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18 December 2014

The Real Cuba

Michael Totten reporting

Many tourists return home convinced that the Cuban model succeeds where the Soviet model failed. But that’s because they never left Cuba’s Elysium.

I had to lie to get into the country. Customs and immigration officials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí International Airport would have evicted me had they known I was a journalist. But not even a total-surveillance police state can keep track of everything and everyone all the time, so I slipped through. It felt like a victory. Havana, the capital, is clean and safe, but there’s nothing to buy. It feels less natural and organic than any city I’ve ever visited. Initially, I found Havana pleasant, partly because I wasn’t supposed to be there and partly because I felt as though I had journeyed backward in time. But the city wasn’t pleasant for long, and it certainly isn’t pleasant for the people living there. It hasn’t been so for decades.

Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.

Marxists have ruled Cuba for more than a half-century now. Fidel Castro, Argentine guerrilla Che Guevara, and their 26th of July Movement forced Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959 and replaced his standard-issue authoritarian regime with a Communist one. The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram. The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is “socialism or death.”

By the 1990s, Cuba needed economic reform as much as a gunshot victim needs an ambulance. Castro wasn’t about to reform himself and his ideology out of existence, but he had to open up at least a small piece of the country to the global economy. So the Soviet subsidy was replaced by vacationers, mostly from Europe and Latin America, who brought in much-needed hard currency. Arriving foreigners weren’t going to tolerate receiving ration cards for food—as the locals do—so the island also needed some restaurants. The regime thus allowed paladars—restaurants inside private homes—to open, though no one from outside the family could work in them. (That would be “exploitative.”) Around the same time, government-run “dollar stores” began selling imported and relatively luxurious goods to non-Cubans. Thus was Cuba’s quasi-capitalist bubble created.

When the ailing Fidel Castro ceded power to his less doctrinaire younger brother Raúl in 2008, the quasi-capitalist bubble expanded, but the economy remains heavily socialist. In the United States, we have a minimum wage; Cuba has a maximum wage—$20 a month for almost every job in the country. (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can make a whopping $10 extra a month.) Sure, Cubans get “free” health care and education, but as Cuban exile and Yale historian Carlos Eire says, “All slave owners need to keep their slaves healthy and ensure that they have the skills to perform their tasks.”

Even employees inside the quasi-capitalist bubble don’t get paid more. The government contracts with Spanish companies such as Meliá International to manage Havana’s hotels. Before accepting its contract, Meliá said that it wanted to pay workers a decent wage. The Cuban government said fine, so the company pays $8–$10 an hour. But Meliá doesn’t pay its employees directly. Instead, the firm gives the compensation to the government, which then pays the workers—but only after pocketing most of the money. I asked several Cubans in my hotel if that arrangement is really true. All confirmed that it is. The workers don’t get $8–$10 an hour; they get 67 cents a day—a child’s allowance.

And, Sean Davis:

I want to believe the free trade rhetoric. I want to believe that any type of relaxation of the embargo would benefit the Cuban people. I really do. But I don’t, and here’s why.

Cuba’s economy is not normal by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it actually has two economies: the dollar economy, and the peso economy. Americans who are allowed to visit get to participate in the dollar economy, and only the dollar economy. Cubans who live there are required to participate in the peso economy, and only the peso economy. The markets are completely segregated.

So, when an American goes down there, he buys things with either the dollar, or the Cuban version of the dollar (CUC), which generally has a 1:1 conversion ratio. Cubans are forced to use only the peso (CUP), which has roughly a 25:1 conversion ratio to the dollar (for every 25 CUP, you get one dollar; or for every 1 CUP, you get about $0.04). That rate is set by the Cuban government. That leaves Cuban vendors who accept dollars with only two ways of using those dollars to get the things they need to survive: 1) purchase them on the black market using dollars, a risky proposition for obvious reasons, or 2) exchange the dollars for CUP.

There’s no trading the CUP on the open currency market. Apart from sentimental souvenir value, it’s worthless everywhere else in the world. Whenever a Cuban gets his hand on a dollar, he either has to put himself at risk by using it on the black market, or he has to turn the dollar into the government in order to receive a pittance which he can use to buy food for his family.

The Cuban government, in turn, has two ways of screwing its people out of their hard-earned money: 1) it can either tax them to death, or 2) it can just manipulate its exchange rate, a way to effectively tax them to death. Different means, same ends. Cuba’s communist, after all, and communism is not a system that has ever put the welfare of its people ahead of the welfare of its rulers.

The result of the Cuban two-currency economy — one of which is forbidden to its people — is that every dollar will eventually find its way into the hands of the Cuban government. Since their internal currency, the CUP, is worthless, it’s not like they can just exchange it for dollars on the open market, like most other countries do. No, if the Cuban government wants dollars and the wealth that comes with them, it has to import them. And more dollars don’t mean more prosperity for the people of Cuba; more dollars means more wealth and power concentrated in the hands of Cuba’s communist regime.

I’m a big fan of free trade, in the real sense of the term. Free markets, free people, and free flow of capital benefit everyone. But you can’t have ‘free trade’ if you don’t have each of those components. Sure, more dollars may now flow into Cuba, but that won’t result in freer people, freer markets, or freer capital, because the current communist regime has no interest in allowing any of those to happen.

If Cuba truly wants free trade, then it needs to free its people, free its markets, and free its currency. Until then, any changes to the trade embargo are just going to be free money for corrupt Cuban communists.

Related Reading:

Now, It's Time To Boycott #JimCrowCuba

A Revolutionary Betrayed: The Story of William Alexander Morgan 

Fidel Castro: 'The Cuban Model Doesn’t Even Work For Us Anymore.'

Gutless, Spineless Sony & Alinsky's Rules for Radicals

Evidently, Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals are only meant to be used against white capitalists...
...not fat, little, murderous tyrants in North Korea...

How long before Pussified America caves and bans all blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed (we know Obama, Clinton, and Kerry are already on board) when ISIS threatens to start bombing people, places, and things in the US?

And, damn it, it took Germany many decades to go from Prussification to Pussification. America is surrendering in light speed.

'White-Shaming' And The Coming Epidemic Of White Dysmorphophobia

Just in case you need a daily reminder of how your white skin is harmful and discriminatory (or something)...

EJI is proud to announce the release of our 2015 calendar, A History of Racial Injustice. This full-color wall calendar expands on EJI’s previous calendars with new historical entries and short essays highlighting historical events and issues in our nation’s racial history.

 The 2015 calendar is part of a series of reports and educational materials that explore the legacy of racial bias in the United States and its continuing impact on contemporary policies and practices. Many of today’s issues have been shaped by America’s racial history – the history of racial injustice in particular.

The legacy of slavery, racial terror, and legally supported abuse of racial minorities is not well understood.

EJI believes that a deeper understanding about our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing contemporary questions of social justice and equality.

The calendar is designed to be a helpful tool for learning more about racial history. Expanded content from A History of Racial Injustice is now available in our online timeline.

These freaks won’t be happy until they have white kids sitting in bathtubs of dye like black children used to soak themselves in bleach.

Mark my words: This White-Shaming will lead to dysmorphophobia and, when white children begin committing suicide because of ‘white guilt’, their blood will be on these people’s hands.

Evidently, ‘Born This Way!’ only applies to sexual orientation.

17 December 2014

Now, It's Time To Boycott #JimCrowCuba

'The authorities in my country have never tolerated that a black person oppose the regime. During the trial, the colour of my skin aggravated the situation. Later when I was mistreated in prison by guards, they always referred to me as being black.'

- Jorge Luis García Pérez, a Cuban human right and democracy activist, who was imprisoned for 17 years

'There is an unstated threat, blacks in Cuba know that whenever you raise race in Cuba, you go to jail. Therefore the struggle in Cuba is different. There cannot be a civil rights movement. You will have instantly 10,000 black people dead.'

- Carlos Moore, a Black Cuban writer, researcher, and social scientist, dedicated to African and Afroamerican history and culture

If I were a Republican (I’m not) and in the Senate, do you know what I would do in January?

Commence Senate hearings on the Apartheid State with its Jim Crow laws, Cuba. I’d invite all sorts of dissidents and exiled Cubans to talk about the rampant, state-sponsored racism against Black Cubans and also how the country treats its political prisoners (You know, like Dr Oscar Elias Biscet, a Black Cuban dissident who was sentenced to 27 years in jail, FOR COMMUNITY ORGANISING AND INSTRUCTING BLACK CUBANS ABOUT THE TEACHINGS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR!).

Then, after weeks of gripping testimony concerning the racism, segregation, poverty, torture, imprisonment, execution, and disappearances of Black Cubans and political opponents, I would pass legislation calling for a BOYCOTT of APARTHEID CUBA.

After that, let’s see how much the American people consider what Obama has done to be a ‘WIN’.

Let America’s First Black President decide: Is he on the side of the fabulously wealthy and brutal Castro Brothers or is he down with the struggle of Black Cubans and the OPPRESSED?

When I speak about how blacks are treated in Cuba, I am not talking about how ‘some’ Cubans treat their fellow citizens, who happen to be black. I am referring to STATE-SPONSORED racism à la Jim Crow.

These photos were sent to me by a great contributor to The Real Cuba. They were taken at the Boca Ciega beach, near Havana. A white woman tourist came to the beach accompanied by a black Cuban male. They sat on a lounge chair and were chatting. Within a few minutes, a cop showed up and began asking the Cuban black male for his identification. The cop kept interrogating the Cuban male for several minutes.Finally, the black Cuban male was forced to leave the beach. No one knows if he was arrested, or just expelled from that public beach for being with a white foreign woman.


Can you imagine the the outrage of the NAACP, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Jesse Jackson, Nelson Mandela and Company if incidents like these happened anywhere else in the world except in Castro’s private farm? In Cuba, the racist and fascist regime of the Castro brothers is allowed to treat Cuban blacks like third class citizens, and none of these hypocrites would say a word.

Here are some Black Cuban women being told to leave the 'white' beach:

This is how Black Cuban activists are treated...when they aren't being tortured and starved in prison:

How many of you supported the boycott of Apartheid South Africa?

Listen, you might think the claims of racism in Cuba are being overblown by me, but what would you say if you knew that even Cornell West and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright have condemned Cuba's treatment of its black citizens?

Dec. 1, 2009 - In a landmark "Statement of Conscience by African-Americans," 60 prominent black American scholars, artists and professionals have condemned the Cuban regime's apparent crackdown on the country's budding civil rights movement. "Racism in Cuba, and anywhere else in the world, is unacceptable and must be confronted," said the document, which also called for the "immediate release" of Dr. Darsi Ferrer, a black civil rights leader imprisoned in July. Traditionally, African-Americans have sided with the Castro regime and unilaterally condemned the U.S. which, in the past, explicitly sought to topple the Cuban government. But this first public rebuke of Castro's racial policies may very well indicate a tide change and a more balanced attitude. Representing a wide spectrum of political opinion, the document was signed by Princeton University scholar Cornel West; famed actress Ruby Dee; former Essence magazine editor and current president of the National CARES Mentoring Movement Susan Taylor; Bennett College President Julienne Malvaux; UCLA Vice Chancellor Claudia Mitchell-Kernan; Chicago's Trinity Church Emeritus pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; retired Congresswoman Carrie Meek; former Black Panther activist Kathleen Cleaver; former Jesse Jackson presidential campaign manager and current director of the African-American Leadership Institute Ron Walters; movie director Melvin Van Peebles; and former Miami-Dade County Commissioner, Betty Ferguson, and more.

Link to the actual document of the Afro-American leaders about the racist regime in Cuba:

This is a replica of the cell where Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a Black Cuban dissident who was sentenced to 27 years in jail, is being held. The replica of his cell was based on the description that the Cuban doctor gave his wife, and was constructed in the backyard of the home of James Cason, the chief of the United States Interests Section in Havana, Cuba.

A little over six feet high and three feet wide, the holding cell of wood and metal features a drain on the floor for a toilet, a plastic bowl of food and a sheet for a pillow. And what horrible crime did Dr. Biscet commit, to be sentenced to 27 years in this terrible dungeon? The Afro-Cuban doctor organized a seminar to teach his fellow Cubans about Dr. Martin Luther King, the American civil rights leader, and his non-violent forms of protest. In any civilized country, Dr. Biscet would be commended for following the teachings of Dr. King, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but in Castro's animal farm, this is considered a serious crime, and Dr. Biscet was sent to jail for 27 years!!!

So, for those of you cheering President Barack Obama’s actions today, are you still happy that we are enabling the further racism and oppression of the Castro Regime?

Is Apartheid only bad when white people do it?

Are you really such big, fucking hypocrites?

Oh, never mind.  Your silence as radical Islam continues its bloody war against women while screaming about ‘micro-aggression’ on American college campuses tells me all that I ever need to know.