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Author Topic: HISTORY OF CUBA  (Read 16159 times)
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« Reply #60 on: January 28, 2009, 07:28:06 pm »

Poster of Fidel Castro and Camilo Cienfuego

                                       Cuba and US debate costs of the Revolution, 50 years on

Dec. 31, 2008

Fifty years after the Cuban Revolution, the US government still accuses the Americas' only communist regime of doing irreparable harm, while Havana blames US trade sanctions for its economic ills.

Cuba's government has put its price-tag on allegedly crippling US sanctions: more than 92 billion dollars since 1962, when then president John F. Kennedy approved the full trade embargo in effect on Cuba, according to official Cuban data out in October.

But "the Cuban number is questionable because they don't release their methodology," Daniel Erikson, author of the book "Cuba Wars," told AFP.

"While it is arguable that the communist economic system has wrought more damage on the island than the US sanctions, the cost of the embargo is likely to be substantial," he says.

Still, in Cuba, the government blames US sanctions morning, noon and night for Cuba's economic ills -- even as the United States -- since a gaping 2001 humanitarian loophole was established -- emerged as its main supplier of food.

The United States has no official data on what its sanctions on Cuba might cost economically.

But what is known is that since President George W. Bush allowed cash-only food and medical sales to Cuba after a 2001 hurricane, US farmers have been making big sales they were missing for decades.

And US sanctions serve as a useful political symbol in both countries, whether or not they deliver much economic bite.

To be sure, if no US sanctions were in place and Cuba had access to credit,

the Caribbean nation likely would buy much more food and services from its neighbor to the north. If travel ties were normal, US tourists would earn more for Cuba's industry.

Even many US conservatives don't care for US sanctions on Cuba; Washington does not treat other countries like it does Cuba just because they have communist regimes.

"It is an insult to Americans who are barred from travelling there or doing business in Cuba," argued Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute.

"By increasing our commercial ties to Cuba, America will be in a stronger position to influence events there. After almost half a century, the embargo has failed to change the Cuban regime or benefit the people of Cuba in any way," he said.

Some people closer to the US administration's policy point out that under the Fidel Castro and Raul Castro regime, Cubans' caloric intake has gone down sharply. The World Food Program has fed many in hardscrabble eastern Cuba, it says.

"Though some would blame Cuba's food problems on the US embargo, facts suggests the food shortages are a function of an inefficient collectivized agricultural system and a scarcity of foreign exchange resulting from Castro's unwillingness to liberalize Cuba's economy," a University of Miami Cuba Transition Project study found.

Cuba argues that among the Revolution's crowning achievements are socialism, universal access to education, and health care.

A common joke among Cuban emigrants, however, is that the Revolution's failures are breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Indeed a major export of the Revolution has been Cubans, voting with their feet. Cuba has 11 million people; the United States alone has more than 1.25 million Cuban Americans.
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« Reply #61 on: January 28, 2009, 07:30:35 pm »

                                   After 50 Years of Castro's Cuba, an End to the Cold War?

Tim Padgett
Tue Dec 30, 2008

It's good that the Cuban Revolution's 50th anniversary falls on Jan. 1. That's the day for New Year's resolutions, and it's time for Washington and Havana to make some big ones.

They can start by acknowledging that after 50 years of communist revolution in Cuba, and counter-revolution from the U.S., both sides can claim only partial victories. Washington and Miami's Cuban exiles can say they kept the U.S. trade embargo against Havana intact. Yet they failed to dislodge Fidel Castro and his government and instead succeeded in alienating the entire hemisphere. Congratulations! The Castro regime can say it stood up to a half-century of yanqui aggression while proving that quality universal education and health care are doable. But the price - a basket-case economy and a bleak human rights record - overshadowed those achievements. Felicidades!

So, fittingly, don't expect much of a charged observance on either side of the Florida Straits this week. It looks unlikely that the ailing, 82-year-old Fidel, who ceded Cuba's presidency to his younger brother Raul this year, will even be fit enough to attend the celebration in Santiago de Cuba. In Miami, exile hardliners are wrestling with a new Florida International University poll showing that a majority of Cuban-Americans there think the embargo should end. The question now is whether Washington and Havana can smell the cafe cubano, leave their cold-war time warp, enter the 21st century - and cease being an impediment to a hemisphere that's trying to do the same. (See the Top 10 News Stories of 2008.)

Fortunately, the signs are looking better as U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration nears. Obama, who has said he's willing to talk with Raul Castro, is poised to end the Bush Administration's restrictions on Cuban-American travel and remittances to Cuba. That could (and should) be the first step toward dismantling the ill-conceived, 46-year-old embargo (which Obama surely knows is also the aim of many pro-business Republicans in Washington). Either way, such gestures make it harder for the Castros to rail against gringo imperialism. For his part, Raul Castro recently told actor Sean Penn in an interview for The Nation magazine that he and Obama "must meet" in a neutral place "and begin to solve our problems."
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« Reply #62 on: April 30, 2009, 07:31:54 am »

                                      Congress weighs easing of Cuba trade limits

Lesley Clark,
Mcclatchy Newspapers
Wed Apr 29, 2009

-- President Barack Obama's overtures to Cuba have enlivened the debate in Congress on boosting American travel and trade to the island, but Raul Castro on Wednesday decried the administration's opening salvo as "achieving only the minimum."

Speaking in Havana before a gathering of international ministers, the Cuban president said that "it is not Cuba that has to make gestures."

He called Obama's moves two weeks ago to lift travel and gift restrictions on Cuban Americans and ease restrictions on U.S. telecommunication firms "fine, positive, but only achieve the minimum. The embargo remains intact."

The State Department appeared unmoved by the criticism, countering that it's Cuba that needs to show some effort.

"We're interested in a dialogue with Cuba , but I think the international community wants to see some steps from Havana to see, to gauge how serious the government there is," said state department spokesman Robert Wood .

Regardless of Havana's reaction, Obama's moves have emboldened critics of current U.S. policy, who already had filed legislation to allow Americans to travel to Cuba .

Next up, a contingent of farm state senators is expected soon to introduce legislation aimed at boosting agricultural trade with the island.

A similar bill to ease trade and travel restrictions for U.S. farmers and ranchers languished in the last Congress , but backers believe momentum now is on their side.

"There's clearly a great deal of interest on the Hill," said Rosemarie Watkins , director of international policy for the American Farm Bureau , which considers increasing agricultural sales to Cuba "an important priority."

An aide to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said the Montana Democrat expects to introduce a bill to open trade and travel for U.S. farmers, ranchers and families.

"We can and should do more," Baucus said after the administration announced the travel and gift rollback. "We need to make it easier for America's farmers and ranchers to sell their high quality products, including Montana's world-class wheat and barley, to one of our closest markets."

Critics note the proposals are supported by many of the same longtime opponents of U.S. Cuba policy and they suggest the administration is more likely to wait for Cuba to respond to its initial overtures before endorsing further moves.

"The feeling I've been getting in Congress is, 'We've done something and now the regime has to show its good will'," said Mauricio Claver-Carone, a leading pro-embargo lobbyist. "Any media-created momentum in Cuba policy has been cut off by President Obama putting the onus on the regime."

The State Department on Wednesday reiterated support for the trade embargo in the wake of Castro's comments, with Wood noting that "we do have an embargo, and there is no plan at this point to lift that embargo. But we do want to do what we can to support the Cuban people."

Agricultural trade groups, however, argue that lifting the embargo would usher change in Cuba by boosting economic opportunity. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates U.S. exports to Cuba reached $718 million in 2008, with corn topping the list at $198 million , followed by meat, poultry and wheat. But the chamber complained earlier this week at a House hearing on trade with Cuba that cumbersome U.S. restrictions make it difficult for small- and medium-sized exporters to participate.

The regulations the industry wants changed include allowing Cuba to pay for goods by credit and ending a policy that requires Cuba to pay for products in advance. The chamber notes that U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba decreased by nearly 15 percent in the two years after the Bush administration required cash up front.

The change could help the United States which is only 90 miles from Cuba box out Vietnam and China , competitors for products like rice, said Kirby Jones , president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade Association , which champions trade with Havana .
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