Rear my latest op-ed on this topic at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/racism-communist-cuba-pre-revolution-sin-jorge-ponce?trk=prof-post
Cuba became an independent country in 1902. You can divide the island’s history into two periods: the pre-Castro years and the current regime’s period in power since 1959.
I was born in the last decade of pre-Castro Cuba. My story is so typical of the other kids born in the 1950s. We were the grandchildren of immigrants from Spain or elsewhere. Our ancestors came to Cuba because it was a prosperous island, an attractive place for Spaniards seeking a better life, for Jewish refugees from Europe, hard working Asians and others.
It is really sad to watch Cuba today. The young escape and look for a better life, preferably in the US. The old get stuck behind.
It is even more painful when you realize that pre-Castro Cuba attracted thousands of immigrants from all over the world, as our friend Dr Carlos Eire wrote:
• Between 1900 and 1930, the first three decades of Cuban independence, about one million immigrants flooded into the island, mostly European, and mostly northern Spaniards.
This population tsunami also included Asians, Levantines, and Jews.
These immigrants doubled the population of the island and changed its complexion, literally.
Tens of thousands of immigrants continued to flow into Cuba every year after that, up to 1958.
Immigration from the U.S. was comparatively slight, but in 1958 there were more Americans living in Cuba than Cubans in the U.S.A.
Emigration from Cuba was minimal during this half century.
• Rates of immigration as high as this and of emigration as low require a robust and growing economy, and a considerable degree of political stability.
To wither is to ose the freshness of youth. Cuba is indeed withering today.
We’ve seen here in the pages of Babalu that Raul Castro is in Paris.
We’ve also heard that France is very anxious to invest in Cuba.
So why doesn’t France invest in Cuba rather than call on the US to drop the embargo? Nobody is stopping France or any other country from going to Cuba and investing in the island.
Why call for an end to the embargo?
The answer is simple. France, like so many other countries, are not putting a dime in Cuba after having to restructure, or even forgive, debts.
France wants the US to end the embargo so that the Castro regime has credit lines to purchase French goods and services.
So what really happened in Paris?
Raul got a hug and the kind of military salute that his ego needs. However, “El Caballero de Paris” did not give him what Castro Inc desperately needs, i.e. dinero!
According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, a “missile” has been found in Cuba:
“For more than a year, amid a historic thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, American authorities have tried to get the Cuban government to return the missile, said people familiar with the matter.
At the same time, federal investigators have been tracing the paper trail of the wayward Hellfire to determine if its arrival in Cuba was the work of criminals or spies, or the result of a series of blunders, these people said.
Hellfires are air-to-ground missiles, often fired from helicopters.
They were first designed as antitank weapons decades ago, but have been modernized to become an important part of the U.S. government’s antiterrorism arsenal, often fired from Predator drones to carry out lethal attacks on targets in countries including Yemen and Pakistan, said people familiar with the technology.
This particular missile didn’t contain explosives, but U.S. officials worry that Cuba could share the sensors and targeting technology inside it with nations like China, North Korea or Russia, these people said.
Officials don’t suspect Cuba is likely to try to take apart the missile on its own and try to develop similar weapons technology, these people said. It is unclear whether a U.S. adversary has ever obtained such knowledge of a Hellfire.”
Well, so what happened? To be fair, we don’t know but there are some interesting possibilities:
First, the Cuban government didn’t know a thing and the whole darn affair was just a simple error. This is the Cuban version of “el perro se comio el cohete”!
Second, the Cuban government knew that they had the missile but the US negotiators did not insist on its return prior to any normalization. According to the story, the US discussed it with Cuba but nothing was resolved.
Third, and this is scary, Cuba was trying to sell it to North Korea or trade it with Russia or China. After all, didn’t some Russian ships show up in Cuba recently?
We don’t know for sure but I think that the Obama administration dropped the ball. They should have insisted on the return of the missile prior to any moralization.
Stay tuned because there is more coming from this story.
We’ve read several news accounts about Cubans in Central America or heading to the US.
It’s true that some want to get to the US before the Cuban act or law changes.
However, there is another reason. They want to leave Cuba period, as we read in this article at The Telegraph:
“Yenis Rojas should be a symbol of Cuba’s future. A doctor, she has worked all her life for the state, and is full of drive, energy and ambition.
And yet, despite the announcement a year ago that America and Cuba were re-establishing ties after half a century of hostilities, she sees no promise in her homeland and has fled.
“I had to get out,” she said, speaking from the Costa Rica, close to the border with Nicaragua, where she is camped out. “I couldn’t stand it any more.””
And that’s the story!
They want to leave because they “can’t stand it anymore”.
According to Paul Bedard, President Obama sees Dictator Raul Castro as a pragmatic man:
“Obama was complimentary of Castro.
“I do see in him a big streak of pragmatism. In that sense, I don’t think he is an ideologue,” said the president.
He added that Castro is even a forward thinker.
“I do also think that Raul Castro recognizes the need for change. And part of the reason for the timing of these changes is his desire to help usher in those changes before he and his brothers are gone. Because I think he views himself as having the stature to move Cuban society in ways that a successor might not,” said Obama.”
Really? A “forward thinker” puts dissidents in jail? or refuses to give people the right to elect their own leaders?
I guess that President Obama and I just have a different definition of what a forward thinker is!
Governor Abbott is in Cuba looking for “business opportunities” for Texas companies. However, the governor has already run into “the embargo problem” or a restriction placed on doing business with Cuba in the early 1960s. The embargo was created to punish Cuba for confiscating U.S. property and assets years ago. The embargo does not stop other countries from doing business with the regime.
My friend Jason Poblete, an attorney who represents several American families with claims against Cuba, believes that the regime cannot be allowed to get away with the confiscation.
Interestingly, the Mexican government is doing its own version of Trump’s idea.
They pick up “indocumentados cubanos” and send them back to Cuba, as we read in The Yucatan Times:
After providing first aid and verifying that they were in good health, the Navy transferred the rafters to the remote terminal of the Port of Progreso.
The Cubans were then sent to the Merida facilities of the National Institute of Migration.
Authorities have reported the arrival in Yucatan of more than 150 Cuban rafters in 2014 and so far in 2015, in what is considered the largest exodus from the island in the past decade.
Most are seeking to reach the United States, using Mexico as a stopover on their journey.
However, unlike the Cubans who have in past months arrived to Mexico, the six recent arrivals could never reach the United States due to the Mexico-Cuba repatriation agreement signed Nov. 7 in Merida by President Enrique Peña Nieto and Cuban President Raul Castro.
Due to the agreement, the six Cubans would be sent back to the island.
We understand that Mexico is a sovereign country and has the right to enforce immigration laws, such as keeping people without papers away from its territory.
Here is the question: Why do so many Mexican politicians criticize Mr Trump for proposing to do here what they do down there?
The bottom line is that Mexico is hypocritical about enforcing immigration laws. Apparently, it’s OK for Mexico to deport Central Americans or Cubans in the name of sovereignty and the rule of law. It’s not OK for the US to do the same thing.
The word is “hipocrita”! Someone should ask President Pena-Nieto about it!