Category Archives: Economy

The Establishment proposes catching up in Cuba by ignoring its government

La Alborada – May 20

Tr-bigstick-cartoonA group of former diplomats –including some very interventionist ones–, former members of the US legislative and executive branches, retired military officers, current bankers and corporate officials, NGO heads, and some others, have sent an open letter to President Obama asking that he take action to facilitate the penetration of the Cuban economy through actions that are within his power to take.

Somehow, this is being dressed up as an effort to improve relations with Cuba. It is hardly that, however. It looks more like recommendations that might be advanced by Freedom House, USAID, DAI, NSA, CIA, NED, NGOs, and other members of Washington’s alphabet soup. The difference seems to be that these actions would be authorized openly to facilitate involvement in Cuba’s economy, in particular the developing small-business sector, by “US NGOs and other organizations.”

There is no mention whatever of doing any of it with the approval or cooperation of the Cuban government, except in one paragraph at the end of the list, which proposes that the US “engage in serious discussions with Cuban counterparts on mutual security and humanitarian concerns,” and that in so doing it “leverage these talks to press Cuban officials on matters such as the release of Alan Gross and on-going human rights concerns.”

The last part about Alan Gross is a nod to the current US posture that no improvement in relations is possible unless Gross is released unilaterally, but it does not matter: the proposals seek no improvement in relations, but only a new effort to get into Cuban business now. There is nothing urging the President to negotiate an exchange with the remaining three prisoners of the Cuban Five, nor to remove Cuba from the list of sponsors of terrorism. There is no suggestion of doing away with the blockade.

The underlying motivation is revealed in one phrase: “…the U.S. is finding itself increasingly isolated internationally in its Cuba policy.” That is to say that, while the US government and the media argue that the new Cuban economy is not going anywhere, that the Mariel EDZ will draw no investors, and that Raul Castro is incapable of making the economy work, an important sector of the US establishment recognizes that if they don’t get on the bus now they may have to wait a long time before the next one comes by.

These are some of the signers:

– John Negroponte, former Deputy Secretary of State; former Director of National Intelligence, and –based then in Honduras– coordinator of US intelligence and activities in Central America during the wars of the 1980s.

– John Adams, Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Retired); former Deputy U.S. Military Representative to NATO; former Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Army.

– Admiral James Stavridis, Commander of U.S. Southern Command 2006–2009; Supreme Allied Commander NATO 2009–2013; Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

– Paul Cejas, former U.S. Ambassador; President and CEO, PLC Investments, Inc. (management of portfolio investments as well as investments in real estate and venture capital projects).

– Andres Fanjul, Fanjul Group (big sugar).

– Moises Naím, a minister under Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela and currently a right-wing alarmist and proponent of taking down the governments of all of the ALBA countries. (Cuba is, of course, a founder of ALBA.)

– Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

– Ambassador Charles Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, where he actively assisted coup plotters before, during, and after the coup of 2002; President, Institute of the Americas.

– George Weiksner, Vice Chairman, Credit Suisse – the same bank that yesterday agreed to pay $2.6 billion in penalties for helping wealthy US clients evade taxes in a scheme federal investigators said spanned decades.

What do they propose? Here are some examples (emphasis is ours):

– Allow unlimited remittances to non-family members for the purpose of supporting independent activity in Cuba and expand the types of goods that travelers may legally take to the Island to support micro-entrepreneurs.

– Establish new licenses for the provision of professional services to independent Cuban entrepreneurs.

– Allow U.S. NGOs and other organizations to lend directly to small farmers, cooperatives, self-employed individuals, and micro-enterprises in Cuba.

– Allow Cuban entrepreneurs to participate in internships in U.S. corporations and NGOs.

– Authorize the sale of telecommunications hardware in Cuba, including cell towers, satellite dishes, and handsets.

The signers may not be aware of the ZunZuneo debacle and of the way that NSA spies on other countries through back doors built into US hardware, but it seems that they just don’t care what the Cuban government thinks of these ideas. They want Obama to open the gates for intervention.

It’s hard to come to a different conclusion given the character of the proposals. They’re not a good approach to improving relations.



The USA: Scarecrows on the March

The USA: Scarecrows on the March español

Atilio Boron

Translated from the Spanish by Machetera

Those rulers whom the gods wish to destroy are first overwhelmed by a crisis, then coaxed into promising the suffering a radical and effective cure for the maladies of the age and finally damned because their policies are lukewarm and ambivalent.  Obama was a victim of these vicious and vengeful gods who decided to give him an exemplary thrashing in this Tuesday’s elections, taking away control of the House of Representatives, a number of governorships, and reducing the Democratic majority that remains in the Senate to its absolute minimum.  More seriously, the doors to the loft that holds the worst scarecrows in U.S. society, the angriest and most agitated of them all, were thrown open wide, catapulting a number of them to the Senate or the House thanks to a vote from a public that has grown increasingly imbecilic thanks to the patient work of the great media of mass confusion.  For some time now they’ve been working to turn a large part of the U.S. population into those “trained thugs” of which the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci spoke.  Thanks to all this, the U.S. public has accepted as valid and reasonable, affirmations that would have provoked incredulity or hilarity among the most backward and superstitious people in medieval Europe. Continue reading

Fidel again on the nuclear war nobody is talking about

Knowing the Truth in Time CubaDebate (español)

Fidel Castro Ruz

Translation: Machetera

When writing each one of my previous Reflections, while a catastrophe for humanity is rapidly approaching, my greatest concern has been to perform the basic duty of informing our people.

Today I’m calmer than I’ve been for 26 days.  As things continue to happen at short notice, I can reiterate and add to the reports presented to Cuban and international opinion.

Obama has promised to attend the World Cup quarter-finals on July 2nd, if his country advances from the second round.  He should know better than anyone that these quarter-finals may not take place since very serious events will take place before then, or at least he ought to know that.

On Friday, June 25th, an international news agency known for its close attention to detail in its reports, published the declarations of the “…commander of the elite Navy corps of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, General Ali Fadavi…” warning “…that if the United States and its allies inspect Iranian ships in international waters, ‘they will receive a response in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.’” Continue reading

Raj Patel on the battle for the world food system

Jill Hickson did this interview with Raj Patel where he talks about everything from food sovereignty to patriarchy, to sustainable agriculture in Cuba and the empowerment that Cubans have as citizens, to the roots of slow food, but he doesn’t stop there.  He talks about the way forward.  24 minutes that fly by in an instant.

Raúl Castro’s address to Cuba’s Young Communist League

I’ve always loved the stories about the Cuban mambises, who, outgunned and outnumbered by their nineteenth century Spanish oppressors, resorted to a clever kind of weaponless warfare; that of wearing their enemy down by giving them false directions when lost, or harassing them during the night so they could not rest.  While the Obamas and Estefans share Bloody Marys with the terrorist faithful on April 15th in Miami Beach, they might spare a thought for the historic futility of their efforts.  Cuba’s youth will always outlast them.

“Young Cuban revolutionaries understand perfectly well that to preserve the Revolution and socialism, and to continue being dignified and free, they have many more years of struggle and sacrifices ahead of them…Cuba does not fear lies nor does it kneel to pressure, conditions or impositions, from whichever direction. It defends itself with the truth, which always, sooner rather than later, ends up being known.”

Cuban President Raúl Castro’s keynote address to the Young Communist League, Havana, April 4, 2010 español

Edited by Machetera

Compañeras, compañeros, delegates and guests,

It has been a good Congress, which actually began last October with the open meetings attended by hundreds of thousands of young people and continued with the evaluation meetings conducted by organizations from the rank and file as well as the municipal and provincial committees where the agreements were shaped that would be adopted in these final sessions.

If there is one thing we’ve had plenty of during the little over five years that have passed since Fidel made the closing speech at the Eighth Young Communist League (YCL) Congress, on December 5, 2004, it’s been work and challenges.

This Congress has been held in the midst of one of the most vicious and concerted media campaigns launched against the Cuban Revolution in its fifty years of existence, an issue to which I will necessarily refer later on. Continue reading

Atilio Boron on the blockade against Cuba


A Blockade Against Humanity Español

By Atilio A. Boron

English translation: Machetera

On October 28th, the United Nations General Assembly will once again bring a resolution to a vote, requiring the United States to put an end to the blockade against Cuba in effect since 1961.  Just as has occurred each time since 1991 up until the present day, that resolution will be approved practically unanimously, ratifying the international community’s condemnation of the United States and reinforcing Washington’s tremendous isolation in the debate, due to a policy that has not only brutally chastised the Cuban people but also constitutes a threat to humanity as a whole.

Conscious that by its nature, it violates the most basic norms of international law and human rights, the empire’s publicists and their local spokesmen have unleashed, as on so many other occasions, a persistent semantic battle aimed at confusing and misleading worldwide public opinion.  To this end they resort to a euphemism: they refer to the blockade as an “embargo” and present it as though it were merely a commercial matter.  Continue reading

Evo Morales rocks Leganés

Evo Morales Closes an Old Wound – The Bolivian President’s Speech at Leganés, Spain


Introduction by Manuel Talens – English translation by Machetera

In chapter XVII of the Historia General de las Indias (1554) [General History of the Indies], the cleric Francisco López de Gómara described how when Christopher Columbus returned from the continent that years later would be named America, he went from Palos to Barcelona, where the Catholic Kings could be found. “Although the road was long and filled with obstacles, he was very honored and well-known, because they came to see him for having discovered another world and having brought great wealth from there as well as new kinds and colors of differently dressed men.” Just six of those men, strangers to old Europe, had survived the voyage. “The six Indians were baptized, since the others didn’t make it to the court; and the king, the queen and the prince, don Juan, their son, were the godparents, personally authorizing Christ’s sanctified baptism for those first Christians from the Indies and the New World.

These events took place in March, 1493, exactly 516 years and five months ago, the same period of time it took for a descendant of those unhappy human beings to repeat the same voyage, this time to undo the damage, and this time not as a voiceless captive, but as an articulate president of a republic that at last, has broken the last bonds of colonialism. Evo Morales, an indigenous Bolivian Aymaran, has returned the blow to the stepmother homeland, in the name of all his brothers who suffered and continue to suffer the latest consequences of that enterprise. That is, he has returned it without rancor, with arms extended, yet speaking the truth loudly and clearly before five thousand Latin Americans from practically all the republics and a good handful of Spanish enthusiasts as well. The place chosen for the speech was clearly symbolic: Leganés is not the court of aristocrats giving cover to the rancid monarchy which still rules in Spain, but a crowded working class city of 200,000, situated within Madrid’s industrial belt. Last Sunday, September 13th, the municipality of Leganés made its modern bullring– La Cubierta – available to the Aymaran leader, so that he might speak as he wished. And speak he did; in a tone that was always respectful, but firm. Continue reading