Castro’s Cuban version of ‘perestroika’ is not working, either

 

 

(My new American Thinker post)

Down in Cuba, Raul Castro made two announcements.

First, he said “adios” to the minister of the economy. For the record, the Cuban minister of the economy is nothing but a figurehead who does whatever the Castro brothers tell him to do. And;

Second, he reminded Cubans that the troubles in Venezuela will bring more hard economic times.

Raul said this about the hard times ahead:

“Rumors and forecasts of an imminent collapse of our economy with a return to the acute phase of the Special Period … have started to appear,”

Castro said according to a copy of his speech provided by the country’s official news agency Prensa Latina.

Foreign journalists are barred from the assembly.

He was referring to the years after Cuba’s biggest benefactor, the Soviet Union, collapsed. During that time, in the early 1990s, Cubans had to cope with widespread power outages and food shortages.

“We cannot deny there will be some impact, including worse than currently, but we are prepared and in better conditions than then to revert it.”

In many ways, this is reminiscent of perestroika in the late 1980s, or Mr Gorbachev’s efforts to revive the USSR economy. In other words, talking reform is not reform, unless you are willing to make structural changes in a communist system,

This is how Peter Boettke, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, explained thefailure of perestroika:

One of the main reasons perestroika failed was because it wasn’t tried.

During his six years in power, Gorbachev introduced at least 10 programs for the “radical restructuring” of the Soviet economy, not a one of which was implemented.

Instead, economic reform was limited to inconsistent and incoherent half-measures.

The law on individual economic activity, the law on state enterprises, and the various price-reform proposals, for example, amounted to nothing more than half-measures incapable of producing the desired economic results even if they were implemented in an ideal environment.

Conceptually, economic reform is a fairly simple matter.

Private property in resources must be established and protected by a rule of law; consumer and producer subsidies must be eliminated; prices must be freed to adjust to the forces of supply and demand; responsible fiscal policy should be pursued that keeps taxation to a minimum and reins in deficit financing; and a sound currency must be established.

Introducing such reforms — even within Western economies — is anything but simple.

And the major problem is not just a conceptual one of designing the appropriate sequence or plan of reform.

In other words, communist economic systems cannot be reformed. They have to thrown into the garbage and replaced with real free markets, the rule of law and a respect for private property. Gorbachev did not do that in the USSR and Castro is not doing it in Cuba.

Why is Castro not allowing full market reforms in Cuba? The answer is simple greed. The Cuban economy, and the Castro family’s ownership of it, has turned these two bearded revolutionaries into filthy rich men. Add to this the billions stolen from U.S. citizens (estimated today’s value is US$ 7 billion) and Cubans and this is a racket of unprecedented proportions 90 miles south of Florida!

Reforms mean that the Castro family would have to share its wealth with Cubans. Sorry — that’s not going to happen no matter how many times President Obama and Raul Castro do the wave in Cuba.

How do you say perestroika in Spanish? Same as in Russian!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

The Russians are coming…to Cuba?

(My new American Thinker post)

Guess what happens when you go to a ball game and legitimize a Cuban dictator? Raul Castro turns around and gives the Russians a big piece of business — the air traffic control system in the island.

This is from Sabrina Martin of the Pan Am Post:

The largest Russian manufacturer of electronic devices for civil aviation will be in charge of creating a new air traffic control system for Cuba.

The news comes days after the Cuban government refused visas to US congressmen who were traveling to the island to inspect and certify the conditions of airports before regular flights between Cuba and the United States can resume.

The Russian company Azimut signed a contract with the Cuban state company Aviaimport to transfer technology, information, and research in civil aeronautics for air traffic control on the island.

The deal includes the delivery of the source-code and the execution of tests. Likewise, the Russian company will offer training for the Cuban employees who will be in charge of the system’s operation.
The agreement between the state-owned firm and Azimut will last until June 2017 and the system is expected to be implemented in 10 international airports in Cuba.

Currently, Cuban airports use an ORACLE-based system, acquired from Canada in 2000, which officials deem outdated.

It’s worth noting that six airlines were authorized by the US government to operate 155 weekly flights for almost 20,000 passengers between five US cities and nine Cuban destinations.

This is a slap in the face to U.S. businesses who bought into the idea that the Obama-Castro deal would open new markets. At the end of the day, Raul Castro selected the Russians, and all of the potential security challenges that it brings.

He also denied visas to a U.S. House delegation that wanted to check the Cuban airport security systems. Wonder why? The decision to bring in Vlad Putin answers that question!

Russia is back in the Middle East and Cuba. We can thank Obama for that!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

What embargo? Obama just goes around the laws he does not like

 

 

(My new American Thinker post)

From ObamaCare to executive orders legalizing illegal immigrants, President Obama has shown us that he does not understand the role of the executive branch under our Constitution.

So let me remind you. This is directly from the U.S. Constitution:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The president is the chief executive officer. He must enforce and obey the laws of the U.S. He does not avoid the ones he dislikes and enforces the ones he likes.

The U.S. embargo is apparently a law that President Obama does not like. Therefore, he must enforce it or call on Congress to repeal it. On immigration, we see a similar situation. President Obama does not like that Congress has not passed the immigration reform that he likes. So he is going around Congress and running into the Supreme Court.

We just read that a U.S. company is going to run a hotel in Cuba. They are partners with the Cuban government because that’s the only option for a foreign company in Cuba.

I agree with Capitol Hill Cubans:

This week, the agreement between the U.S.-based hotel company, Starwood, and the Cuban military’s tourism entity, Gaviota, was consummated.

Under the deal, Starwood will manage the Hotel Quinta Avenida in Havana for the Cuban military.

First and foremost, this arrangement is clearly inconsistent with U.S. law — it’s illegal and should be challenged as such.

Moreover, it proves Obama has not been forthcoming.

Allowing U.S. companies to partner directly with the most repressive security apparatus in the Western Hemisphere neither “empowers the Cuban people,” nor “promotes their independence from the Cuban authorities.”

It’s simply repulsive.

Obama claims his Cuba policy shows the “Cold War is over” — yet his policy harkens back to the darkest days of the Cold War, when the United States partnered with repressive regimes throughout the hemisphere.

This is indeed a violation of the embargo. Furthermore, what Cuban family or foreign investor had this property stolen from them years ago?

There are two problems here:

President Obama and many Democrats don’t have the votes to repeal the embargo so they just dance around it with executive orders; and, this new hotel is a joint venture with Castro Inc. and not an enterprise that will make Cuba more prosperous.

Two entities will benefit from this deal: The Castro family and Starwood.

Cubans may work in the hotel but they will likely be paid by the Cuban government and not allowed to form a union to negotiate with management.

The Obama-Castro deal shows everything that is wrong with this administration. Obama is naive about dictators and shows little respect for the laws of the U.S.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Why didn’t President Obama meet Cuban dissident Dr. Biscet?

 

(My new American Thinker post)

Back in 2007, then President Bush presented The Medal of Freedom in absentia to the Cuban human rights and democracy activist Oscar Elias Biscet. This week, he was able to place the award on Biscet’s shoulders.

Good for President Bush!

Where was President Obama?  Why didn’t President Obama give a minute of his time to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet?

For the record, Dr Biscet is a human rights leader:

Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet is a physician, winner of numerous human rights awards, including the 2008 Presidential Medal of Freedom, and president of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, which peacefully promotes human rights and the rule of law in Cuba. In reprisal for his human rights activities, Dr. Biscet was sentenced to 25 years in prison and has been held in some of the harshest conditions experienced by any prisoners in Cuba, including in punishment cells and solitary confinement. This is Dr. Biscet’s second stint in prison. Biscet first ran afoul of the Castro regime in the 1990s, when he investigated Cuban abortion techniques — Cuba has by far the highest abortion rates in the Western Hemisphere — and revealed that numerous infants had been killed after being delivered alive. The report was sent to Fidel Castro with un-official statistics and testimonies from mothers who described the infanticide. Biscet was arrested and served three years in a prison camp after publishing this article condemning abortion. Officially, Biscet was imprisoned for the crime of “disrespect.” After he was released in 2002, Biscet was again arrested, after only a month of freedom, during Cuba’s Black Spring.

Biscet’s prison cell is the stuff of a Victor Hugo nightmare: tiny, filthy, and shared with an almost uncontrollably violent cellmate. He has no windows and hasn’t seen sunlight in weeks. He’s afforded no medicines or toiletries. Other than a 2-hour visit from his wife every two months, he’s permitted no visitors, correspondence, or other reading materials. Currently, Dr. Biscet suffers from chronic gastritis, hypertension and recurring infections and is reportedly losing his eyesight; his poor health has been severely aggravated by unhygienic prison conditions and harsh treatment. At one point, Dr. Biscet was reported to have lost more than 60 pounds while in prison. Nonetheless, he inspires others with his repeated acts of defiance against his persecutors.

Recently, in a letter smuggled from his prison, entitled Civil Disobedience, Biscet urged all Cubans to continue to pray and fast until the government signs the international human rights treaties that have been established by the United Nations. Biscet wrote, “The people of Cuba have been suffering the scorn of a totalitarian tyranny, Communism, throughout four decades. Due to this inhumane treatment whereby the decorum of a people is violated, many Cubans are indignant and have risen up to pray and fast, beseeching the God of the Bible…we must expedite the achievement of these basic rights through civil disobedience and by putting into practice all methods to obtain our humanitarian aim.” Biscet pledged, “Here, in this dark jail where they force me to live, I will be resisting until the freedom of my people is obtained.”

Only this year, five years after his release from prison, was he allowed to travel to the United States.

Dr. Biscet is precisely the kind of human rights leader that President Obama, or any other U.S. president, should be embracing.

Perhaps President Obama does not want to upset Raul Castro.

Or maybe Dr. Biscet is politically incorrect: A Cuban black who opposes abortion and the opening to Cuba without demanding something from Castro.

Where is President Obama? He is talking to a lot of people but not a black Cuban human rights leader.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Cuba open to all Americans except for…

 

 

(My new American Thinker post)

We’ve been hearing a great deal about how opening Cuba will bring in Americans with their dollars and democratic ways. Well, not all Americans are welcomed by the Castro regime, as The Hill reports:

“At a time when the Obama Administration is rolling out the red carpet for Havana, the Cuban government refuses to be open and transparent with the peoples’ Representatives,” McCaul said in a statement on Friday.

“Sadly, it appears to be easier for Cubans to come to the United States than for Members of the House Homeland Security Committee to get to Cuba.”

Other lawmakers who were planning to visit Cuba include Reps. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

“The Administration is eager to have as many people as possible visit Cuba — except for those who are attempting to examine Cuban security infrastructure,” said Katko, chairman of the transportation security subcommittee.

“We still don’t know if Cuba has the adequate body scanners and explosive detection systems in place, whether it has the technology to screen for fraudulent passports or ID, whether or how aviation workers are screened, and if Federal Air Marshals will be allowed to fly missions to Cuba on commercial flights.”

There are a couple of problems here.

First, how can U.S. commercial jets fly to and from Cuba without a full security checkup? Don’t we do this in every country? Do we want to expose U.S. citizens to terrorism or worse?

Second, this is a huge embarassment for the Obama administration, i.e. “in your face Obama”. The Cuban government is rejecting an official delegation from the U.S.

It simply confirms that the more you embrace dictators the less they respect you.

President Obama should order a stop to all flights to and from Cuba until there is a security clearance. It’s time for President Obama to stand up to something other than just conceding on every issue with the Cuban dictatorship.

Of course, we are talking about the same president who lets Russian MiGs fly 50 feet over our ships without consequence.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

President Nixon: A great friend of freedom for Cuba died on April 22, 1994

nixon.pat

 

In 1959, Fidel Castro visited the US and met VP Nixon.

And VP Nixon reacted this way:  Castro was “either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline-my guess is the former.

It didn’t take long for VP Nixon to realize that there was a huge problem in Cuba.   And he persuaded President Eisenhower to plan the Bay of Pigs operation.   My good guess is that The Bay of Pigs would have turned out a lot different if VP Nixon had won the very contested election of 1960.

Obviously, there was more to Mr Nixon than meeting with Castro.   He was the 37th president of the US and a very accomplished author.   His book “Leaders” should be read by young people.   “No more Vietnams” is one of my favorite books about the tragedy of that war.

We remember President Nixon today.   He died 22 years ago.   This is my post about Mr. Nixon.

 

President Obama got “the Raul treatment” in Saudi Arabia

 

obama_castro_hand

 

President Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia and got a little of the Raul treatment:

The decision not to dispatch a high-level delegation to greet the President was unusual and intended to send a clear message that they have little faith in him, Mustafa Alani, a security analyst at the Gulf Research Center, told the AP.
In addition, Obama’s arrival was not shown on state television, a perceived action of disrespect.

President Obama has sadly earned this contempt.   His weakness, from the very bad Iran deal to not demanding a single condition from the Castro regime, has emboldened our enemies and confused our allies.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Fidel’s “me muero pronto” speech

47869_600

 

We have not seen a lot of Fidel Castro since 2006.  Once in a while, he greets a foreign leader or shows his face at a rally.   This week, Fidel Castro spoke to the Communist Party and it sounded a lot like a man saying goodbye.   This is from The New York Times:

“Soon, I will be 90,” said Mr. Castro, 89, who spoke in a strong but rasping voice at the close of a four-day party congress in Havana, according to official press reports. Mr. Castro’s birthday is on Aug. 13.
“Our turn comes to us all,” added Mr. Castro, who made his longest public address in years clad in a blue track jacket, “but the ideas of Cuban communism will endure.”
While Mr. Castro seemed to take his leave on Tuesday, others in his cohort signaled their intentions to stay put. The Communist Party announced that Mr. Castro’s brother, President Raúl Castro, 84, and the president’s hard-line second-in-command, José Ramón Machado Ventura, 85, would continue to lead the party for at least part of another five-year term.
Their re-election indicates that despite a dramatic shift in relations with the United States and tentative economic changes, the leaders of the Castros’ generation are in no hurry to make room for new blood. It is a blow to younger Cubans who are eager for a more pluralistic system led by people closer to their own ages and unencumbered by socialist orthodoxies.
Cubans are leaving the island in record numbers, tired of waiting for change and worried that better relations with the United States, while creating new economic opportunities, will end the privileges that make it easier to migrate.

They don’t do instant polls in Cuba or put them on the Cuban version of Drudge.   However, my guess is that people in the hall were politely listening and most young people outside were tuned in to a Miami hip hop station.

Castro’s message was to call on Cubans to keep the faith.   However, the reality is that “la revolucion” is broke and desperately looking for US tourists to provide the cash flow to pay bills and keep Castro Inc going another year.

Castro will probably die soon, or so he told the country.  My good guess is that he never thought that a museum to him, and “la revolucion”, would be surrounded by a McDonalds, Office Depot and young Cubans texting non-revolutionary messages to each other.

Fidel Castro’s revolution failed miserably.   I remember today all of those executed or put in prisons for saying that “la revolucion” would fail!

Go die soon Fidel.    There is a very warm place waiting for you on the other side!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

The other Bay of Pigs story

(My new American Thinker post)

Fifty-five years ago, my parents and lots of other Cubans woke up to “la invasion,” or the invasion that most of us expected and were ready for.  There were groups in Cuba who had been fighting Castro, from sabotage to confronting the regime block by block.

This is about The Bay of Pigs, an event that most people have forgotten unless you’re a Cuban of my parents’ generation or someone like them who was impacted by it.

The plans for the invasion were passed on to new president Kennedy by the outgoing Eisenhower administration.

The men who invaded Cuba were primarily refugees trained by the CIA in Nicaragua.

They adopted the name of Brigade 2506 in honor of a member killed accidentally during training exercises.

The veterans of the brigade have a museum in Miami, a reminder to the young about the men who were willing to fight and remove communism from the island.

The politically correct explanation is that the invasion failed because Cubans did not rise up against Castro.  Actually, it failed because the total plan was never carried out, and the men were left stranded, as Michael Sullivan wrote:

The invasion force, with four supply ships, landed at dawn, with a strength of 1,400 men. Initially things looked promising, American planes struck at Cuban air force bases and destroyed Cuban planes on the ground.
However, the tide quickly turned on the insurgents.
President Kennedy, anxious to cover up America’s role, inexplicably called off all American air support, leaving the rebels stranded on the beach.
Cuban army and militia units, organized by Castro himself, swarmed the invasion site to block the rebels from gaining the interior of the island.
The Cuban Air Force rallied to strafe the landing site and the supply ships moored in the bay.
One ship sank and the remaining three barely made it out to sea.
Without resupply or air support, the men of 2506 Assault Brigade managed to hold out for two days, until nearly all were either killed or captured by pro-Castro forces. When the smoke cleared, 114 died and 1,189 languished in Cuban prisons.
There they remained for 22 months, until the Kennedy administration paid more than $50 million in food, medicine and cash for their release.
The accusations flew around Washington, as well as Havana, in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs and an administration struggled to retain its credibility.

It was a bad day, and many Cubans were thrown in jail after that.

It was a worse day for the credibility of the Kennedy administration.  He was confronted by Mr. Khrushchev in Vienna and challenged in Southeast Asia.  He left Vienna a very frustrated man after being pushed around by the Soviet leader, as Frederick Kempe wrote:

As he drove away from the Soviet embassy with Secretary of State Dean Rusk in his black limo, Kennedy banged the flat of his hand against the shelf beneath the rear window. Rusk had been shocked that Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev had used the word “war” during their acrimonious exchange about Berlin’s future, a term diplomats invariably replaced with any number of less alarming synonyms.
Despite all the president’s pre-summit briefings, Rusk felt Kennedy had been unprepared for Khrushchev’s brutality. The extent of Vienna Summit’s failure would not be as easy to measure as the Bay of Pigs fiasco six weeks earlier. There would be no dead, CIA-supported exile combatants in a misbegotten landing area, who had risked their lives on the expectation that Kennedy and the United States would not abandon them.
However, the consequences could have be even bloodier. A little more than two months after Vienna, the Soviet would oversee the construction of the Berlin Wall. That, in turn, would be followed in October 1962 by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Already in Vienna Kennedy was distraught that Khrushchev, assuming that he was weak and indecisive, might engage in the sort of “miscalculation” that could lead to the threat of nuclear war.  He didn’t know then that his prediction would become prophesy.

Over the years, I have personally spoken to many of the veterans of Brigade 2506.  Like my parents, they started their new lives in the U.S., and many served in the U.S. military.  Every one of them tells me the mission would have succeeded if the plan had been carried out.

The lesson of The Bay of Pigs is simple.  Presidential weakness, and confusion, has consequences way beyond the event in question.

God bless the men of Brigade 2506.  They are heroes in my book.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Cuban state media goes after our first black president

cuba

 

(My new American Thinker post)

President Teddy Roosevelt once told a campaign audience that weakness invites contempt. Let’s just say that those words apply to our new friend Raul Castro, who keeps going out of his way to show the world that it was President Obama not him who really wanted to do the wave at the baseball game.

First, Raul Castro skipped President Obama’s arrival. We heard all week that it was the first presidential visit to Cuba since President Coolidge. Historic? I guess that Raul didn’t get the memo or doesn’t care about history.

Second, Raul Castro watched  the president of the U.S. praise his education and health care system. Incredibly, President Obama read the regime’s talking points from A to Z. What was the point of President Obama doing this?

Third, Fidel Castro jumped into the act and wrote an op-ed in the state media blasting President Obama. Let’s call that column: “Don’t meddle in Cuba” or I will shoot one of those Soviet missiles against your plane like I did in the missile crisis!

Finally, the state-run media (La Tribuna de la Habana) hit one right over the Rays’ centerfielder head with an attack on President Obama that would have a lot of Democrats screaming “racista“:

The Havana Tribune, a state-controlled Cuban newspaper, has added insult to injury following Fidel Castro’s scathing criticism of President Barack Obama upon his departure from the island. In an editorial, the title of which refers to President Obama as “negro,” an opinion columnist has accused him of “inciting rebellion.”

The article is titled “Negro, ¿Tu Eres Sueco?” which roughly translates to “Black Man, Are You Dumb?” (The idiom “pretend to be a Swede” means to play dumb, hence the title is literally asking, “Are you Swedish?”) The author, who is black, goes on to condemn President Obama for meeting with Cuban pro-democracy activists and “subtly” suggesting that the Cuban Revolution needed to change. “Obama came, saw, but unfortunately, with the pretend gesture of lending a hand, tried to conquer,” Elias Argudín writes.

“[Obama] chose to criticize and subtly suggest… incitations to rebellion and disorder, without caring that he was on foreign ground. Without a doubt, Obama overplayed his hand,” he continues. “The least I can say is, Virulo-style: ‘Negro, are you dumb?’”

Virulo is a white pro-Revolution comedian.

I would add a couple of things:

1) The slang “negro tu eres sueco” is a clear suggestion that Obama is not black. What skin color are Swedish people? I would translate it to the Cuban equivalent of calling Obama an Oreo cookie, i.e. black outside and white inside; and,

2) No one takes a cheap shot like that against President Obama without the editorial consent of Fidel or Raul Castro. This is the worst thing that I’ve heard about a U.S. president in years, especially the one that they negotiated with.

So what’s going on?

Maybe Fidel Castro was angry that President Obama did not salute him and he pulled a few strings at the state-run media.

Maybe Raul Castro is showing Cubans, and the Latin American left, that he is the one in charge.

Time will tell, but one thing is clear to me. We can add Raul Castro to the growing list of world leaders who have zero respect for President Obama.

“Hope and change” took a fastball between the eyes this week!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Is ““Negro, ¿tú eres sueco?” like calling Obama an “Oreo cookie”?

We know that calling an African American an “Oreo cookie” is rather insulting.  It means that a black man is black outside but white inside!

So what do you think of an article in the Cuban media calling Obama”   “Negro, ¿tú eres sueco?”?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz, the editor of the wonderful Fausta’s Blog, was on my show Wednesday night and read from this article.

We understand that the article was removed from the website (“La tribuna de la Habana“).

Check Fausta’s blog for updates.

In the meantime, where is Black Lives Matter and the Black Congressional Caucus when we really need them?   The Cuban media attacks our first black president with “a slur” & the same government detains black dissidents.