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Thought exercise on Cuba?


DTEJD1997
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Hey all:

 

I bumped into my local communist radical who loves Cuba today at the Post Office.  I always like to get him riled up, so I had a question/thought exercise for him today.

 

Obviously the trade embargo by USA hurts Cuba.  The USA is the largest economy, and trading with us is important...but it is not the end of the world.  This is ESPECIALLY the case when you can trade with Canada, China, the UK, Germany, Korea, Russia, Australia, all of Africa, and so on.  So if you need cars/trucks, just by from Japan, Korea, Germany.  If you need computers, buy from China or Guatemala.

 

SO if Cuba is such a great, dynamic place, why are they such an economic basket case?  They can get 98% of what they need from the rest of the world...So shouldn't they be at 98% (or so) of living conditions in the rest of the world?  The USA is powerful, no doubt, but we aren't that powerful!

 

Of course, he admitted he had no answer and shrugged his shoulders.

 

I then suggested, could it be that Communism sucks and impoverishes 99% of it's subjects?  He had no response...

 

 

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In no way am I defending the government of Cuba but I just have to ask how is that embargo working for the US after 50+ years?

 

Secondly, rather than compare Cuba with the US, perhaps you should compare them to other Latin american countries or Caribbean islands. I certainly wouldn’t describe Cuba as “dynamic” but it is not a total basket case either.

 

Most of the Islands rely on tourisn for their economy, but when you restrict Americans from traveling to Cuba, it certainly has a major effect on their economy. And by the way, Cubans can travel pretty well wherever they wish. Americans however, are restricted from traveling to Cuba. Now which is the “free country”?

 

Have you spent much time in Cuba yourself?

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It's a dictatorship.  There are no real elections.

 

You can't just leave.  They can block you if they want.

 

The US is fighting to keep people out of the country. Even Obama did that. In Cuba they are fighting to keep people in the country.

 

Go read about the doctors in Brazil getting paid $200 per month while the Cuban government pockets the rest.

 

You defend some crackpot dictatorship you are trash in my books bud.

 

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In no way am I defending the government of Cuba but I just have to ask how is that embargo working for the US after 50+ years?

 

Secondly, rather than compare Cuba with the US, perhaps you should compare them to other Latin american countries or Caribbean islands. I certainly wouldn’t describe Cuba as “dynamic” but it is not a total basket case either.

 

Most of the Islands rely on tourisn for their economy, but when you restrict Americans from traveling to Cuba, it certainly has a major effect on their economy. And by the way, Cubans can travel pretty well wherever they wish. Americans however, are restricted from traveling to Cuba. Now which is the “free country”?

 

Have you spent much time in Cuba yourself?

 

I've never traveled to Cuba.  I was acquainted with some people who had escaped Cuba about 20 years ago?  They were hard working, smart, industrious people.  They did not speak well of their homeland's government...not at all.

 

I think the embargo has worked a LOT better for the USA than it has for Cuba.  We are sort of doing OK...Cuba?  Not so much.

 

I remember hearing a "BIG DEAL" about pressure cookers coming to Cuba, please see:

 

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-2005-03-13-0503120072-story.html

 

According to Wikipedia incomes in Cuba range typically from about $17 a month for a factory worker to about $30 a month for a doctor.  Of course, a dollar will buy a LOT more in Cuba than it will in the USA...but anyway that you wish to slice it, the Cubans are not making a lot of money.  Not making much money does not give the people/country access to much foreign currency, so it is hard to buy computers, cars, clothes, and other imported goods.

 

The poorest Latin American country appears to be Haiti, with a GDP per person of about $900?  Cuba is not listed due to lack of data...but it appears that Cuba would list below Haiti?  Of course, that is not a 100% perfect comparison, as Cuba has larger "trade" network (cheap healthcare & education)? 

 

Any way that you wish to slice it, I don't think Cuba rates favorably with any other Latin American country in terms of GDP?

 

As for travel, I am shocked that they are now allowed to travel!  Evidently this changed in 2012.  Of course, Cubans have problems traveling to wealthier countries as they have to get an entry Visa to most countries.  I would think that an even greater restriction on Cuban travel would be their inability to get foreign currency.  If you are saving say $10 a month as a welder in a factory, how long is it going to take you to buy a plane ticket and visit say Belgium for a 1 week vacation?  It might take you 15 years+?

 

Evidently, there is some amount of free education and free healthcare.  HOWEVER, if you are making $10, $20, $30 a month...how could your society afford ANY medicine other than aspirin & the most basic generics?  How could you afford any X-Rays, CAT scans?  anything other than bandages/splints?  I am sure the Cuban doctors are very skilled in working with lower levels of certain things...but at some point, you've just got to have access to capital?

 

 

it also appears that Venezuela & the Netherlands & Canada are Cuba's 3 largest trading partners?

 

It also appears that the country has a LOT more freedom than they did in decades past...but it is still heavily controlled.  State controlled media, little or no access to internet for the average person.  No freedom of press/expression.  Why is that?  If communism is so good, why not have free association, communications, assembly, and access to internet?

 

Cuba has MOST CERTAINLY been an absolute basket past in decades past...now it just appears to be pretty poor.  Certainly a larger improvement than I initially thought...but I would still argue it is a "basket case".

 

So my question still stands, if Cuba had figured a good way to move their society forward, why is the average wage something like $20 a month?  Where is the freedom?  What was the revolution for? 

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If the U.S elects Warren or any of the other crazies (Stan Druckenmiller's expression), then the same downhill direction will occur in the States.

 

She and the other idiots are calling for a complete ban on fracking, blocking Line 3, Line 5, KXL and the one going across Dakota. If all these things happen any idea what would be the price for oil?

 

It would skyrocket past $100 within days of only a complete fracking ban, Europe would once again be at the mercy of Russian natural gas and global economic activity would drop rapidly.

 

Indeed we have these fools who have and keep on trying to somehow tie up Russia and Trump in some collusion while he is a nightmare to them while the crazies would give to Putin America's head on a silver plate.

 

Yeah where is common sense?

 

Cardboard

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...

So my question still stands, if Cuba had figured a good way to move their society forward, why is the average wage something like $20 a month?  Where is the freedom?  What was the revolution for?

The Cuban Revolution has been a failed experiment and when you compare, side by side, to the US, it is very clear who has the better 'secret sauce'.

You may want to consider though the following question (inversion-type of question):

Why did the Revolution succeed?

Or how 20 to 30 individuals led by Fidel Castro, hiding in some mountains (with guns but no bullets), who grew beards because they had nothing to shave with, came to form a guerilla movement that was outnumbered by an approximate factor of 150 to 1 in favor of a government who, at least in the beginning, had the support of the US, and came to simply walk to power?

Cuba had weak democratic tradition, decaying democratic institutions and historical preference for strong men but Cuba could have evolved differently and it seems that the historical imperative had strong roots in popular support since the Batista government had led the population in an environment where any alternative could be considered an improvement.

For interest, a previous President of yours, a Democrat (in more than one sense), before ending up in trauma room #1 in a Dallas Hospital, had volunteered an opinion as to how the Cuban Revolutionary movement had been created, fed and brought to fruition. A corollary " to bring society forward" may be that democratic institutions have to be cherished and not taken for granted, with a responsibility proportional to your power.

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Similar to North Korea and other countries around the world.  The masses might be starving but those in power have plenty. The dictator of the day has his power, his women, his food... almost whatever he wants.  He even has allies, see the cooperation between Venezuela and Cuba, so they are not exactly lonely. As long as they survive, this shit can go on forever.

 

 

 

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"The reality is Cuba is simply another Caribbean island enjoying tourists who want to be around less Americans."

 

Lol! Tourists are welcome but, to me it is a no go because there are other places with much better food, no lack of tp, etc.

 

Just like Cwericb: it is a Caribbean island so normal to do poorly. Then what about Venezuela which is well attached to South America. I guess it is doing like all other LA countries?

 

How can people be so blind to real reality?

 

You don't believe that leadership is important? Then how in the world can you explain that the Dominican Republic is doing fine while Haiti is doing terrible? It is the same island split in half!

 

Cardboard

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Okay let’s try to put this $20 per month in perspective. When you talk about the average Cuban making $20 per month you need to look at local buying power. Actually I think the basic amount is higher than that as it was $32 about 6-8 years ago.

 

So here is an example. For you to fly from Hoguin in the East to Havana in the West (about 500 miles) for example, would cost about $500. For a Cuban it is more like $5.

 

The currency system is very confusing as Cuba has two currencies and many people don’t understand the difference. One currency is for Cubans (Peso) and a different one is for tourists and non Cubans (Cuban Convertible Peso - CUC). The CUC is equivalent to the US dollar.

 

When you consider the average wage in Cuba, remember many things are supplied by the state and health care is free as is education. Consider what you might pay for those two items alone. Cubans in general are well educated and they have one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Unlike a lot of other third world countries, education in Cuba is mandatory up to the 9th grade and university education is free and encouraged.

 

When I asked about the benefits to the US of their embargo, what I wanted to know is, of what benefit is it to the U.S. ? I still don’t see what it has accomplished other than impose hardships on eleven million Cubans. There is no question that it has severely hurt the people in Cuba, but if it hasn’t resulted in regime change in 50 years is it successful? You can get more bees with honey than vinegar.

 

Regarding GDP and Haiti,  I believe the GDP of Cuba is about $87.13 billion in 2015 and Haiti was $8.408 billion.

 

You are correct about travel. Cubans can leave the country but the problem is getting into another country. However, the fact that many Cubans are well educated helps.

 

Internet. It used to be strictly controlled until a few years ago, but that is no more. I have quite a number of Cuban friends on Facebook.

 

By the way, that quote on pressure cookers is from when Fidel was still in power and is ancient history.

 

As far as the government is concerned I find that many are split. Most seem to be of the opinion of, leave us a lone we will work it out. There has been a lot of progression over the last dozen years or so as I believe that even the present government realize that the old system doesn’t work but it takes time to turn the ship around.

 

So perhaps the U.S. should stop pissing off the Cubans because they could be a great ally if their economy wasn’t being strangled by the embargo.

 

The average person in Cuba is by no means rich but neither is anyone starving in Cuba. And when you see pictures of the 1950's cars and houses that look like shacks, believe me that is not a true picture. The old cars are either tourist items or someone’s hobby and when you do see an old “shack” it likely has a washer, dryer, TV and a microwave and I can almost guarantee the owner is sitting in there on his cell phone either gabbing away or surfing the net. There are a lot of modern houses in Cuba but they are not as well publicised as the pictures of the slums in Havana. The city has a population of over 2 million so yes, there are slum areas.

 

I am no expert on Cuba. This is just my view as one who has traveled to the country and who has a lot of Cuban friends in Cuba - some who hate the regime and others who are mostly apathetic.

 

Cardboard  - who said leadership is not important? Not me. I would love to see Cuba with free elections and a democratic government. Should that happen, Cuba could be a powerhouse as the average Cuban is smart, very resourceful and well educated.

 

PS. I hear all this crap about the food in Cuba. Give me a break. You get what you pay for. Go to a 5 star instead of a 3 star and then comment. And by the way if you haven’t been there how do you know what the food is like?

 

How do you think the DR would be doing if it was embargoed by the US?

 

 

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A point to the contrary, the average life expectancy of Cubans is longer than Americans.

 

The reality is Cuba is simply another Caribbean island enjoying tourists who want to be around less Americans.

 

Yup, just like all the people who go to Mexico and stay at compounds/resorts on the beach with only Americans and Europeans. I bet none of the folks at $600 a night Sandals Resorts are American either.

 

These places simply benefit from being ideally located on the map. If most of the people going to those places knew about the Florida Keys they'd just go there.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Period#Famine

 

"A letter published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) criticizes the American Journal of Epidemiology for not taking all factors into account and says that "The famine in Cuba during the Special Period was caused by political and economic factors similar to the ones that caused a famine in North Korea in the mid-1990s. Both countries were run by authoritarian regimes that denied ordinary people the food to which they were entitled when the public food distribution collapsed; priority was given to the elite classes and the military. In North Korea, 3%–5% of the population died; in Cuba the death rate among the elderly increased by 20% from 1982 to 1993." All editorial matter in CMAJ represents the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of the Canadian Medical Association or its subsidiaries. In this article the author's name has been withheld in order to safeguard her or his right to free communication.[14] The regime did not accept American donations of food, medicines and cash until 1993.[14] Thirty thousand Cubans fled the country; thousands drowned or were killed by sharks."[14]

 

Nutrition fell from 3,052 calories per day in 1989 to 2,099 calories per day in 1993. Other reports indicate even lower figures, 1,863 calories per day. Some estimated that the very old and children received only 1,450 calories per day.[15] The recommended minimum is 2,100–2,300 calories"

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Well yes, it certainly would be nice to see a democratic government in Cuba. But to embargo the country because it is a dictatorship is more than a little disingenuous.

 

It doesn’t seem to bother the U.S. when they deal with dozens of other repressive dictatorships throughout the world. Russia, China and most of the Middle East come to mind.

 

Also keep in mind that Cuba has never attacked the U.S., but the U.S. attacked Cuba in 1961 - unsuccessfully .

 

After 50 years the only thing the embargo has achieved is strengthen the Cuban government and hurt the Cuban people. Does anyone really still believe that the embargo is going to endear the U.S. to the Cuban people?

 

Open up trade, see how long the present government lasts, because after 50 years it doesn’t take a genius to see that it is not working.

 

Why continue to drive a country of 11 million well educated people, just  90 miles away, to trade with China and Russia when they would be a big importer of American made products?

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"The reality is Cuba is simply another Caribbean island enjoying tourists who want to be around less Americans."

 

Lol! Tourists are welcome but, to me it is a no go because there are other places with much better food, no lack of tp, etc.

 

Just like Cwericb: it is a Caribbean island so normal to do poorly. Then what about Venezuela which is well attached to South America. I guess it is doing like all other LA countries?

 

How can people be so blind to real reality?

 

You don't believe that leadership is important? Then how in the world can you explain that the Dominican Republic is doing fine while Haiti is doing terrible? It is the same island split in half!

 

Cardboard

 

I went to Cuba a long time ago in the 90’s. It’s great for tourists, the food was good (not great, but good), but the drinks were awesome. The island is quite beautiful, but the cities were a disaster and some streets even in Havanna looked literally like a war just had ended. I heard it is much better now.

 

One thing I noticed back then that racism was still prevalent. The whites (some with beards like Castro) were the autocrats, working the hotels (which got them access to hard currency via tips etc.), the then when you looked at who worked in the fields and the constructions sites, they were mostly dark skinned/ black.

 

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After 50 years the only thing the embargo has achieved is strengthen the Cuban government and hurt the Cuban people.

 

How can you tell if that's the only thing it achieved?

 

For example, America proactively, economically, supported an authoritarian regime and now this regime has the economic and military capabilities to put America at risk.

 

So, maybe without the embargo, the Cuban dictator of the day would have been even more powerful and the people would still be in the shit.

 

 

BTW:

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-12/twitter-suspends-accounts-of-raul-castro-cuban-media

Twitter Suspends Accounts of Raul Castro, Cuban Media

 

I agree with you that embargos have limited impact on those in power, this is why the Magnitsky Act is so important.

 

 

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“One thing I noticed back then that racism was still prevalent”

 

Funny that you should bring that up because that is one thing that I did not notice.

 

We have made a lot of friends there, black, white and in between and found that they seem to be color blind as far as race is concerned. However, Cuba is a large country - 700 miles long with 11 million people - so the level of racism may well vary.

 

**********************************************

Let’s put the embargo in perspective.

 

Remember Berlin Wall? It was built a few months before the U.S. embargoed Cuba.

 

Remember President Regan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech? Well the wall came down in 1989 - 30 years ago.

 

Yet after 57 years the old Cuban embargo is still in place. Mr. Trump, the world has changed since 1962, stop the embargo.

 

The best thing one could say about punishing the PEOPLE of Cuba for something that happened to them nearly 60 years ago, is that it is counter productive.

 

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