“We have the opportunity to increase the likelihood that Cuban people have greater liberties and freedom with the ability to connect with them,” said sponsor Jerry Moran, a [Senate] Republican. “I also would say that as Americans we have certain freedoms that we cherish, and Americans can travel around the globe today without exception – no country is totally prohibited with the exception of Cuba.” (AP July 23)
When the Senate Republicans agree with Obama it must be a better way to invade and subvert Cuba – with of course the ruse of “democracy” which by now we in the US understand means capitalism -- well not so obviously just “free markets.” It’s a new policy, a mini “open door” pact with one country, since the old system of blockade & attack forced the Cubans into international connections with the Soviet Union then Russia and China, Brazil, Canada and many other countries. In addition given Cuba’s enormous prestige in resisting the US juggernaut plus supporting liberation struggles around the world, Fidel and Cuba not only are respected but also reciprocal trade has been established with many other countries.
A significant amount of support for Obama’s opening to Cuba has come from Midwest Senators, representatives of agricultural mega corporations: Cargill, Nestle, Monsanto, ConAgra, and Archer Daniels Midland. The US corporations are drooling over the possible sales of more GMO products and (pesticides) to poison the Cuban people. Of course this is the achievement of “free trade” as we understand from NAFTA and now Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). However the Cubans have had an alternative agenda, and might avoid massive US investments for number of reasons. The $957m (£577m) overhaul of the port of Mariel, in the west of the capital, Havana, has been financed by Brazil. (2014. BBC) A container port will be part of the industrial zone. In 2005 a national campaign to improve energy conservation focused on replacing kitchen inefficient hot plates and old refrigerators with more efficient equipment. I asked Mario Arrastia of Cubaenergia “Where did Cuba obtain those replacements? China!”
With the recent lifting of terrorist charges other countries can now deal - François Hollande President of France and German Foreign trade minister have visited Fidel, of course, to touch history and talk trade. The agreements with other capitalist colonial powers is likely to be ramped up more quickly than with the US just by expanding existing Spanish, Italian touristic investments and South American Venezuela, (oil) Bolivia,(minerals) Ecuador (food) projects. Before the US business community can eliminate the embargo which also restricts US investors they have to settle a few big money deals still to be resolved, the “game changer” is the Cubans want Guantanamo back! How will Obama close Guantanamo and give it back to the Cubans? Perhaps Jimmy Carter’s 1978 treaty ceding control of the Canal to Panama could be the model: It took 21 years to complete.
The Cubans might not allow US investment in Cuba till the US agrees to return the offshore torture prison. Remember the US worked that seaport into the Platt Amendment (1903). Fidel in his sensitivity to ethical gestures has since 1959 not cashed the check for “rent” that the US agreed to pay each year for the navel base. The Cuban’s are demanding much more then rent for the damage of the embargo and other US actions.
While the US in its Empyreal reach has been working to undermine the Ukraine’s connection to Russia, and invested a few billions for destabilization and now military equipment in support of old Nazi operatives, Vladimir Putin visited Cuba in 2014 to talk trade and write off 90 % of Cuba’s 35 billion debt. Cuba may have many more options then to trade with US entrepreneurs. In addition, the Cubans state they will keep all investments off their socialist and communist supports (don’t mention they have a Communist Party like the one in Venezuela) and so there will be a great effort to preserve Cuba’s commitments to its peoples health care, education, social services and state supported agroecological food production systems – no pesticides allowed in food growing in Havana and Cuba’s major cities.
In Cuba, with 27% of the land, small farmers produce: 98% of fruits, 95% of beans, 80% of maize, 75% of pork, 65% of vegetables, 55% of cow milk, 55% of cattle and 35% of rice (Braulio Machin et al, ANAP-Via Campesina, “Revolucion agroecologica, resumen ejectivo”). [Counterpunch 26 June15/Colin Todhunter]
The Cuban situation is different then other countries that have accepted loans and restructuring from the World Bank and IMF. Argentina and Greece suffer from all those loans and debts, plus the privatization of any social service that helps people
As a recent visitor on a tour to Cuba I was struck by changes like the return of tipping, and the rare use of “Companero” plus the insistence that we spend money like usual bourgeois tourists even though we were on a progressive tour. This tour had four important and valuable sessions with knowledgeable ecological environmental institutions, that followed with touristisch - “get off the boat,--buy trinkets -back to the boat- float away.” There were also intermediate subjects called restaurant selection an elevated activity that didn’t improve ones sense of Cuba’s culinary arts. I began to wonder how could I engage this country in a better way?
When I returned home I began reading various texts – (Peter Rosset, Richard Levins and Miguel Altieri) and found an alternative to usual “spend” tourism that relates to the pro-Cuban enthusiasts in the US, weather liberal or leftist, it’s the Richard Levin’s model. Harvard Professor in Public Health who since1964 has worked with the Cubans to improve their scientific abilities, he was an inspiration for the Cuban Institute for Ecology and Systematics. His suggestion for further efforts of the same kind answered my own irritation with simple tourism: “Spend $400 for Cuban cigars and rum and Support the Revolution.” There was a more enjoyable and useful way to proceed:
“It requires international cooperation between scientists who have the resources and freed from urgency that permits theoretical exploration but who live in countries with more impediments to ecologically and socially rational agriculture, and countries committed to such a direction but lacking in scientific resources.” (p.17
His article argued that IPM was only a first step towards full organic farming. Plus, Cuba is no longer as scientifically deprived as in 1986 however the point made is that those of us who can provide expertise where it is needed should try to figure out how to do it. Given the history of US sabotage, assassination attempts and subversion it doesn’t make it easy for us ‘gringos’ however it’s worth trying.
To make sure I am talking about Cuba and existing conditions “on the ground:” Raul Castro if one understands the difference between his policies and Fidel’s – from all indication Fidel certainly discusses strategic matters with his brother and certainly they agree as well as have different but complementary aproaches while the humor (sense of contradictions) of Fidel apparently resides in Raul as well.
When President Raul Castro visited Pope Francis at the Vatican he commented to the press: “I read all the speeches of the pope, his commentaries, and if the pope continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the church. I’m not joking.”
Raul may not be the charismatic speaker and enormous presence of Fidel but he seems to have a fairly good idea along with all his advisors over the last 56 years. Remember Cuba has been at a socialist/communism juggle for a long time, one Castro is grand, two is fascinating, however there must be others who are active communists, revolutionaries, socialists anti-colonialists and even nationalists and ecological socialists who will object and restrict the new type of invasion/subversion envisioned by the drooling entrepreneurs 90 miles from the coast of Havana.
(R.G.Davis visited Cuba in April; his fourth visit in November focused on organic farms, gardens and agroecological science. email@example.com.)