Reports from Cuba: Machado’s young people

By Javier Cabrera in Translating Cuba:

Machado’s Young People

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Machado Ventura

Somos+, 13 July 2105 — One of the most important qualities of a politician is credibility. I am one of those who believe that credibility must be earned — and must not be lost, because sometimes it cannot be recovered. The obligatory homage to “the caste” has been the tool used to obviate the need for credibility in Cuba, and processes have been created to redress its loss: “rectification of errors,” “update of the economic model,” and even “voting for everything.”

This is why it is not strange that the octogenarian Machado Ventura addressed us, the young people of Cuba, telling us what we should do, think or feel. Those who in the old days were dazzled by promises of faraway lands and indeed enjoyed (and still enjoy) privileges, today demand that we not be dazzled by pretty things — basically because many of these things might turn out to be good, and might sentence them to a forced retirement. And it is there that they leave us their legacy: Remember the confrontation! A war cry against the rapprochement, against the aim of those models that have encouraged it on both sides.

Finally, Machado Ventura justifies the lack of Internet access because of cost, despite us knowing that the current infrastructure is still not even at half its capacity. And he reveals to us the result of the negotiations with the American companies: do not give us free Internet, because we cannot control it. In its place, as a consolation prize, we will have “the prosperous and sustainable socialism that we are now contemplating.”

Confrontation, preservation of the status quo, adoption of technological ignorance, and off-line socialism: these are the young people that Machado wants.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Cuba and Iran negotiations illustrate a new U.S. ambivalence and loss of values

Dr. Jose Azel in PanAm Post:

US Negotiations All at Sea

Adversaries Smell Ambivalence, Exploit Loss of Values

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_NLcC3GB3wdo/S_8XFughLyI/AAAAAAAAClU/bRPGIUunnFk/s1600/jose2%20azel%20lnew%20cmg%5B1%5D.JPGBreaking news: Massive street celebrations in Mexico in approval of the appointment of Roberta Jacobson as US ambassador! President Peña Nieto anticipates that after the first round of negotiations California will be returned to Mexico!

The joke making the rounds in social media is, of course, unfair to Jacobson, who serves at the pleasure of the president. But it illustrates the current skepticism regarding US negotiating strategy around the globe.

In recent negotiations with Cuba, headed by Jacobson, the United States appears to have unconditionally given up most negotiating chips without any meaningful concessions from the Castro regime. In the much more geopolitically important negotiations with Iran, headed by Secretary of State John Kerry, some key US demands seem to have been discarded, much to the concern of our allies. And, as foreign policy expert Jeane Kirkpatrick would have reminded us: “Personnel is policy.”

In fairness, negotiations are a work in process, but they are always deeply influenced by the adversary’s perception of our values, objectives, and motivations. What do we stand for? What do we want? Why do we want it?

Yes, we must be willing to talk with our adversaries. Isolating adversaries, even those that cross the classificatory line from adversaries to enemies — as the regimes in Cuba and Iran unquestionably do — is not always a winning strategy.

With Shakespeare’s forgiveness, to talk or not to talk is not the question. The better question is: what do we communicate with our positions and actions when we agree to talk? Do we firmly convey our values and objectives, or do we seek to accommodate the values and objectives of our adversaries? The administration’s negotiating strategy seems to be heavily weighted towards accommodation.

In their 1981 best-selling book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In, authors Roger Fisher and William Ury outline a negotiating method they call “principled negotiation or negotiation of merits.” A key element of their method, which focuses on the psychology of negotiation, is determining which needs are fixed and which needs are flexible for the negotiators.

As to the first question of: What do we stand for? Our core values are magnificently “fixed” in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…

If these are our “fixed” values, on what grounds do we reconcile accommodating repressive regimes that suppress the liberties of their citizenry, and do not derive their powers from the consent of the governed? Have these values become pliable and flexible in our negotiations? Relativism of values, in the interest of political pragmatism, can be detected at the center of our negotiating strategy.

As to the second question of: what do we want? We have not demanded much from the Cuban regime; certainly we have demanded nothing having to do with our core beliefs as they apply to the Cuban people. And our demands of Iran regarding their nuclear capabilities appear to be quite malleable.

Continue reading HERE.

The Miami Herald: Keep the embargo on Cuba’s Castro dictatorship

The Editorial Board of The Miami Herald:

Keep the Cuban trade embargo

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in Miami today — and reports are that she’s going to tackle Miami’s Cuban exile community’s historic third rail question: Should the 50-plus-year-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba be lifted?

Candidate Clinton is boldly taking a strong stand on this issue — calling for an end to the embargo now, a doubling down of the Obama administration’s testing of the waters. It’s not a new stand for Mrs. Clinton, but expounding it so openly in Miami is novel.

There was a time when any politician running for office who needed the Cuban-American vote held a rally in Little Havana to be captured on camera shouting the proverbial chant: “Viva Cuba Libre!” — the battle cry of those who believe the embargo stays until the Castros leave power.

Mrs. Clinton, who will speak at Florida International University, is probably the first serious presidential contender in recent years to bring her opposing point-of-view to Miami’s exile community. Cuba isn’t the only pressing issue that will influence how Floridians will cast their vote for president, but it’s still important. However, Mrs. Clinton’s stance on Cuba gives her a chance to present a contrast with leading contenders in the GOP field — mainly Sen. Marco Rubio and ex-Gov. Jeb Bush, two local candidates and staunch supporters of maintaining the embargo.

That support in the GOP may be wavering, though. In another sign of the rapidly changing landscape, U.S. House Republican Tom Emmer of Minnesota this week introduced legislation that would lift the embargo on Cuba.

True, people in South Florida are not as strongly anti-embargo as they once were, but at the same time many understand the malicious nature of the Cuban government and would like to see some sign that the current normalization talks are having an impact on the island government. So far, we’ve seen precious little.

Mrs. Clinton’s support for lifting the embargo reflects a political calculation about the evolution of the Cuban exile community in Miami. It has indeed evolved, which is why we support the normalization process.

But at some point there must be evolution on the other side, as well. One does not have to be a hardliner to expect a quid pro quo of some kind as this process moves forward. Simply put, Cuba hasn’t earned the embargo’s end. Far from it.

Continue reading HERE.

Bipartisan group of U.S. senators question Obama State Dept’s unwarranted upgrade of Malaysia and Cuba on Human Trafficking list

Via Politico:

Senators probe political motivations for trafficking report

Corker, Cardin question whether the State Department was motivated by politics to upgrade Cuba and Malaysia in annual report on human trafficking.

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The top Republican and top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are raising questions about the integrity of the State Department’s annual report on human trafficking, pointing to the upgraded status of Cuba and Malaysia as cause for concern.

Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) have written a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting a briefing on the latest report.

The report, which was released Monday, lifted both Cuba and Malaysia from Tier 3, considered the worst offenders, to the Tier 2 Watch List. It said both countries are making progress in battling sex trafficking and various forms of forced labor.

But the upgrade for Cuba comes as the Obama administration has renewed diplomatic ties and is pursuing more cooperation with the communist-led island nation. The upgrade for Malaysia, where mass graves of migrant workers have recently spurred alarm, also makes it legally easier to include the country in a massive Asia-Pacific trade pact.

That has led opponents of the trade pact and the opening to Cuba, groups that include both Republicans and Democrats, to question whether the upgrades in the report were politically motivated.

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey has been one of the leading critics of the latest report and has said he would push for hearings, investigations and more to probe its rankings. “Upgrades for Malaysia and Cuba are a clear politicization of the report, and a stamp of approval for countries who have failed to take the basic actions to merit this upgrade,” the Democrat said in a statement Monday.

In their letter, sent late Tuesday, Cardin and Corker said they viewed the annual Trafficking in Persons report as an “essential global tool for ensuring continued progress against human trafficking including its worst forms which amount to modern slavery” and that “maintaining the integrity of the TIP report is essential to our success.”

A State Department spokeswoman, Mai Shiozaki, declined to comment on the contents of the letter but said that Kerry “is committed to responding to congressional inquiries.” State officials have previously said political considerations, such as the trade deal, are not a factor in ranking the countries in the report.

The TIP rankings can have tangible effects on the countries named by leading to a reduction in certain forms of U.S. assistance for the poor performers.

Hillary Clinton fell for it! (she believes Bendixen & Amandi polls!)

Hillary campaigns in Miami by bashing the (so-called) Cuba embargo! No doubt she consulted some polls about Cuban-American attitudes…wonder whose polls???

Wonder if she knows what happened to the last politican to fall for the polls by the public relations agency badly disguised as a polling agency named Bendixen & Amandi. We had great sport with that poor fool here recently.

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“Saw DAT, Brian and Keith?!” (looks like they did)


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“Saw DAT, Jimi and Keith?!” (looks like they did)


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“Saw DAT, Don and Dino?!” (looks like they did)


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A fascinating datum by Capitol Hill Cubans that might interest Hillary Clinton:

“Every single Cuban-American elected official — local, state and federal — of all political persuasions, support maintaining sanctions…no candidate who supports lifting sanctions has ever won statewide in Florida, including President Obama, who campaigned on his support for the embargo in 2008 and 2012.”

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Ros-Lehtinen: Hillary Clinton blames America for Castro regime’s embargo on freedom in Cuba

From the offices of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

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Hillary Clinton Joins the Blame America First Crowd in Speech at FIU; Only Embargo That Should be Lifted is the One on Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights That Castro Has On the Cuban People, Says Ros-Lehtinen

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement in response to Hillary Clinton’s remarks regarding the normalization of relations with Cuba this morning at Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s alma mater, Florida International University. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“Hillary Clinton’s speech this morning at my alma mater, FIU, is typical of the Blame America First crowd who naively believe that it is the embargo against Castro that has been the impediment to bringing the island into the 21st century. This argument is fatally flawed and backward; it isn’t the embargo that has held the people back, but rather it is the embargo by Fidel and Raul Castro against the people of Cuba and denying them freedom, democracy and human rights that have prevented progress.

“It’s lopsided logic that Clinton and President Obama have no problem acknowledging that change in Cuba will not happen quickly, yet they advocate for changes to U.S. policy towards Cuba to occur quickly? Why the double standard? Why should the U.S. change its policies while the Castro brothers do not have to make any substantive reforms and continue to throw pro-democracy leaders in jail indiscriminately?

“The rest of the world has had open, unhindered economic and political relations with the Castro regime, yet the 11 million Cubans continue to suffer some of the world’s worst oppression under the communist dictators. It is disingenuous to suggest lifting the embargo will do anything other than further entrench and embolden the feckless thugs in Havana at the expense of the Cuban people. The Castro embargo on the Cuban people must be lifted first and we need to see free, fair and transparent elections, freedom of the press, and the liberation of all political prisoners, before we even begin to examine lifting the embargo.”

Reports from Cuba: The customer as criminal

By Rebeca Monzo in Translating Cuba:

The Customer as Criminal

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/414094496373039104/jw7ZW8XH_400x400.jpegOne of the most annoying problems in our country, as far as services and treatment of the public is concerned, is the humiliation to which we are subjected on a daily basis. This is especially true for women. We are required to leave our handbags, with all our personal belongings inside, in bins set aside for this purpose at the entrances of every store and commercial establishment, even though many of them have no security. This has led to instances of theft, for which the victims receive no compensation.

A few days ago a friend of mine went into a shoe department — located on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Miramar — that was practically outside the shopping complex to which it belonged. Under the circumstances and keeping in mind that she was only looking for footwear, she went inside with her handbag. As soon as an employee noticed this, she told my friend she must leave and deposit the handbag in a bin. My friend replied that she did not see why this was necessary since there was only one of each brand and model number of shoe on display and that she, as anyone could see, had two legs and two feet. Given the employee’s insistence, my friend asked to speak to the manager of the department to explain the situation.

The manager came over and my friend tried to reason with him, offering the same rationale she had given to the employee. He replied with a logic very “a la socialista” that it was his understanding that someone could steal a shoe — one of a certain color, size and model number — then go to another store that carried the same shoe, also on display, with exactly the same features but for the other foot, thus completing the pair. Something completely implausible!

My friend stood there stunned by this explanation and decided to leave the store immediately lest she contract the idiocy virus so common in these places. But before doing so, she let it be known to both the employee and her boss that she, like many others, were fully aware that the majority of such thefts were, unfortunately, inside jobs.

In the old days, during the capitalist period, there was a saying that became famous precisely because it was so sensible: “The client is always right.” Now under socialism the customer is unfortunately treated like a potential criminal.

What is the difference between a Socialist and a Democrat?

Bernie Sanders — the New Hampshire Socialist running for U.S. president as a Democrat — has forced the skeleton out of the closet and locked its door.

No further comment necessary.

From Hot Air:

Matthews to DWS: What’s the big difference between a Democrat and a socialist?

Answer: Not much at all, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz knows it. When Chris Matthews attempted to press the DNC chair on whether Bernie Sanders, an avowed Socialist, would get a high-profile speaking slot at the Democratic convention even if he loses the nomination, Wasserman Schultz stammered out an affirmative, which amazed Matthews and prompted him to ask Wasserman Schultz if she saw any significant difference between Democrats and Socialists. Wasserman Schultz tried to duck the question, but provided a very telling answer by doing so (via Newsalert and Mediaite):

Matthews asked Wasserman-Schultz if, even if he loses, Sanders would have a place at the DNC convention, seeing as how he’s really popular with the base and could fire up a Democratic audience before the election.

She said he should get to speak, but Matthews kept prodding away to see if he would be allowed to speak in primetime instead of “when nobody’s watching.”

Wasserman-Schultz talked up his “progressive populist message” that people like, when Matthews asked her point-blank, “What’s the difference between a Democrat and a socialist? I used to think there was a big difference. What do you think it is?”

Wasserman-Schultz ducked the question, but Matthews pressed her and said, “You’re the chairman of the Democratic Party. Tell me what’s the difference between you and a socialist.”

Instead of answering, Wasserman Schutlz tells Matthews that there’s a much bigger gulf between Democrats and Republicans than Democrats and Socialists. And that was precisely Matthews’ point. He’s an old-school Democrat, certainly more sympathetic than hostile to Sanders’ socialist bent, but cognizant of the marginalization that will produce in the general electorate. Embracing the avowed socialist Sanders on the Democrats’ biggest national stage will make it impossible for the nominee to argue that Democrats represent the center of the country. It will lose the Midwest, the Rust Belt, and any hope of making inroads in the interior West and especially the South.

Matthews sounds downright plaintive when he says, “I used to think there was a big difference” between Democrats and Socialists. Perhaps it’s just nostalgia, because the difference has been narrowing rapidly over the past generation, and has all but disappeared in the past six years.

Continue reading HERE.

Obama’s new friendship with Castro regime sparks hope for Americans with legal claims for stolen property in Cuba

A prime example of the law of unintended consequences President Obama is all too familiar with. But it may very well be just another “law” this president will be sure to ignore.

Via USA Today:

Americans have new hopes to reclaim property seized by Cuba 50 years ago

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Fred Swetland III

MIAMI — Across the country, thousands of Americans are storing fading documents that represent a piece of Cuba taken from them by Fidel Castro in the 1960s. They could be worth billions.

For U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive and Texaco, those papers list properties nationalized by the bearded Cuban’s revolutionaries after they took control of the island. For movie studios such as  Universal and 20th Century Fox, they detail hundreds of confiscated film reels.

In many cases, the documents have been passed down to children and charities. They meticulously itemize homes, ranches, farms, vehicles, cattle and horses seized by the government. A Holocaust memorial library in New York City  preserves a document listing paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet and Renoir that were taken from the Havana apartment of its founder, author Olga Lengyel.

In Miami Beach, a woman has stored away the stock certificates that certify her father’s partial ownership in a manganese mine in eastern Cuba. “I didn’t suspect anything would happen with this in my lifetime,” said Holly Wallack, 69, whose father held a 30% stake in the Cuban mine. “I thought maybe it was something for my children.”

That way of thinking quickly changed after President Obama’s surprise announcement in December that the United States would re-establish diplomatic relations with its longtime foe. Now that both countries have reopened embassies in Washington and Havana, the chance of reclaiming their property, or getting some kind of compensation, is finally possible.

Shortly after Castro’s takeover, the U.S. Justice Department established a Foreign Claims Settlement Commission for American citizens and companies whose properties were confiscated. The commission approved 5,913 claims worth $1.9 billion,  roughly $7 billion today. The U.S. State Department says it has approached the Cuban government to begin those talks.

“Reaching agreement on resolving outstanding claims is often a lengthy process, but the department is committed to pursuing a resolution,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy Gonzalo Gallegos.

As in most negotiations with the Cubans, this one faces many obstacles.

For one thing, Cubans claim they are due a big payday from the U.S. government that dwarfs the U.S. claims against Cuba. In 1999, a Cuban court estimated that the U.S. embargo on Cuba had cost its citizens $181 billion.

The United States is sure to reject claims of that magnitude. Even so, at a historic joint news conference in Washington by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to highlight the new relationship, the Cuban diplomat made clear his country will pursue them. “The U.S. government has recognized that the blockade against Cuba is a wrong policy, causing isolation and bringing about humanitarian damages and privations and deprivations to our people,” Rodriguez said.

Another problem: the $7 billion U.S. claim doesn’t include thousands of Cuban Americans whose property was confiscated before they fled to the USA. The U.S. State Department will negotiate only on behalf of people who were U.S. citizens at the time of the confiscations; Cuban Americans will have to negotiate on their own.

Continue reading HERE.

Meanwhile, back in Caracastan: Maduro steals foreign-owned property

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With congressional elections on the horizon, Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro is getting a little nervous.

To increase popular support for his Bolivarian Revolution, he is following the Castro playbook rather than finding real solution’s for Venezuela’s immense problems.

For those of us who lived through the Castro “Revolution” this all seems very familiar.  Too familiar.

It’s a lot like looking in a rear-view mirror and seeing milicianos (militia men) swarming businesses and seizing them at gunpoint.

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And we know what follows.  More misery, more poverty, more disasters, more enslavement, more blame-shifting, and an endless tirade against “evil” capitalists and “imperialists.”

It seems clear that Maduro fears no backlash from the U.S. for this latest crime.  He knows that the current occupant of the White House likes what he is doing.

And it also seems clear that those American firms itching to do business with the Castro regime don’t really understand the nature of that beast and don’t care to pay attention to what is happening in the Castro colony of Venezuela.

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From The Wall Street Journal:

Venezuela Takeover Order Riles Companies:
Maduro’s government wants industrial zone to build housing for poor

The Venezuelan government ordered major food companies, including units of Pepisco and Nestlé Inc., to evacuate warehouses in an area where the state plans to expropriate land to build low-cost housing.

Thursday’s order, delivered by National Guard soldiers and housing officials, gives companies 60 days to clear out of the structures in an industrial zone, workers and company officials said.

These people condemned the move as the latest sign of increasingly hostile relations between the private sector and President Nicolás Maduro’s leftist administration.

Mr. Maduro in recent months has ramped up accusations against companies including the Pepsi bottler Empresas Polar SA, the country’s biggest food vendor, that he blames for Venezuela’s galloping inflation and chronic shortages of basic goods ranging from cooking oil to shampoo. Business leaders deny the allegations and say the economic woes stem from rigid state controls and the government’s mismanagement.

“This is all part of the government’s strategy of blaming third parties for the economic crisis,” Henkel García, director of the Caracas consultancy Econometrica, said, noting how the latest move may further disrupt supply networks for the scarcity-prone Caracas area.

Spokesmen at the Information Ministry and the Housing Ministry declined to comment.

Continue reading HERE 

Has Obama forgotten about human rights in Cuba?

Jose Cardenas in Foreign Policy:

Has Obama Forgotten About Human Rights in Cuba?

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Seven months after President Obama announced his intention to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations, dissidents and human rights activists on the island are already saying they’ve been abandoned. Last week, the Associated Press ran a story headlined “Cuban Dissidents Feel Sidelined as U.S. Focuses on State Ties,” which reported that “more than 20 U.S. lawmakers have come to Cuba since February without meeting with opposition groups that once were an obligatory stop for congressional delegations.”

Indeed, it is not hard to see why human rights have been moved to the back burner. Much of the reporting and analysis of President Obama’s new policy has focused on normalization and reconciliation with the Castro regime as ends in themselves — as in, letting Cold War bygones be bygones, accepting the status quo in Cuba, and, meanwhile, it’s peace and mojitos for our time.

That is not the way President Obama presented it last December, or even at the beginning of July, when he said, “I believe that American engagement — through our embassy, our businesses, and most of all, through our people — is the best way to advance our interests and support for democracy and human rights.”

Yet, somehow, what began as a strategy to support democracy and human rights has morphed into one of building “mutual respect” between the U.S. and the Castro regime, as John Kerry put it in hosting the Cuban Foreign Minister at the State Department last week.

Let’s be clear: supporting democracy and human rights in Cuba and building “mutual respect” with the regime are utterly incompatible, no matter how artfully White House spinsters put it. Interestingly, not a single administration spokesperson has to date been able to articulate just how Obama’s new approach is supposed to work, so let me take a crack.

The administration is taking the Castro regime’s propaganda at face value that the Cuban opposition has been created in Washington and its goal is to promote regime change. By assuring the Castro brothers that Washington doesn’t indeed seek their overthrow, then that will allow a level of comfort to the regime to be more tolerant of opposition and their demands. Meanwhile, supporting existing micro-enterprises will create an inexorable force for change on the island as more economically independent Cubans will begin to petition their government for redress of their grievances and, slowly, peaceful, orderly change will come to Cuba.

If only the world worked as agreeably as a theory developed in an academic lounge.

Read more

ASCE searches for ways to exploit slave labor in Cuba without getting your hands dirty

No matter how you slice it or try to dress it up, the economists at the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) are interested in only one thing: Finding a way for Americans to do business with Cuba’s murderous apartheid regime and exploit the myriad of opportunities provided by a slave labor force of 11-million+ people deprived of rights and freedom without getting their hands dirty.

Via The Miami Herald:

Economists ask what’s next for the Cuban economy

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The Obama administration has outlined an economic opening designed to increase engagement with the Cuban people, but speakers at the 25th annual meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy said Thursday that the policy’s success depends on the Cuban government’s response and the pace and breadth of its ongoing economic reforms.

The theme of the three-day conference at the Miami Hilton Downtown Hotel was “Cuba — What’s Next?” On Thursday, the theme generated more questions than answers.

Vegard Bye, of the University of Oslo’s Center for Development and Environment, said there have been dramatic changes in Cuba in the past 10 years but “today there is more pausa (pause) than prisa (speed) in the reform process, a play on Cuban leader Raúl Castro’s declaration that economic reforms would occur “without haste but without pause.”

“I think there is change, but the question is, of course, is it transformative,” he said.

The Obama opening, which comes with the embargo still in place, allows more trade with Cuba and travel by Americans as well as increases in remittance allowances.

It has raised high expectations, said Carlos Seiglie, president of ASCE and a Rutgers University economics professor. But he said those expectations “are not consistent with the fundamentals underlying the Cuban economy.” Among the factors undercutting opportunities, he said, are an unwieldy dual currency system, an overvalued Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), restrictions on Cuba’s self-employed and on resource allocation, and price distortions.

Emilio Morales, president and chief executive of the Havana Consulting Group, added a few more barriers to the list: foreign companies’ inability to directly contract Cuban workers, no free access to the Internet, a scarcity of hard currency, weak international reserves, lack of judicial security and Cuba’s non-payment of international debt.

“The Cuban government is the only one that can convert these barriers into opportunities,” Morales said.

Continue reading HERE.

What is the difference between chimps and Cubans?

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A court case in New York involving chimpanzees sheds light on the current “normalization” circus set in motion by the current occupant of the White House.

New York judge Barbara Jaffee has ruled that chimps have no human rights, even though they resemble humans in many ways.

Maybe Judge Jaffee has been following the “normalization” circus too closely, and received inspiration from its details?

After all, is there any real, practical difference between her ruling and the Cuba policies of the White House?

No.  The only difference is merely the distinction between de facto and de jure status of Cubans in the eyes of the current administration.

Cubans have not been formally or legally declared to be the property of the Castro regime, but the policies currently governing relations between the U.S. and the Castro regime accept as an unchangeable fact the slavery to which all Cubans are subjected.

Human rights?  Fuhgeddaboudit.  Geddoutaheah.

The issue of human rights has been kept safely locked away in a very secure vault during all negotiations.  Why?  Because in the eyes of the White House and the State Department Cubans are no different from chimps.

Current U.S. policies assume that all eleven million Cubans on the island are owned, de facto, by the Castro regime.  And — as the current fascination with travel to the Castro Kingdom reveals — their island nation is considered an exotic primate zoo of sorts, where Americans can ogle the sub-human natives in their charming primitive habitat, or a giant laboratory where the effects of socialism on Cubans can be observed.

What judge Jaffee said about chimps applies to everything the White House has been saying about Cubans since December 17: “someday they may get legal rights, but courts don’t embrace change quickly.”  Simply substitute “U.S. government” for “courts” and the similarity between Cubans and chimps becomes apparent.

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From National Public Radio

New York Court: Chimps Are Still Property, Not People

What has thumbs and no habeas corpus entitlement? Chimpanzees. A Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday that chimps are still viewed as property, not people, under the law.

The lawsuit was filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project, a group that wanted two research chimps — named Hercules and Leo — out of confinement.

NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang reports “the animal rights group was trying to get them released to a sanctuary by arguing that the chimps have complex cognitive abilities and should be considered legal ‘persons.’ In the ruling, Justice Barbara Jaffe acknowledges that similarities between chimpanzees and humans ‘inspire the empathy for a beloved pet.’ ”

The judge wrote that someday they may get legal rights, but that courts don’t embrace change quickly. The chimps are held by Stony Brook University.

Continue reading HERE.

No elitism implied: The similarity applies to professors too!
No elitism implied: The similarity applies to Cuban professors too