Third Party & Independents Archives

Keeping Cuba Accountable

The White House’s diplomatic opening with Cuba is causing a lot of anger and worry, according to the Miami Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer. In places like Jamaica, The Dominican Republic, and especially Cancun. Never mind the issues of choice and freedom for ordinary Cubans who, despite the opening up of Cuba’s economy in carefully controlled areas like tourism and the resource sector, have seen precious little, make that none, of the dollars and euros flowing into the regime’s coffers. No, the issue that Andres Oppenheimer, a long-time contributor to the Miami Herald, focuses on is the effect on American tourism in the aforementioned vacation spots of relaxed travel restrictions for Americans who wish to visit Cuba. As outlined in the LA Times, Hillary Clinton has laid the ground for a debate on lifting the Cuban embargo, along with other pet issues, in preparation for her presidential bid. So why shouldn’t the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist join in on the fun?

Oppenheimer should understand about repressive regimes; he left his native Argentina in 1976 on a fellowship to study in St. Paul Minnesota just as his country was entering the most repressive and bloody years of its history, an especially tricky time for journalists. But by the time the desaparecidos reached a crescendo in 1977 and 1978, he was at Columbia in New York, obtaining his masters in journalism and then on to sunnier climes in Miami. It would be hard to characterize him as an apologist for the Castro regime, and he knows Cuba and the Caribbean well, having covered the region for decades, but his blithe, "this is a done deal so let's move on" attitude is a little disquieting. One wonders if the belief of those who say opening up relations with Cuba will lead to democracy - China remains an overwhelmingly negative piece of evidence - will prove correct. Clearly, the Cuban regime, wants trade with America in order to sustain itself in power. And it would be hardly a surprise if their objective is some form of Chinese totalitarian-capitalist structure. The lack of freedoms in China has not worried businesses from around the globe, although China's crony capitalism has hardly yielded the fruits many overseas investors expected a couple of decades ago. The lack of freedoms in Cuba has hardly worried European, or Canadian, tourists, to say nothing of bourgeois marxist wannabe's from around Latin America making pilgrimages to the island. Will American visitors to the island and American enterprise change this dynamic? It would be optimistic to take it for granted that they will, and it will likely prove naive to once again think that process - in this case trade and general interchange - can simply overcome a system based on control, intimidation, and failed ideologies. It may be that the embargo will indeed be lifted. It behooves us to be vigilant on how and whether Cuba can indeed change on a fundamental, political level. And for journalists like Andres Oppenheimer to keep Cuba accountable, if it indeed enjoys the bonanza of trade with America at some point in the near future.

Posted by AllardK at December 29, 2014 7:27 PM
Comment #387046

“although China’s crony capitalism has hardly yielded the fruits many overseas investors expected a couple of decades ago.”

What are you talking about? China’s economy has literally boomed under its version of state capitalism. It has the fastest growing middle class in the entire world. The standard of living in China has increased dramatically in the past decades.

If what happened to China is in the cards for Cuba, then so be it. The people of Cuba deserve to enter the 21st century. I wouldn’t be so pessimistic about political change. The geographic, historical and cultural ties between the US and Cuba is vastly different than that of China and the western countries.

Posted by: Rich at January 2, 2015 10:20 PM
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