Soup or salad social justice?

Every time my mother or father would bring a few groceries home from the supermarket, they would always complain about how the bananas were always better in Cuba. And the tomatos. And the mangos. And the malangas. And the potatoes. Every single fruit and vegetable was always better in Cuba. Fresher, tastier, healthier. Part of it was nostalgia, but the truth is that Cuba had incredibly fertile soil. My grandfather used to say that you could plant a rock in Cuba and grow a rock tree.

Yet despite the fertile soil and perfect climate, today Cuba’s agricultural industry is but a mere shadow of what it once was. No other crop proves this more perfectly than sugarcane. Where there were once hundreds of sugar mills in Cuba there are now but a handful left. Cuba, once a world supplier of sugar, now imports sugar for its own use, thanks to all those fantastic agricultural reforms implemented by the glorious revolution.

But you would think Cuba was a world leader in agriculture after reading the following from FoodFirst – The Institute for Food and Development Policy:

Cuba Sustainable Food Systems Tour
November 25, 2006 – 12:00pm
Join Global Exchange and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems of UC Santa Cruz for a 10-day trip to Havana to learn how Cuba became a leader in organic and urban agriculture. Contact JoJo Farrell at 800-497-2994 or

To qualify for this trip you must be a full-time farmer or gardener/educator, or university instructor or researcher.

Because, you know, the US has no idea how to grow food. It has no agricultural industry and doesnt feed half the world, including Cuba. So let’s all hurry on up and get to Cuber, where they grow their own vegetables, right there, next to the minicow pen.

And of course, Cuba is now a “world leader” in “urban agriculture” because, obviously, necessity is the mother of invention. Since they have no idea how to grow shit in large amounts even with quite possibly the worlds greatest soil, they have to resort to growing shit in small quantities in “urban” areas. We call those “vegetable gardens” here in the States. I guess Im an urban agriculturalist as well, given that I grow my own tomatos.

And here’s another beauty, from the The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems:

The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems is a research, education, and public service program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system.

Can someone please explain just WTF “social justice in the food agriculture system” is?

Gottdamn communists and their “social justice” bullshit.

Hat tip:El Confeti.

30 thoughts on “Soup or <strike>salad</strike> social justice?”

  1. Another instance of my ‘friggin’ California tax dollars hard at work.

    I did find something interesting on UC Santa Cruz’s website though.

    Under the “Publications by Center Staff” section there is the following:

    Working with worms: Vermiculture in Cuba.
    Werner, M.R. and J. Ramon Cuevas. 1996.
    Biocycle Journal of Composting and Recycling 37(6):57-62.

    It must be an article about castro.

  2. I know green leafy vegetables are discriminated against compared to round vegetables in my home. Guess I need classes on social justice.

  3. One thing these leftists will be able to give to Cuba’s agricultural system in copious amounts is bullshit. That oughta help the harvest…

  4. Cuba to the commies is wonderland – it doesn’t matter what happened before Castro. The commies brag about the excellent Cuban organic farming and clean food like before castro cubans ate rocks. But they are always complaining that they can’t feed the people because of the embargo. This makes me laugh. Cuba is the biggest island in the carib, with a reputation of growing the greatest tobacco and sugar – richest soil as you mentioned and don’t forget it is surrounded by a bountiful ocean filled with fish!!! Cuba’s natural resources can feed millions – but no! Yet the people are starving – and the castroites say it is the USA fault!!!!


    So before the revolution Cuba was a slave plantation ruled by a few wealthy families and there was nothing. After the revolution:

    1. the best free education in the world!!!
    2. the highest literacy rate in the world!!!
    3. the best free medicine in the world!!!
    4. the lowest infant mortaloty in the world!!!
    5. the best educated prostitutes in the world!!!
    6. the best milk producing cows in the world!!!!]
    7. the most beautiful sunsets off the malecon!!!!
    8. the most friendliest people in the world!!!!
    9. the most beautiful women in the world!!!!
    10. The happiest children in the world!!!!
    11. the best ballet schools in the world ala alicia lonso!!!
    12. the best music schools in the world!!!!
    13. the best atheletes in the world!!!!

    What people can’t understand is that Castro did not create these things – they were there even before the revolution. But somehow the good about Cuba is always attributed to castro!

  5. Avoiding mass starvation given a population that size and with such meager fossil fuel inputs is quite a feat. Modern, large scale farming requires an intensive amount of nitrogen and fuel for the fertilizer and machinery, respectively. It also requires an elaborate supply chain from which Cuba is excluded. Even the nutrient rich soil of Cuba is incapable of providing the yields derived from intensively-farmed soils in other parts of the World. Furthermore, there is little to no opportunity to leverage economies of scale in a system lacking the necessary transportation infrasturcture and capital inputs. Thus, every inch of fertile soil must be cultivated, resulting in a more distributed and localized agricultural system. In short, comparing Cuba’s agricultural practices to much of the rest of the world amounts to comparing apples to oranges (no pun intended).

    Now, don’t get all worked up and interpret my comment as some sort of tacit approval of the vile, wretched, bearded one. Rather, I am just trying to explain why Cuban agricultural practices are garnering so much attention lately. They have become a case study for organic agriculture, permaculture and sustainable systems research. It’s sad that the data comes attached with such a high price.

  6. digitalcubano don’t take this personally but you’re full of shit. Cuba has the land and resources to provide food for her citizens but doesn’t because fidel castro’s fucking revolution is incapable of accomplishing anything, even something as simple as growing food. Children can maintain an “urban” organic garden. It’s all a bunch of crap. Every bit of Cuba that he’s touched has turned to shit because communism doesn’t work, especially when it’s leaders don’t give a rats ass whether her citizens starve or not. Give us a break.

  7. No worries: I never take the uninformed, hyperbolic rants of an ignoramus personally.

    In the original entry the notion that Cuba couldn’t “grow shit in large amounts” was posited. Perhaps this is fundamentally true, but given the actual circumstances its a useless hypothetical.

    Cuba couldn’t even try to “grow shit in large amounts” if it wanted to given the lack of fossil fuel inputs, supply chain access and transportation infrastucture (the last two causes are likely strongly correlated with the first cause). Thus, its not a matter of being incapable of establishing and maintaining large-scale, intensive agricultural processes so much as its a matter of not even having the means to do so. Those circumstances are more a result of the embargo than the inefficiency of their centralized planning system.

    I hate the bastard as much as the rest of you, but it helps to keep your facts straight if you want this blog to be more than an outlet for your “two minutes of hate.” The facts as they pertain to this topic are: 1) feeding 11M+ people on an island that size sans intensive agricultural processes is impressive 2) the lack of large-scale, intensive agricultural processes is a function of the lack of fossil fuel inputs 3) the reason its a case study for organic agriculture, permaculture and sustainability is precisely because its the only example to date where these practices have been implemented in a large population. Where are your facts?

  8. digital,

    Apparently, Cuba WAS able to grow shit in large amounts before, being that the post is predicated upon the fact that Cuba was a world supplier of sugar pre-castro. the fact that Cuba has issues with the supply chain or transportation issues reflects solely upon fidel castro’s regime.

    or, of course, perhaps youre right and the sugar crop was ruined by having a bunch of foreigners and kids and inexperienced people harvest the cane, instead of people that actually knew what they were doiing, and thus ruined the crops.

    either way…

  9. DigitalCubano, first let me thank you for contribution. Second, let me defend our friend and colleague Ziva. Although she said you were full of shit — and I agreed — you disparaged her by saying her comment was the “uninformed, hyperbolic rant of an ignoramus.” I beg to differ.

    Ziva, like the rest of us, know the truth about Cuba because our families lived it. I do not have to go to MIT to know that pre-castro Cuba was an agricultural titan in our hemisphere. Your attempt to throw some “academic” light into our discussion just serves to point out that today’s universities train people to forego common sense in favor of “objectivity” and BS. You may hate fidel as much as we do, but attempting to justify ANYTHING he has done is enabling, pure and simple.

    BTW, loved your “two minutes of hate” throw-away line. You’ve learned a lot reading the Boston Globe and New York Times on a regular basis…

  10. George, see if you can follow me as it’s not that hard of an argument to grasp: Large-scale, intensive agricultural processes require large fossil fuel inputs, ranging from the production of fertilizer to farm equipment to the infrastructure necessary to process and distribute the yield. That’s a fact. Do you dispute that? Yes or no? Because if you know of some other way to do it without fossil fuel inputs, then I would advise you to write a paper, submit it to an academic journal and start working on your Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

    The point remains: it is impossible to establish and maintain an agricultural sector comprised of intensive, large-scale processes without fossil fuels. That is, lack of the necessary natural resources (in this case some combination of natural gas, coal and oil), not the failure of a particular political system, was the primary factor behind the emergence of an alternative agricultural system im Cuba. It was possible before the revolution and during the days of Soviet subsidies, but it was impossible afterwards. It was either starve or pursue less-intensive agricultural processes. How is this not an objective argument?

    BTW, I’m glad you enjoyed my Orwell reference. Your ad hominem-riddled response made it even more approriate. Thanks. You see, I find your response ironic: whereas Communism and central planning has been a large factor in Cuba’s decline, only the ingenuity of the Cuban people combined with the faintest hint of a decentralized, market economy has been able to save them from starvation. Don’t you see the irony? In your zeal to denounce everything Castro and Communist, you’ve condemned the biggest working example of an alternative to central planning on the island and what is assuredly the central planners’ biggest source of embarrasment. Good job. Way to stay grounded. Oh yeah, and way to denounce academia too: perhaps membership in an alternative dictatorship such as the Kmher Rouge is more to your liking? That way you can bash some egghead skulls!

    Finally, thanks Val for taking me at my word and engaging me in a civil discourse. I think you will find my response in this entry, minus the sniping at George, et. al.

  11. Thank you George, digital, in pre-castro cuba people who had a yard, just as in the rest of the world, also had vegetable gardens. There was plenty of food in Cuba, and there was a functioning transportation system to get the food from the farms to the cities for distribution. So 30 years later, after that sytem is in ruin due to castro’s crazy socialist policies and mismanagement there is a food crisis, so Cubans resolver the problem and grow vegetables in the city. Walla! castro’s is hailed the world over for his “organic revolution”. Yes, there are new technologies, after 30 years we would hope so.

    And here is one statistic for you, Cuba is the only country in Latin America whose production of rice has fallen since 1958, when it ranked fourth in the region in production of this staple. Two of the countries ranking ahead of Cuba in rice production in 1958 — Colombia and Peru — have since seen their rice production grow by more than three fold. Cuba’s Caribbean neighbor, the Dominican republic, has increased its rice production by four fold since 1958. Perhaps even more telling are Cuba’s yields per hectare in rice production. Whereas the Dominican Republic has increased rice yields from 2100 kg per hectare in 1958 to 5400 kg per hectare in 1996, Cuba’s yields today are only 2500 kg per hectare, a negligible increase from the 2400 kg per hectare registered in 1958, according to UN FAO data. So tell me, why aren’t we hearing anything about the agricultural miracle in the Dominican Republic? The point is adaquate food production for your citizens, something responsible governments around the world manage without fanfare. There is only one reason there’s so much propaganda coming from the left about agriculture in Cuba, to cover up castro’s failures. Do a search, type in organic farming Cuba- then look at the sources. OXFAM, Global Exchange, etc. etc. etc. Uninformed? No, just not a useful idiot.

  12. Hi all. I’ve been reading along and am most intrigued by the ongoing debate with digital. I was wondering, George, what makes you assume that digital DOESN’T have family that “lived in it?” I mean, I don’t know if he does or doesn’t but his full name on the post is digitalCUBANO (capitalization is mine) and I don’t know a lot of non-cubans who would go for a name like that. many of Cubans seeing as I’m married to one.) Two other things, I really have to admit that at least digital has facts and seems to be on a well-functioning logic train. I really resent your comment about “1984,” George. Just because someone is well-educated (as your MIT reference about digital suggests) doesn’t mean you get to deride them for being an intellectual snob.

  13. Wall Street Journal, 1959, “Castro Describes his Plans for Cuba” by Ed Cony, Staff Reporter.
    (full Article)

    “Castro is chock-full of broad ideas on how he intends to develop the Cuban economy and wipe out Cuba’s chronic unemployment which he says idles 20% of the work force.” (I guess he means during the off sugar season). ‘We are going to produce many products we now import,’ he assures his visitor perched on the other end of the bed.”

    “Asked for specifics, Dr. Castro says Cuba imports much food which can be grown on the island. ‘we import now $150 million of food. If we grow that, we give work to our people. We also save $150 million which we can use to buy tractors, machinery, other things we need,’ the Cuban premier maintains.” (what a joke).

    “It seemed quite clear in his mind that what Cuba needs is not necessarily a lower total of buying from abroad but a change in the composition of her foreign trade.”

    “In his program to diversity industry and thus reduce Cuba’s dependence on sugar (which accounts for as much as 25% of national income in some years.”

    Detailed study of the destruction of the Cuban ecological system by the Castro government: “Natumaleza Cubana” by Carlos Wotzkow. The book is in Spanish, I don’t know if there is an English translation yet. Discusses the book in detail (English) (for full article)
    “The real harm to the Cuban economy was self-inflicted: The economy collapsed shortly after Castro took power, partly because Cuba lost a staggering number of managers and professionals who fled the country and partly because Castro’s central economic plan – The First Economic and Social Plan of a Socialist Nature of 1962 – was ruinous, as Castro would later admit. Food rationing began the same year.

    Cuba, once an important rice producer, now produces less than it did before the Revolution, its rice fields half as productive as those of neighboring Dominican Republic. Cuba also produces less sugar than before the Revolution because, admits Castro, it costs more to produce than it’s worth. Because Cubans can no longer efficiently grow food – not because the United States won’t provide Cuba with food exports – Cubans consume less food today than before the Revolution, and less food than citizens of any other Latin American country.

    Castro and others who argue that the embargo hurt Cuba point to Cuba’s shortage of food, medicines and other necessities, as if these could not be readily imported from Canada, Europe and other nations. These economically confused people, perhaps, are the greatest dupes of all.”
    First published in the National Post.

    Bottom line: Castro’s “broad ideas” has led the country to ruin, and MOST OF ALL, its agriculture. As to the LAME EXCUSE of not having enough FOSSIL FUEL, let’s not forget that he had plenty from the U.S.S.R. when it was subsidizing Cuba (Now he has Venezuela). Furthermore, FOSSIL FUEL is not the only source of ENERGY. There is Biomass, Solar, Wind, Nuclear, Coal, Hydroelectric, etc. etc. etc.

  14. I note the Journal didn’t say whether the ideas were good or bad. Hilter had broad ideas. So did Charlamagne, Constantine the Great, Julius Caesar. I doubt whether Castro could have pulled off a revolution without “broad ideas.” I likewise believe that his presence damages Cuba every day. But you cannot deny that he’s been successful in executing his “broad ideas,” no matter how harmful they are.

  15. LOL! Digital, you sound like a typical ivory tower navel-gazer!

    Look, what Cuba needs is A FREE MARKET ECONOMY without fidel. Give the farmers incentive, i.e., profit, and they’ll grow so much food they’ll be able to sell the surplus. And, your argument re fossil fuels is specious; EVERY farm economy needs it, not just Cuba. fidel has plenty of petroleum now from his asshole buddy chavez. Why can’t he use that to begin a revitalization of agriculture? Because he’s selling the barrels from his oil windfall from chavez for hard cash! He could care less whether he can enhance agriculture or whether he can supply fuel to the country.

    Once again, academe misses the point: the ONLY solution is communism ending and free market capitalism rising again. Your tuition money may have been better used elsewhere…

    (BTW, stop putting the BR tag in your messages. The comment engine automatically converts a hard return to a pragraph.)

  16. Voice of reason, did you have to use the word “execute” por favor@#! Yes fidel castro successfully implemented his policies and destroyed Cuba. What a waste of words.

  17. Excuse me, but did I not specifically note that Soviet subsidies? I did.

    I have no bone to pick with the UT study from which I believe you referenced the falling agriculture stats. I think it reinforces the notion that centralized planning is an inefficient paradigm. Add to that a shrinking import/export market by way of an embargo, and the trend makes sense.

    However, the statistics also show a precipitous drop in agricultural yield in the early 90’s that is way beyond the bounds of probable outliers in the trend established from previous decades. Again, the cause isn’t difficult to establish: the lack of the necessary FF-based inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, machinery, replacement parts for machinery, fuel, etc.).

    Firefly, alternatives are fine and dandy, but last I checked you need Natural Gas or Coal for the nitrogen feedstock in fertilizer. You also need oil for the chemicals that go into pesticides. You need oil to run the machinery. And those are just “first order” considerations. You can’t run large-scale, intensive agricultural processes only on solar panels, nuclear fission, hydroelectric or biomass inputs. Sorry.

  18. Ziva, I just failed to see why you included the Journal article at all. It was clearly written right after the revolution, at a point when no one had any clue what might happen to Cuba. The Journal simply quoted Castro and took no position on the matter. So, I don’t see the point of it’s inclusion when it was clear that the point of your post was contained in the second excerpt from by Carlos Wotzkow. I was defending the Journal.

  19. Once again, George demonstrates a woeful degree of reading comprehension. Please point to where I have ever stated a preference for a central planning model? Allow me to hold your hand: If any value judgement of any such paradigm can be inferred from my comments, its actually that I find central planning flawed. Why don’t you spare us all the time of reading your drivel and just own up with a simple “I don’t understand what you wrote, can you please repeat yourself?” Thanks. I’m a nice guy: I’ll accomodate your request.

    Your retort is flawed given that heavy Venezuelan imports are a recent phenomenon and weren’t available during the so-called “special times” in the 90s. Also, from where do you propose that they get the farming machinery, pesticides and fertilizer, given the embargo? Does it even make sense for them to do so given their agricultural self-sufficiency?

    Finally, is there some sort of secret membership initiation into this discussion whereby I spill the details of my family’s persecution in revolutionary Cuba? Luckily, no. In the free, logical exchange of ideas, you judge the arguments on the basis of their merit, not on the basis of the person making them. Thanks, but I’ll keep my family’s story private.

  20. Woeful degree of reading comprehension, eh? I know bullshit when I read it and you are just the latest bullshitter on this blog blaming the embargo for problems caused by fidel and evil system. That’s a non-starter with me. I’m surprised you didn’t trot out the “health-care” and “education” canards as well. My argument has nothing whatsoever to do with the minutiae of agribusiness; my argument is a political one. You cannot, in castro’s Cuba, divorce even the most esoteric solution to ANY problem without discussing the elephant in the room: fidel and his adherance to a failed economic model. The so-called embargo that you are so quick to condemn is a sham and everybody knows it. He already gets billions from the US in food-stuffs, billions from other countries as well. So please, let’s cut the bullshit: the problem is fidel. With him, NOTHING will work; without him there is hope. Agree?

  21. Guys guys guys! Let’s just sit back and take a breather for a second.

    First, digital, thank you for your comments. You seem to know more about this subject than I do – Im no agricultural expert. I can barely keep my tomatos going.

    And George, my brother, relax a second. Let’s hear what digital has to say before unleasing the Pitbull.

    Digital now you know why we refer to George as the pitbull.

    My good friend Peter “El Lynx” has been communicating with the folks from Global exchange and the university. Here’s a response from one Zach Hurwits of global exchange to one of his emails:

    Thanks for your comments. I’d urge you to take a closer look at the global economy to understand why Cuban agriculture is today considered one of the most sustainable models of agriculture in the Western Hemisphere:

    The agro-food system has a specific history in which the introduction of “just-in-time” industrialization- outsourcing, in other words- led to an export-based production of agricultural goods in Latin America. Large agricultural companies such as ConAgro, Monsanto, Archer Daniel Midlands- the major food producing companies of the United States- placed the majority of production outside of the United States so that they could rely on “flexible labor” of who produced the food that the US consumed. Such an example is the monoculture production of sugar cane in Cuba before the 1959 revolution.

    In such a model, countries specialized in specific agro-food commodities (goods) in order to export to the United States and other large consumer markets. These exports were usually luxury items that US citizens take for granted, and that don’t grow in our climate- sugar, coffee, mango, bananas, etc. Therefore Cuba could have been considered a “sugar republic” much in the same way Honduras was the traditional “banana republic” in the 1960s.

    The result of such an export-based model is that the very same crops that were grown in Cuba were largely exported to the US rather than consumed by Cubans themselves. Imagine if you could not eat corn grown in Iowa, potatoes in Idaho, or oranges in Florida- rather, you had to export them to foreign countries in order to make money for the country’s budget.

    Regarding fertilizers, most fertilizers are produced equally by large agricultural companies such as Monsanto and do not represent a non-toxic way to grow agriculture. Cuban agriculture uses organic methods such as lombricultura, a non-toxic, natural way to produce fertilizers to prevent pests. This uses local resources and removes Cuban growers from a dependence on importing manufactured chemicals from the United States- therefore the growers save money and can produce a healthier crop.

    Local, organic methods also reduce the need to export crops abroad to earn money for Cuba. The less that the country spends on purchases from abroad the less debt it recurs and the more that it may provide local resources for its own local people.

    The less reliance on imported agricultural services, the less that Cuba has to export net crops abroad and therefore the people achieve something called “food security,” by which the local populations may rely on local producers rather than the external market, which is very much affected by “el vaiven” of market prices and world production.

    Hope this provokes you to learn more, and we invite you to join us in November to research and interview with our contacts in sustainable agriculture in Cuba.


    Zach Hurwitz
    South America and Cuba Program Coordinator

    Global Exchange
    2017 Mission Street #303
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    1-800-497-1994 ext 226 or 415-575-5527
    Fax 415-255-7498

    Now, all these arguments about urban agriculture and Cuba being a model for it and all may perhaps have some validity to them. But, as I stated in the orginal post, it’s because “necessity is the mother of invention.”

    Let’s look at this realistically and pragmatically. Had Cuba had a viable economy – an economy truly focused on benefitting the Cuban people instead of the state – all the import of fertilizers and transportation problems and mechanization problems would most assuredly be a moot point. Why, because Cuba’s economy has been based on handouts and subsidies and since the state has such rigorous control over all enterprise, those who could provide the fertilizer and machinery and all else have no reason to provide them because they get no return for their investment. So yeah, sure, Cuba is a model of urban agriculture, but that’s only because of the tremendous mismanagement of her economy. meanwhile, acres and acres of incredibly rich soil that may be good for large scale agricultural projects lays waste.

    now, whether the lack of equipment and other necessities used for large scale agricultural projects is a result of the embargo is a debatable point. the entire world does not rely on American goods and services for their agricultural well being. Of course, whether they would be more is expensive for castro to obtain is another story. but hey, guess what, thats what comes with being the leader of a country that burns bridges and professes hatred and refuses to progress along with the rest of the world with even a modicum of truth and dignity.

    At least, that’s the way i see it.

  22. Oh, and lets keep one more thing in mind. when fidel castro came into power, he nationalized industry, usurped business and tossed out the American. he got exactly what he wanted. he also lucked out becaus ethe russians used his little island and subsidized his “government.”

    but since the russians bolted, the almighty leader maximo realized that running a country aint as easy as rhetoric and bullshit.

    i say its a damned good thing the Cuban character has “el resolver” and you can bet your ass that should urban agriculture ever have been needed in a Cuba without a fidel castro, it would have sprouted like a weed on steroids.

  23. Val, thank you. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote in that last post, including the part where its essentially borne out of necessity…in this case, necessity resulting from mismanagement, burning bridges, etc. I agree that the effect of the embargo in this regard is a debateable point. While I would suspect that it makes it more difficult to obtain the necessary equipment, I’m not sure. I’ll research the topic a little more when time permits. I’m not in any position to make a definitive statement.

    Supposing that I come back with “yes” as an answer, is that going to be twisted into some kind of value judgement over the embargo on my part? If so, then I shouldn’t even bother. Yeah, I’m new to this blog (in case it interests you, I came across it when I caught wind of the latest rumors of Castro’s death and was hooked after reading the “botellitas” entry), yet already I’ve been wrongly accused of enabling Castro, being against the embargo and somehow promoting Communism. If I’m going to be summarily attacked every time I post, then I’ll just go back to lurker status.

    George, perhaps your suprise over my not “trotting out” the typical canards is due to the fact that I don’t put any stock in them. Hell, I once got kicked off another site for pointing out the epidemiological flaws in the studies of Cuba’s life expectancy stats. But why should that matter?!? Go ahead and attack my points, but dont attack me. Don’t put words into my mouth. Don’t try and bait me with epithets aimed at my educational background (which I NEVER brought up and never will). Stick to the points. The original point I was making was that I was impressed with the results from the small-scale, localized agricultural practices in Cuba. I also was trying to articulate some of the reasons why its an interesting case study and why some researchers find it interesting. That’s it. I didn’t even give Castro any benefit. In fact, I thought it was pretty evident what a slap in the face its success has been to him and his loyalists.

  24. OK, OK, I’ll shut up already. Digital, I apologize for my metralladora responses. It’s just that every academic I know always has to mention the emabrgo and I just get irrationally pissed off.

  25. One more thing. Isn’t it odd that so many of “reports” and “findings” that come out of universities that always manage to make fidel and his putrid system look good in one way or another? Doesn’t this inherent bias — validating a pre-conceived idea with “empirical” data — strike you as odd? I mean, really, home-grown agriculture is such an amazing thing to write about when castro has utterly destroyed the land’s ability to produce over the last five decades?

  26. Digitalcubano

    You wrote: “Your retort is flawed given that heavy Venezuelan imports are a recent phenomenon and weren’t available during the so-called “special times” in the 90s. Also, from where do you propose that they get the farming machinery, pesticides and fertilizer, given the embargo? Does it even make sense for them to do so given their agricultural self-sufficiency?”

    Please enlighten me…..

    In your opinion, how exactly is the U.S. embargo hurting Cuba? The last I checked, the Cuban government can purchase any item it needs from any country on the planet with the exception of the United States. In fact, Cuba can even purchase items manufactured in the United States (to quote you) “farming machinery, pesticides and fertilizers through a third country much cheaper than directly from the U.S. The U.S. embargo DOES prevent American businesses from INVESTING in Cuba and American tourists to LEGALLY travel to Cuba. Also, any sales transactions between Cuba and the United States -food and medicine- have to be done in CASH. The Cuban government owes BILLIONS of dollars to western banks and to countries around the world. U.S. taxpayers don’t need to subsidize those sales when the Cuban government, as is their MO, don’t PAY UP. Besides, who in the world believes there is “urban” agricultural self-sufficiency in Cuba?

    As for the FUEL: the last I checked, Canada (one of those countries Castro has been real chummy with from the get go, and who I might add has LARGE investments in Cuba) is a net exporter of oil, natural gas and coal. In fact, the last I checked, almost three-quarters of the world’s natural gas reserves are located in the Middle East -most specifically Iran, (we all remember Castro’s visit to Iran in May 2001 when in front of a large group, he made the statement that “Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees”) and lastly, there’s old mother Russia.

    “During the so-called ‘special times’ in the 90s” you mention, Russian subsidies or not, Cuba was still trading with every country in Latin America, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Asia (let’s not forget China), and Australia. The problem with Cuba is that Castro is “jack of all trades and master of EVERYTHING.” He has implemented hair brained programs one after the other, and without a doubt, “very brilliantly” destroyed Cuba’s entire infrastructure.

    As to your argument that “Lack of the necessary natural resources (in this case some combination of natural gas, coal and oil), not the failure of a particular political system, was the primary factor,” doesn’t make any sense. Who is ultimately responsible? How can a political system, in your opinion, not be held accountable for the mismanagement of a country’s resources?


    “I doubt whether Castro could have pulled off a revolution without “broad ideas.”

    For starters, Castro pulled of a “rebellion” he ended it in a “revolution.”

    As to the Journal’s article (I don’t give a rat’s ass about Castro’s “broad ideas” as you put it, and at this point I’m not about to embark on a theoretical discussion on ideas) the point I was (and still am) trying to make is that as early as May 1959 Castro was hell bent in destroying Cuba’s sugar crop. This article is a “snapshot” of Castro’s thoughts on Cuba and of what was to be the “beginning of the end.”

    “The Journal simply quoted Castro and took no position on the matter”

    How very refreshing! It seems to me that is exactly what a good journalist should do. Just report the news with no biases or editorializing.

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