We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
yup. I've visited several communist countries during the 1980s and beyond, and unless the veil slips from the tightly controlled vision you're presented by your minders you see only the facades, not what's behind them.
My sister and brother-in-law visited Cuba 4 years ago and were thrilled. My sister about all the “fabulous” art and architecture (!) and tropical fruits and vegetables and he about the old cars. I’m serious. When she started telling about the trip to come, I asked her what she thought about the White Ladies and she said It’s not my concern. I told her it was my concern and I couldn’t talk to her about the trip. Before or after. Nor see the elegant photos she takes of their -usually - quite wonderful trips. It makes me sad to this day.
The problem faced with a visit to Cuba is the people themselves.
I've been, and I agree with the author's assessment - the people do 'suffer'. But many of them don't understand the suffering they experience. It's all about context.
Most have come to realize it is what it is, so they find a way to make the best of it, and they are happy to share their stories. They know they can't say anything bad about the regime, so they couch their commentary carefully. But you can read between the lines. They find ways to 'beat the system'. And it improves their lives just enough to feel good.
They also fall into the set of believers that life was 'so much worse' under Batista. It's basically jammed into their brain. Let's face it, Castro did have a few 'victories' that were notable enough to be very big selling points for his regime. People got more medical care (note - I didn't say better), they got educated (more read now than did before), and they got homes (note I didn't say great homes, but they got homes). Some even got land to farm (they don't own it, so...).
They also want to get out...but they show it carefully. My visit to a tobacco farm the head of the farm wanted to introduce his daughter to the sons of the "Rich Americans" who were visiting. He was joking, sort of. She was beautiful...my sons could have done worse.
And while the people make the best of a bad situation, they are also so pleasant, funny, and engaging. I had a wonderful time speaking with people there. They're open to speak with almost anyone. Especially if you have baseball gear on. I wore my Phillies hat and men would all point and smile. Most are Yankee fans, so I think they were giving me a hard time...
It's hard to visit Cuba and leave and feel bad for them. Not that you wouldn't, based on their situation. But how they present themselves - it's just hard to tell.
That said, my cousin just married a Cuban. Her mom still lives there and runs a B&B on the beach. She's half Bolivian, so she can travel. But her uncle was a big player in government. And even she is open about why it's better here. But like so many down there, they simply want to live their lives. The gangsters who run the country don't make it easy....but the people find a way.
Without opening the link, I was reminded of the incisive writing that Michael Totten has done on Cuba in the last 5 years or so. Lo and behold, that article is from Michael Totten.
Most of Michael Totten's articles on Cuba were at World Affairs Journal, but are no longer accessible at their old URLs.
I learned from Totten that much of Cuban agricultural land has been taken over by Marabú, an African shrub, which invaded land which had formerly been used for growing sugar cane. After the loss of the Soviet Sugar Daddy cirac 1990, Cuba found that its sugar could not compete on the world market. Sugar production has fallen about 80% from what it was 30 years ago. Reflecting this fall, Cuba's per capita agricultural production has fallen about 32% from 1961 to 2017.
As a further example of the sorry condition of Cuban agriculture, I will quote a comment I made at the Quillette article.
For those who claim that the embargo is the cause of Cuba’s economic problems, consider milk production. From 1961 to 2017, milk production increased 54% in Cuba, compared with an increase of 328% in Latin America. From 2000-2013, nearly half (49.9%) of Cuba’s milk supply was imported. (Currently, FAO doesn’t have import data beyond 2013.)
Not even the PSFs (Pendejos sin Fronteras- idiots beyond borders) have told us that the CIA was shooting the descendants of Ubre Blanca, a.k.a. Fidel’s wonder cow. . 🙂 This stagnation of milk production in Cuba is entirely the responsibility of the Castro regime. Had Cuba’s milk production increased from 1961 to 2017 as much as milk production increased in Latin America, it would have produced 1.5 million metric tons of milk in 2017 – while Cuba’s actual milk production in 2017 was about a third of that- 541 thousand metric tons.
I have read that you will spend more prison time in Cuba for unauthorized killing of a cow- even YOUR cow- than for killing your mother-in-law.
And Bernie once told us that Cubans had an "almost religious affection" for Fidel. Yes, when there is a translator/minder accompanying Bernie on his pilgrimages to Cuba, it is a given that any Cuban will say that to Bernie, if the Cuban wants to avoid arrest.
The disaster that is Cuba has created a real problem for the United States. If relations were to improve, then millions of dispossessed Cubans would flee to the United States. But we don't want them; they are pure riff-raff. So the question is this:
How can we help the Cubans, while at the same time keeping them away? We already have far too many Hispanics in Florida and Texas, and we have to figure out where to send them, when it's time for them to go home.