There's an old joke, probably from Hollywood, that when someone says, "It's not about the money...", it's really about the money.
The Castro's bankrupted Cuba fifty years ago by implementing misguided nationalist, socialist and communal economic policies. It took the failure of the Soviet Union and its ending of its sponsorship of the Castros to make this obvious and to destine Cubans to live in abject poverty.
Everything that the Castros have done since that bleak day in 1994 has been geared toward keeping the doors open; maintaining the federal police as well as the urban grays - the PNR - and the secret police.
I've written before about Cuba's 6th Congress of a year and a half ago and what a distortion of the truth it was. How it was really a money grab disguised as a new economic development strategy. Going to a two currency system allowed them to grab an extra 10% of the US cash that ex-pat Cubans and tourists bring intot he country.
Now there's chatter about them allowing residents to use debit cards in the dollar stores.
No Cubans (outside of government bribe-takers) have so much legal income that they can afford to make a big show of shopping in the Benitton stores or paying full retail for cigars. And they're sure as hell smart enough to not use their debit card accounts for the cash that they earn on the side. Like everything else the Castros do, it's about them and money, not Cubans and well-being.
Update November 29, 2012: As predicted in my blog entry below, the Castros have now implemented income tax to take back the money that their new entrepreneurs are earning...
National Post Today
From April 20, 2011
I've been reviewing the US and Canadian reportage on the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba. And it get's worse the further one is from Miami.They (the media) are talking about more opportunities, leadership transition, right to sell homes and cars, free markets, some are even saying that the ration books are being eliminated and bringing in young people.
What all these stories miss is that every single change that is being committed to has one collective purpose; to sustain the status quo.
The Castros haven't gone soft, but they know that their economy is a disaster and that the only thing that keeps millions of people from starving is the black market (which of course doesn't pay taxes to sustain the bureaucracy and politburo). People haven't lived on their "public-sector" jobs since at least 1994 - every family has survived on the black market and the pittance they have gotten paid is of no account. So they are making changes to reduce the money they waste in feeding people with ration books and to dip their beak into the work that people do on the side to actually feed themselves.
Here are some of the big truths:
THEY ARE NOT CREATING PRIVATE JOBS
They are cutting payroll. People that now are getting a stipend will no longer get one. But this is no big deal because no one lived on their stipend anyway, but on their black market activity. NOW their black market activity will be reported on and taxed.
Generating entrepreneurism? In the form we know this, where someone puts a sign up and sells bobble-head Blue Jays or cuts hair - is impossible in Cuba. There are no customers, no one has extra money.
The government will do what they have done with Casas and Paladares - heavily tax them.
The good news is that, by being fired from their jobs, Cubans will have another 40 hours/week to hustle, buy/sell/trade (but most likely 100% of this extra income will be taxed).
THE OLD FARTS WILL NOT GO QUIETLY
Cuba is run by 80 year olds and will continue to be run by 80 year olds. As evidence, the Castros' appointment of 80 year old Jose Ramon Machado as Raul's successor. (Lest we forget, they had a couple of terrific young guys in Felipe Perez Rogue and Carlos Lage - but they were deemed not communist enough and were fired).
RIGHT TO SELL HOMES AND CARS
People have traditionally earned the right to buy cars through exceptional service to the Revolucion - maybe shooting peasants in Angola. And, on return to Cuba, they have sold or rented these cars to people who can afford them - illegal taxis. People who have nice assigned homes are known to rent them out to people with more money. So long as the CDR doesn't find out it's cool.
Raul and Jose Ramon both get another ten years. They will be ninety. Will they remember that their terms are up?
MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR BLACKS, INDIO/SPANISH, WOMEN
Sure. The Spanish in Cuba have been enormously fair in promoting equality to all. But, as in the farm yard, pigs are more equal than others. we will see blacks given equal opportunity in getting tourist jobs, and real incomes, when pigs fly.
Cuba is one big lie. Old people lie because they have always had to to survive. Young people lie because it's the only thing they know. It will not be different as long as a single person over sixty, who grew up with Fidel, is in a position of control.
In Mojito we introduce the idea of the RC Church intervening in Cuba. Our speculation might not be too far off...
From Andrea Spinelli
The Cuban government led by Raul Castro has officially accepted and the release of 52 political dissidents imprisoned in the spring of 2003, the "Black Spring": The announcement came during a meeting yesterday between President Castro in Havana The Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Ambassador Miguel Angel Moratinos and Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
The Iberian ambassador, shortly before returning home, was received by Castro and the Cuban Minister, after days of negotiations were ongoing strategic Cuba-Spain-Vatican to persuade the Castro regime to operate to meet the pressing demands the international community.
According to a statement from the local Catholic Church, issued on the sidelines of the meeting, five of the dissidents will be released already in the day today, Thursday, July 8 and for the other 47 times will be about three to four months. Local authorities have stressed that the prisoners "could leave the island" to Spain. Despite the silence of the Cuban authorities, some time there had been negotiations between Madrid and Havana, Cuba mediated by the Catholic Church, for the release of political dissidents, yesterday's announcement represents another step forward after the meeting May 20 between Ortega and Castro, which led to the liberation of Ariel Sigler and transfer of prisoners to prisons closer to places of residence. It should be noted that the international community is sensitized by the hunger strike in prison, still in place, the dissident Guillermo Farinas: more than four months Farinas has chosen fasting to demand the release of 25 anti-Castro dissidents. Hospitalized in Santa Clara, almost desperate conditions, Farinas said that the strike will not stop until they will be contacted by the Cuban authorities. The reaction of domestic opponents to the regime, before the news of the release of 52 political prisoners, has been rather tepid: according to the spokesman of the Damas de Blanco, Laura Pollan, "If we are forced deportations certainly can not speak of progress on the human rights front, "he said, referring to the" possibility "for free, announced by the regime to flee to Spain. It was also underlined by the blogger Yoani Sanchez, the "liberation" is actually a "deportation" means the forced emigration, deportation, exile is standard practice to dispose of non-conformity with the procedure. "If you do not like, go away" is repeated to the Cubans, since childhood. It also complained that still do not know the names of the five detainees to be released today. The fear is that the Castro regime are being made to create a real airline ad hoc, with weekly flights, to "invite" expatriation who disagrees with the administration of Raul Castro. Spain, France and Chile planned destinations. After this amnesty will remain about a hundred dissidents in Cuban jails. But the term "dissident" is not pleasing to the scheme: "criminal" or "mercenary Yankees are certainly more popular in the definition of those who feel their conscience dictates not align with the existing Castro in the Caribbean island. And this is why, legally speaking, that prevents their complete liberation
The crackdown on independent journalists is intensifying, with three cases of journalists being jailed, arrested or summoned in the past few days. The journalist who has been jailed is Dania Virgen García of Primavera Digital and CubaNet, who was given a 20-month sentence on 23 April. Her case brings the number of journalists imprisoned in Cuba to 25.
Arrested at her home in the Havana suburb of San Miguel del Padrón on 22 April, García was tried and convicted in less than 48 hours and was taken to the women’s prison known as the “Manto Negro” (Black Veil) because of its bad reputation. The regime’s haste to “pass justice” appears to have been due to the municipal elections held on 25 April
The charges on which García, 41, was convicted have yet to be confirmed, but she supported and participated in the marches staged by the Ladies in White, a group formed by the mothers, wives and sisters of political prisoners whose activities have been suppressed by the authorities in recent days.
Independent journalist Yosvani Anzardo Hernández was arrested at his home in San Germán, in the eastern province of Holguín, on the morning of 24 April. His family does not know why. The editor of the newspaper Candonga, Anzardo was detained for two weeks in September 2009, when police confiscated the electronic equipment he needed to produce the newspaper.
Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez, an independent journalist who reports for the Hablemos Press news centre and Miami-based Radio Martí, has been given a summons to report to the National Revolutionary Police in Havana for “a conversation” on 29 April. A staunch supporter of the Ladies in White, Norvis also keeps a blog in which she writes about arbitrary arrests and human rights violations.
Finally, police used force to arrest Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, another Hablemos Press reporter, on 23 April as he was covering an event in the Havana suburb of Marianao to commemorate imprisoned dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death. Martínez has been charged with “insulting behaviour.”
“The international community cannot continue to remain silent in the face of the suffering of Cuba’s dissidents and the lack of freedoms imposed by a regime whose hints of a possible opening stopped short at the threshold of human rights,” Reporters Without Borders said.
Independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas Hernández is meanwhile continuing a hunger strike to press for the release of the prisoners of conscience who are in poorest health. Reporters Without Borders has urged him to call off the protest but Fariñas says he is ready to die.
With a total of 25 journalists currently detained, including Reporters Without Borders correspondent Ricardo González Alfonso, Cuba ranks behind only Iran and China as one of the world’s biggest prisons for the media.
Photo : http://www.humanrightscuba.com/2010...
From Yoani Sanchez blog --- Generation Y:
Albert (qui ose gagne)
Abril 29th, 2010 at 05:26 isn’t ironic?
batista’s & his regime inspired the rebolution acording to fidelious babosi (I hate to agree but I must).
Batista allowed corruption, exploitation, abuse of laws, prostitution & gambling & made more than evident the gap betweent the have’s & have’s not” … to be short.
Now … 50 odd years later we have corruption, exploitation, abuse of laws & the same gap between the “have’s & have’s not”
Borrowing from a comment from someone that have seen many a cuban well dressed, driving a late model car & lining up to enter a nightclub (if I take it as face value) proves the existence of the ever elusive “elite” as it existed in batista’s time.
Perhaps they are the children of the nomenklatura or part of the corruption regardless … they exist.
They exist in this 50 odd year rebolution inspired by the quest for equality & fairness.
Yes, cubans are better educated & have a good health system & subsidized food & other great benefits yet …
They are still poor, underpaid (exploited) abused & repressed, just like in batista’s time.
I don’t remember reading about starving cubans but I remember reading & hearing about cubans picking thru the trash … a directive was passed “legislating” the activity of the buzos.
I am sure the buzos “love” to pick in the trash for a source of income or substinence.
I do remember reading & hearing about the transportation system serving a large number of the regular population, where as always the uncany cuban “resolve” overcomes the shortcommings of the service … while the late model cars pass by …
I do remember the black market & the reason for its existence, I also remember most cubans holding a 2nd. even 3th. job to make ends meet.
That is the black market that makes available (for a profit) luxury items … like clothing, food stuffs, shoes etc. so: where does the money come from to support such extravagances which according to the fidelious babosi the people does not need?
As I said before … from the cuban’s back, from working, bartering, diving into refuse bins, prostituting, selling drugs, stealing … why … because they have to survive, specially after the 12th day of the month.
Batista was bad for the cuban people, the situatio was horrid thru the country … after 50 odd years … it remains the same, names have hanged, faces have changed, slogans have changed … the greed & corruption remains the same …
While filling their mouth w/Marti’s words about his love for Cuba, comparing themselves to him, to Maceo & all the greats … fidelious babosi and his lackeys betray, lie & steal … like a prostitute, they sold themselves to greed, confort & power.
As it were … they lay in their beds, w/their soul’s legs wide open offering it for sale, cheap & degraded.
Kathy and Kids went to Cuba last week.
Obviously we like the place or we wouldn't visit every year and write a book about it. The trip was a disaster. Just like Cubans, they were stuck in an airport, bus and fleabag hotel for over 30 hours. No food, no diapers, toilet paper or tampons - almost no water. Cockroaches and solied sheets in their emergency hotel rooms. I got a text message (first time from Cuba) telling me she was imprisoned in Cuba and couldn't get home. But it wasn't a joke.
This is how Cubans live year round, but don't get to leave.
Babalu has a great angle on this.
Kathy e Kids è andato a Cuba la settimana scorsa
.Ovviamente ci piace il posto o che non si recherà in visita ogni anno e scrivere un libro su di esso. Il viaggio è stato un disastro. Proprio come i cubani, erano rimasti bloccati in un aeroporto, autobus e Fleabag hotel per oltre 30 ore. Non ha cibo, pannolini, carta igienica o tamponi - quasi senza acqua. Scarafaggi e fogli solied nelle loro camere d'albergo di emergenza. Ho ricevuto un messaggio di testo (la prima volta da Cuba) mi diceva che era in carcere a Cuba e non poteva tornare a casa. Ma non era uno scherzo.
Ecco come i cubani vivono tutto l'anno, ma non arrivare a lasciare.
Babalu ha un angolo molto su questo.
1. Cigars - 65% of all cuban cigars sold in cuba are phonys - still better than White Owls, but not the real thing. Buy them as novelties but not for true Cubano smoking experience
While in Habana, got a chance to say hello to famed HR crusader Yoani Sanchez of Generacion Y. For facts and truth about the status of Cubans visit Yoani's blog.
From Humberto Fortova: http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2007/6/4/141010.shtml
Brian Lloyd French
I am a great admirer of the strength and talents of Cuban people and will share some of my experiences here.