December 25, 2014

"I’m sure there are hundreds (thousands?) of people right now trying to figure out if they can visit Cuba before the inevitable surge of change."

"Miss seeing the crumbling buildings? The fifties-era cars? The Castro government propaganda?"
I’ve never understood these sentiments. I find them to be so tone-deaf, like this place that has shaped my entire existence is just a type of disaster tourism, a fun stop on a political nostalgia to-do list. They’re sentiments that gloss over and negate all the suffering and loss that has shaped what Cuba is today.

85 comments:

James Pawlak said...


Will anyone start up a fund for one-way tickets for those perverts?

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

I would contribute.

Laslo Spatula said...

From the article:

"My mostly conservative, Cuban family doesn’t understand wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt (they’ll tell you he was sent to South America by Castro for being too violent). "

Maybe they can reenact scenes from the revolution for a different set of travelers.

I am Laslo.

Oso Negro said...

There is a strange phenomenon at work here - people who don't want to others to see things for themselves or hear about what is seen. Let us conduct a thought experiment: imagine a world in which no one wants to either see, or hear about, unpleasant things. How would you know of their existence? How would you know if what you had heard (from people who did go) was in fact true? Certainly a person can't see everything for themselves, but if nobody left home to go have a look, what would we know of other places or other cultures?

Skeptical Voter said...

The writer's parents were 11 and 13 when they left Cuba. So the writer was born in the USA--but her homeland is Cuba--and she's got "progressive politics".

Hokay--she's a little mixed up. Somehow US policy "fueled Castro's regime". Alright, she's a lot mixed up.

But let's leave her mixed and middle aged self aside.

At some point the Castro brothers and Fidelismo will die. At that point in time, our policy toward Cuba will inevitably change. Obama with his usual merde touch has done it in the worst way possible--but that doesn't mean that such change won't ultimately come.

Hagar said...

These people also think Indians ought to stay on their reservations and look picturesque, so that they can visit, take pictures, and teach their children about the misdeeds of the White Man towards the Red.

(This last gets a little difficult today since the urchins are likely to ask if "Red" isn't supposed to be a derogatory term when applied to people rather than potatoes.)

Michael K said...

She missed out on the experiences that one of my partners had as he lived under Castro until he was nine and his parents were able to send him to Florida. They took another two years to get out. She would understand her grandparents better.

MadisonMan said...

These are also the people who just want to be able to do something that others have not done so that when they engage in verbal one-upmanship at an oh-so-nice cocktail party they have the ne plus ultra last bon mot in vacation anecdotes.

RecChief said...

I wonder how many of those '50s era cars will be snapped up by limousine liberal hedge fund managers for their collections? Is that what this is all about? crony capitalism in the car collecting world?

If Obama was consistent, we'd send $2000 towards the purchase of a Chevy Volt and crush all of those old cars down there.

Temujin said...

Oso Negro: imagine a world in which no one wants to either see, or hear about, unpleasant things.

There is. It's called the University.

tim maguire said...

I don't see why wanting to visit an underdeveloped location before it develops is incompatible with wanting the people there to have better lives.

Bob Boyd said...

Am I supposed to know who Scahill is? Sorry, I don't. But he is just bragging, telling us he's special. We're all special, but he's extra special.
His tweet is like somebody saying, "I was in to this band before anybody, man, and it chaps my ass when people come up all like, Have you heard these dudes man they are awesome and I'm like no shit I have a CD they made in friggin' garage like two years ago so don't come up to me like you're Joe Talent Scout because you downloaded some of the best selling music on Amazon all right? Like spare me because as far as I'm concerned this band already peaked musically and everybody but me and few of my buds like totally missed it and now everybody's all jacked over what I consider to be like the dregs I can't even listen to them anymore because I'm like, They sold out and I can't believe everybody is digging it because its shit, but that's what most people seem to like, shit."

Kevin said...

Those ever so socially conscious fighters for social justice, Leftist Liberals, just love going to Third World locations for an "authentic" experience.

They have no problem treating the poor folks who have to live there day in and day out like they are part of a Liberal petting zoo.

Disgusting.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

These folks who want to go to Cuba can go now, if they like. They could ahve gone any time in the past 30 years. It takes a bit of effort but not all that hard.

My nephew went in the 90s with a church group. He was not at all impressed.

They spent their time out in the country and things were really grim.

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Skeptical voter:

US policy has fueled Castro's regime for 50 years now. Cuba could buy anything they want from anywhere else but the US and always have been able to.

The problem is that they have no goods to trade. Others are hesitant to give them stuff in exchange for nothing.

The embargo has given Castro a huge fig leaf. He tells the Cuban people that they reason they can't have nice things like toilet paper, meat etc is because of the US embargo.

Lift the embargo, the Cubans still can't buy from the US because they have nothing to buy with.

Then, perhaps, they will figure out the problem.

John Henry

Sam L. said...

Typical of lefties. The poor are just SO AUTHENTIC! Poverty is just So Ennobling.

tim maguire, it isn't incompatible, but those guys don't think that way. They think it will be ruined by increasing prosperity and the possibility of the dreaded Capitalism.

Michael said...

It is ironic that those seeking authenticity in Cuba will be looking at buildings built by capitalists and/or mobsters. There is very little in Cuba built in the last sixty years that is worth looking at. It is a time capsule. The lesson should be that communism grossly failed to advance any aspect of life. Any.

I was in China in the early eighties. Flying into Shanghai in the dark and remarkably there were few lights on in that city of millions. The old French and German areas were lined with beautiful European houses, mansions, each now occupied in squalor by dozens of families. It was a snapshot of failure.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

U.S. tourists have been visiting Cuba on the sly for a number of years now. You buy round trip tickets to a country such as Mexico. When you get to Mexico you buy tickets to Cuba with cash, and bring enough cash to cover your expenses in Cuba. On arrival, the Cuban customs officials give you a knowing nod and refrain from stamping your passport with an entry visa.

alan markus said...

I wonder how many of those '50s era cars will be snapped up by limousine liberal hedge fund managers for their collections? Is that what this is all about? crony capitalism in the car collecting world?

I guess the Lambrecht Auto Auction last fall proved that people will overpay for salvage "classic" cars, so this is possible. What I have been reading about the Cuban cars is that they really aren't worth anything as classics - some are called "Frankencars" - been constantly used since new, repairs are made with improvised parts, duct tape, baling wire, etc. To repair broken springs they use springs from railroad cars.

alan markus said...

Why Americans Will Overpay for Cuba's Vintage Cars

Anonymous said...

Veblen nailed this over 100 years ago: conspicuous consumption.

Jane the Actuary said...

I'm not so sure the "inevitable surge of change" is really all that inevitable.

Consider that Cuba now has plenty of tourists, and plenty of investors, building up resorts on the beaches. But this is not bringing in capitalism, or an improved living standard, to the people themselves. Castro has so far been careful to ensure that the profits accrue to the State. Unlike China, say, or other such places, the people themselves aren't allowed to be entrepreneurial in the tourism trade.

At least, that's what I read recently, and it sounded pretty believable. The only way that an end to the embargo will, in itself, change the country, is if the US insists that the embargo-lifting has some teeth that require that companies themselves do business with private entrepreneurs or, if doing business with Castro, Inc., that the workers are paid a fair wage.

http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2014/12/heres-idea-lift-embargo-but.html

Anyway, around here, the presents are now opened, and everyone's playing with their toys, so it's time to shower and get started on Christmas dinner.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

I'd be interested to know how much of this lamentation is based on the prospect of young Cuban women going to work at McDonalds rather than the more traditional sex trade.

Drago said...

If just 1% of what the left claims to be economic "truth" were really "true", the Soviet Union would never have collapsed and Cuba would be an island paradise and Venezuela would be an economic power.

Well, so much for that.

madAsHell said...

Well....I do like the 50's era automobiles.

Achilles said...

She would only visit the village of Potemkin if she went anyway. This way it is easier for her to lie about what happens when the government has total control.

Whether you call them socialist, communist, nazi, whatever the results are the same: poverty and lots of dead people.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Not long ago, one Michael Totten made a trip to Cuba, and deliberately went off the designated path for hard-currency tourists. His reports should be headlined on every 'news' story on Cuba, now that Obama's checked it off his list of items in support of the Revolution.

http://www.city-journal.org/2014/24_2_havana.html

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/welcome-cuba

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/lost-world-part-i

Rusty said...

I just got renamed out by an Huber lefty ex professor who believes I'm lying when I tell him Cuba is a shithole. Lefty's don't like having their core beliefs questioned.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

"The embargo has given Castro a huge fig leaf. He tells the Cuban people that they reason they can't have nice things like toilet paper, meat etc is because of the US embargo."

And your opinion of the Cuban people is low that you imagine that they can't se right through such bullshit.

Blackbeard said...

To me the interesting question here is why people think leftist totalitarian dictatorships are romantic but not fascist dictatorships. People still buy Che Guevara t-shirts but never Josef Goebbels. And yet the millions murdered and the lives destroyed by communism dwarfs anything Hitler did.

YoungHegelian said...

@Blackbeard,

To me the interesting question here is why people think leftist totalitarian dictatorships are romantic but not fascist dictatorships

Because the fascists lost the war, and the left (who won) took over shaping the narrative.

In the 20's & 30's, there was no shortage of intellectuals who romanticized the various "fascist" dictatorships (e.g. the Mitford sisters, Ezra Pound, etc.).

tim in vermont said...

I think there is no higher calling for a nation than to be a "nation of shopkeepers." When a nation gets ambitious for larger things than the prosperity of its own people, that is when the shit hits the fan.

LarsPorsena said...

The lefties will wax nostalgic for the 'old' North Korea when it collapses.

Cuba is Brigadoon for leftoids.

Sebastian said...

"I’ve never understood these sentiments. I find them to be so tone-deaf, like this place that has shaped my entire existence is just a type of disaster tourism, a fun stop on a political nostalgia to-do list. They’re sentiments that gloss over and negate all the suffering and loss that has shaped what Cuba is today."

Then she doesn't understand her fellow lefties very well.

The "disaster" is useful in affirming lefty shibboleths -- Cuban shabbiness shows the evil of American materialism, other people's problems are America's fault, and so on.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

We were in Havana for a couple of days a few years ago. Hopped over from the Caymens.

A lot of Canadians and various Europeans staying in the hotel.

Mostly walked the streets, talked to people, checked out the stores.

Nothing there to be proud of - buildings, streets, cars, shopping. The state subsidized bread was godawful.

Watched a very long paen to Hugo Chavez (still alive at the time) on the TV at the hotel.

Mini-museum denigrating the U.S. in an old anti-invasion bunker on the hotel grounds.

Not recommending it as a tourist destination.

Howard said...

Hopefully Cuba will return to a corporate-mafia dictatorship so that we can profit from sweatshops and exploitation of their natural resources and once again go there to gamble and whore to our hearts content.

Terry said...

Howard, the Cuban people were poorer after the revolution than they were before the revolution.
The Cuban people had more freedom before the revolution than they had after the revolution.
The regime of the Castros has been a disaster for Cuba. There is a reason the Castros do not allow the Cuban people to hold them accountable.

tim in vermont said...

Yeesh Howard, the island has served a long enough prison sentence for those crimes, don't you think? In fact, the wrong people are in prison.

Fritz said...

Maybe they'll stage firing squads for the nostalgic lefties.

Paco Wové said...

Thanks for those Totten links, I.S.

Lots of good stuff there. The comments at the first link are interesting, too, in a grimly fascinating way. Lots of Howards' friends commenting there.

tim in vermont said...

They can shoot actual dissidents against the wall, with a guy dressed up as Che pulling the trigger. Then give the lefties a tissue to stroke off in, moistened with the guy's brains.

Howard said...

So then the evil of Batista is forgiven by the evil of Castro?

Just like the evil of rogue cops is absolved by the evil of bangers and crazy murderers.

Your "They Do It To" Pre-pubescent logic in middle age is unseemly.

The fact that Batista was "one of ours" makes it worse if you have the balls to hold the US to a higher standard than Soviets.

Once again, like Viet Nam, we backed the wrong horse. We own these errors of moral and realpolitik judgement. The Castro regime is 100% on the US.

cubanbob said...

Howard said...
Hopefully Cuba will return to a corporate-mafia dictatorship so that we can profit from sweatshops and exploitation of their natural resources and once again go there to gamble and whore to our hearts content.

12/25/14, 12:58 PM

With that said, it will still be a hell of an improvement over Castro and the communists.

tim in vermont said...

All I am saying is the Cubans have suffered enough. Keeping their neck under Castro's heel is no improvement for them. You should visit there, and stray from the officially allowed path, travel as you would in the US, talking to whom you please, Howard. Might be educational for you.

tim in vermont said...

Everything is always 100% on us.

David said...

Africa. The Amazon. Rural China. India.

Howard said...

CubanBob:
There will be selected winners and losers when the tyranny shifts from commie to fascist. So, we should chalk you up as a useful idiot of the Goldman Sachs supported fascists.

cubanbob said...

Batista at his worst was never as bad as Castro at his best. But schmucks like Howard will always defend a communist piece of shit. Hey Howard, maybe you never heard but the only good communist is a dead communist so do something useful and make yourself a good communist.

Howard said...

Well Tim, I am glad our policy has finally shifted from the emotional response to all of our failures in Cuba to one of engagement.

cubanbob said...

Howard said...
CubanBob:
There will be selected winners and losers when the tyranny shifts from commie to fascist. So, we should chalk you up as a useful idiot of the Goldman Sachs supported fascists.

GS pays better and has better benefits than any POS communist outfit. Now when the tyranny lifts and justice is done by hanging communists from every tree and lamp post maybe the Swiss will hand back Castro's billions to the Cuban people.

Howard said...

I'm not defending Castro. He is the logical response to Batista when you have enough men with balls to throw off their chains. The fact that Castro was worse (I'll stipulate your point) is not a good excuse for our corporate and mobster tyranny that we fully supported with the full weight and treasure of the United States of America.

Howard said...

CubanBob:

The Swiss will make the Batista cronies whole after they refund the Nazi loot to the Jews.

You do bring up a good point WRT reparations. Perhaps you count yourself as one of Crack's buddies in support of remuneration for the ancestors of our slaves?

tim in vermont said...

Howard,
Have you noticed that regimes can switch from Communist to Fascist with little more than a memo to the PR dept and a change of letterhead?

Maybe you don't really understand who the fascists are. Naaah!

tim in vermont said...

50 years ago, the US screwed up in Cuba during a cold war that was a continuation of the hot wars of WWI, WWII, Korea, etc.

For that reason, communist slavery to the regime is better than individual freedom of speech and thought and economic liberty. Got it Howard. I always wondered.

caplight45 said...

I hope they keep a few capitalist pigs in the prisons so when I make my pilgrimage to the People's Paradise of Cuba I can see them in their "native habitat."

Lefties, you see, won't be going as mere tourists. No, they will be going as pilgrims. It will become the Progressives'version of the Hajj. The faithful who worship The State and who look for the consummation of the Utopian vision will descend in holy procession singing their anthems. One can almost hear the sounds, even now, of marching feet, beating drums and glorious voices resounding,"Look for the Union Label."

Anonymous said...

A reader comment from that article, referring to the 'Americanization' of former backpack destination paradises:

"And they need that job now that prices have gone through the roof they suddenly can't afford without it. The more you work the more money you need to survive and the more money you need to survive the more you have to work. That way we can become the epitome of Western evolution from Cro-Magnon Man to Consumer Man."

So this is where the Left thinks inflation comes from. Jobs and production. That explains a lot.

That comment referred to what this comment also is referring to:

"ou're just as bad as the people you criticize and it suggests that you've never really been to a "before and after" place. I have. Ko Samui in Thailand was one of the original "backpacker's paradises" of SE Asian "discovered" in the late 1970s. When I visited there in 1990, we stayed in one of the beach side bungalow complexes, there was just one paved road circling the island, and only two Western style resort complexes. Ten years later, the "main street" of Lamai boasts a Starbucks, McDonalds and a Subway. And that is how you fuck over someplace not already thoroughly Westernized. It doesn't have to be all one thing or the other. However, unfettered capitalism and FREEDUM have a way of overwhelming things."

So it's 'Freedum' now? That's what the left considers liberty? That explains a lot, too.

Perhaps it 'overwhelms' things because the locals enjoy actually having an income and not living in squalor? But that would ruin the limousine liberals' pristine backpacking destinations. Goodness!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it fascinating how often 'Progressives' seem to want nothing more than to freeze the world in a block of amber and make it static?

See: Cuba and other tropical 'paradises' where the locals are dirt poor, see global warming, where any change in the weather or climate is looked upon with doom, see the race situation in the US, where they are determined to bring back the 50-70's...

It goes on and on.

Howard said...

Tim:

Sorry, your myopia is showing. The Cuber fumble followed by crushing defeat and in-your-face Soviet aggression resulting in a US stand-down in Turkey was the continuation of the Banana Wars which you would only be familiar with if you ever spent anytime at a recruit depot.

Ne3xt you will be telling everyone what a pussy Smedley Butler was.

Howard said...

TCom:

To be fair, many conservatives want to freeze the US at 1955 right before Mom and Dad divorsed, when jobs were plentiful, smoking and drinking was healthy, development and progress praised and negro's knew their place.

tim in vermont said...

I got it Howard. We would all be better off living in Cuba like prisons than trying to be "free."

Anonymous said...

Nice strawman, Howard. Note that I quoted progressive commenters on their own website, while you quote nothing but your own bloviation.

Please, go give us a single example of a Conservative who believes all of those things.

One example. Or shut it, because you're not actually backing up your words with anything at all. I'm referring to quotes that express common sentiment amongst progressives. You quote nothing, stringing together a chain of total strawmen.

When cigarettes were healthy? When negros 'knew their place'?

Absolutely pathetic response.

iowan2 said...

I get soooo tired of this.

Want to know why people are hungry? Their government.

That includes the US.

Bob R said...

Lots of people trying to predict the future (very hard.) Too few talking about the nature of tourism.

The author compares Cuban tourism to disaster tourism. (Carl Hiaasen has a pretty funny take on disaster tourism in Stormy Weather.)I don't think this is the same. There is a difference between seeing sudden pain and suffering and a long term life style (however horrible.)

I've said on this blog before, that I'm not drawn to travel or tourism. I have no great desire to pay a short term visit to a civilization that is different from mine - just for the purpose of observation. But a lot of people want to see it in the flesh. They are looking for different and they are not very particular about what caused it. I think there are a lot of them who will be happy to see the Cuban people rich and prosperous and pissing on the Castro Brothers grave but who nonetheless want to see what is going on now. I'm definitely not one of them, but to each his own.

Anonymous said...

The irony of Howards comment is, all polling indicates conservative is the largest block of self identified voters.

And yet, here we are, not stuck in 1955.

On the other hand, Cuba is definitely not conservative. More leftist and socialist. They would find most agreement with the Democrats.

And there they are, stuck in 1955.

Terry said...

Howard wrote:
I'm not defending Castro. He is the logical response to Batista when you have enough men with balls to throw off their chains. The fact that Castro was worse (I'll stipulate your point) is not a good excuse for our corporate and mobster tyranny that we fully supported with the full weight and treasure of the United States of America.
Castro was the alternative to Batista, you moron. They weren't throwing off their chains, they were chaining up others.
You know nothing about the Cuban revolution.

Wilbur said...

"To be fair, many conservatives want to freeze the US at 1955"

Name not "many", but just a few.


So are you really being fair?

garage mahal said...

So many hot takes on commies.

Drago said...

Howard: "Once again, like Viet Nam, we backed the wrong horse. We own these errors of moral and realpolitik judgement. The Castro regime is 100% on the US."

It's very very important to Howard that no one, anywhere, at any time, hold any communist totalitarians to account for their crimes.

Next up for Howard?

Another strange conversational detour wherein the words "mud people" and "Rush Limbaugh" and "Faux News" are used, potentially multiple times.

Drago said...

garage mahal: "So many hot takes on commies."

Garage decides this is a good time to take a Walker-is-a-felon!!!eleventy break to voice his displeasure at others for noticing that Castro's workers paradise (and garage dreamland) kinda sorta totally sucks.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Far too many 'progressives' yearn for relics of Communism, regardless of the stark evidence they all furnish of failing economies and the miserable existence of dissidents.

They must all feel that come the Revolution, they would emerge giving the orders and lodging with the nomenklatura, with limitless numbers of former Republicans to boss around.

Carl Pham said...

They’re sentiments that gloss over and negate all the suffering and loss that has shaped what Cuba is today.

Which the Cuban people brought on themselves -- nobody forced Castro on them, they embraced him -- and which they have tolerated as conditions have deteriorated for half a century.

If a people shoot themselves in the foot and decline to bandage the wound, why precisely should one feel sorry about them bleeding to death? Christian charity? Ironic, that would be.

~ Steven said...

One of my profs when I was an endocrine fellow (a brilliant man) was absolutely enraptured with the Cuban health care system. We had a discussion about 10 years ago about it and he was totally imperious to any argument and facts to the contrary. Leftism is a religion.

furious_a said...

...visit [...] before the surge of change.

Merry Christmas, everybloody.

My mom took me with her to tour Soviet Russia in '69 and '71. It really was unique, kind of frozen-in-time America in the 50s with more war memorials and fewer automobiles. Still the feeling that they could keep up with the West and improve standard of living. Everything had a new-car-feel after.being re-built from the war.

Glad I got to see the place before reality caught up with it. The war memorials and the eyewitness testimonies from guides (people then in their mid-40s) were quite moving.

furious_a said...

I believe that Diana Nyad was the first person ever to swim 🏊 *to* Cuba.

Michael said...

Howard will like this feature. Foreign hotel owners pay the Govt. of Cuba $300 per month for each employee.

Here is the beauty part, the commie part.

The Cuban govt then pays the workers $15 a months he workers are all members of a union.

Nice. System.

Rusty said...

How does Howard explain that pre Castro Cuba had a standard of living second only to the US in this hemisphere.

n.n said...

Cover the island with windmill and solar farms, then export "green" energy. Move the displaced people and animals to Mexico, etc., where they can fill the void caused by mass emigration. I'm sure the Mexicans et al will welcome them with open arms. Same scenario throughout most of Africa. Especially South Africa, "progressive" land, where the natives have a well-earned reputation for "welcoming" illegal aliens.

Also, as more Americans reject the fairytale of spontaneous conception, move the Planned Parenthood and affiliated facilities to Cuba. They can pump embryonic and fetal stem cells through and underwater sewer, and feminists can commit premeditated murder without wild rationalizations.

There's two major industries for an up and coming paradise. Displace, Replace, Abort, and Tax.

n.n said...

Michael:

The cost-of-living is low, so they can afford a low return. Also, there is only one major source of economic distortion: the ruling minority. This limits the overall distortion of the market. While there is limited opportunity for individual advancement, it is a sustainable environment for the unprivileged majority.

I think there are better compromises, beginning with an assessment of issues on merit, continuing with the establishment of a suitable state religion (i.e. moral philosophy), then a reconciliation of issues and principles.

tim in vermont said...

it is a sustainable environment for the unprivileged majority

Great. Fairness at last, achieved at the cost of the suffocation of human freedom, a tiny price to pay.

mikee said...

Prostitution in Cuba is supposedly still inexpensive and plentiful for tourists, thanks to poverty conditions under the Castro regime for 55 years.

So the tourists have that going for them, which is nice, I guess.

gk1 said...

I don't think the resident lefty trolls heart's are in this one. Given the train wreck of communism in every single application of it on the planet, its hard to stick up for it. Does anyone reasonably think the only reason why Cuba hasn't imploded already is because its an island and its a lot harder to escape than voting with your feet?

Steven Wilson said...

One of the commenters over there was insisting on moral relativism between Che and Fulgencio Batista. Where can I get my Batista sweatshirt?

Oh, and how many people drowned trying to get from Florida to Cuba?

Steven Wilson said...

Okay, here's another too late to the party reflection.

How is it we are supposed to view communist or at least Cuban regimes through glasses that are more and more rosy the longer it endures, but the Batista regime becomes more blood stained?

These people need to clean their lenses and reverse their binoculars.

pst314 said...

"Prostitution in Cuba is supposedly still inexpensive and plentiful for tourists, thanks to poverty conditions under the Castro regime"

And especially because Castro encouraged prostitution.

southcentralpa said...

Cue the trustafarian condos/lofts ...