March 20, 2016

"President Barack Obama touched down in Cuba on Sunday, definitively ending a half-century of estrangement..."

"... in a dramatic personal demonstration of his core foreign policy principle of engaging America's enemies."
Obama stepped from Air Force One carrying an umbrella as a persistent rain fell on the tarmac. Before he emerged, he sent a message to Cuba on Twitter: "¿Que bolá Cuba?" he wrote, using an informal Cuban greeting. "Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people."

144 comments:

Michael K said...

Iran Agreement II. Less dangerous but just as dishonest.

mccullough said...

Maybe he can smuggle out some baseball players on Air Force One for the return trip. Do something useful for the US

rehajm said...

Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people."

He does know they don't have freedom of speech, right? Maybe he finds comfort in statements provided by the state.

Danno said...

mccullough said...Maybe he can smuggle out some baseball players on Air Force One for the return trip. Do something useful for the US

Even better, trade Obama for several baseball picks. Everyone wins!

readering said...

Imagine. Treating Cuba like 190 other UN Member States. Trying a new tack after only 55 years.

madAsHell said...

Grasping for a legacy.

cubanbob said...

The arrogant asshole landed. Marvelous. He could have gone instead to San Juan PR and have taken the tour of Old San Juan. Might have even helped the PR tourism business. But no, this jerk has to stiff PR, the DR and other friendly Latin Caribbean countries to help Americas enemies. Obama never fails to chose the other side when given a choice between America's interests and the interest's of those hostile to America.

MayBee said...

Hopefully this won't be his Madeline Albright dancing with Kim Jung Il moment.

Nyamujal said...

The Atlantic has a great article on the Obama doctrine. It's a must read for people interested in IR.

narciso said...

in so far, as Cuba could become an Iranian base, by proxy. it's much more dangerous,

Chuck said...

The Wall Street Journal employs a columnist, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, whose beat is South and Central America and the Caribbean. She is brilliant. And, the Cubans won't allow her into the country.

There are lots of reasons to have nothing to do with Cuba. One might be their harboring an American fugitive, Assata Shakur. Another might be the regular human rights abuses of their own citizens. A third might be Cuba's dubious entanglements in foreign affairs in other South American nations. But my favorite reason to have nothing to do with Cuba is Cuba's repressive press policies, including its ban on Ms. O'Grady's entering the country, on political grounds.

Her current (again, brilliant) column in tomorrow's Journal:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/behind-the-presidents-visit-to-havana-1458504977

Naturally, this is yet another issue on which Donald Trump finds himself on the wrong side of the party which he hopes will nominate him as its candidate for President of the United States. You have to love the way that Ms. O'Grady leads her column:

"President Obama travels to Havana this week in an effort to extract concessions, not from Communist Cuba, but from the U.S. Congress. To that end, get ready for what the late, great entertainment host Ed Sullivan might have called 'a really big shew.'

"Keep in mind as this extravaganza unfurls over the next couple of days that some foreigners who have been critical of the regime, including your humble columnist, are barred from reporting from the island.

"On Dec. 17, 2014, Mr. Obama announced that he would normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba. He also said that the U.S. embargo—which prohibits foreign direct investment in Cuba by Americans, credit for Cuba from U.S. financial institutions, and Cuban sales of goods to the U. S.—should be lifted.

"The dictatorship loves the idea. But Congress believes that before there are American investments in Cuba the regime ought to pay for the property it stole after the 1959 revolution, and ensure basic human-rights for Cubans. Since Congress still passes the laws in this country, Mr. Obama’s capitalism for the Castros remains uncertain until U.S. lawmakers capitulate."



Sebastian said...

"his core foreign policy principle of engaging America's enemies." . . . and pissing off our friends. His way of making American great again.

Big Mike said...

Just another junket.

MayBee said...

Can Cuban people use twitter? I'm pretty sure I've never seen a tweet from someone in Cuba.

Static Ping said...

Obama visits prison. Praises the warden.

Never thought I would see my President as a useful idiot. Alas.

donald said...

http://babalublog.com/2016/03/20/more-than-200-dissidents-rounded-up-and-arrested-in-cuba-one-day-before-obamas-arrival/

He won't be meeting with these "folk".

Carol said...

Well, it's about time. That was a long estrangement considering it was So Florida politics that kept it going.

We were unable to undo the revolution, so, fuck it.

Titus said...

Gays can't wait to make Havana the new South Beach/Ptown/Fire Island/Key West.

Wait-it will be fabulous!

Gabriel said...

Cubans aren't allowed to use Twitter. Obama's willful ignorance again.

Fernandinande said...

Is Obummer giving tacit approval or regular approval of a slave state?

Hagar said...

I think he is kind of pissing on Jack Kennedy's grave.
I think at least some Democrats should have a problem with that.

cubanbob said...

Blogger Titus said...
Gays can't wait to make Havana the new South Beach/Ptown/Fire Island/Key West.

Wait-it will be fabulous!

3/20/16, 6:28 PM"

If you want to get a hint of how Cuban communists view gays here is a movie for you to view: Before Night Falls.

buwaya puti said...

It's all about the money and its necessity for retaining power. The Cuban regime has used up its credit with everyone else, only the US is left. So now the US loans them money and they play ball with the President.
Maybe now the left will drop the exterminating hate they have had against Cuban refugees.

n.n said...

Why doesn't he just stage a coup and plot a mass exodus in order to improve his image?

buwaya puti said...

As for Titus, yes it's more convenient. Previously, if I understand correctly, one had to fly across the Pacific for this sort of fun, and in some places there was some risk that the local authorities would remember their responsibilities and jail one of the tourists. In Cuba it's likely they will be more careful to forget.

Douglas said...

Funny, but Obama hasn't any time to meet with any Cuban dissidents. Funny, huh?

Gahrie said...

Who wants to bet that Obama signs an executive agreement with Cuba agreeing to give Gitmo back, and that we "accidentally" forget to send our lease payment?

Gahrie said...

Imagine. Treating Cuba like 190 other UN Member States. Trying a new tack after only 55 years.

Imagine . Kissing the ass of a brutal Communist dictator who has killed and tortured millions of his own people, and millions more around the world. Selling out the sacrifices made by Americans and Cubans for fifty five years.

Unknown said...

While I loath the vile little man in the WH, it's been reported he'll be meeting with the leader of the Ladies in White. No word on minders or how many Ladies in White remain prisoner until after the propaganda meet-up.

Unknown said...

When will the democratic party give up its communist jock sniffing? As someone has already pointed out, Cuba has exhausted its line of credit after duping the rest of the world and is moving on to the suckers in the U.S. This is all this arrangement means to them.

Titus said...

I read the book and saw Before Night Falls and cried. One of my favorite movies. Love Julien Schnabel movies.

Cuba is now red hot and ready to be taken over by the gays. We have money and money talks bitches!

traditionalguy said...

Obama is sprinting it in on the last lap on destroying American strength every way imaginable in the theory people will love us for it and not kill, steal and destroy like man always does until stood up to.

Skeptical Voter said...

Static Ping doesn't have it quite right when he says he never thought he would see this President as a "useful idiot". Close, but not really a Havana cigar.

Obama is a useless idiot.

Unknown said...

More dissidents rounded up the day before Obama arrives. Nice. What exactly did the U.S get out of this exactly? I mean other than international humiliation.

http://babalublog.com/2016/03/20/more-than-200-dissidents-rounded-up-and-arrested-in-cuba-one-day-before-obamas-arrival/

jr565 said...

Just like with Iran, his idea of ending estrangement is giving them whatever they want with no preconditions, on their end. they can continue acting the exact same way and we will normalize relations.
I can't wait for this guy to be out of office already.

David Begley said...

I'm thinking Barack will have an awesome house at a Trump golf course in Cuba.

MayBee said...

More dissidents rounded up the day before Obama arrives. Nice. What exactly did the U.S get out of this exactly? I mean other than international humiliation.

Obama likes to do things that are labeled by the press as "historic", even though we don't really know how or if history will remember them.
So, this was historic, this new relationship with Cuba. Of course, all he did was declare the situation over. Kind of like with the Iran deal.

jr565 said...

Carol wrote:
Well, it's about time. That was a long estrangement considering it was So Florida politics that kept it going.

We were unable to undo the revolution, so, fuck it.

Its not about time, if it strengthens their regime. It wasnt jsut florida politics that kept it going. It was also Cuba acting like Cuba.

Bobby said...

I suppose that next we will re-establish diplomatic relations with China and Vietnam.

MayBee said...

Obviously, Obama is going there because he expects good visuals of himself being treated like a king.

SteveR said...

Its always best to have both diplomatic relations with a country and also to allow for unlimited and unconditional immigration from that country. Win Win This is Nobel Prize stuff we are witnessing.

jr565 said...

Sent to spy on a Cuban talent show
First stop, Havana go go!
I used to make a living, man
Pickin' the banana
Hooray! For Havana

Baby baby make me loco
Baby baby make me mambo

Rusty said...

He will kept s fsr from "the Cuban people" as the Castro mafia can keep him.

Matthew Blaine said...

The cameras will be gone when Castro goes full Tiananmen Square sometime this summer.

dbp said...

"he sent a message to Cuba on Twitter: "

Where nobody has access to Twitter...

Rusty said...

Titus. The revolution is rather down on gays. So the hot partying is likely to be done behind bars.

MikeR said...

"I suppose that next we will re-establish diplomatic relations with China and Vietnam." Indeed. Our policy toward Cuba makes no sense, and is long overdue for fixing. They have an evil repressive government, but so do most countries we have relations with.

Terry said...

One of the things that future historians will note about Obama is that he seemed to prefer every other country in the world over the United States.

Gahrie said...

I suppose that next we will re-establish diplomatic relations with China and Vietnam.

China and Vietnam only pretend to be Communist today........

Gahrie said...

One of the things that future historians will note about Obama is that he seemed to prefer every other country in the world over the United States.

And our nation's enemies to our allies...

Gahrie said...

. Our policy toward Cuba makes no sense, and is long overdue for fixing.

So...most favored nation for North Korea next?

What's our foreign aid budget to Iran next year?

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"China and Vietnam only pretend to be Communist today........"

China's and Vietnam's dictatorial regimes are every bit as oppressive and torturous on human rights as is Cuba's, and in China's case, it is far more hostile to American interests on the international order (especially in the South China Sea) than Cuba ever was in Latin America or Africa.

What is it about "Communism" that you object to then, if it's not China and Vietnam's heinous human rights policies?

Michael K said...

"And, the Cubans won't allow her into the country."

Michael Totten has a series on his visit several years ago and it is required reading.

The first installment is here.

There are more.

My middle daughter, who is a lefty, visited Cuba about ten years ago on the sly through Mexico with a friend. She thought she would find that Socialism worked. Instead, as she is fluent in Spanish, she found that it is a prison. Her leftism was shaken.

Bob Boyd said...

Maybe now we can export some jobs there.

Michael K said...

"China's and Vietnam's dictatorial regimes are every bit as oppressive and torturous on human rights as is Cuba's, and in China's case,"

They are really fascist. The left thinks fascism is a right wing ideology but it is not.

Vietnam, ironically, is looking for protection from the US. China, I think, is fragile and the flood of Chinese money coming over here and buying stuff, is the first crack in the wall, just as Japan doing the same thing in the 80s predicted its fall.

Gahrie said...

What is it about "Communism" that you object to then

The same problem I have with Islam...it's proclaimed intention to replace western republican free markets with a murderous, backwards ideology that results in the death and misery of millions.

It may be symbolic, but symbols are important. I would actually welcome relations with Cuba if they would renounce Communism and get rid of the Castros.

John Henry said...

Blogger Titus said...
Gays can't wait to make Havana the new South Beach/Ptown/Fire Island/Key West.

Wait-it will be fabulous!


You do know that homosexuality is illegal in Cuba, don't you?

John Henry

Bay Area Guy said...

When's the last time Cuba held a free election?

(crickets chirping)

When's the last time the Cuban government allowed its citizens to freely emigrate?

(crickets chirping)

Bobby said...

Michael K,

"They are really fascist. The left thinks fascism is a right wing ideology but it is not."

So... China and Vietnam are left-wing "fascists" and Cuba is left-wing "communist"-- okay, sure.

But, so now we're at: Diplomatic relations with oppressive and torturous "fascist" regimes is fine; diplomatic relations with oppressive and torturous "communist" regimes is bad. That doesn't help me very much in understanding this position.

pm317 said...

The head of state Raul didn't show up to greet him at the airport. Why?

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"The same problem I have with Islam...it's proclaimed intention to replace western republican free markets with a murderous, backwards ideology that results in the death and misery of millions."

And yet we have diplomatic and trade relations with dozens of Islamic regimes...

Gahrie said...

@Bobby

You think you're witty, and in reality you are contemptible.

So you'd be in favor of normalizing relations with North Korea right?

Maybe we can borrow a couple of million dollars from the Chinese to send to Cuba and North Korea as foreign aid while we are at it?

Bobby said...

Bay Area Guy,

1948. Carlos Prio Socarras of the Partido Autentico (Authentic Party) won the Presidency. In 1952, three months before the next elections were to be held, Fulgencio Batista initiated a coup d'etat when he realized that he was going to finish in third.

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

I'm just trying to understand why it's good to have diplomatic relations and trade with "fascist" and "Islamic" regimes who are oppressive and torturous of human rights, but bad to have diplomatic relations and trade with "communist" regimes who are oppressive and torturous of human rights. I really would like to understand your position, sir.

Bay Area Guy said...

@Bobby

Why not address how Castro has governed his country since 1960?

narciso said...

the first mistake was embracing stalin, in part because bullitt, who had a chip against wilson, from 15 years previous, the error was compounded with nixon almost 40 years later,

Birkel said...

Bobby:
If you wish to defend the policy of Nixon opening relations with China, feel free. I always appreciate a good Nixon apologist.

narciso said...

like lillian hellman, every word was a lie,

http://babalublog.com/2016/03/19/a-refresher-course-on-cuba-the-lies-of-fidel-castro/

the other spring surprise was the embrace of mao, also brought us along with pol pot,

Owen said...

Cuba = prison. Scary evil place. Edge of Havana is high-rise cast concrete slums put up by Soviets, city center is crumbling pre-revolutionary infrastructure. Fanciest conference center looks like a bankrupt Best Western. Cuban equivalent of National Institutes of Health research center looks like a community college with hand-me-down fume hoods.

A pervading sense of menace, failure and paranoia. Could not leave fast enough.

Gahrie said...

I really would like to understand your position, sir.

Unfortunately, there are strategic and economic reasons why we have to compromise our values and our security to deal with our enemies at times. I wish it weren't so, but it is.

There is no reason why we should do so with respect to Cuba. She serves no strategic or economic purposes for the United States, nothing we do will improve the lives of her enslaved people, and instead will continue to prop up the most morally and economically bankrupt country on Earth this side of North Korea.

Gahrie said...

In 1952, three months before the next elections were to be held, Fulgencio Batista initiated a coup d'etat when he realized that he was going to finish in third.

So Batista was as illegitimate as the Castros are. (and half the Latin American governments over the last 150 years) At least he wasn't a Communist.

J. Farmer said...

Putting an end to our pointless, anachronistic isolation of Cuba is another entry for the very short list of Obama administration foreign policy accomplishments.

narciso said...

twenty years of european foreign investment, have done little to improve the live of the average cuban, not a few fortunes have been lost in this quixotic exercise,

Gahrie said...

Putting an end to our pointless, anachronistic isolation of Cuba is another entry for the very short list of Obama administration foreign policy accomplishments.

Remind what anyone besides the Castro brothers or Obama is getting out of this?

William said...

Some years back I saw a photo of the Cuban Politburo. The faces were all white. Castro's forces helped install Mengitsu in Ethiopia. It's a fast track, but he's still considered to have been one of Africa's most murderous despots. During the Cuban middle crisis, his advice to the Russians was to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on the United States. .....I don't understand why the left is enamored with Castro. Even by their standards, he's a failure. He has given aid and sanctuary to a cop killer. There's that, but on most other levels he has not advanced the cause of social justice.

J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

"Remind what anyone besides the Castro brothers or Obama is getting out of this?

If you mean out of this particular trip, then the answer is not much of anything. This trip is primarily about the optics, I suspect. To start with, easing travel and trade restrictions is a good first step, though of course the prize will be ending the stupid embargo policy. None of this will be transformative for Cuba, but it does place us on a how much stronger ground and offers a variety of opportunities for further, more constructive engagement with the regime in the future.

J. Farmer said...

@William:

".I don't understand why the left is enamored with Castro"

Who cares? You don't even to be a fan of Castro's or his regime to believe that diplomatic normalization and an end to the embargo are good, common sense policies to pursue in regards to Cuba.

coupe said...

We should have normalized relations with Castro when we announced our support for Menachem Begin.

jaydub said...

"I don't understand why the left is enamored with Castro"

It's really quite simple. Denigrating America's idea of it's inherent exceptionalism is why Che tee shirts are popular among the leftist youth, it's why Sean Penn provides such visible support to the disasterous Venezuelan bus driver, it's why college leftists renounce "white privilege," it's why BLM elevates cop killers to hero status, it's why our president embraces those who vow "death to America." To put it at its simplest, the domestic left is enamored with any regime, movement or philosophy that tweaks its nose at America. It's more "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of thing than some deeply held conviction about the righteousness of the tyrants they embrace. Fortunately (for the leftists) America is still expectional enough to deal with her domestic enemies without resorting to the type of bloodshed preferred by the left's Cuban, Venezuelan and Iranian allies. Hopefully, it will remain so.

Gahrie said...

To start with, easing travel and trade restrictions is a good first step, though of course the prize will be ending the stupid embargo policy

Why? That will only benefit Castro and his cronies...it won't make life one bit better for the average Cuban, and will in fact only prolong their suffering.

Rusty said...

Farmer
Rewarding bad behavior doesn't result in good behavior. You seem to have a problem recognizing that.
Iran, for example. Taking their new found wealth and instead of improving the lives of its citizens is purchasing every type of military hardware they can get their hands on.

Mark Caplan said...

While watching an American president honor Fidel and Raul Castro, that other repressive military dictator, Bashar al-Assad, must be thinking, What am I, chopped liver?

AprilApple said...

Yay dictators for life, communism and jailed dissidents.

JAORE said...

Not so far from here
There's a very lively atmosphere
Ev'rybody's going there this year
And there's a reason
The season opened last July
Ever since the U.S.A. went dry
Ev'rybody's going there and I'm going, too
I'm on my way to

[Refrain:]
Cuba, there's where I'm going
Cuba, there's where I'll stay

Cuba, where wine is flowing
And where dark-eyed Stellas
Light their fellers' Panatellas

Cuba, where all is happy
Cuba, where all is gay

Why don't you plan a
Wonderful trip
To Havana?
Hop on a ship
And I'll see you in C.U.B.A.

1) Wow, dark eyed Stellas and "Panatellas". Everyone is gay. It's almost like Irving B had a crystal ball and could see politics in America, 2016.
2) "Everyone is gay". See Titus, no problemo.

Rusty said...

The sad fact is that even should the Castro family somehow disappear and that island shithole become free all of the people who would know how to build the country back up again have gone. The people there now would not know what to do.

Bobby said...

Birkel,

"If you wish to defend the policy of Nixon opening relations with China, feel free. I always appreciate a good Nixon apologist."

Uhm, yes, I support Nixon's opening relations with China- it was essential to his Grand Design (what Kissinger called the "structure of peace"). Reagan supported improving diplomacy with China as well: he visited Beijing in April 1984 to complete diplomatic relations and demonstrate that he could speak a little Chinese.

I didn't realize that was even a contemporary issue.

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"Unfortunately, there are strategic and economic reasons why we have to compromise our values and our security to deal with our enemies at times. I wish it weren't so, but it is.

There is no reason why we should do so with respect to Cuba. She serves no strategic or economic purposes for the United States, nothing we do will improve the lives of her enslaved people, and instead will continue to prop up the most morally and economically bankrupt country on Earth this side of North Korea.
"

So, your position is that we value not having diplomatic relations with oppressive, torturous regimes that don't respect human rights, but we should not honor those values if the heinous regime serves a strategic and/or economic purpose? Thus, we have diplomatic relations and trade with the likes of: Belarus, Burma, Chad, China, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Laos, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, all on the FreedomHouse list of the world's most repressive societies. For those countries, we will compromise our values and maintain diplomatic relations. [Note: Cuba, North Korea and Somalia complete the list].

But with Cuba, we will take a different approach because ...

Birkel said...

Bobby:
I like the strange, newfound respect for Nixon. He also gave us the EPA and many other regulatory agencies that are bankrupting the country. And the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1974 -- which is bankrupting the country.

Great shakes, that Nixon.

Bobby said...

Birkel,

I don't know much about Nixon's domestic policy legacy. I was referring only to his opening of China, which I thought was obvious given that I wrote "I support Nixon's opening relations with China" -- I'll try using tighter language for you next time.

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

"Rewarding bad behavior doesn't result in good behavior."

Maintaining normal relations with a country isn't a reward. And the purpose of maintaining relations with a country is not to get "good behavior" from them but because it is in the interest of your country and your citizens to do so.

@Gahrie:

"Why? That will only benefit Castro and his cronies...it won't make life one bit better for the average Cuban, and will in fact only prolong their suffering."

Do you suppose that we trade with China or Mexico or France because we want to improve the life for the average Chinese, Mexican, or French? Or do you suppose we do it because it is in our economic self-interest to sell goods to people who want to buy them?

@Mark Caplan:

While watching an American president honor Fidel and Raul Castro, that other repressive military dictator, Bashar al-Assad, must be thinking, What am I, chopped liver?

Don't forget our new best friend in Egypt, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He's still cashing US taxpayer welfare checks.

EMD said...

Great shakes, that Nixon.

That asshat also tried price controls. F that guy.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

President Obama tweets that he's looking forward to meeting directly with the Cuban people.

One problemo, el Presidente: Cubans are banned from using Twitter. And the internet is banned in private homes and only available from government owned cafes.

Bobby said...

Steve M. Galbraith,

Beg your pardon, sir, but Cubans are not "banned" from using Twitter. Now your overall point is true: Cubans can generally only access the internet from government-owned cafes (and at prohibitive rates for the average Cuban), with the result being that internet access in general is so poor that very few Cubans on the island probably saw President Obama's tweet.

But Cubans that choose to dole out a third of their weekly wages for one-hour on the internet can, if they so choose, access Twitter. (Government officials, of course, can do so for free from their government offices because apparently that's how "equality" and "egalitarianism" work in socialism). What you might be thinking is "tweet by text message" -- Cuba doesn't have a short code to enable that capability.

Gahrie said...

Or do you suppose we do it because it is in our economic self-interest to sell goods to people who want to buy them?

Sell them to who? The Communist Party lackeys who serve the Castros? It's illegal for ordinary Cubans to even own dollars.

You really do have a hard on for Commies don't you?

Gahrie said...

but we should not honor those values if the heinous regime serves a strategic and/or economic purpose?

Exactly.

Gahrie said...

But with Cuba, we will take a different approach because ...

Because they have not renounced Communism, they proclaim themselves to be our enemy, and if we would just keep theme isolated, their regime is about to collapse.

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

What strategic and/or economic purpose does Equatorial Guinea serve, sir? How about Burma? Chad? Eritrea? Laos?

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"if we would just keep theme isolated, their regime is about to collapse."

I believe we've heard this once or twice over the last fifty-plus years, sir.

Gahrie said...

Bobby:

I'll try it this way:

THEY AREN"T COMMUNIST AND HAVEN"T DECLARED US TO BE THEIR ENEMY

Gahrie said...

But you are right Bobby....(Bobby Bolshevik?)

Since we cannot wipe out every evil regime on Earth (or even agree who they are) we shouldn't attempt to fight any evil, and should gladly prop up and subsidize the evil Communist dictators in Cuba, and force the Cuban people to stay in their chains so they can serve us cheap rum and clean our hotel rooms.

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"It's illegal for ordinary Cubans to even own dollars."

This is not true. The US dollar has not been illegal on the island for twenty-plus years. It is true, however, that (government-owned, of course) retail business no longer accept the US dollar, and that US dollars must be converted into Cuban pesos for a rather hefty surcharge (I believe it is currently 10%). But it is not "illegal" for ordinary Cubans to own US dollars.

EMD said...

But Cubans that choose to dole out a third of their weekly wages for one-hour on the internet can, if they so choose, access Twitter.

I would be shocked that Twitter was an accessible site in government internet cafes. Is it not blocked?

J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

"You really do have a hard on for Commies don't you?"

Oh yes, you've certainly hit the nail right on the head. And I am also quite certain that's why Cato, the American Enterprise Institute, and The Federalist all oppose the embargo: because of their hard ons for "commies." Are you sure you're not an Onion parody bot?

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

I am not a Communist- I'm politically a moderate libertarian (and a registered member of the Libertarian Party). Please, sir, could you refrain from personal attacks? I am treating you with nothing but respect, and simply trying to have a conversation with you as I do so much want to understand your position.

With respect to Cuba and the US being declared enemies, is that status more likely to end through the establishment of diplomatic relations or through a continued policy of isolation and refusal to engage diplomatically? Might starting a dialogue be a first step toward ending any outstanding enmities?

Steve M. Galbraith said...

Beg your pardon, sir, but Cubans are not "banned" from using Twitter.

It's a fair point but a bit stretched.

Putting it otherwise: You may do "A" but only with my permission and with my monitoring. And it's something I can take away at any time for any reason.

So, you're not banned from doing "A" but I have complete control over you doing it and I can ban you at any time.

It's like extolling the Cuban literacy rate but ignoring the fact that what the people can read is controlled by the government. You're not banned from reading things but the things you are allowed to read are tightly controlled.

Not much of a difference to me but it is a difference.

Bobby said...

EMD,

No, Twitter is not blocked in Cuba. There's so little internet access in Cuba that the government has not (yet) seen the need to create widespread Chinese-style firewalls. I'm sure that will change as Google extends internet service to the island.

Gahrie said...

With respect to Cuba and the US being declared enemies, is that status more likely to end through the establishment of diplomatic relations or through a continued policy of isolation and refusal to engage diplomatically?

I vote for the second option..isolation. Cuba has run out of other's people money, except Obama has come to their rescue at the last minute. How are American tourists going to improve the lives of the average Cuban?

Might starting a dialogue be a first step toward ending any outstanding enmities?

Probably not. They want us to drop dead, we want them to drop dead.

The only thing that will improve the lives of the average Cuban is the end of Communism and the exit of the Castros and their lackeys. Something that is now less likely than it was.

Want to bet that Castro's personal fortune is greater than Batista's ever was? How come the leaders of Communist and Socialist nations always wind up rich?

Bill said...

A clueless local news anchor here in L.A. mispronounced Que bolá so that it sounded like "Ebola, Cuba?"

cubanbob said...

Bobby said...
Gahrie,

I am not a Communist- I'm politically a moderate libertarian (and a registered member of the Libertarian Party). Please, sir, could you refrain from personal attacks? I am treating you with nothing but respect, and simply trying to have a conversation with you as I do so much want to understand your position.

With respect to Cuba and the US being declared enemies, is that status more likely to end through the establishment of diplomatic relations or through a continued policy of isolation and refusal to engage diplomatically? Might starting a dialogue be a first step toward ending any outstanding enmities?

3/21/16, 9:58 AM"

The US is a sovereign nation. It isn't required to have relations with any country. So the question here is what is the benefit to the US in having a commercial relationship with Cuba versus the negatives of such a relationship? I for one do not see the need for US taxpayers to guarantee the credit worthiness of Cuban state enterprises for the benefit of US farm exports. Cuba can pay cash like it does to others since no one else will extend Cuba credit.As it is, US farmers have been able to export to Cuban for years on a cash basis except for the fact Cuba is short of cash. As it is if an American wants a Latin Caribbean vacation they can go to Puerto Rico which happens to be a part of the US. I fail to see why we need to reward our enemies and punish ourselves.

One thing the Castro brothers are good at is being jailers. Maybe President Trump can cut a deal with Cuba: take all foreign national criminals in US prisons for the full duration of the prisoners sentence at $10,000 a head per year which would cover prisoner housing and board and upon release an additional $2,000 for the airfare for deporting the criminal back to their country of origin. For Cuba the cash would be enormous, for the US the savings really yuuugge and Cuba will have plenty of cash to buy US exports. A win-win.

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

Whereas I look at the last fifty years of Cuban policy and, citing Einstein's definition of insanity (if he ever really said it), conclude that imminent change this time is unlikely to occur. But neither one of us really know that for sure- perhaps the embargo only needs 60 years to induce behavior change?

In any case, oft lost in these discussions is that re-establishing diplomatic relations is not the same as lifting the embargo, removing sanctions and restoring trade -- the latter does not automatically accompany or follow the former, would require statutory changes (for which Congress may not necessarily be so inclined to make) and the Castro regime is likely to need to address a number of issues (albeit probably not human rights) in order to see a liberalization of trade policy (for starters, agreeing to the compensation for the expropriated property). If Castro's regime really is on its last legs, and the embargo is responsible for that, then it seems to me that restoring diplomatic relations alone is unlikely to make any substantive difference to prevent the collapse before any sanctions relief can be implemented. It appears you may very well get your wish.

Rusty said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...
@Rusty:

"Rewarding bad behavior doesn't result in good behavior."

Maintaining normal relations with a country isn't a reward. And the purpose of maintaining relations with a country is not to get "good behavior" from them but because it is in the interest of your country and your citizens to do so.

An assertion easily disproved.
No it's not.

Bobby said...

cubanbob,

"The US is a sovereign nation. It isn't required to have relations with any country. So the question here is what is the benefit to the US in having a commercial relationship with Cuba versus the negatives of such a relationship?"

Re-establishing diplomatic relations does not constitute a commercial relationship, sir. It constitutes a diplomatic relationship.

Rusty said...

But Cubans that choose to dole out a third of their weekly wages for one-hour on the internet can, if they so choose, access Twitter.

Since it's illegal in Cuba for a citizen to have an internet connection unless they are part of the government elite it is highly unlikely the average Cuban knew anything other than what they are told.
There are internet cafe's in Havana. However it can easily cost more than a months salary to use one provided you pass the screening process. Which is moot since computer anything isn't taught in Cuban schools.

Gahrie said...

Re-establishing diplomatic relations does not constitute a commercial relationship, sir. It constitutes a diplomatic relationship.

The Cuban government has already signed a deal to have an American hotel company run one of their resorts for them.

Gahrie said...

In any case, oft lost in these discussions is that re-establishing diplomatic relations is not the same as lifting the embargo, removing sanctions and restoring trade -- the latter does not automatically accompany or follow the former, would require statutory changes (for which Congress may not necessarily be so inclined to make)

Really? That's why an American company has already signed a contract to run three of the Cuban government's hotels for them right?

and the Castro regime is likely to need to address a number of issues (albeit probably not human rights) in order to see a liberalization of trade policy (for starters, agreeing to the compensation for the expropriated property).

Apparently not.


If Castro's regime really is on its last legs, and the embargo is responsible for that, then it seems to me that restoring diplomatic relations alone is unlikely to make any substantive difference to prevent the collapse before any sanctions relief can be implemented. It appears you may very well get your wish.

Instead, apparently you are going to get yours...a rejuvenated and enriched Communist dictatorship propped up by American dollars.

Unknown said...

I think this is just further evidence obama is just not a good negotiator. Giving away the store does not get you anything but contempt, particularly from negotiators like Cuba, Iran or North Korea. If obama had any dignity he would have sent a lower functionary like Kerry a new ambassador and left it at that. And does that sound like a winning strategy to get the embargo lifted by congress by being used as a propaganda ploy by Havana?

Gahrie said...

My predictions:

By the end of this trip Obama will announce:

1) He will be returning Gitmo to the Cuban people.

2) He will be endorsing the investment of American funds in Cuba.

3) The U.S. will immediately be providing Cuba with humanitarian aid, probably several hundred million dollars a year.

Bobby said...

Starwood (soon to be part of Marriott) received authorization from the US Department of Treasury and signed an agreement with the Cuban government to operate three hotels (Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Quinta Avenida, and possibly Hotel Santa Isabel) on the island. Starwood will receive a fee from the Cuban government for providing their management service.

Why is that so troubling to you?

Hyphenated American said...

Remember, people in communist Cuba have less freedom than blacks had in South Africa during apartheid.

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"My predictions:

By the end of this trip Obama will announce:

1) He will be returning Gitmo to the Cuban people.

2) He will be endorsing the investment of American funds in Cuba.

3) The U.S. will immediately be providing Cuba with humanitarian aid, probably several hundred million dollars a year.
"

Do you want to put some money on it?

If you are correct, I will be the first to give you credit. I'll even give you more than just "the end of this trip"- let's say, one week after his return to US soil? However, I suspect you are going to go 0-for-3, hence my desire to profit from your emotionally-driven prediction.

Hyphenated American said...

"With respect to Cuba and the US being declared enemies, is that status more likely to end through the establishment of diplomatic relations or through a continued policy of isolation and refusal to engage diplomatically? Might starting a dialogue be a first step toward ending any outstanding enmities?"

How about we remove the root cause of enmities - the fascist dictatorship in Cuba?

Bobby said...

Hyphenated American,

"How about we remove the root cause of enmities - the fascist dictatorship in Cuba?"

I'm all for it. How do you want to go about bringing the removal of the Castro regime-- should we just maintain the 50+-year status quo and hope that it miraculously yields a different result this time, or do you think it's about time we tried something different?

Gahrie said...

Why is that so troubling to you?

Because all of the money earned by those hotels will go straight into the pockets of the Castros and their lackeys, and none of it will reach the Cuban people. The Castros will once again enrich themselves through the slave labor of their people, and you and those like you will sip your rum, give the waiter a tip, and congratulate yourself on how you are making his life better. Meanwhile, as soon as his shift is over the Cuban government will confiscate those tips, and at best give him some worthless Cuban scrip in exchange.

Gahrie said...

I'm all for it. How do you want to go about bringing the removal of the Castro regime-- should we just maintain the 50+-year status quo and hope that it miraculously yields a different result this time, or do you think it's about time we tried something different?

I'm all for an invasion or an assassination, but somehow I think you will oppose that.

Surrendering does not seem the right answer to me somehow.

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"The Castros will once again enrich themselves through the slave labor of their people, and you and those like you will sip your rum, give the waiter a tip, and congratulate yourself on how you are making his life better."

Hahaha, you obviously don't know me very well. I have vacationed in more than a dozen Caribbean nations-- I have not once been and plan never to go to Cuba until the Castro regime is gone. And it's not just Cuba- when stationed in Korea, I refused to vacation in China and Vietnam; when in Iraq and Afghanistan, I refused to vacation in Dubai and Egypt- all for the same reason. In fact- except when required by my service to the US Government on official business- I have never set foot on authoritarian soil and I hope never to do so.

"I'm all for an invasion or an assassination, but somehow I think you will oppose that.

Surrendering does not seem the right answer to me somehow
"

We tried an invasion- it didn't turn out very well. We tried numerous assassination attempts, too- they didn't turn out so well, either. (AM/LASH, otherwise known as Rolando Cubela, spent 13 years in prison for his failed attempt, but there were many others). There are other options between invasion/assassination on one hand and surrender on the other- embargo and isolation was the one we happened to try for the last 50 years, and it it did not work as expected. I think it's time to explore other opportunities to undermine the Castro regime.

J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

"Surrendering does not seem the right answer to me somehow."

I thought you were over-the-top before, but this is hysterical. The Cold War has been over for a quarter of a century now. We are a hugely rich free society. Cuba is a small despotism. Do you have any sense of historical proportion? Cuba has about the population of Ohio. The notion that we are locked into some kind of significant battle with the Catro regime is simply to play into the PR campaign the Castro family has been pulling on the Cuban people for decades. If anything, our useless attempts at diplomatic isolation have helped fuel the Castro regimes propaganda campaign about needing to maintain a police state due to the threat posed against it by the USA.

Our trade with China helps support and enrich corrupt illiberal CPC members. Our trade with Vietnam supports equally corrupt political party membership. Our trade with the middle east enriches and empowers autocratic absolute monarchies. We trade with Sudan, a country whose president is wanted by the ICC for genocide in Darfur. None of this is an argument for diplomatic isolation, nor should it be. Diplomatic isolation has a terrible track record of achieving what it sets out to achieve.

Gahrie said...

I think it's time to explore other opportunities to undermine the Castro regime.

And providing the Cuban government with American dollars is exactly the way to go....

Gahrie said...

The notion that we are locked into some kind of significant battle with the Catro regime is simply to play into the PR campaign the Castro family has been pulling on the Cuban people for decades.

We aren't locked into a battle with Cuba...the Cuban people are locked into a battle with the brutal Communist dictators that have enslaved them for fifty years.

Diplomatic isolation has a terrible track record of achieving what it sets out to achieve.

Tell that to South Africa.

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"And providing the Cuban government with American dollars is exactly the way to go...."

No, there are other options. You seem only to see the world in binary code. Perhaps that's how one believes things like "It's illegal for ordinary Cubans to even own dollars."

Now, more importantly, do you want to put some money down on your earlier predictions?

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"Tell that to South Africa."

Well, there's your one, yes (and it's actually quite contested). Where else has diplomatic isolation worked? Is that one success proof that diplomatic isolation "works" (meaning is more likely than not to induce behavior change)? What about the numerous times it did not?

Gahrie said...

What about the numerous times it did not?

Like the Cuban emmargo, they usually fail because our enemies, and often our allies, ignore the embargo. South Africa worked because everyone honored it.

Gahrie said...

On November 8, 2004, the Cuban government withdrew the US dollar from circulation, citing the need to retaliate against further US sanctions.

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

"Like the Cuban emmargo, they usually fail because our enemies, and often our allies, ignore the embargo. South Africa worked because everyone honored it.."

Even supposing that is true, you've already conceded the point: the Cuban embargo is not being supported by our enemies or our allies (or whatever Canada is these days, buddy). You're arguing that diplomatic isolation and embargo would work if only the rest of the world would get on-board and honor our strategy, but conceding that they are not.

Now, how much would you like to wager on your predictions?

Bobby said...

"On November 8, 2004, the Cuban government withdrew the US dollar from circulation, citing the need to retaliate against further US sanctions."

Oh, Gahrie, that does not mean it is "illegal" for ordinary Cubans to possess US dollars! That meant, as I indicated in my earlier post, that US dollars were no longer accepted at retail businesses and had to be converted into Cuban pesos in order to conduct transactions. This does not make them "illegal."

Rusty said...

Bobby said...
"On November 8, 2004, the Cuban government withdrew the US dollar from circulation, citing the need to retaliate against further US sanctions."

Oh, Gahrie, that does not mean it is "illegal" for ordinary Cubans to possess US dollars! That meant, as I indicated in my earlier post, that US dollars were no longer accepted at retail businesses and had to be converted into Cuban pesos in order to conduct transactions. This does not make them "illegal."

Transacting business in US dollars is illegal. Dollars aren't illegal to own. For every 100 dollars US sent to a relative in Cuba the government taxes it at 94%. The Cuban citizen gets six dollars which he must immediately convert to special Cuban currency. Which ,unlike the regular Cuban monopoly money ,may be spent in special stores. Not, however, the special stores reserved for the Cuban elite.

Gahrie said...

If the dollars aren't illegal...why must they be immediately converted to the "special" Cuban currency?

Bobby said...

Rusty,

Do you have a source on the 94% tax? That's much higher than what I have seen. Thanks in advance!

Gahrie,

That's because US dollars are no longer accepted as legal tender at Cuban retail businesses (which are government-owned). Like, walk down to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and try buying your dinner with Costa Rican colones, or to the post office and try paying your shipping fees in Euros. They're probably going to make you exchange it for US dollars, but because Ruth's Chris is a private entity they can- if they so choose- accept colones or Euros for payment. Unfortunately, because socialist Cuba's retail businesses are government-owned, they have to play by post office rules.

Bobby said...

I should note that possession of neither Costa Rican colones nor Euros are illegal in the United States, even though one can't generally use either to conduct transactions here.

Gahrie said...


2) He will be endorsing the investment of American funds in Cuba.

"I’m also joined by some of America’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs because we’re ready to pursue more commercial ties, which create jobs and opportunity for Cubans and Americans alike."

Sounds pretty close to me.

"This afternoon, I’ll highlight some of the new commercial deals being announced by major U.S. companies. And just as I continue to call on Congress to lift the trade embargo, I discussed with President Castro the steps we urge Cuba to take to show that it is ready to do more business, which includes allowing more joint ventures and allowing foreign companies to hire Cubans directly.

I think it's fair to say I called this one.

3) The U.S. will immediately be providing Cuba with humanitarian aid, probably several hundred million dollars a year."


"And going forward, educational grants and scholarships will be available to Cuban students. And in partnership with the Cuban government, we’ll offer more English language training for Cuban teachers, both in Cuba and online."

hmmm...sounds suspiciously like aid to me.....


Rusty said...

Gahrie
I'm going by what my Cuban friends have been telling me and what Michael Totten wrote.
Bottom line. Cuba is a shithole and the Cuban elite want to keep it that way.
"You've been a good little slave. Have a rice cooker."
"But it doesn't work."
"Shuttup, anti-revolutionary scum!"

Bobby said...

Gahrie,

Whereas I would point out that does not approach the threshhold of "several hundred million dollars a year" that you established in your prediction, but I don't think facts matter a whole lot to you.

Just go with it!

Rusty said...

But Bobby. You haven't proved him wrong either.
My money is on the side of graft and corruption. In the long run Gahrie will be proven right.

Gahrie said...

I would point out that does not approach the threshhold of "several hundred million dollars a year"

The trip isn't over yet....

Rusty said...

I wonder what Obamas percentage is on the kickback?