Cuba and the US at years' end, 2002
walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 18 06:31:48 MST 2002
(This is a commentary on recent events
which I've posted to the CubaNew list.
I hope readers of the Marxism list will
find this informative and provocative.)
CUBA AND THE US, AT YEAR'S END, 2002
by Walter Lippmann, CubaNews list moderator
December 18, 2002 walterlx at earthlink.net
Here in Cuba we are seeing celebrations of the
first year of renewed business with the U.S. during
which $253 MILLION US dollars worth of business
has been transacted between our two nations.
The cash payment system, which Congressional
rightists hoped would expose Cuba as a bankrupt
deadbeat, has instead proven to be very attractive
to US corporations who like doing business with
no worries about getting paid. No wonder some
of these businesses are now calling for an end
to the blockade.
Let's keep in mind that if Cuba could have more
tourist trade, and, more importantly, if Cuba
could SELL many of its much valued products
to the US, it would have even more money to
buy even more from US corporations. Imagine
the rum, coffee, tobacco and other sales which
we could easily see developed quickly if the
blockade were lifted?
And you can rest assured that if Cuba missed
even one single $5.00 bill it would be headlined
in all the media US which never avoide any kind
of opportunity to bash Cuba and its Revolution.
Trade between the two countries was unilaterally
cut off by the US over 40 years ago and thus the
resumption of trade is a big step in the direction
of ending the unilaterally-imposed US blockade
of the island of Cuba. Viva free trade between
the United States and Cuba. We need more of it,
which is in the best interests of many businesses
and all of the peoples of both of our countries.
Yesterday's edition of Juventud Rebelde ran a
full-page feature on precisely this theme, headed:
"Por un comercio libre y bilateral" ("For a free and
bilateral commerce") which discusses in detail
the need for genuine free trade between the US
and Cuba, which has been denied both to US
citizens and corporations due to the persistently
malignant role of those Cuban-American exile
rightists in US politics over the past 40+ years.
Today Otto Reich is twisting in the wind. It seems
he's put out to pasture (though still receiving his
entirely undeserved governmental salary) where
he has apparently been made to shut his mouth
at this very sensitive time in Latin American
history. (Recall his crude intervention to back
the Venezuelan coup in April of this year.)
The idea that having the U.S. Congress under
Republican control might secure the renomination
of Reich has been clearly proven to be false.
The right wing is frothing at the mouth over this:
Today's Wall Street Journal, which called for an
end to the blockade on Cuba during the Carter
visit, runs an editorial all but demanding that
Reich be put in charge of Latin American affairs
at the State Department. Don't hold your breath.
Indeed, there's an obvious connection between
the expanding trade ties between the nations of
Cuba and the US, and the sullen silence of Otto
Reich. We know he's completely opposed to the
expanded trade ties and now appears to be able
to do between somewhere between little and
nothing to block the trade.
And let's not forget that this is the man who,
after all, publicly instructed the governor of
Minnesota, a married man, not to engage in
"sexual tourism" while he (Ventura) was on a
working trip to expand business opportunities
for the state of which he is Governor. Ventura
demanded that Busy & Co. apologize:
Jesus Arboleya, is one of the island's leading
scholars on the US, and in particular on the
role of the Cuban-American exiles. Just a few
weeks ago he published some extremely
prescient (that is, he analyzed and accurately
foretold) the consequences of the Republican
election successes of recent weeks. They're
NOT what Bush and his backers had projected.
Take the time to read or re-read them today
as we look on at Otto Reich, his momentary
silence and assess what it really signifies.
Arboleya, by the way, wrote and published a
massive study on the Cuban-American right
which is available in print in the US as well as
a short book published by Ocean Press on the
US-Cuban migration conflict. Two great reads.
Arboleya's articles were taken in full from the
website of Radio Progreso www.rprogreso.com
Parenthetically, all of these developments might
help explain why Vicki Huddleston, formerly the
head of the US Interests Section in Havana was
herself sent to a faraway diplomatic post from
which she hasn't been seen or heard since.
Huddleston, you'll recall, took many opportunities
to get into the media attacking Cuba, both here
on the island and in Florida where she enjoyed
posing for photo opportunities and speaking to
rightist exile groupings like the Cuban-American
National Foundation. She's been replaced in
Havana by James R. Cason, who does his job
with something less than the stident enthusiasm
of her predecessor. He has the same job and he
says the same things, but he does so in a rather
softer (though not at all conciliatory) manner.
Something really seems to be going on here,
and these are straws very much in the wind.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: I am certainly NOT
saying US policy toward Cuba has changed or
that the US does not want to overthrow the
Cuban Revolution. Yet we certainly ARE now
seeing some very interesting things and living
in very interesting times...
AND THEN THERE'S ALSO VENEZUELA...
Venezuela remains key to both Cuban and US
concerns. The extreme rightwing opposition has
continued to escalate its efforts to sabotage both
the oil industry and the national economy of the
nation of Venezuela as a whole. It has not been
successful, though media reports say that they
are continuing to try to escalate their actions.
Washington openly backed the opposition's call
for premature elections in Venezuela, but quickly
was forced to backtrack from that call as the
Organization of American States (OAS) voted by
32-0 this week to support the democratically-
elected government of Hugo Chavez. Then the
US suddenly drew back from its call for a snap
election against Chavez.
Further, the decision of the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has made
a public declaration of solidarity with the Hugo
Chavez government. This would include sending
replacement foreign personnel to assist if is
requested by the Venezuelan government to
replace those PDVSA staff who have chosen
not to work in an effort to sabotage the
national economy at this crucial moment.
In this context, the lates public declaration of
support for the democratically-elected Hugo
Chavez government by the Venezuelan military
suggests that the opposition has virtually no
chance of succeeding in overturning the
government of Chavez. The hysteria they are
dislaying shows both their desperation and the
volatility of the conjuncture. (Obviously, these
things can all change quite quickly as we know.)
I'd like to urge anyone who hasn't taken the
time to listen to and enjoy the radio program
BABEL'S GUIDE, to hear some of the finest
commentary on US-Cuban relations, the Miami
Cuban exile and Cuban-American communities,
and, in recent times, the unfolding struggle in
Venezuela as well.
The on-air programs, which feature listener call-ins
as well, are on Miami's WAXY 790 AM, Monday
through Friday from 8-9 AM. Spanish listeners
can also tune in to AYER IN MIAMI, the daily
Spanish program on the same topics which is
at WOCN 1450 AM from 9:30 to 10:30 AM and
5-6 PM and both English and Spanish programs
are available archived on the internet.
If you're in living or visiting in Miami you can
listen to it over the air. If not, you can hear it in
archived form via the internet as I do when I'm
home in Los Angeles or here in Cuba as I am
at the moment: www.rprogreso.com and click
on the "Listen" link at the website.
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Walter Lippmann, Moderator
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