well known that when agriculture is mechanized, the displaced workers move to the city. Sao Paulo and Mexico City are good examples. It appears that Cuba prefers to keep them on the farm. Why?
· I’ve visited the Mennonites in Mexico. They adhere strictly to the agrarian life. They use only the absolute minimum of mechanization. They don’t allow the rank and file to go past a 6th grade education. They say it just creates unhappiness. They don’t marry outside the religious group. You can’t join up with them. The Amish and Mennonites claim that living on the farm close to nature within the extended family promotes good mental health. None of the members are individually wealthy but they do have the security of knowing that they’ll always have something to eat. They’ll always be with their family. Some of the Mennonites can’t take it and they do leave the group. This provides a necessary safety valve. Life in the commune is idyllic to some but rigid and limited to others.
· What is the Cuban approach to promoting good mental health? I believe that life on the ranch or farm with incessant work is far better than sitting on the floor in the corner of some shack in the slums. Slum life has no center or purpose. People with no purpose often embrace drugs or alcohol as an escape. I’ve seen it in the Inupiat Eskimos in Barrow, Alaska and in many others. Along with the escapism come self-hatred and all manner of crime. Rio de Janeiro is a perfect example. They have numerous cases of pre-teens with multiple murders to their credit. Sendero Luminoso and Hezbollah have done well Recruiting in the slums.
· It appears that the Cubans have avoided the mechanization of their agricultural sector partly out of lack of capital and partly to maintain a large percentage of their people in the agrarian life. The Amish may be right in their claim that the farm life promotes good physical and mental health. Cuba provides more education than do the Mennonites. This undoubtedly leads to more unrest, but the Cubans are serious about educating everyone. Many young Cubans are educated way beyond what they can expect to find in the job market. They’re always in school because they are no jobs to go to. In general Cuba has no jobs and no safety valve. This has created an inaccurate picture that has fooled most outsiders into believing that the general populace was on the verge of civil insurrection.
· The Cubans along with the Amish and the Mennonites present a different model of how to live. These models should be viewed as alternative ways of living in the areas of family life, mental health, physical health and self—government. You have to look at our prison population (1.850.000) and our suicide rate. Our drug abuse is mind numbing. We give millions of doses of Ritalin to our kids .The adults consume many millions of doses of Prozac, Zoloft and other anti-depressants. We’re going around with our minds numbed. If you study anthropology you soon discover that during the whole history and development of primates we lived exclusively in small groups. We aren’t really prepared psychologically or emotionally to take the stress of modern living. For the mental health of our present day society we need to address the problems that cause stress, legal and illegal drug abuse, family breakup, crime etc. From the governments’ point of view it would be great if mankind suddenly evolved into a perfectly happy and well –adjusted automaton, producing constantly, paying taxes and never making problems. The truth is, we’re educated apes, not super-producing automatons .We have millions of years of evolution that we can’t just throw out the window. The breakdown of the family is enormously destructive to the U.S. America has been very adept at learning from other countries and other civilizations. I think Cuba presents a different model for us to study. We definitely need to do something for the tens of millions of Americans who desperately need escapism to survive modern living.
· Castro’s glory days were during the revolution. The revolution was soon over and then came the drudgery of running a country with no money. He’s trying to keep the revolution alive and the people motivated to sacrifice. The people don’t want to sacrifice. Their ration cards don’t really give them enough food .Cuba tries to give each person enough calories. The numbers improve each year but the food isn’t at all inspiring
· There’s next to nothing to do for entertainment when you don’t have money.
Castro’s priorities differ from the priorities of many Cubans. A large percentage of people are generally dissatisfied. They’re referred to as “deseoso”- wishful. It tells you something about the mentality of the government if you’re considered bad for being wishful. The great failing of the communist system is the lack of personal incentive. Without incentive there is no performance or production. Many leaders have wished it otherwise but that’s the way it is. The Cuban government has stumbled many times in their central planning and they have always had efficiency problems. It probably started the day after Castro moved into the Havana Hilton and it hasn’t stopped yet. He wanted to increase sugar production to 10 million tons. It just didn’t work out. He wanted to grow wheat after the Russians pulled out. The soil and climate just couldn’t do it. I guess every body is wishful now and then.
Cuba had upheavals when the U.S. quit buying sugar and when the Russians pulled out. Part of the reason that the Cuban people have hung in there was because they couldn’t see any other viable choice. Even Castros’ detractors know in their hearts that there isn’t anyone on the horizon (even Raul Castro) who could hold the country together. The Cubans have education and aspirations. They just don’t have avenues and outlets to apply their energies to. I talked to a Cuban woman 22 years old who had no job. She was trying to somehow save up 300 dollars. She said it was always necessary to spend this kind of money to buy any simple kind of clerical job that paid about 7 $ a month. I of course asked her to explain the arithmetic. She did, and it was interesting. I’m just not tuned in to the socialist system The Cuban people are unhappy and dissatisfied - not rebellious. Brothers to the Rescue can’t seem to see this. They’re too out of touch to understand, let alone to govern, their own people. They wish the Cubans were rebellious and they wish they were running the show in Cuba, but it just isn’t so. Everyone seems to be indulging in wishful thinking. The senate foreign relations committee needs accurate information and logic to treat with Cuba, Not emotional wishful thinking and inaccurate advice.
The last 8 U.S. presidents kept saying “Castro can’t last”. Well he’s still there and they’re gone. Jesse Helms and George Bush have both said that they expect to go to Havana within the next three years to witness free elections. One of two things is possible 1. Fidel and Raul both have a life-ending disease and they’ve contacted Bush in secret to arrange a dance with the devil. 2. The people who advise the senate foreign relations committee are and have always been completely out of touch with what’s really going on in Cuba. I suspect the 2nd is more likely. I’ve learned a lot more on the street than I ever have walking around in some insulated, isolated foreign affairs office or embassy. Diplomats don’t take foreign postings so that they can hang out with the common people on the street. They associate with other diplomats and the affluent so that they can all speak English and exchange pleasantries about the important things in life like dog shows. This is first hand personal experience, not hearsay. Most of the career diplomats that I have met have impressed me as being very competent. They just don’t impress me as the type who could win the trust of the average Cuban on the street who’s always afraid of communist snitches.
I think history will judge Fidel Castro to be someone similar to the roman emperor Diocletian .Diocletian took power when the empire was in anarchy. His fiscal, administrative and military reorganization laid the foundation for the Byzantine Empire. He restored efficient government.
I don't post things because I believe that they are the absolute truth. I post them because I believe that they should be considered.