‘No es facil’ - It’s not easy. Life in Castro’s Cuba - Political Quote

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

‘No es facil’ - It’s not easy. Life in Castro’s Cuba

‘No es facil’ - It’s not easy.

I am not a fan of Castro. I don’t like dictators. I think the execution of over a thousand Cubans after the Cuban revolution in 1959 coupled with ongoing Human Rights violations, repressive censorship and the jailing of dissenters does not make him an admirable man or his regime likeable or even acceptable.

However Cubans have fared better under Castro then they would have under the continued government of the likes of dictators like Fulgencio Batista whose corrupt government murdered, tortured and jailed dissenters and allowed the exploitation of the Cuban people, their country and its natural assets.

Until the revolution the Cubans were illiterate and lived in poverty. With the connivance of Batista the Mafia had the run of the Cuban Casinos and US big business had a licence to do what they wanted in the name of commerce.

This had come about since 1902 when Cuba became an independent republic after over two years of occupation by the US who had installed a governor. As part of achieving their independence Cuba was forced to accept the Platt Amendment, which gave the US government the power to intervene militarily in Cuban affairs. In 1903 the US used this to obtain a Military Base in Cuba, which he maintains to this day in Guantanamo Bay.

After independence a series of weak and often corrupt governments left the country vulnerable and the US sent its military into Cuba in 1906, 1912 and 1917 to protect its interests, which were considerable.

By the 1920s US companies owned two-thirds of Cuba’s farmland and most of its natural resources. The prohibition years in the US meant that Cuba was host to rich Americans who came to gamble and drink in the many Casinos. A series of US backed dictators ran the country inflicting terror campaigns to keep the population in line.

The last of these Fulgencio Batista came to power with a coup supported by the US government. By 1958 half of Cuba’s land, most of its industry and commerce and essential services were owned by US businesses.

Castro’s Revolution toppled Batista in 1959 and set about nationalising Cuba’s industries, banks, and services at the same time redistributing the land to the people.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone was right when he called the Cuban Revolution a highlight of the 20th Century, it was. It was a massively popular public uprising against a brutal, murderous and unjust regime and such a revolution would have been welcomed by the US had it occurred in Iraq anytime within the last 15 years.

In response the US put in place the trade embargo, which is still there today. The US government has also plotted to kill Castro and to date there have been over 630 plans for his elimination. These have become a bit of joke, but is it a joke that a nation like the United States openly admits to plotting to kill a man? Would it be so funny if they had succeed in killing Castro? Would that be ok?

Of course there was the Cuban Missile Crisis in between which strengthened the US's resolve and motivation to continue the embargo and it was neither Cuba’s finest hour nor Castro’s.

As the 1960s turned into the 1970s conditions radically improved for Cubans with universal health care and education. The income of the average Cuban skyrocketed, as did employment levels as the USSR took up the slack created by the US embargo. Trade withe the USSR and other Communist countries accounted for nearly 90% of Cuba’s international trade.

But the collapse of the USSR and that of Cuba’s international trade has meant a return to the poverty of old. The problems of housing were never successfully addressed and as a result the Cuban people live in substandard housing. And now they are poorer than ever.

With the 1990s began the severe rationing of food, forcing the legalisation of private income and the opening up of Cuba to tourism and US dollars.

In the 21st Century Cuba is creaking under the strain with only tourism and Chavez's oil for doctors scheme keeping the system afloat; though last year the economy grew by just over 1%.

The situation that Cuba finds itself in is in no doubt due to the un-workability of the ideal of Communism. But the suffering of ordinary Cubans is also due in equal part to the US’s maintenance of an embargo that serves no purpose, that is vindictive and spiteful in nature and which hinders the development and quality of life of the ordinary people of Cuba.

When one considers that the US trades openly with China whose Human Rights abuses, torture and execution of dissenters dwarf those of Castro and Cuba in scale, size and barbarity it is amazing that the US can keep a straight face as they continue to justify their embargo. Indeed under Bush the embargo has been strenghtened.

It has been estimated that the US loses over a Billion dollars of trade a year and is missing out on nearly 20,000 new jobs in the US by the continued embargoing of Cuba. Surely this is a case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face on a massive scale. Or is it a case of cutting off one's nose to spite Castro?

Castro and his regime should go but so too should the US embargo.

‘No es facil' but it could be!

kick it on kick.ie


Dermot said...

Hi Keith.

I'm sure you'll be glad to know Labour Youth have passed a policy to campaign against the blockade. Details are at the "Policy" section at www.labouryouth.ie - and you'll also read about it in the "Left Tribune," our national magazine.

Political Quote said...

That's great news. Is the Tribune on line?

Will check out the policy doc now.

Dermot said...

It is indeed - http://www.labour.ie/download/youth/pdf/nevermindtheblueshirts.pdf is the pdf of it - drop your comments on, they;d be much appreciated

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