That does not compute….warning! warning! cognitive dissonance ahead.
Film and television robots of the 1960's and 70's were often driven to exclaim "that does not compute!" when faced with contradictory information or plain old B.S. The end result would usually be a crisis for the robot and the human beings who depended on it. In some cases, it would lead to a total meltdown, as in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," where HAL, the computer realizes he is smarter than the humans aboard his spacecraft and begins to kill them.
When dealing with Castrolandia, it is often easy to empathize with HAL and other robots, for much of what the military junta announces and nearly everything that the compliant news media reports fails to make sense in our universe. Much of what is spewed out simply does not compute and could very easily cause even an unfeeling machine to fly into a rage.
Here is a fine example of this syndrome: a "news" story from the venerable BBC that seems more appropriate for Monty Python than for the news division. Houses are now being sold in Castrolandia -- some for $100,000. Foreigners are not allowed to purchase them. Cubans have no money with which to buy homes, nor can they receive enough money from abroad to cover such large sums. Banks cannot issue mortgages that will cover these sums either. Yet, homes are being sold and purchased. Add to this the fact that the laws of Castrolandia do not recognize the concept of private property or of ownership. The letter of the law is as clear today as it was in 1961: no one can own real estate except for the government.
So, what is going on here? The BBC merely throws the pieces of the puzzle on the game table, so to speak, and makes no effort to assemble them. Something very weird is going on, but the BBC refrains from speculating. Yet, the question remains: who is buying these houses, and where is the money coming from? An even heavier question looms over all transactions, like some black-bellied, tornado-spewing thunderclould: who dares to thrown money around in Castrolandia knowing that the almighty state owns everything and that nothing -- absolutely nothing -- can ever belong to an individual or a corporation?
Never mind the legal and ethical questions that arise from buying and selling property that was stolen from its rightful owners to begin with.
Could it be that the oligarchs are finding new ways to cheat that are so complex and innovative as to be beyond comprehension? Perhaps. This is probably only phase one of a complex ponzi scheme. And its ultimate purpose, undoubtedly, is to fatten bank accounts overseas for the rats that will eventually flee the sinking ship captained by the Castro Mafia.
Anyway, picture John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Eric Idle in a skit about house-buying in Castrolandia:
Cleese: Say, I'd like to buy this house.
Palin: Fine and dandy, plunk down your cash, but you won't own it.
Cleese: What the bloody hell do you mean?
Idle (stepping in as the ghost of Che, in olive -green drag, stiletto heels, camouflage purse, speaking in highest possible falsetto): Did you forget this is a bloody revolution?
Cleese: But you said I could buy this house.
Palin: Yes we did, indeed.
Cleese: But what do you mean I can't own it?
Palin: Well, we're not telling you that you can't buy the bloody thing, are we now?
Idle/"Che-in-drag" (beating Cleese with his purse): Damn, this is getting too complicated, even for me. Where's my gun? Where's my firing squad?... Did everyone forget this is a bloody revolution?
And so on...
See if you can make sense of this "news" piece.
Cuban property market booms after limited reforms
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Havana
The jingle for the Hola Habana TV show has a distinctly retro ring to it, but in Cuban terms the daily programme is groundbreaking.
In a country where commercials were banned as brainwashing and property deals long prohibited, state television is now advertising private houses for sale.
Every day the Hola Habana presenter reads out a list of properties on offer.
"We get countless applications by post or email, or brought into our offices," explains department boss Marta Cepeda, as the team wraps up a week's recordings.
"House sales are still a new thing, but there's big demand. Interest has really grown."
For decades the only way to move house in communist Cuba was to arrange a swap. Officially, no money changed hands but the highly restricted and bureaucratic process spawned a thriving black market.
Faster or otherwise prohibited swaps could be secured for a fee; house sales were even disguised through arranged marriages: you'd pay, wed, transfer the property title, then divorce.
But for almost a year now Cubans have been free to buy and sell their houses legally as part of the limited programme of reforms initiated by President Raul Castro.
...If you can withstand an extended barrage of further illogical propositions, keep reading here.... there is much more.