Sunday, September 26, 2004

Fotos de mi familia Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 23, 2004


US-CUBA: The Least Common of all Senses

A friend of mine always says that common sense is the least common of all senses. And that is dead true when it comes to describing US policy toward Cuba. Even though its launching was highlighted and well publicized, very few people in and out of the United States, even four months after May 6, 2004, know what the Commission for a Free Cuba really proposed in full to president George W. Bush. Again, it has been said that some parts of this report are kept secret. What has come to light from that 500-page Frankenstein is that it lacks common sense. While the White House has said once and time again that it wants to promote domestic opposition in Cuba, the outlay of changes in the document does not count on those people –maybe because they´re few, not respected and not qualified for the task? A brief look at the chapters of the Commission for a Free Cuba report, exposes why dissenters, even jailed ones, or Miami hard-core exiles are not good enough to carry out the transition Washington wants. Chapter One: Deals on measures to accelerate the “downfall” of the Cuban government. Except for the intention mentioned in the text to develop internal dissent, everything comes in neatly prepared modules, all made in the White House. Cubans seem not worthy even of some innovation in foreign democracy pret-a-porter implants. The one tagged Cuba is like a water drop to another with the one manufactured for Iraq. There is also a Coordinator of Transition, not yet appointed. The Coordinator to be named by the State Department is accompanied by a government fingered by Washington and a ready-made reconstruction plan to fatten corporations like Halliburton, close to the President´s and the Vice President´s hearts, or is it pockets? All institutions and government agencies must be modeled 100 percent to Washington´s likeness. As for ethics, no scruples. Everyone who denounces a breach of travel regulations or sending of remittances will be rewarded. Independence and sovereignty are hollow words once the reader gets to chapter 3. Chapter Two: Displays steps to satisfy basic needs of the population in health, education, housing and personal services remind me of the flagrant ignorance of what has gone on in this country for the last 45 years. Authors of the report did not even heed the information published by correspondents of US media in Havana. If it were not so serious, because this plan implies –and of that you can be sure- the virtual annexation of Cuba, it would make the most long-faced laugh. Children in Cuba are protected from birth with shots against the most common diseases, from TB, polyo, to mumps and small pox, eleven in all. Medical attention and education are free and now the “liberators” are going to make us pay for everything. Too bad if you belong to the vulnerable sectors of society like the handicapped, the aged or children below working age. Those who now receive state pensions, 1.2 million people in all, will lose the secured future they now have, having to pay for medical care, medicines and food without any subsidies. The example is near, over 45 million citizens in the United States lack medical insurance and other benefits Cubans take for granted. The part where it says the US will “organize programs to reeducate and requalify teachers and professors” made me remember the years when I studied in the US –one in New York and four in Miami- when I was astonished at the low level of elementary schools and the distorted facts in book of universal history. For instance, the French Revolution was mostly about how Lafayette and other Frenchmen had previously fought for the independence of the U.S. The Cuban war for independence was mentioned as the conflict where the intervention of Teddy Roosevelt´s rangers had saved the day and freed Cuba from Spanish rule. Even before 1959, Cuban schools were more advanced in Math and History than their equals in the U.S. This chapter speaks of creating a “Corps of Retirees” which would give work to those without any resources if they were in good health. Nothing is said about the sick and needy. They even plan to establish a Central Service for Child Adoption. No thanks, not to follow the fate of the “Peter Pan” children sent by their parents to the U.S. Chapter Three: All about how democratic institutions should be. Maybe we can be taught how millions of voters in the U.S. who cast their ballot for one candidate may mean nothing if the majority of that state´s electoral votes go to the rival candidate. Then that state is considered “all” Republican or “all” Democrat, while in the nation´s total the losing candidate gets more votes than the victorious one. Even if it is a fair election and not like the 2000 edition. For one, the State Department will have the responsibility of organizing and running a police corps. “Process former officials and members of the government, the party, security forces, mass organizations and other pro-government citizens”. That leaves only a few people out, if one takes into consideration the over one million just in Havana who have marched before the U.S. Interests Section to protest for issues like the return of Elian, or the freedom of the five anti-terrorists unjustly sentenced in the U.S. All legal institutions will be restructured in correspondence with the US judicial system, which lets terrorists go free like the Bin Laden family and the men who blew up a Cuban plane in 1976 and tried to kill the Cuban president in Panama several years ago, to just mention two actions. Allegedly “free” elections are going to be planned according to the USAID 1998 manual, or Transition Election Planning Manual for Cuba. At least this was planned before the Iraq invasion, but with the same consequences: a fierce and bloody opposition to occupying forces. Chapter Four: On the establishment of a free market economy. First things, first. “The government of the United States will encourage an early declaration by Cuba of solving the assets (those nationalized by Cuba from US and national big landholders, utility companies, refineries) issue as soon as possible.” Here goes the first money and asset extraction from the country they are supposed to help. There will be a Commission on Restitution of Property Rights (CRDP) to accelerate this process. Of course there is also a US Permanent Committee for Economic Reconstruction of the country. Here come in the Pentagon contractors and suppliers. “The US government will be ready to encourage Cuba to liberalize prices on the short term, including energy products”. This means the US companies will be sole suppliers of oil and gas at high market prices while Cuban domestic production must compete with subsidized US food produce, farm machinery and others. Ask Mexico about it. Plans include of course a privatization program and plans to prepare industries and enterprises for the change of owners. Where will the money come from for reconstruction? That’s easy. More indebtedness, thanks to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank, though nothing is said of giving Cuba credit facilities, just of returning to the cage of their rules. Chapter Five: Deals on the “Modernization of Infrastructure.” The U.S. government will support Cuba “in the search for assistance and donations from the international community and the World Bank, the IDB and the like. All the consultants necessary will come from the U.S. while public transport will be developed, run and given maintenance by U.S. companies. Roads will be planned by consultants of the U.S. government, and in air travel there will be an agreement of open skies (no mention of new planes). Much will be studied and evaluated, but nothing concrete will be done with U.S. government money. The latter is needed to occupy and run the country, the economy is left in the hands of banks and companies. Nothing is said about present foreign investors or international licitations for any project. Maybe European, Asian and Latin American investors will run the same fate of the government officials or given the option to close up and go home. Chapter Six: It´s about “Identification and Correction of Environmental Damage”. How can any country with the pollution record of the U.S. can counsel any other on “ecological protection policies”? The authors have no idea of what has been done not only in cleaning up rivers, beaches, bays and legislating on these issues. There are strict rules set up today for any investment in tourism, industry or housing. Cuba has also signed 26 international treaties, conventions and protocols on biological diversity, of which the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention on Biological Diversity, not signed by the United States. This chapter even offers training for Cubans in protection of coral barriers, sanitize water resources, environmental management, all areas where Cuba has received international recognition. When I returned to Cuba in May 1958, shortly before the triumph of the Revolution, I was grateful for having taken in that pragmatism and common sense proverbial of US idiosyncracy. While most citizens of the US still fit that description, I think ten administrations have shown the opposite in their policy toward Cuba. On the contrary, the Cuban government has known when to be flexible and when to stand firm. US companies can vouch for that. They have expressed their desire for normalization and so has the House of Representatives by approving an amendment that would lift travel restrictions. Now they have an important support in the Cuban-American community, after the near-sighted decision of harming their family relations. As an old Cuban (probably international) saying goes: it´s peeing against the fan. Ef/

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