When President Obama made his announcement in December of 2014 that he was reversing U.S. policy towards Cuba and embracing the apartheid Castro regime, he knew as well as we do his policy would do nothing to help the Cuban people and instead strengthen and perpetuate the Cuban dictatorship. That did not stop the president from lying to the American people (and the Cuban people) about how his new policy would help bring freedom and democracy back to Cuba. His true goal of avoiding having to deal with another foreign policy and immigration disaster by saving and stabilizing a corrupt, criminal, and brutally repressive dictatorship on the verge of economic collapse would not go over very well with the American people, so he just basically lied. Add the likely fact that Obama probably shares more ideological values with the communist Cuban dictatorship than he does with most Americans and the dubious decision becomes a “no brainer” for the president.
Fast forward almost two years since Obama’s policy change and the true intended rewards become impossible to hide. So impossible, in fact, that not even the Associated Press can ignore it:
Cuba’s Tourism Thaw With the U.S. Has Been Great News for Its Military
At the height of Cuba’s post-Soviet economic crisis, a man with the obscure title of city historian began transforming Havana’s crumbling historic center block by block, polishing stone facades, replacing broken stained glass and repairing potholed streets.
Over a quarter century, Eusebio Leal turned Old Havana into a painstakingly restored colonial jewel, a tourist draw that brings in more than $170 million a year, according to the most recent available figures. His office became a center of power with unprecedented budgetary freedom from the island’s communist central government.
That independence is gone. Last month, the Cuban military took over the business operations of Leal’s City Historian’s Office, absorbing them into a business empire that has grown dramatically since the declaration of detente between the U.S. and Cuba on Dec. 17, 2014.
The military’s long-standing business wing, GAESA, assumed a higher profile after Gen. Raul Castro became president in 2008, positioning the armed forces as perhaps the prime beneficiary of a post-detente boom in tourism. Gaviota, the military’s tourism arm, is in the midst of a hotel building spree that outpaces projects under control of nominally civilian agencies like the Ministry of Tourism. The military-run Mariel port west of Havana has seen double-digit growth fueled largely by demand in the tourism sector. The armed forces this year took over the bank that does business with foreign companies, assuming control of most of Cuba’s day-to-day international financial transactions, according to a bank official.
While U.S. President Barack Obama has said detente was meant partly to help ordinary Cubans develop economic independence from a centrally planned government that employs most of the island’s workers, the Cuban government says the U.S. should expect no change in Cuba because of normalization with the U.S.
The takeover of Old Havana shows how the Cuban government is, so far, successfully steering much of the peace dividend into military coffers.
Read it all HERE.