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fueledbycoffee
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12 May 2013, 10:31 am

I've been reading a lot on Cuba, recently. One thing I keep hearing, from just about everyone but Miami Cubans, is that it really isn't that bad. We have a bad habit of assuming that our own standard of living is normal, so *gasp* they're so deprived that they don't have malls and mochas and three cars */gasp*. However, compared with the rest of Latin America, Cuba has been damned impressive for a good while now.

In less than 50 years, they've turned a colonial sugar monoculture into relatively diverse agriculture, have a modest but steady economy, 100% literacy, and strong public health care. Since the whole missile crisis deal, they've kept to themselves, avoiding US & Soviet style adventurism, and focused largely on developing Cuba. Over the last half century, they've continually been on of the strongest nations in Latin America, even post-Soviet. Imagine what they could be if they weren't under constant attack (Although mostly rhetoric, these days) and embargo.

Of course, there's the whole "lack of free speech". It sucks. No way to sugar coat it. However, I will point out that thanks to PCism, we don't have very strong free speech anymore. Even political speech. In my town, "I support Romney" is enough to earn a beating.

A large part of our discourse regarding Cuba has been strongly influenced by two factors: Anti-socialism and Miami Cubans. However, Anti-socialism is pointless idealism when it works, and those Miami Cubans are often from families who did well under Batista, so they might be a little biased. Thing is, how are we the good guys in this situation? We don't like Cuba because the corporations could make a buttload of money there (and once did), and they don't much care for multinationals there. We hate Castro for "oppressing" his people, when he has been much less oppressive than many of the folks we've propped up (Pinochet, Trujillo, Mubarak, Hussein), all the while playing Roadrunner to the CIA's Wile E. Coyote. We hate him for his modest success, and his proximity to Florida. How are we the good guys here?

This is the problem. I could be wrong. I could be right. I am almost certain to be buying into someone's propaganda. If this was any country in the world, what would I do? I'd book a flight and see for myself. Yet, we, America the Free, alone out of all nations, are forbidden, not by Castro, but by our own government from going to see for ourselves. Even with the relaxed restrictions recently and the existence of tour vacations, an agency must be authorized by the department of the treasury, and you're kept too busy to see anything off the beaten path.

So what is it that the government doesn't want us to see? Could it be that Cuba is not a boot stomping repeatedly on the head of the Cuban? Could it be that these people do not live like those in South Sudan? Could it be that these people actually live more like foreign tourists I have spoken to claim and less like our media?

I don't know what to think about all this. I've heard that you can book a flight from Canada to Havana, American or no. I may have to go see for myself.



ruveyn
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12 May 2013, 10:54 am

Cuba is a third world country 90 miles from Florida.

So is Haiti.

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Fnord
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12 May 2013, 10:55 am

^ What do either one contribute to the global economy?



fueledbycoffee
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12 May 2013, 11:06 am

Okay. I learned basic geography when I was in school.

The question is not what do each contribute to the global economy. The question there, irrelevant as it is to the original question, is what do the governments of those nations do for their people? In Haiti, the government has done nothing. Nothing. It is corrupt, it is the tool of foreign bodies, and the people have no genuine hope of a decent life in Haiti. However, in Cuba, the government has given them health care, education, fertilized soil (The sugar craze of the late 1800's and early 1900's left the soil drained), year round employment (as opposed to the harvest months only), and made Havana one of the safest cities in Latin America.

I disagree with this concept that the sole raison d'etre of a nation is to contribute to the global economy. After all, what has your precious global economy given to them in return? As Europeans reaped the profits of the Silver, Gold, Sugar, Coffee, and Tobacco, the people of Latin America starved. If they complained, we funded a coup, such as in Guatemala or Chile. We propped up men like Batista and Pinochet, as they butchered their people, in the name of the "global economy". So why should they give a damn about y'all trying to get rich?

Second, the question was not one of economy. The question, in TL,DR format, is this: What do we have to lose from recognizing Cuba and allowing travel? Why are Americans not permitted to make up our own minds?



neilson_wheels
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12 May 2013, 11:16 am

Is there not a fear that all the desperate Cubans will be invading the US if travel restrictions are lifted?



fueledbycoffee
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12 May 2013, 11:19 am

neilson_wheels wrote:
Is there not a fear that all the desperate Cubans will be invading the US if travel restrictions are lifted?


Under current law, any Cuban can claim instant residence in the US, should they so choose. Also, since Raul Castro lifted the Cuban side of the travel restrictions, they can come here all they want without fearing their government.



neilson_wheels
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12 May 2013, 11:24 am

Personally I would love to go there, but that's not going to happen.
I feel that you should definitely give them a chance.



Fnord
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12 May 2013, 11:27 am

fueledbycoffee wrote:
The question is not what do each contribute to the global economy.

Wrong.

That is my question - "What do Cuba and Haiti contribute to the global economy?"

Evading the question implies an unpleasant, yet truthful answer, which is likely to be along the lines of "Nothing significant".



The_Walrus
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12 May 2013, 11:30 am

Fnord wrote:
fueledbycoffee wrote:
The question is not what do each contribute to the global economy.

Wrong.

That is my question - "What do Cuba and Haiti contribute to the global economy?"

Evading the question implies an unpleasant, yet truthful answer, which is likely to be along the lines of "Nothing significant".

It is generally considered rude to answer a question with another question, hence fueledbycoffee's response. He wanted an answer to his question, not another question that is frankly irrelevant to his question.



thomas81
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12 May 2013, 11:30 am

This is a billboard somewhere near Havana.


It says to the effect: "25000 children die every day from curable illnesses... ...none of them are Cuban".

[img][800:532]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_p0Ky0eMmXNo/TUCwb8MdLdI/AAAAAAABDiQ/Lf17VJuSiu4/s1600/billboard-2.JPG[/img]

I saw another one but I cannot for the life of me find it.

It says "tonight, 290 million children in the world will sleep on the streets... ...none of them are Cuban".

Its also worth noting that Cuban has higher literacy, lower infant mortality and better womens representation than in any of its free market counterparts in Latin America.


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Last edited by thomas81 on 12 May 2013, 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

Kurgan
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12 May 2013, 11:38 am

Which is of course a lie. If a Cuban infant dies after a few hours, they don't count it as ever having lived, which was also a part of the Soviet protocol.



thomas81
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12 May 2013, 11:41 am

You can of course, substantiate that with a non-partisan source.


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thomas81
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12 May 2013, 11:48 am

List of countries by infant mortality rate.

You'll find that Cuba has far lower rates than other South American countries, and comparable or even lower rates than many developed states including the USA, Canada, Greece and the EU.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... ality_rate


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12 May 2013, 11:51 am

Cuba is a ****** dying country with a broken economic model and political system. Don't buy into propaganda passed on by useful idiots like Michael Moore or Sean Penn. The average wage in Cuba is something like $19 a month. It's healthcare system is for show for foreign visitors.

I will say, I do hope the embargo is ended and travel restrictions lifted. I do not think they serve any purpose, isolation is what has kept Castro in power all these years. Communism would end in Cuba with in 10 years if relations were normalized. It is rather silly to continue that embargo while we become "allies" with countries like China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. Maybe the ball will start moving when the Castro brothers finally die, shouldn't be long now. Almost the entire communist leadership in Cuba are over 70+ and from the time of the revolution.



thomas81
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12 May 2013, 11:54 am

Jacoby wrote:
Cuba is a ****** dying country with a broken economic model and political system. Don't buy into propaganda passed on by useful idiots like Michael Moore or Sean Penn.

Or you could just do independent research for yourself by looking at peer reviewed, unbiased sources on things like literacy, life expectancy, universal access to healthcare, infant mortality and representation of women. Then compare them to those of Cuba's capitalist counterparts in South and central America.

The World Health Organisation stats are a good place to start.

The figures don't lie.

To those that say this is the case because of Cuba's relaxed restrictions, their health and education system was the envy of the developed world in the years immediately following the revolution. The other factor that American pundits conveniently ignore is that Cuba is in a de facto state of indefinite war with a much larger aggressor (the USA) as the OP has already pointed out. Imagine what it could have acheived during peaceful circumstances.
Jacoby wrote:
The average wage in Cuba is something like $19 a month.
.

I'm fairly sure $19 a month is innacurate but in any case average wages are a bad benchmark of life standard. Many western countries may have higher wages but the standard of living is confounded by a comparitively increased higher cost of living. Secondly, Cubans are protected from living cost increases precisely because of their universal health, housing and education system.

I'm certainly not convinced that the average Cuban has it any worse than say, the average Brazilian or average Mexican.

So why is Cuba any more of dying country than those around it.


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ruveyn
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12 May 2013, 12:20 pm

How many people have risked their lives on leaky boats to get INTO Cuba?

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