View Full Version : Cuba (merged thread)

08-02-2006, 06:15 AM
2 August New York Times - U.S. Says It Is Prepared for Transition in Cuba (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/02/world/americas/02policy.html) by Anthony DePalma.

After waiting nearly half a century for Fidel Castro to relinquish power, Washington is warily monitoring the provisional transition in Havana, confident it has plans in place to assist pro-democracy groups in Cuba and to head off any mass exodus from the island...

The White House made it clear yesterday that it did not see Mr. Castro’s brother Raúl, 75, to whom he handed off much of his power, as very likely to improve conditions on the island or relations with the United States. There were no plans to negotiate with him...

A plan announced by the State Department two weeks ago provides $80 million over two years to help with a post-Castro transition. The United States would also send special monitors and advisers to Cuba in the weeks after a full transition began...

2 August Washington Post - For Castro, a First Step In Calculated Transition (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/01/AR2006080100647.html)by Karen DeYoung and Manuel Roig-Franzia.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro's appointment of his younger brother, Raul, to take over temporarily as president and head of the Communist Party marks the beginning of a long-planned transition designed to maintain iron-fisted control of the island after Fidel Castro's eventual death, administration and intelligence officials said yesterday.

"This is their transition plan out for a test drive, a dress rehearsal," one intelligence official said of the surprise announcement Monday night that the Cuban leader had undergone surgery for intestinal bleeding and had relinquished "provisional" power to his brother...

1 August Voice of America - White House Says It Will Not Reach Out to Raul Castro (http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-08-01-voa68.cfm) by Paula Wolfson.

White House Spokesman Tony Snow says President Bush has long hoped that one day Cuba will be free and democratic. But he says that will not happen with Raul Castro in charge.

"Raul Castro's attempt to impose himself on the Cuban people is much the same as what his brother did, so no, there are no plans to reach out," he said.

During a session with reporters, Snow downplayed prospects for any change in relations between Washington and Havana. He said Fidel Castro is a dictator who is now temporarily handing power to his brother, the nation's prison keeper.

Snow refused to speculate on the health of the ailing Cuban leader, who has long been a major political irritant to the United States. But he did say there is no reason to believe he is dead...

12-29-2006, 09:12 PM
Castro's Cuba: Quo Vadis? (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=744) by Dr. Francisco Wong-Diaz. US Army Strategic Studies Institute monograph, 29 December 2006

The United States, particularly the Army, has a long history of involvement with Cuba. It has included, among others, the Spanish-American War of 1898, military interventions in 1906 and 1912, the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, the 1962 Missile Crisis, counterinsurgency, and low intensity warfare in Latin America and Africa against Cuban supported guerrilla movements. After almost 5 decades of authoritarian one-man rule, Fidel Castro remains firmly in power. On July 31, his brother, Raul Castro, assumed provisional presidential power after an official announcement that Fidel was ill and would undergo surgery. What would be the strategic and political implications attendant to Castro’s eventual demise or incapacitation? The author suggests some possible transition or succession scenarios and examines the consequences that might follow and the role that the United States might be called to play.

01-25-2007, 01:54 PM
There is a very good article in last Foreign Affairs about the failure of US foreign policy in Cuba, and the way ahead. It makes a comparison between failed US efforts at de-Baathification in Iraq, and any similar attempt at de-Fidelista purges that the US may wish to see post-Fidel. If this were to happen in Cuba, you would essentially be eliminating the entire white-collar work force of the country. It also points out the extraordinary influence ex-pats or ex-pat communities can have on the US government. While Ahmed Chalabi springs to mind, he fails in comparison with the influence the 1.5 million cuban ex-pat community has on federal policy.

01-25-2007, 02:11 PM
There is a very good article in last Foreign Affairs about the failure of US foreign policy in Cuba, and the way ahead....
Here's the link: Fidel's Final Victory (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20070101faessay86104/julia-e-sweig/fidel-s-final-victory.html), Foreign Affairs, Jan-Feb 07

...Even as Cuba-watchers speculate about how much longer the ailing Fidel will survive, the post-Fidel transition is already well under way. Power has been successfully transferred to a new set of leaders, whose priority is to preserve the system while permitting only very gradual reform. Cubans have not revolted, and their national identity remains tied to the defense of the homeland against U.S. attacks on its sovereignty. As the post-Fidel regime responds to pent-up demands for more democratic participation and economic opportunity, Cuba will undoubtedly change -- but the pace and nature of that change will be mostly imperceptible to the naked American eye....

03-08-2007, 10:34 PM
US Homeland Security tests response to possible mass exodus from Cuba
from those wonderfully unbiased folks at AFP
Mar 07 3:42 PM US/Eastern

An exodus from Cuba combined with a virus outbreak put US authorities on full alert Wednesday in a simulation meant to tested the response to a mass migration from the communist-run island.

As part of the Homeland Security exercise off Florida, Coast Guard units took to the seas and military planes flew overhead as fictitious Cubans tried to reach US shores.

The maneuver aimed to test the response to a migration crisis similar to the one in which 125,000 Cubans landed on US shores in the so-called Mariel boatlift in 1980.

Some US officials have speculated there could be a massive migration from Cuba when ailing President Fidel Castro, 80, dies, but officers involved in the exercise declined to discuss that specific scenario.

"I'm not going to get into that," said US Coast Guard (USCG) Rear-Admiral David Kunkel. "This is driven because we have to be prepared," he said at a news conference launching the two-day exercise.

"While this exercise focuses on massive migrations from Cuba ... it could be any Caribbean nation," he said. "However, Cuba is something for which we have to be prepared."

In Wednesday's simulation, 2,000 fictitious Cubans took to the seas in a bid to reach the US Coast, and thousands more people left from Florida to pick up friends and relatives from the Caribbean island.

After about 100 Cubans made it to shore, officials found that a contagious virus had spread among the migrants.

More than 300 officials from some 50 agencies participated in the exercise, which officials said was particularly relevant in south Florida.

In the 1970s, more than 50,000 Haitians fleeing the dictatorship of Francois Duvalier and later his son Jean Claude Duvalier headed to the United States.

In 1980, Castro opened the Cuban port of Mariel, allowing anyone who wanted to leave the country by boat to do so. Over five months, 125,000 people had left the island, some on fragile rafts, others picked up by relatives living in Florida.

A similar migration involving 36,000 Cubans again took place 14 years later, once more placing a huge strain on Miami and other parts of south Florida as authorities tried to cope with the humanitarian crisis.

On August 1, then Florida governor Jeb Bush, a brother of the US president, asked authorities to ready for another such exodus. He made the request one day after Castro announced he had undergone surgery and provisionally handed power to his younger brother Raul.

Kunkel said that at the first sign such a movement could take place, he would seek assistance from the Miami-based military Southern Command.

The aim, he said would be to intercept 95 percent of the migrants and return them to the country they left.

Kunkel insisted there would be no repeat of the Mariel crisis.

"Now we have a plan," he said.

He said that the focus would be to return the migrants to their home countries, but did not rule out using the Guantanamo Bay US military enclave in Cuba to house some of them. In the 1980s and 1990s, the navy base had housed thousands of Cuban and Haitian would-be migrants.

Recent media reports indicated the Pentagon was planning to build facilities on the base to house migrants interdicted at sea.

03-08-2007, 11:51 PM
We could stem a lot of the upheaval during the eventual regime change if we dropped economic sanctions that have long outlived their usefulness. The best way to establish future stability in Cuba is to begin pumping US trade and investment dollars into the economy now.

03-13-2007, 02:02 PM
The key is acting before Cuba hits the breaking point. If Raul can be engaged to liberalize the political process in exchange for sanction lifting, then there is an opportunity to prevent the catestrophe that is waiting in the wings. The Cuban situation is different from Iraq in that their is strong Cuban constituency in this country that is going to fight any reapproachment with Cuba as long as Fidel is alive. They will not be happy with Raul either. However, because Fidel is the "face" of Cuba, the Cuban expats might be more accepting of Raul in an interim role with a road to some type of democratic process. And then hopefully, cheap Cohibas!!!

03-13-2007, 02:09 PM
The Miami Cubans make AIPAC look docile. We unfortunately will not see any rapprochement while they maintain their death grip on the swing vote in Florida politics.

07-27-2007, 09:13 AM
27 July NY Times - Cuba’s Revolution Now Under Two Masters (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/27/world/americas/27cuba.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin) by James McKinley Jr.

For the first time, Raúl Castro, the acting president, gave the traditional revolutionary speech during Cuba’s most important national holiday on Thursday, deepening the widespread feeling that his brother Fidel has slipped into semi-retirement and is unlikely to return. Yet Cuba continues to live in a kind of limbo, with neither brother fully in control of the one-party Socialist state...

Since the Communist Party has yet to officially replace Fidel Castro as the head of state, his presence in the wings and his towering history here continue to exert a strong influence in Cuban politics. That has made it difficult for Raúl Castro to shake up the island’s centralized Soviet-style economy, experts on Cuban politics said, though Raúl’s public remarks on Thursday made it clear he would like to.

He scolded the nation for having to import food when it possessed an abundance of rich land and vowed to increase agricultural production. He also said Cuba was seeking ways to secure more foreign investment, without abandoning Socialism...

27 July Washington Post - Cuba's Call for Economic Detente (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/26/AR2007072600893.html)by Manuel Roig-Franzia.

As one of history's longest-serving political understudies, Raúl Castro often struggled to persuade his all-powerful brother Fidel Castro to open Cuba's moribund economy to more foreign investment.

But Thursday, with Fidel Castro still hidden from public view after intestinal surgery last July and his prospects of returning to power uncertain, the younger brother asserted his desire to push Cuba in a new direction. Speaking at a ceremony commemorating the start of the 54th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, Raúl Castro declared that Cuba is considering opening itself further to foreign investment, allowing business partners to provide this financially strapped nation with "capital, technology or markets."

The younger Castro's remarks, coupled with his unusual admission that the Cuban government needs to pay its vast cadres of state-employed workers more to cover basic needs, amounted to the clearest indication yet of how he might lead this island nation. Castro, who was named interim president last July 31, vowed to partner only with "serious entrepreneurs, upon well-defined legal bases."...

27 July Miami Herald - Raúl Again Offers 'Olive Branch' to U.S. (http://www.miamiherald.com/579/story/183838.html) by Frances Robles.

In Raúl Castro's most important speech since he replaced ailing brother Fidel, the interim Cuban leader Thursday bluntly admitted during the island's July 26 celebrations that Cuba faces myriad problems and little hope of quick fixes.

Castro, 76, told the tens of thousands convened in the eastern city of Camagüey that while salaries and food production are too low, inefficiency and prices are way too high. He added that Cuba's days of inefficiency, graft and dependence on foreign imports must come to an end.

Castro, also for the third time, called for a dialogue with Washington and made only passing mention of Fidel -- whose absence at the ceremony marking the 54th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution reinforced the belief that Fidel will not return to active rule after his emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding last July...


Fidel Castro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fidel_Castro)

Raul Castro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ra%C3%BAl_Castro)

Dominique R. Poirier
07-27-2007, 10:34 AM
In a culturally planned economy, capital goods and services are allocated by bureaucratic decision. Over a period of time, prices established by administrative fiat lose their relationship to costs. So long as the system is run as a policy state, the pricing system becomes a means of extorting resources from the population.
However, as soon as terror eases, prices turn into subsidies and are transferred in a method of gaining public support for the communist party. In the end, everything, from food to housing is subsidized without any criterion for efficiency and hence turns into an obstacle to a rising standard of living.

France has consistently engaged into similar methods during the last thirty years, though in the case of this country the communist origins of this way of doing things have systematically been denied. Bureaucratic decisions upon what ought to be relevant to private economy truly exist and the whole economic system is truly run as a policy state, but the subtlety lies in the fact that bureaucrats and officials directly intervening in private economy are not officials, though in many cases they have been indoctrinated and trained in one or several of the four state schools and universities which use to train the ruling elite since decades. Instead those "unofficials officials" act as said-to-be private entrepreneurs and businessmen and other investors and “business angels” who carefully follow official and unofficial state directives touching on nearly everything, from goods and services prices, to wages per profession and specialties, to fashion, to design, to private banking, to insurance, health industry and many other things.

Instead of an open and officially claimed communist economic policy, this system works as one might describe as a conspiracy since it has no official existence; but the visible effects on private economy and the collective behavior of the society are exactly similar to those usually affecting communist and socialist rulled economies and they are likely to lead to depression and unemployment, as it happens in Cuba, for the reasons I explained in the first paragraph of this comment.

At this point, and since the existence of a communist ruled economy is denied, then the system belongs to another category known as enlightened despotism.
Enlightened despotism, when it is not practiced by a visible king or dictator but by a collectivity or a secret council of “wise men” is said to be ruled by synarchy.
This is what also happens in Iran today where the Mullahs truly rule the country from behind the political stage; and in Russia where the ruler is publicly visible and truly influential though he has been put in place by a council of wise men; and in some other countries such as China, though there the system is slightly different and seems to undergo a positive evolutionary phase.

This way of governing is more easily tolerated by other states as long as it is not officially named communism and as long as leaders who practice it fiercely deny it so.
Is Cuba going to adopt such system in the future is a likely hypothesis, in my own opinion, since it constitutes a more suitable, not to say obvious, way to attract foreign investments and to gain a foot, through private investments, in truly democratic countries.

07-31-2007, 12:28 PM
SSI, 30 Jul 07: Security Requirements for Post-Transition Cuba (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB785.pdf)

This monograph serves multiple purposes, the most important of which is to contribute to the thought process of dealing with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias of Cuba (FAR). Change is inevitable in Cuba. Both Fidel Castro and his brother Raul are aging. Their passing will trigger either a succession or a transition. With that change, Cuba’s security requirements will change as well. This monograph analyzes security requirements that the new Cuba will face and proposes what missions and structure the Cuban security forces might have after a transition. The overall long-range U.S. goal is a stable, democratic Cuba which is integrated into the global market economy. The U.S. Government Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba says that if a Cuban government asks for assistance, the United States could be made available “in preparing the Cuban military forces to adjust to an appropriate role in a democracy.”

The Cuban military will have to change with the times, altering its focus from the territorial defense of Cuba and internal security to missions that are consonant with modern circum-Caribbean militaries: control of air- and sea-space against transnational criminals. The military will need a new structure for these missions, less focused on insurgency in defense of the island and more focused on a common operating picture and integration with the efforts of Cuba’s neighbors.

This monograph proposes a way ahead in preparing Cuban forces for the future, integrating them into the Western Hemisphere community of militaries, and ensuring their support for democracy, subordination to elected officials, and respect for human rights. It also suggests constructive engagement of the Cuban military with the international community. This change is inevitable, and can be relatively painless or long and difficult. Both the Cuban military and the international community have to decide which way they want it to be....
Full 39 page paper at the link.

09-13-2007, 02:23 PM
Military Review, Sep-Oct 07: Cuba After Fidel: What Future for US-Cuban Relations? (http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/milreview/English/SepOct07/moralesengseptoct07.pdf)

....What should the U.S. response be to a Fidel-less Cuba? Will the immediate change in leadership further normalization of relations and an end to the embargo? Will the U.S. continue its long-standing policy of indirect subversion and sabotage? Or will Fidel’s death and the transition to another leader provide the opportune climate for direct U.S. military intervention? Will the Cuban dissidents on and off the island be able to rally the Cuban people to overthrow a successor government? Should the United States have a role, either direct or indirect, in regime change in Cuba? Would an active U.S. role promote democracy in Cuba and the region? And what would be the immediate and long-term impact of U.S.-sponsored regime change on hemispheric cooperation and security?

How U.S. policymakers respond to these difficult questions will be critical to Cuba’s political and economic development and to a renewal of U.S. credibility in Latin America. But before we begin to consider what the appropriate U.S. security framework for a new Cuba policy should be, we must first put the current U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America into context.....

Watcher In The Middle
09-16-2007, 02:40 AM
I'm not at all impressed by the article Cuba After Fidel: What Future for US-Cuban Relations? - I think it falls into what I call the "soft headed, delusional approach to a currently failed state".

For example, they take what I feel are the "glittering generalities" about Cuba, don't look behind the curtain at all to see how things are really working out (the devil being in the details, as we have learned in Iraq), and then drawing all the appropriate soft headed conclusions.

For example, just shook my head over the talk about the Cuban financial miracle. First comment is that the article statements about the “successful tourism sector” is really substantially nonsense, considering that of all the tourism growth occurring in the region (which has experienced a vast expansion virtually everywhere), only a small portion of it has gone to Cuba, and most importantly, not what would be considered to be the “high end” market. Looks like this study gauged “success” by comparing tourism in Cuba to complete total tourism stagnation (say, something like “tourism in Somalia”, or maybe Cali, Columbia during the drug wars).

Secondly, I was amazed for such an article how little attention/knowledge they spent paying attention to individuals like Raul Castro. Raul Castro has a much different style of leadership than his brother, which has quickly become apparent over the last 1-2 years.

Raul reportedly has spent a great deal of effort building a cadre of individuals who would probably be identified as being both “mid level managers” and “upper level managers” in private enterprise, although in Cuba they are part of the military. There have been a number of favorable reports regarding business-to-business contacts with different of these individuals. Impressive.

With Fidel Castro’s recent serious illnesses, Raul Castro has shown some tantalizing hints of potential changes to come post Fidel. Just as a point, there are a number of very hard headed US business types who have a much more favorable impression of Cuba under Raul Castro's guidance than they have of Cuba currently under Fidel Castro's leadership. That talks loudly to me. But who know what, if anything will come of this all.

I would hope that when Fidel passes, the first act by this administration would to be to immediately lift Helms-Burton. No longer needed. And then just sit back for at least 6 months and do nothing (either way). The global marketplace will tell us what steps are required next, if any - but you have got to give it some time.

Of all the options presented in the article, I tend to think it will be Option 2 that will come into effect (Limited Engagement, or the “Miracle of the Marketplace”).

Just as an outsider observation, this article reads like it comes from some fuzzy thinking "think tank" funded with megabucks by some government agency, and they went out and got all the glittering generalities they could find, vacumned up a whole bunch of facts and then sorted out the ones needed to support their conclusions, and ended up with "And It's Away We Go" type of article.

Guys, the business community has a much different, and much more hard headed outlook. There's big time money being planned for capital development in different world markets (all the time), and those folks want insights. Cuba (post Fidel) these days is on that radar screen.

09-18-2007, 12:28 PM
The Mob found rich pickings in Cuba and though tourism alone certainly would not pull Cuba out of its economic cesspool, it certainly would help. The beaches and climate are nice, so they say. A few big casino hotels could pump alot of money into the central government and provide high paying jobs for some locals and relationships between the average Cuban and American would improve. Since I am not a gambler or cigar smoker, I'll let others more wise draw the final conclusions.

Watcher In The Middle
09-18-2007, 01:28 PM
The Mob found rich pickings in Cuba and though tourism alone certainly would not pull Cuba out of its economic cesspool, it certainly would help. The beaches and climate are nice, so they say. A few big casino hotels could pump alot of money into the central government and provide high paying jobs for some locals and relationships between the average Cuban and American would improve. Since I am not a gambler or cigar smoker, I'll let others more wise draw the final conclusions.

The biggest problem with the entire tourism area of the economy in Cuba are those nagging issues of uneven government interference with the tourism operations (new government edicts which contradict the previous government edicts issued 6-9 months ago, which "revised" the government edicts issued 9 months earlier, etc., etc.). If you've just placed a bet for $100-$200 mil on tourism in Cuba, and now you are getting jacked around by the government, you are NOT HAPPY!

Honestly, another issue is that Cuba has in many ways (at least in the tourism business) also turned into a thriving underground sex business - at least that's the perception out there. Personally, I could care less about the morality issue at play, but getting that type of reputation (even if completely undeserved) just kills Cuba's chances at developing the high end tourist marketplace. Low rent district, and that's hell to change.

As for tobacco, some of their neighbors have really eaten into their marketplace.

Amazingly enough, there's two issues that play to economic development which could come to the forefront for Cuba in a post-Fidel environment.

First is sugar cane - guess what, it's far easier and much more efficient to convert sugar production into Ethanol than corn. Something to think about.

Second, and this is the big one (government, academia, and the politicians seem to all be blind to it), is that Cuba has the one thing that everybody wants in the real estate market - Location, Location, Location. Havana to Miami-Dade distance-wise is close to the same distance as New York-Washington D.C. (about 230 miles to 200 miles).

Miami-Dade in the 1960's and 1970's played second fiddle to both New Orleans and Atlanta. Not these days - Miami-Dade has developed to be a thriving international gateway, and major world class fiscal/trading center.

Cuba (literally, the entire island) would be the perfect location for an "outer collar" for Miami-Dade, with major container ports, feeder for Miami-Dade (think of using Gitmo as both a military/civilian feeder airport into both Miami-Dade International and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson).

But the above is all a pipe dream until we go post-Fidel. Nobody is going to kick in the types of megabucks required until Fidel is off the scene. Business does not "do" political ideology well - and that's Fidel's environment.

Just a few thoughts....

09-18-2007, 01:49 PM
I hadn't considered the ethanol/biodiesel aspect - seems somewhere South biodiesel is really booming - Brazil? Regarding casinos, it seems really a matter of percentages being put on paper with accountants from both sides insuring contractual harmony. Again a small percentage of the potential GNP but the image issue can be countered with non-casino type resorts, family type places. An 'accidental' overdose for el-Commandante and it's off to Cuban Capitalism for sure and Cuba as a financial "outer collar" is viable. With Fidel in the grave, the Cuban-Americans lose 75% of their clout.

Watcher In The Middle
09-19-2007, 12:58 AM
I hadn't considered the ethanol/biodiesel aspect - seems somewhere South biodiesel is really booming - Brazil?

Yes, it is Brazil. But that's just a small part of a bigger story. The whole "Politics of Sugar", in particular in Florida, are going to face radical change once Fidel goes off the scene. Here's a link to the background at opensecrets.org (btw, both political parties are dirty as sin on this one).

Link (http://www.opensecrets.org/pubs/cashingin_sugar/sugar08.html)

An 'accidental' overdose for el-Commandante and it's off to Cuban Capitalism for sure and Cuba as a financial "outer collar" is viable. With Fidel in the grave, the Cuban-Americans lose 75% of their clout.

The funny thing is that the new economics are being held at bay by this really weird symbiotic adversarial relationship (more of a shouting match, actually) of Castro vrs. the Cuban-Americans. Remove one group from the scene, and in all likelihood the other side will just be lost without their old adversary.

The funnest part of the whole deal is that if this comes down where Cuba becomes an economic "Outer Collar" from Miami-Dade, the biggest losers will probably be the Chinese. Right now, Cuba is an open field playpen for them, because there are so few players. But flood the playing field with new players, and the Chinese are ust "wannabes". As is Hugo Chavez.

Watcher In The Middle
10-16-2007, 12:02 AM
Here's the article:

For Cubans, a Twisting New Route to the U.S.

Published: October 16, 2007

CORTES, Cuba — Cubans are migrating to the United States in the greatest numbers in over a decade, and for most of them the new way to get north is first to head west — to Mexico — in a convoluted route that avoids the United States Coast Guard.

The island of Isla Mujeres has become a stepping stone to the United States for many Cubans who believe that a route through Mexico boosts their odds of reaching Miami.

American officials say the spike in migration is due to a lack of hope for change on the island, since Raúl Castro took over as president from his brother Fidel last year. Cuban authorities contend the migration is more economic than political, and is fueled by Washington’s policy of rewarding Cubans who enter the United States illegally.

In fact, unlike Mexicans, Central Americans and others heading to the United States’ southwest border, the Cubans do not have to sneak across. They just walk right up to United States authorities at the border, relying on Washington’s so-called wet foot/dry foot policy, which gives Cubans the ability to become permanent residents if they can only reach American soil.

LInk to Article (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/16/world/americas/16cuba.html?ex=1193112000&en=a64cc641d883a412&ei=5040&partner=MOREOVERNEWS)

Interesting article, because it strikes home. Recently had a situation where I was made acutely aware that the greatest growth of illegals coming across the Mexican border are from Eastern Europe, with Poland, Romania, etc. leading the way. There are all sorts of newspaper recruitment ads for illegals who can't get visas (or would have incredible waits) to fly to Mexico, make contact with their "handlers", and cross the US border to get to safe houses where they are then transported to major US cities. Cost is $10k to $15k per person, but beats waiting in line for 10-12 years, if you are lucky enough to win the visa lottery.

Got to hand it to the ordinary Cubans, though. They really got this game wired. They've just figured out a way to beat not only the US Coast Guard, but also the Cuban authorities by using Mexico as a conduit. Fidel really can't beat up on Mexico too much, because Mexico is one of "the locals" - Not like the Great Northern Imperialist.

I'm just sitting back and enjoying the thought of Fidel Castro joining sides with the conservatives out there who want to dramatically tighten US-Mexico border security.

Tom Odom
02-19-2008, 06:17 PM
Not my AO aside from living in Florida for a few years. I wonder what the future brings for Cuba itself and the US policy toward Cuba

Top Story Fidel Castro: Still a hero for many (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/28056.html)

BUENOS AIRES — While the 81-year-old Fidel Castro announced Tuesday he would not seek reelection as Cuba's president — officially ending nearly five decades in power — the Cuban leader remains a hero for a political class that in many cases came of age during the tumultuous years of Cold War intrigue.

Even if few defend the totalitarian, old-line communist bent of his government — and many criticize him as a dictator — Castro still wins praise around the region for championing social justice and national pride and sovereignty.

Many of South America's heads of state started their political careers as activists denouncing military dictatorships intent on stamping out Cuba-style communism in the hemisphere.

Tom Odom
02-19-2008, 06:22 PM
Interesting list of candidates beyond Raul

Raul Castro not the only possible successor (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking_news/story/424250.html)


Fidel Castro stepping down after nearly 50 years Cuban leader Fidel Castro has long referred to his brother Raúl as his designated successor and ''temporarily'' ceded power to the defense minister when he got sick in 2006. But there are others considered possible candidates to succeed Castro:


Fidel Castro's younger brother and most likely heir is widely seen as a hard-liner and master organizer who forged Cuba's military first into one of the world's best fighting machines and later into the island's main economic engine.

Cuba's long-serving defense minister again showed his leadership when the ailing Castro ''temporarily'' ceded power to him in July 2006, successfully steering the nation through the potentially risky hand-over and adopting a handful of changes designed to ease the island's many economic woes.

Steve Blair
02-19-2008, 06:34 PM
BBC has some coverage on this as well. Here (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7253078.stm) is a link to a summation of Raul and other contenders.

J Wolfsberger
02-19-2008, 07:39 PM
We've been hearing for decades that the end to the US trade embargo will solve all of Cuba's economic problems.

Since Cuba has had the entire rest of the world to trade with, the leftist excuse that it's the big, bad United States' fault that their economy sucks has always struck me as ... self-serving, adolescent crap.

Which leads to my concern. The lousy economy is not and never has been the fault of the US; it's their own, for following a deranged economic system. If we were to lift Helms-Burton, and absent a dramatic shift to rule of law and a market based economy, I can't convince myself that there will be any significant change. The Cubans, however, will be expecting huge changes.

Then what?

(Incidentally, given the current craze for ethanol based fuels, Cuba could easily be a major producer. Why aren't they already?)

Watcher In The Middle
02-20-2008, 01:58 AM
...the opening gambit in a brand new game. Think of it as "Post Castro Era For $100 Billion" (give or take a few).

Originally posted by J Wolfsberger:

The lousy economy is not and never has been the fault of the US; it's their own, for following a deranged economic system. If we were to lift Helms-Burton, and absent a dramatic shift to rule of law and a market based economy, I can't convince myself that there will be any significant change. The Cubans, however, will be expecting huge changes.

Then what?

(Incidentally, given the current craze for ethanol based fuels, Cuba could easily be a major producer. Why aren't they already?)

First off, let's get the ethanol issue off the table, because that's the easy one. Main reason is the high (and excessive) US tariffs against sugar cane ethanol imports. Substantial reason for tariffs: See Fanjul Brothers, FL. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fanjul_Brothers) Much, but not all, is in the politics of sugar. The rest of the story has been the corn producers, but that might be changing, simply due to supply and demand issues for corn as a foodstock.

As an example, we (US) impose a $.54 cents per gal tax on ethanol imports. Here's the link to the details. (http://www.gulfethanolinc.com/docs/RS21930.pdf) The result is that ethanol imports just can't compete, even though making ethanol from sugar cane is much more cost efficient than making from corn.

Expect to see the most truly unbelievable bipartisan political coalitions come out over the whole issue of Helms-Burton.They're going to be players coming down on different sides of the issue (keep/modify/repeal), and talking about having folks showing up on different sides. Be a show in itself - Ah, the sweet smell of $$$$ & influence by the boatload.

Crazy prediction time: To DeeCee land & environs, Cuba will become the next Iraq. I don't mean in military terms, but in controversy terms. But the players on both sides are just going to be wild. Might take 6 months to a year, but it's going to be fun.:rolleyes:

Even on his freaking deathbed, Fidel can still pull off a stunt like this one. Got to hand it to that old buzzard - he still knows how to pull off an exit.

Watcher In The Middle
03-07-2008, 05:32 AM
Cuba's Generation Gap
By BRIAN LATELL, Dated 03.01.2008

After waiting his turn for nearly 50 years, Raul Castro traded in his military uniform for a tailored suit and became Cuba's new president on Feb. 24. His brief inaugural address was filled with obsequies to his ailing brother Fidel, along with promises to consult him about important decisions. But the reality is that 76-year-old Raul is now firmly in charge. Fidel's long reign is over.

There is even reason to believe the brothers' relationship had turned acrimonious, and that Fidel was forced into retirement. One indication: During his interregnum following Fidel's provisional cession of power in July, 2006, Raul never benefited from public words of encouragement or support from his brother.

In over 90 ruminations issued by Fidel in the Cuban media over the last year, Raul was only mentioned once. In contrast, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez was repeatedly glorified, once even referred to by Fidel as his "brother."

There's another indication that all is not well between the two. Upon taking command, Raul demonstrated his independence, naming an alter ego as first vice president of the governing council of state -- the same post, first in the line of succession, that Raul had occupied himself for decades.
Link to full commentary (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120433010077904351.html?mod=opinion_main_comment aries)

Background; Brian Latell (http://www.csis.org/component/option,com_csis_experts/task,view/id,115/)

There's been lots of rumors floating about for a while that Raul and Hugo Chavez aren't on the best of terms, and that neither one really trusts the other. Just something to think about.

02-18-2009, 05:06 AM
Hey Folks, we did some Q&A with Army War College research professor COL Alex Crowther, who argues in the latest SSI op-ed that we should nix the embargo on Cuba. May be of interest to some:



Ken White
02-18-2009, 05:49 AM
All we've done since then is keep the 'Revolution' humming...

Bill Moore
02-18-2009, 06:52 AM
Wholeheartedly agree, all we accomplished with our embargo was keeping Castro in power (until his health failed) and facilitated increased Soviet influence in the region, not to mention fueling the fire of radical left rhetoric throughout Latin America that continues to plague the region to this day.

The best way to subvert communism is to engage their populace economically and socially. Communism cannot survive in an open society where it is exposed to the truth. If we engaged Cuba economically, the people would have been exposed to another America, one that benefited their country and livlihoods; on the other hand, it is easy for the Cuban people to hate America and develop a sense of nationalistic pride when our nation takes offensive action (embargo) against the people.

Unfortunately our policy towards Cuba was hijacked by a few thousand reactionary Cubans in Florida who found they had influence over our ultra right politicians at the time. These are the folks who conveniently seemed to have forgoten that Bastista was ousted from power for a reason, and that a populist insurgency is more democratic than an election where there is only one candidate (Bastita). We didn't put Castro in power, but we sure as heck kept him there.

While on one can tell, I suspect that if we stayed engaged with Cuba, Castro would have seen us as a grave threat and would have barred us from working in Cuba, and the results of ths bar would devastate the economy, thus making Castro the bad guy, not us, then we could support the uprising that follows. All speculation of course, but the revolution I imagined would have been a dream come true for Special Forces. Instead we get dealt the manufactured revolution and the resulting failure with the tragic Bay of Pigs episode.

John T. Fishel
02-18-2009, 12:27 PM
our Cuba policy as rational is to accept the truth of Tip O'Neill's comment that, "All politics is local." Our policy was driven by the perception that the Miami Cuban-American community was implacably opposed to an opening to Cuba.

Over a decade ago, while teaching at Leavenworth, I had a Cuban-American student in my Latin American elective. Bright young officer, he was in no way blinded by the then prevailing view of the Cuban-American National Foundation. In this way, he foreshadowed the changes we see in Cuban-American attitudes today.

Final note: Well said, Alex! Hooah!:D



02-20-2009, 05:46 AM
Part two is up!


01-18-2011, 09:15 PM
GIGA, 17 Jan 11: Civil Society 2.0?: How the Internet Changes State-Society Relations in Authoritarian Regimes: The Case of Cuba (http://www.giga-hamburg.de/dl/download.php?d=/content/publikationen/pdf/wp156_hoffmann.pdf)

In the debate over the role of civil society under authoritarian regimes, the spread of transnational web-based media obliges use to rethink the arenas in which the societal voice can be raised - and heard. Taking the case of state-socialist Cuba, a diachronic comparison analyzes civil society dynamics prior to the Internet - in the early to mid-1990s, and a decade later, after digital and web-based media made their way onto the island. The study finds that in the pre-Internet period, the focus was on behind-the-scenes struggles for associational autonomy within the state-socialist framework. A decade later, web-based communication technologies have supported the emergence of a new type of public sphere in which the civil society debate is marked by autonomous citizen action. While this defies the socialist regime's design of state-society relations, its effect on democratization depends on the extent to which a web-based voice connects with off-line public debate and social action.

07-16-2013, 06:13 PM
PANAMA CITY (AP) — Panama says it has seized a North Korean-flagged ship carrying what appeared to be ballistic missiles and other arms that had set sail from Cuba.


Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games
Hiding out in tree-tops shouting out rude names
-Whistling tunes we hide in the dunes by the seaside
-Whistling tunes we're kissing baboons in the jungle
It's a knockout - P. Gabriel

Bill Moore
11-26-2016, 06:54 AM

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dies aged 90

As much as I despise communism and cruelty it has inflicted upon mankind, I grudgingly respected Castro's ability to stand up against the world. I believe it was Nixon that said Castro was a leader of men and a force to be reckoned with. I'm sure the pundits will do what pundits do for the next few weeks, but I don't think anyone will have a clue on what way Cuba will go until at least 6 months passes.

11-26-2016, 09:26 PM

I doubt what we think will actually affect what happens in Cuba. They can neither access the Web; I am unsure whether they can watch US or other TV.

There have been some bizarre Tweets from political figures here. One of the better retorts was Castro was such a revolutionary his brother succeeded him. Almost like that other "workers paradise" DPRK or North Korea.

The death of a leader, or ex-leader as Castro was, in a communist regime can have an impact, but will Cuba follow that path?

Bill Moore
11-27-2016, 02:12 AM
You're right Fidel's death will mean little in the short run, because he stepped down from power in 2006, giving Raul amble time to establish his power base. However, Raul said he is stepping down in 2018, and who follows is a bit of a mystery. Even if it is a reformist, the Cuban military still pretty much controls the Cuban economy. There is always the possibility for a Cuban Spring, and the security forces may not protect the government, but for that to happen I suspect they would have to see an opportunity for themselves and their families in the new Cuba.

Interesting article that came out prior to Fidel's passing, where Raul commented on Trump winning the election.


Cuba's Raul Castro Reacts to Trump Election Victory

The 85-year-old Cuban leader has called out his military to show Trump, 70, and the world that Cuba can defend itself if the U.S. naively plans any kind of illegal military entry.

It's Cuba's first such exercise in three years.

As the military exercises wind down, at least 26 U.S.-based corporations have applied to President Barack Obama's administration for the maximum number of Individual business licenses to operate in Cuba.

The article explains the U.S. deal with Cuba in a fair amount detail, and Trump stated he wanted to redo the deal. Redoing the deal is not necessarily killing it, but one thing he wants is for all the political prisoners to be released. That seems fair enough, and maybe Raul will have more leeway to do that now that Fidel is out of the picture.

Raul did undo some Fidel Castro's communist mandates, and may undo now more. It is a waiting game to some extent, but one can always hope this is an opportunity for a better tomorrow for the people of Cuba.

09-02-2017, 02:36 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mysterious incidents affecting the health of American diplomats in Cuba continued as recently as August, the United States said Friday, despite earlier U.S. assessments that the attacks had long stopped. The U.S. increased its tally of government personnel affected to 19.
The new U.S. disclosures came the same day that the union representing American diplomats said mild traumatic brain injury was among the diagnoses given to diplomats victimized in the attacks. In the most detailed account of the symptoms to date, the American Foreign Service Association said permanent hearing loss was another diagnosis, and that additional symptoms had included brain swelling, severe headaches, loss of balance and "cognitive disruption."

09-14-2017, 12:23 PM
Soon came the hearing loss, and the speech problems, symptoms both similar and altogether different from others among at least 21 U.S. victims in an astonishing international mystery still unfolding in Cuba. The top U.S. diplomat has called them "health attacks." New details learned by The Associated Press indicate at least some of the incidents were confined to specific rooms or even parts of rooms with laser-like specificity, baffling U.S. officials who say the facts and the physics don't add up.

"None of this has a reasonable explanation," said Fulton Armstrong, a former CIA official who served in Havana long before America re-opened an embassy there. "It's just mystery after mystery after mystery."

Suspicion initially focused on a sonic weapon, and on the Cubans. Yet the diagnosis of mild brain injury, considered unlikely to result from sound, has confounded the FBI, the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies involved in the investigation.


10-02-2017, 11:36 PM
Behind the scenes, though, investigators immediately started searching for explanations in the darker, rougher world of spycraft and counterespionage, given that so many of the first reported cases involved intelligence workers posted to the U.S. embassy. That revelation, confirmed to the AP by a half-dozen officials, adds yet another element of mystery to a year-long saga that the Trump administration says may not be over.
The State Department and the CIA declined to comment for this story.

11-28-2017, 06:21 PM
Tangentially related -

A newly revealed incident reported by a USAID officer who is based at the American embassy in Uzbekistan is raising suspicions Russia may have been involved and could have had a hand in bizarre attacks targeting U.S. diplomats in Cuba, according to American sources.
In September, the officer and his wife reported, according to one source familiar with the incident, what may have been at least one acoustic attack similar to those experienced by the diplomats in Havana.

01-07-2018, 02:37 AM
HAVANA — Republican Sen. Jeff Flake says the U.S. has found no evidence that American diplomats in Havana were the victims of attacks with an unknown weapon.
Flake, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, met with high-ranking Cuban officials in Havana on Friday. He spoke with The Associated Press on Saturday morning.
The Cubans told Flake the FBI has told them its agents found no evidence that mysterious illnesses suffered by U.S. diplomats resulted from attacks, despite the Trump administration’s description of the incidents as attacks. Flake says classified briefings from U.S. officials have left him with no reason to doubt the Cuban account. The U.S. has pulled most of its staff from Havana in response to the incidents.

01-11-2018, 02:01 PM
WASHINGTON -- Newly disclosed declassified documents from Global Affairs Canada obtained by CBS News reveal Canadian officials were calling incidents affecting American diplomats in Havana, Cuba, "attacks" as far back as April 26 -- months before the U.S. State Department first publicly acknowledged them as such.


03-08-2018, 07:20 PM
As carried by the Miami Herald -

A team of computer scientists from the University of Michigan may have solved the mystery behind strange sounds heard by American diplomats in Havana, who later suffered a variety of medical disorders.
Professor Kevin Fu and members of the Security and Privacy Research Group at the University of Michigan say they have an explanation for what could have happened in Havana: two sources of ultrasound — such as listening devices — placed too close together could generate interference and provoke the intense sounds described by the victims.
And this may not have been done intentionally to harm diplomats, the scientists concluded in their study, first reported by the Daily Beast

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article203221919.html#storylink=cpy

05-23-2018, 12:29 PM
This was originally a seperate thread for a reason - the story is about the potentially new weapons system, not necessarily the location.

The US Embassy in Beijing learned on May 18 that the clinical findings of the evaluation matched that of a "mild traumatic brain injury," an embassy spokeswoman told CNN.
The alert will raise comparisons with a series of unexplained incidents in Cuba that led to the withdrawal of most US personnel from the embassy in Havana. The cause of those incidents, reported in late 2016 and early 2017, still remains a mystery.
US officials did not publicly drawn a link between the incident in China and the events in Cuba.
According to the alert issued by the US State Department on Wednesday, the cause of the injuries to the employee in China remains unknown, but officials were not aware of other similar symptoms among the diplomatic community in the country.


09-03-2018, 05:55 AM
This was originally a seperate thread for a reason - the story is about the potentially new weapons system, not necessarily the location.


Doctors and scientists say that microwave weapons are the main suspect behind the mysterious ailments of dozens of American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. Douglas Smith, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times that microwaves were likely behind the health incidents, some of which likely resulted in brain injury. Smith was the lead author of a study that examined 21 affected U.S. diplomats from Cuba. The study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in March, did not mention microwaves.