Saturday, January 31, 2004
went to yet another lecture. well, it was more of a talk really. apparently, the first public one by the cuban foreign affairs minister, felipe perez roque, rumored to be next-in-line to castro.
well anyway...i found the discussion most..informative. i went because:
1. i know almost nothing about cuba or fidel castro. as a student of international politics, latin america is a huge oversight in my studies so far.
2. ive got nothing better to do.
3. i wanted to hear what the rumored next-in-line to castro would say.
3. i heard the foreign affairs minister was a major hottie. he is. charismatic more than good looking really. *wipes drool*
ok, heres some important things i found out:
1. the US continues with the economic embargo against this tiny island nation of 11 million. they re-stated the blockade through an act signed in march 1996.
this means: it cannot trade with the united states, arguably one of the largest and nearest markets for cuban goods (other than smuggled cigars of course), it cannot receive investments from the US obviously, from other latin american countries and from the EU, it cannot use the US dollar in commerce, it loses millions in having to exchange their currency either into yen or euros especially now that the dollar is weak.
it cannot import medicines and other industrial tools/technology from the US, EU and other countries participating in the embargo, it cannot receive tourism from the US (although they have welcomed clandestine tourists an their dollars anyway).
2. this embargo has been in place since 1959. one wonders how in the world cuba managed to stay afloat. granted they received support from the soviet union, which could be interpreted as plain pragmatism given castro's pride.
3. they could sell sugar to the american market for 24 cents/lb, but due to the embargo, cuban sugar goes for 6 cents in the world market.
4. cuba cannot borrow money from the IMF or other international financial institutions, it cannot borrow from other countries as well.
the big puzzle is, the US now has less strained relations with russia and has approved chinese entry into the wto. it does business even with north korea. why in the world is it still singling out this tiny nation in the carribean?
its startling how similar our histories are, theirs was a complete revolution, from the moment they took up arms and almost won the war for independence against spain. they also came under the orbit of american empire for about 50 years. but they were succesful in exorcising themselves of the american demon. while we...we have become the demon. from the roots of our hair to every thought that passes our neurons. from the way we dress, behave and speak. every aspiration formed, every dream.