News and Facts about Cuba

CUBA – THE CASTROS & MIAMI

CUBA: THE CASTROS & MIAMI
by Stephen Kaye
Sat Jul 16th, 2016

While cruse ships are about to start an invasion of day-trippers into
Havana, the US Congress nevertheless maintains its of
legislative animosity towards the island’s government that reflects the
1990’s attitude of the American-Cuban population in Miami. That was a
population who lost property and position to the communist government of
the Castro’s. The U.S. of Cuba is that of a nation with which we
are at war, but it is pointless. We are not at war with Cuba. The
embargo has had devastating effects on the life of the people.

Times have changed. The American-Cuban population has aged, like the
Castros themselves. On the island of Cuba, a younger generation has a
different attitude toward communism and state ownership. That
generation is slowly taking over the reins of power in Cuba,
particularly through control of the military that has, since Raul
Castro’s ascendency, become the most powerful institution in Cuba
today. Those facts are not evident to tourists. One does not see
military uniforms in the streets of Havana, any more than once sees
military uniforms in New York or LA.

Because communist bureaucracy became so stifling and inefficient, Raul
has used his office to shift control of much of the from party
to military ownership. The large port development at Mariel is now in
the hands of the military under Raul’s son-in-law. He brought in
Odebrecht, a Brazilian company (with 2015 revenues of US$45 Bn) that had
been a partner in one of Cuba’s most important sugar mills. The military
owns much of the business, including hotels, buses and car rentals.

While military control of the economy might seem ominous, those who have
had dealings with it say the opposite. They are encouraged that the
shift to the military means a shift away from militant communists to a
more practical and more politically popular institution. James Bruno,
writing in Politico (link is external), says Washington must build
bridges to Cuba’s military because the military is the center of gravity
in Cuba. He says FAR “is going to be our most reliable partner”.
Starwood was dealing with FAR when it was given management of one of the
leading Havana hotels.

The most recent news reports that the supply of Venezuelan oil is as
shaky as the Venezuelan regime. If it falters, so do Cuba’s oil supply
and its limited homegrown supply. There is fear of dark nights and
hot days without air conditioning. There is also a food shortage. The
island’s exports – nickel and sugar are way off; is limited by
the lack of facilities. The itself is an embarrassing
bottleneck of incompetence.

Republicans have a long record of anti-Castro policies that are dictated
by the Miami Cubans. They would not give Castro an old shoe. But it is
not the Castro’s who are affected by too little food and fuel – it is
the 11 million Cubans. The Castro regime has been living on the credit
of friendly regimes. The once-friendly regimes are not so friendly any
more; the credit of the Cuban government is near zero. While the
conditions are dire, they will not bring about a revolution; they
certainly are not the stuff out of which a democracy will grow. The
legislation that prevents lifting the embargo (unless Cuba has a freely
elected government according to U.S. standards) is unrealistic, and
could seriously hamper an enlightened foreign policy that could take
advantage of this moment of weakness. Helping our neighbor in a time of
distress might be the best policy. But we may be blocked by the absurd
restraint placed on our government by a Congress that represents the old
Cuban expats.

There are many opportunities for , but investors are
discouraged. The Cuban leaders rely on state control of the economy to
maintain their power. While Raul and his people seem to realize the old
system must change, the path of change is not clear. Under communism,
politics and economics are bound together in state enterprises. The
role of profits, interest and dividends is not understood. Savings,
capital, and individual initiative are not part of the language. The
memory of the plantation economy imposed by foreign – mostly American –
investors is not a good one; Cubans do not want to go back to the days
of oligarchy when the land and the businesses were owned by foreigners
and a few rich Cubans.

Diplomacy between the U.S. and Cuba has been plagued by politics. Since
2006 there have been discussions that might have progressed, but
didn’t. Obama’s visit in June was staged, strained and not altogether
welcomed by the Castro regime. The U.S. policy has been to encourage
political dissent rather than to work with the regime. The U.S. has not
learned to accept the Castro government as legitimate and to deal with
it. Congress is still under the influence of the old-guard Miami Cubans
represented by senators Rubio and Cruz, whose voices are heard in Cuba.
The embargo, never more than an expression of nastiness, lingers on.
Perhaps the death of Fidel, who is 90, is the event everyone is waiting
for.

Source: Cuba: the Castros & Miami | The Millbrook Independent –
www.themillbrookindependent.com/content/cuba-castros-miami

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