Online purveyors of imperialist Yankee running-dog capitalism are not welcome in socialist paradise:
A new law has been passed in Cuba which will make access to the internet more difficult for Cubans.
Only those authorised to use the internet from home like civil servants, party officials and doctors will be able to do so on a regular phone line.
So there we have it. A country that has (allegedly) 100% rates of literacy but you are not allowed to actually read anything.
Seeking out fiskable material in the Guardian is altogether too much like spearing fish in a barrel. It’s almost unfair. Callous, even. In fact, spoilt for choice, I generally elect to leave the tiddlers and save my energies for the succulent, fat ones that drift serene and oblivious to my cravings for their ample and oily flesh.
Dinner is served, courtesy of one Brian Wilson who takes his readers on a moist-eyed trip down memory lane:
Twenty-five years ago this month, I visited Cuba for the first time. The occasion was the World Festival of Youth and Students, which drew 20,000 to Havana from 150 countries – probably, to this day, the country’s biggest display to the world of its revolutionary wares.
Come on over, Mama, whole lot of schtoopidity goin’ on.
Yet, for our Brian, these were the salad days:
But for me, that visit was the start of a life-long love affair.
Ah yes, the romantic boulevards of gay Havana, where Brian strolled arm-in-arm with the Revolutionary Vanguard of the Hoopty-Squat Dirtbag 25th of November People’s Liberation Front Army (or something).
There is no need to confuse that statement with uncritical acclaim for everything about the place. But criticism should never ignore the fact that Cuba’s primary service to the world has been to provide living proof that it is possible to conquer poverty, disease and illiteracy in a country that was grossly over-familiar with all three.
Where’s the ‘living proof’, O Besotted One? Why isn’t every Cuban Embassy on the planet besieged with sick, starving, illiterate people all clamouring for passage to Havana and salvation? → Continue reading: In Cuba, no-one can hear you scream
I’m back onto Cuba again but, hey, it’s not my fault. The buggers keep provoking me.
But at least I can now look back on a certain record of achievement on this particular subject. No sooner have I intimated that Cuba’s allegedly splendiferous health-care and education statistics were probably a crock, then up pops cast-iron confirmation courtesy of this hilarious bit of fawnography in the Guardian:
Which only goes to reinforce what has long been obvious: that US hostility to Cuba does not stem from the regime’s human rights failings, but its social and political successes and the challenge its unyielding independence offers to other US and western satellite states. Saddled with a siege economy and a wartime political culture for more than 40 years, Cuba has achieved first world health and education standards in a third world country, its infant mortality and literacy rates now rivalling or outstripping those of the US, its class sizes a third smaller than in Britain.
Which goes a long way to explaining why untold numbers of Americans are risking their lives every year in order to escape from America and get a better life in Cuba.
Er, no, wait a sec…that’s the other way around:
Untold numbers of Cubans flee the island every year, trying to cross to nearby Florida – including via a truck turned into a raft this week.
Have these ‘untold numbers’ of Cubans all gone stark, raving mad? Who, in their right minds, would want to risk being eaten by sharks in order to get away from first-class health-care and education? Don’t these insane Cubans realise just how poor, miserable, stupid and sick they are going to be in America?
Some ungrateful people just don’t deserve ‘social and political successes’.
Fidel Castro, in a speech to the masses, has announced that he will not accept any more aid from the European Union as people connected with this organization have made critical comments about some of the policies of his regime.
Now if Fidel Castro actually keeps his word (I admit that this a dodgy assumption) his regime may soon fall.
Cuba has various sources of income. Some are not that important – for example the Castro regime’s drug dealing has long been limited by the desire to maintain plausible deniability (cocaine dealing having a negative public relations aspect in modern times – although at one time it was considered a respectable trade, and may one day be so considered again). Also there is little point for Latin American cocaine sellers to work via Cuba (when they can sell direct) – although some groups (such as the F.A.R.C. and the E.L.N. in Colombia) have an ideological interest in working with Cuba.
Other sources of finance are important, but also vulnerable. For example the cheap oil from Venezuela depends on the President there continuing to hold power. Now whilst it is true that large sections of the population continue to be part of the ‘Chavez cult’ (the President is consided a sort of God – who is to be worshipped no matter how much harm he causes his worshippers), the majority of the population are not part of the cult and the President may feel it sensible to sell oil at market prices to whoever wishes to buy it – or the President may lose power.
Then there is the nickel mining in Cuba. Nickel is a good source of money, however the mining depends on western companies and both the E.U. and Canada seem to be getting tired of encouraging private companies to operate in Cuba (considering the way these companies tend to get treated there). The belief that Castro should be supported because he is a ‘progressive’ (and also as a good way of twisting the tail of the United States) is finally slipping away. Also the fad of Cuba tourism seems to be losing its shine. Pre Castro musicians are dying off and pre Castro buildings are decaying (in spite of all the aid sent to prevent their decay).
This leaves Cuba with the income sent home by Cubans living overseas.
It is ironic that such an important source of income for Cuba (perhaps more important than tourism) is from people in the United States sending money back to their families.
A regime that depends on the population being supported by people living in the ‘great enemy’ can hardly be considered a strong one.
My guess (it can be no more than that) is that Fidel Castro will be out (or dead) within a year.
Only the BBC could possibly publish a full-page editorial about the 50th anniversary of Castro’s revolution in Cuba without once mentioning the word ‘communism’. Not overlooked, however, is a bit of fawning over the Beard himself:
Mr Castro, then a 26-year-old revolutionary, led about 120 fighters in a raid on the Moncada barracks – with a garrison of about 800 soldiers – on 26 July 1953.
So brave! So dashing! So bold! Our hero! (swoon).
Still there are some brief, grudging but nonetheless damning admissions:
His country has gone from being the third-richest in Latin America to one of the poorest.
Its economy now relies heavily on funds sent from Cubans abroad and on tourism.
Untold numbers of Cubans flee the island every year, trying to cross to nearby Florida – including via a truck turned into a raft this week.
Grim reading indeed but completey overshadowed, of course, by Castro’s laudable ‘humanitarian achievements’:
Cuba boasts the highest life expectancy in Latin America and one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.
It has one doctor per 166 people and one of the most extensive free public health systems in the world.
It also has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, with just over 95% of the population being able to read.
Makes you wonder why so many Cubans are so hell-bent on getting the flock out of Cuba. Perhaps they are all ‘extreme right-wingers’.
In any event, I wonder if those oft-touted statistics actually bear any resemblance to reality? Or are they, like Soviet grain harvesting figures, a mere device to provide Western leftists with a tool of apologia. The ‘best healthcare in the world’ schtick is now such familiar copybook mummery that it is even accepted by people who should know better. Perhaps somebody should ask those fleeing Cubans what life is really like.
It has been reported that Iranian dissident TV programmes being broadcast into Iran via satellite from the USA are being jammed… from Cuba! Of course I have no doubt that the Communist Cuban government will deny they are responsible.
Fair enough. As a result, it would be really… interesting… to see some equally non-governmental action to stop them. I wonder how much it would cost to lash up ‘private sector’ anti-radiation missile with just enough range to reach the jammer in Bejucal, (near Havana) from not-too-far-into Cuban airspace? Let’s call it a ‘Rattlesnake’ (as in Don’t Tread on Me)
As tactical surprise would be complete, the ‘Rattlesnake’ would not need to be fast (more akin to a cruise missile than a Shrike or HARM), just so long as it had enough range. A simple aluminum airframe with little wings to minimize the propellant requirement, perhaps a stripped down off-the-shelf GPS unit for cruise guidance and a tuned passive homer for terminal guidance (you know, the sort of gear the US government pays hundreds of thousands for and which can be bought in Radio Shack for a few hundred bucks). If the weapon was accurate enough, a small 10 lbs improvised pre-fragmented warhead would probably be sufficient. If the whole thing could be kept under 250 lbs, it would be easy to modify all manner of private airplanes to carry it.
A 15 mile engagement envelope for a Hi-Hi-Lo stand-off attack would probably be adequate: skirt Cuban airspace, suddenly turn in for the attack, shallow dive for speed to maximise range of the missile, release the ‘Rattlesnake’, then dive for the deck at just under the speed your wings will fall off and run for Key West (or elsewhere) at wave-top level long before you develop any MIG or SAM ‘problems’…but obviously the longer the range of the weapon, the better.
Key West, Mexico and a zillion little islands are only a few minutes flight time away for a low flying private airplane and, as I am sure any trafficker in ‘herbs and spices’ in that part of the world will tell you, there are an awful lot of small airfields in the Caribbean.
It is just an idea, of course… pure fantasy…I would not dream of actually inciting anyone to do this. That would be bad. I mean, if people started doing that sort of thing, folks might get it into their heads that it is okay to shoot at tyrants wherever they are found… and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?
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I do believe that we may be witnessing the final days of Cuba’s squalid communist regime:
The first wave of dissidents rounded up in a nationwide crackdown went on trial Thursday as Fidel Castro’s government moved to wipe out growing opposition. Prosecutors sought life sentences for 12 of the 80 defendants.
“While the rest of the hemisphere has moved toward greater freedom, the anachronistic Cuban government appears to be retreating into Stalinism,” department spokesman Philip Reeker said in Washington.
When governments start incarcerating their political opponents for life, it is because they are frightened and deeply worried and usually with good reason. I suspect the game is nearly up.
And, just as an aside, doesn’t this show up the juvenile, publicity-seeking, egocentrism of the ‘Bush is Hitler’ mob in sharp relief? While genuine freedom fighters risk their very lives by taking on ‘Il Presidente’, the likes of Michael Moore can pose as ‘oppressed heroic victims’ while being chauffeured around to their various awards ceremonies and public speaking engagements.
The Cuban Human Rights Commission reports 65 dissidents, mainly independent journalists, have been arrested in a three day crackdown.
Castro, as cynical as ever, is taking advantage of the world’s attention being focussed on the overthrow of another Socialist military dictator.
So now we will see another test of George Bush’s very shaky Free Trader credentials. He rightly wants Latin America to open up its markets to mutually enriching capitalism via the Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA) agreements… but will the USA do the same for its markets?
In order to make FTAA worthwhile, Brazil has demanded the United States open its fiercely protected sugar, steel and citrus markets to freer competition.
Analysts agree that without Brazil there will be no FTAA, and it is unclear how quickly Washington can lower key tariffs.
It amazes me how so many US Republicans who cursed every breath taken by Bill Clinton, damning him quite rightly as an unprincipled political weathervane, nevertheless just gloss over George Bush’s dismal record on liberalising world trade. Why is allowing the state to interfere in markets so as to make products such as sugar, lumber, steel and fruit more expensive to American consumers and industry just shrugged off?
The need for political support from key states, you say? Ah, I see. So you mean George Bush is just an unprincipled political weathervane, then. Gotcha.
Hernando de Soto seems to have had an immense impact on all of Spanish America, and most particularly on his homeland of Peru. Unfortunately you hear very little about Peru in the news other than Fujimori escapades or Shining Path villainy. This letter from Dr. Edgar David Villaneuva Nunez, Congressman of the Republica of Peru to Microsoft shows an entirely different side of government in Peru. It is much worth the read whether your interest is in the meta-context shining through it, or of the powerful set of arguments Dr Nunez makes for free software.
The story is in the letter so I will let Dr. Nunez provide the rest of the narrative.
Hugo Chavez is back in the presidential palace, as I lamented last Monday when I flippantly suggested the coup plotters should have shot him… only I was not really joking. There are all manner of rumour such as this from Instapundit on Wednesday that this is far from played out.
Hugo Chavez is the duly elected President of Venezuela. So what? When democracy and tyranny are on the same side, to hell with democracy. Democracy is not an end in and of itself, just a means to an end and that end is liberty… if a majority voted to expel all black people from the USA, would that be okay just because it is democratically sanctified? Of course not. If democracy leads to liberty, fine. If it does not, then time for a coup d’état. I am quite serious that my only problem with the coup against Chavez is they did not shoot the bastard dead. Sic semper tyrannis.
I have had a couple e-mails asking me what I thought about the situation in Venezuela and the fact Hugo Chevez seems to be back in office after the Army deposed him. I assume the reason these two readers asked me what I thought on the subject, which is a bit off my usual polemical stomping grounds, is presumably because I wrote a well received piece on the subject of Hugo Chavez back in December.
Well all I can say is what is it with kids these days? The younger generation just do not take pride in their work. Back when I was a youngster, we all knew that a coup d’etat was not over until you have shot El Presidente dead on the steps of his palace.