Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bay of Pigs-II?

                Just when it appeared that the Castro’s Cuba was a battered raft on the verge of coming apart in stormy waters, President Obama arrived on the scene to throw it a lifeline.  Cuba’s dictators were bailed out just as falling oil prices had them on the proverbial ropes. The country had been kept afloat in past years by more than 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day provided by Venezuela. Then, as oil prices were plummeting recently, it was widely speculated that Venezuela might turn off the spigot of oil largess  to its island buddy in order to bolster its own  revenues.
                Now, with dramatically relaxed  U.S. travel restrictions, the little economic pressure remaining on Cuba (“Cuber” if you are a Kennedy fan) after six years of  Obama’s reign will disappear altogether. As it is, remittances and travel from the U.S. to Cuba now exceed $4 billion a year.
                As the U.S. has eased off its economic pressure on Cuba, the Castro regime has gotten more repressive, because they are more confident that they personally will weather the storm.
                 Those who think that the U.S.’s decision to open relations with Cuba will significantly improve living conditions for Cuba’s citizens are sadly mistaken. It is illegal for Cuban citizens to engage in commerce with foreign nationals, and all hotels and tourist destinations are controlled by Castro. Additionally, up to 90% of wages earned by Cubans who work in the resort or tourism industry are confiscated by Cuba’s controlling Castros…i.e., the government.
                None of this sits well with Cuban nationals, who are also bitterly angry over Obama’s reference to “President Castro.” There haven’t been elections in Cuba for over half a century. Cubans have never had a vote that could have legitimized Castro. The Cuban nationals understandably consider it a stunning slap in the face  to have the twice-elected President of the United States call their country’s dictator “President.”
                The Castros didn’t change. They didn’t blink. They showed that a tiny, impoverished, third-world island could stare-down the United States of America in an era when she has lost her moral compass.
                Another coup for castro.

                The Bay of Pigs? We’ve just thrown more pork at Cuba. It won’t work out any better for the U.S.- or Cuba’s citizens- than it did the last time we tried to help them.

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