Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Castro resigns

I'll have much more to say about this when I have some time. The reign goes to his "kid" brother Raul - a spry 76.

A bunch of comments from Nation contributors.

Addendum: Castro is giving up power to take up blogging. The catchy title: "Reflections of Comrade Fidel."

Someone on NPR this morning said that Cuba is a great place to live until you're about 16. After that, it's a gulag.

That's pretty much spot-on.

Ten years ago I thought this moment would inspire an instant country-wide general strike and the whole government would crumble. In that scenario, the challenge would be to keep the Americans at bay.

Now I'm not sure. The pinche barbudos seem to have managed the transition better than would be expected, and we'll probably have to wait for Raul to kick it before anything changes.

Or maybe there'll be a struggle at the top over the next couple of years, leaving some room for popular mobilization.

Anyway, it's probably not going to be party time. Shame.
End of a Freakin' Era!

Does this mean that Al Davis might step down in the Oakland Raiders organization?

(I have always suspected that the two were actually the same person, or at least brothers)

Hank Sims is a moron! Comparing Cuba to a Gulag. You don't even know what a Gulag is!

Hey fat moron! If we're so free here why don't you go ahead and print the story on Judi Pollace and her supposed shady real estate dealings!? Oh, what? You can't do that? You print your rag on their spools? JUST WHAT CAN YOU DO RIGHT HANK?
OK, you're out to get Hank and you're out to get Judy Pollace. I expect you will get what you deserve.
If the U.S. government and the right-wing crazies in Miami weren't such a pain in the butt, the Cuban people probably would have changed things a long time ago. The threats of U.S. intervention and anti-Cuban terrorism keep people from speaking out.

Polling has shown that Cubans are generally happy with their health care and education, but unhappy with their ability to do what they want in life. The country is hardly a gulag, but it does have a number of very serious problems.

I have no doubt that Cubans would rather have some kind of democratic socialism or social democracy, but they aren't going to risk instability to get it. They saw what happened in Haiti. They know what the U.S. has done throughout Latin America.

A change in U.S. policy would be the best way to support democratic change in Cuba. I may be wrong, but I don't see a Soviet collapse scenario. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but I'm expecting glasnost-like and perestroika-like ideas to work this time.

People in Cuba appreciate the advances made by the revolution, but they want more personal freedom. I don't know exactly what form change will come in, but I expect it to come incrementally.
Shane: When you go to live in Cuba for a couple years, then you can comment with authority. Same with me.

Until then, I was listening to Democracy Now today. They had some lefty guy on there saying he expected some reforms from Fidel's brother, Raul. He felt the "reforms" were well due.

Whether it happens, or not, I won't speculate, but it looks like- according to the guy I was listening to- Raul is not averse to allowing some reforms in regards the private market.

We shall see what happens.

My personal feelings: I just want to end the Cuban embargo. Maybe it will work with Raoul.
I still think that we should assassinate Castro. All you Castro lovers should move to Cuba. Hank is right. Cuba is communist prison. But it is OK because at least when they torture you you can wait at the free clinic for few weeks and then get treated.
I've always been curious why the Left seems to love Castro, but you never hear them mention that guy in charge of North Korea?
Cuba Lives! Cuba will be fine, with or without Fidel, with or without Raoul. The Cuban people love their island, their system, and their potential for a highly successful tourist mecca. They don't need the US. The US needs Cuba.

They could make a living just fine were it not for a failed US trade embargo. The US enforced embargo is an archaic reminder of a time long ago. Under the Trading with the Enemies Act of 1917, the US Treasury Department has used it's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to enforce these trade restriction laws in an effort to starve the Cuban people into overthrowing their popularly elected president.

One would think that after 45 years of a failed embargo policy, one would try a different tactic. Like maybe instead of starving them, we could try being friends and neighbors.

The US enforced Trade Embargo is actually a war crime, as in, warfare against civilians. A war crime, folks. I'm talking about nine US presidents, not Fidel.

As for Fidel, he is a great man whose time has passed. Do not underestimate the people's love for him. Fidel has already outlasted and served longer than nine US Presidents, and will undoubtledly survive Lil Bush as well.
Why does our media refer to him as the President of Cuba when we aqll know he has been a dictator for 50 freakin years?
6:12 wrote, "The Cuban people love their island, their system,...".

Then why are so many of them killing themselves trying to get to Florida?

"Like maybe instead of starving them, we could try being friends and neighbors.".

I don't know that we're starving them. Castro probably is. Still, I agree with the friends and neighbors thing.
For what it's worth, whatever you think of Castro. He made Cuba a country. It had been a colony of the U.S. and the Mafia up until his revolution. We probably could have co-opted him if we hadn't been so damned anti commie. I wrote an editorial back in the sixties where I said it would be better having him drive a Chevy than some Russian cracker box.
The threats of U.S. intervention and anti-Cuban terrorism keep people from speaking out.

Shane: This is part of the truth, but it's the smaller part. The more important part is that the Cuban police state is all-pervasive and constantly in everyone's lives. The Committee for the Defense of the Revolution is everywhere ... if not on every block in Havana, then damn near. It's the Stasi. No joke.

For what it's worth, whatever you think of Castro. He made Cuba a country.

I think the most significant aspect of the Revolution -- maybe the only truly historically significant one, really -- was land reform. Progressives all over Latin America had been struggling with it for a century, mostly taking half-assed measures that didn't accomplish much of anything.

Then Castro came along and solved the problem with a stroke. It was a painful stroke, but it got done. If that can be preserved from the Miamians in a post-Revolutionary world, I'd be happy.

Most of everything else is at least half bullshit. The medical system is beautiful and equitable but dilapidated. The education system is above par for Latin America, but it would horrify you or me. If you aren't tagged as having academic or athletic promise, you better get used to cutting a whole lot of sugar cane as part of your "education."

And, of course, Havana is crumbling, and the state decides what you can read or write or say, etc., etc.

I don't know -- Castro made Cuba a country, you say? I don't think so. Cuba's had a strong sense of identity since at least Marti. Sure, Bautista had to be got, but you traded a caudillo in the classic mode for a caudillo who was more enlightened in some ways and more sinister in others.

Que viva Camilo Cienfuegos!
I met Fidel Castro a few years back. Actually, I met him twice.
He had a perfect handshake. Probably he had a lot of practice.
I am handicapped and I found amazing medical programs in Cuba. Unlike US, where many have no medical insurance or medical car right here in the states. Medicine is highly respected in Cuba and for all. Doctor training programs for students from around the world for no cost, the hook is they have to give back 5 years of doctoring in the area they came from.
Though, because of the trade embargo, many people don't get the medicine they need and the medical care that would be needed.
I found that Castro had a program and at that time over 17,000 Chernobyl children sick from radiation were treated for free in Cuba.
I met these amazing children and young adults in a special hospital in Cuba. The idea of good mental health to keep their sickness in check was thought inspiring. Many children were dying. Not because of Cuba, because of radiation sickness from a nuclear power plant accident in Russia. Cuba invited the family to come with the sick children so they had personal family with them.
The strength and love given and received by all in treatment is awesome and inspiring. Our group, Pastors for Peace, was allowed to visit and have a moment to see the real Cuba. I cried a lot that night.
Cuba has very little food or medicine not poor government, “Trade Embargo”, yet they share what they have.
Prejudice is not legal in Cuba. Is that strange... they get along, many cultures even blend.
Despite the illegal trade embargo, the education system is excellent. The arts are encouraged. It is a small island, it gets crowded and people leave.
Yes, they may do things different than US democracy, they have survived.
It was an honor to meet such a great man.
Miami dances in the street, yes the rich Cubans left for Miami, Dade County one of the most dangerous counties in the US because of the fun loving rich Cubans who came to US and who still want to back to their own country with warlike thoughts in their minds.
Oh and the news media tonight actually complained about Political Prisoners in Cuba. I am sure they have them, yet I did not see any. How Cuba should free them.
I thought “What about our US jail in Cuba where the prisoners are detained by American soldiers where they have been waterboarded? They make them live in a chain link fence cubical like a dog kennel, locked up for over 5 years with no legal recourse or aid.
I remember Fidel giving a speech how US military had spread diseases into the air after inoculating all personal on the illegal US military base. Over 400 diseases appeared in the population of Cuba that had never happened in the history of Cuba.
Fidel spoke of how the government of the US paid a rental of about $4,000 a year for Guantanamo for over 40 years and that Fidel had never cashed the check and therefore, US was illegally in Cuba.
Even though, Pastors for Peace brings many school buses, supplies and medical aid to Cuba, Fidel said it is only a drop in a bucket to the need of the Cubans in these supplies blocked the trade embargo.
Our own medical clinics here have supported us in giving medical aid for Cuba. Thank you all, you caring folks. So proud to know you all look outside the box to the need of human beings for medicine.
Our group, Pastors for Peace, was allowed to visit and have a moment to see the real Cuba.

Sorry, dude. You didn't see the real Cuba. You saw the PR version. How can you not see that?

By the by, I was just reading around after my last post and popped back here to share this great Washington Post story on the Comite para la Defensa de la Revolucion.
does this have anything to do with the fact that he is too freakin old to do anything but drool? come on Castro is on par with kim jung il of north korea, no matter how many press releases his news organizations put out there, cuba still is a 3rd world dump while free islands in the area are rolling in foreign tourist cash and doing way better than his communist government which is waiting paitently to die off along with its leader. the free market will prevail and there will be high rise condos in cuba for some rich europeans to occupy during their extended vacations abroad.
Gulag may be strong. They don't have death camps. Small favors I know.

Basically the executions are said to have numbered anywhere from 500 to 5000. Maybe not up in the Hitler/Stalin/Suharto numbers, but significant nevertheless. I had one Cuba defender argue the virtues in that he isn't "as bad as Pinochet." Neither am I. Major f---ing accomplishment.
ZOMG, Fidel the Blogger. Perfect!

Dude'll give Kos a run for his money. Except he'll write all the posts himself.
"I still think that we should assassinate Castro..."

Gee whiz, then we could turn Cuba into the sort of heavenly place we've created in Iraq.
Cuba should have stayed a whorehouse for the US.

See where dignity gets you?
Maybe not as bad as Pinochet quite yet, but you still have time, just keep up the pace and you'll get there some day.
So what if Raul is 76! That'll be McCain's age after his 1st term as El Presidente des Estats Unis.

It's called experience, boy.
Support the IFCO/Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba this June/July – End the Blockade

In June/July 2008 14 different routes of the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba will be on the road visiting more than 120 US and Canadian cities. We will travel in school buses, trucks, and cars to Cuba via Mexico with medical and educational supplies collected from groups across the US and Canada as a collective challenge to the inhuman and immoral US blockade and travel ban. Five of our buses will be named in honor of the Five Cuban patriots who are unjustly incarcerated in US jails.

We will spend 8 days in Cuba attending cultural events, and visiting social projects such as organic farms, elderly person’s homes and health centers including the Latin American School of Medicine. We will meet and learn from Cubans at every level about the problems caused by the blockade and the ways they have creatively responded to those difficulties.

This year’s caravan will also host our second Hiphop Without Borders Exchange We will take many hiphop artists to participate in an international hiphop festival, as well as carrying turntables, keyboards and other musical equipment to support Cuban hiphop.

In Cuba with us will be other travel challenges undertaken by the Venceremos Brigade and the US-Cuba Labor Exchange. On July 14th, we will all return to the US proudly acknowledging that we have challenged the US travel ban.

That's the intentions, but it needs our supporters, our network, to make it happen.

It needs people like you
To come on the caravan as a caravanista, either within the US and/or to Cuba. We want people to come to Cuba with us, but if that is not possible we also want supporters to be there with us at the border crossings.
To spread the word to your friends, neighbors, colleagues or congregation. We can provide flyers to circulate.
To host a caravan event in your community and to get the media involved. If you are interested in this we can put you in contact with other interested people in your community

Contact cucaravan@igc.org
for application forms and/or information on being a caravanista or if you want to get involved in hosting or contributing material aid

Our website at www.pastorsforpeace.org will soon have information and flyers that you can download.

The full program is
June 14-28: Educational presentations and aid collections throughout the US and Canada
June 29 – July 4: Participant orientation in Texas. Border crossing into Mexico. Travel to Tampico, Mexico
July 5-12: Fly to Havana for Caravan educational program in Cuba.
July 13: Return to Tampico and travel to Mexico/US border
July 14: Reverse challenge; cross the Mexican border into the US.

$$$$$$$$$$ Of course cash is always needed to finance this ambitious project
To make a financial donation - checks or money orders should be made out to IFCO and mailed to our New York office, or you can phone the office (212-926-5757) to make a credit card donation. You can also make a credit card donation on-line via our website www.pastorsforpeace.org
IFCO has 501(c)3 status so donations are tax-deductible and a receipt can be mailed to you for use in preparing your income tax.

418 W 145th Street, New York, NY 10031
tel: 212.926.5757 - fax: 212.926.5842 - email: ifco@igc.org,
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