Obama in Cuba

Over the weekend, Obama became the first President to visit Cuba in almost nine decades. It’s part of the slow thawing of relations between the two countries.

Naturally, there is a lot of opposition. And it’s not an opposition anyone who isn’t Cuban can really understand. The Cuban community has first and second hand memories of Castro murdering and imprisoning their families. They’ve watched as he has turned what was once a functional, if corrupt island into a nightmare prison state. They see celebrities going to Cuba, getting the guided tour and pronouncing everything wonderful and it drives them crazy. They see a media that fawns over Castro and ignores his brutal oppressive regime.

But I was struck by this quote, courtesy of the Coyote Blog:

I meant to post this a while back, but Jeff Flake totally gets it on Cuba, and I appreciate his leadership among the Republicans on this. I absolutely loved this quote:

Flake has long said that Americans should be free to see for themselves the stunted fruit of socialist policy. He tells the story of meeting with Lech Walesa, the great activist who challenged Soviet domination of Poland. “I have no idea,” Walesa complained, “why you guys have a museum of socialism 90 miles from your shore and you won’t let anybody visit it.”

After three generations, I think one can safely call a policy like our embargo “failed” and try something else.

Robert Heinlein once said the same thing about the Soviet Union. After touring it in 1961, he said that we should send a million Americans to tour the Soviet Union. The cost and the influx of hard currency to the USSR would be worth it if a million Americans got a real glimpse of the depraved impoverished police state that Khrushchev had promised us.

Right now, socialism is in vogue. We have an open socialist running for the Democratic nomination. Socialist ideas are portrayed as cute and idealistic. Let’s send a bunch of Americans to see what a real socialist paradise looks like. Let them see 14-year-old girls turning to prostitution to feed their families. Let them see the “free” hospitals that are open air infection wards. Let them smoke terrible Cuban cigars and inhale the failure of socialism into their lungs. Whatever benefits it gives to Castro’s regime will be worth it just to have a generation of Americans see where the road to socialism ends.

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  1. Iconoclast

    Right now, socialism is in vogue. We have an open socialist running for the Democratic nomination. Socialist ideas are portrayed as cute and idealistic.

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    George Santayana

     

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  2. AlexInCT

    Amen Iconoclast. And we are about to repeat it. When the ugly starts people shouldn’t be surprised. The greatest acts of evil seem to always come from those that promise redress from some condition that has no cure.

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  3. CM

    Exactly what are you “about to repeat” Alex?

    Bernie only appears extreme because the Dems are where the Republicans were with Reagan, and the Republicans are now way off the charts.

    The Donald appears to be promising ‘redress’ for those who are uneducated, not looking for work, live in mobile homes. The ‘redress’ is to explicitly blame others. Poor health is apparently not the result of a pack a day habit and fatty diet, just as financial misery has nothing to do with their rejection of education. It is all because of those damn Mexicans coming up from the border, the Chinese villains overseas, or the Muslim immigrant illegally occupying the Oval Office.

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  4. CM

    Hal I assume you don’t think the delegation is in Havana to promote socialism, or brutal repression, or child prostitution. And yet you haven’t mentioned reforms (as little and slow as they may be) at all. Is it all-or-nothing?

    I went to Cuba under no illusions and didn’t get a grand tour, but I certainly didn’t see what you describe. So although it sounds punchy and deep, it’s also kinda bullshit. Tourists don’t see the stuff you describe.

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  5. Seattle Outcast

    It’s always so cute to watch CM unload a truckload of idiocies about a topic he has zero understanding of…..

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  6. Hal_10000 *

    With the underage prostitution thing, there have been numerous reports, including the DOJ castigating Cuba for turning a blind eye to it because it brings in hard currency (no pun intended).  I tend to view such report skeptically because we are in the middle of moral panic about sex trafficking.  But numerous journalists have reported the same thing, including P.J. O’Rourke.

    At the old Moorewatch website, which you can click on the side, Donna did a series of articles about what Cuba’s healthcare system was really like.  Might be worth your time digging them up.

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  7. Nobody

    Hal I assume you don’t think the delegation is in Havana to promote socialism, or brutal repression

    No, it’s just there to legitimize it.

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  8. CM

    It’s always so cute to watch CM unload a truckload of idiocies about a topic he has zero understanding of…..

    Troll.

    So therefore it doesn’t exist, right?

    How does that even remotely follow?

    With the underage prostitution thing, there have been numerous reports…

    I’m not disputing it, I have no reason to or information to the contrary.

    No, it’s just there to legitimize it.

    How are they legitimizing socialism and brutal repression? And why would they want to do that? Surely if that were the case they’d have gone prior to 25% of the workforce now being in private enterprise, and Obama wouldn’t have done this sort of thing at the press conference:

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/03/how-obama-set-a-trap-for-raul-castro-221059#ixzz43gpukA4I

     

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  9. ilovecress

    I think the problem with the Tourist thing, is that Cuba, at first look, is pretty cool. I had a great time when I was there (admittedly only in Havana), specifically because it was so run down. It was like visiting a time capsule from the past – in a romantic way. The 50’s cars, the graffiti, the run down houses, the old women selling clothes pegs out of their living room. It’s like a theme park.

    We went to El Floriditas, which was Hemmingways favourite bar. I had an amazing Steak and Shrimp – which was amazing. But there were no vegetables. (Amazing). My wife, however was a vegetarian. So she was served a can of peas (Still in the can) and a fried egg. It was funny and a great story and we got drunk on rum (as that’s literally the only think you can drink there)

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  10. CM

    Sounds similar (I made sure to sit on his stool at the bar), although we also did a number of day trips out into the country. The wife and I still joke at how shit the waxworks figures at the Museum of the Revolution are. I have a weird photo of coffins being burned at the main cemetery.

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  11. CM

    Right now, socialism is in vogue. We have an open socialist running for the Democratic nomination. Socialist ideas are portrayed as cute and idealistic.

    Sanders is a democratic socialist who admires the Nordic model of social democracy (“I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production”). I guess he’s a New Dealer. There was nothing democratically socialist about how Cuba was run. Sanders advocates for greater democratic participation by citizens, not less.

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  12. Nobody

    How are they legitimizing socialism and brutal repression?

    This question is utterly predictable.  The real question is, how are they not?

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/03/how-obama-set-a-trap-for-raul-castro-221059#ixzz43gpukA4I

    Assuming this dog and pony show spin is even accurate, so what?  Castro’s political prisoners are still behind bars, and will remain there for the foreseeable future.

    At one point, Castro implicitly criticized the US over health care, equal pay for women and other issues, to which Obama responded along the lines of, “I would not disagree with you”.  And he is reported to have also said something along the lines of, “we can learn from each other”.

    Like I said, legitimize.

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