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The Forever Fidel Obsession

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Posted on Sep 19, 2010
AP / Javier Galeano

Fidel Castro pulled on his military fatigues for the first time in years to speak to university students in Havana earlier this month.

By Saul Landau

(Page 2)

The heroic language of the revolution no longer applied. The play, to use a metaphor, was over. The revolution had achieved success in the world and in health and education at home, but, as the Cuban joke goes, there are three minor problems: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In the late 1990s, with the rise of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela as a Cuban ally, money again began to flow into the island’s economy and material life improved. But it’s a far cry from the cradle-to-grave security days of the 1970s.

In 2010, Cuba still faces an intimidating U.S. embargo, or blockade as they call it because it reaches beyond bilateral lengths and punishes countries and businesses that do business with Cuba.

With Cuba no longer receiving Soviet aid, the U.S. embargo interferes not only with the needs of daily life—some products are hard or impossible to get—but demoralizes the population. “No hay” (there isn’t any) has become the daily cliché. U.S. recalcitrance has made it more difficult for Cubans to write the script for the next period: how does the revolution convert from a highly centralized and authoritarian model into a functional society where the healthy and educated population can take initiative, without falling into capitalism, which Fidel and Raul Castro hate. Incidentally, Cuban newspapers don’t hesitate to report facts about U.S. hunger, unemployment, foreclosures (300,000 in July), homelessness and the massive and unmet needs of the American infrastructure over the past two years.

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The Cuban economy suffers, as Raul related in his August 2009 speech, from serious problems: 1 million superfluous workers on the state payroll while there exists an acute shortage of labor in agriculture and construction. In recent weeks, 500,000 workers received notice of their impending layoff and were told to start looking for private sector jobs, and to form private cooperatives.

“Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities, services and budgeted sectors with bloated payrolls [and] losses that hurt the economy,” said the official Cuban labor federation statement that announced the layoffs. “We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world in which people can live without working.”

The sight of idle Cubans on the street in the middle of the workday, drinking beer, playing dominoes, listening to music on boomboxes and basking in the sunshine had become an omnipresent irritant to working Cubans. From an apartment balcony in Playa, a Havana neighborhood, earlier this year, a 55-year-old working woman sneered at the young men on the corner. “Look at those bums, living off the state and not working. Where do they get the money to buy the beer?”

I thought about the “welfare cheat” clichés heard at times in the U.S. What became clear to me in my recent visits to Cuba, which I make at least once a year, was that the economy had become dysfunctional. Centralized authority—the political companion of the state-controlled economy—had also become a cruel joke.

Over the years I asked people I knew why they didn’t organize activities for the kids playing amid rocks and rubble, and why neighbors didn’t clear the streets. I got the same answer I received from people who would not allow me to film: “It isn’t authorized.”

Nor is the black market authorized, I thought. But it functions very well. Under the state-controlled system, thieves stole material, exacerbating the already difficult shortages, and sold the stolen goods back to the people for higher prices. Farmers could make more selling privately than through state-controlled prices, so, duh, that’s what they did.

Raul Castro’s initiative involves not only laying off unproductive workers from state payroll and pushing them toward the private sector—especially agriculture, where the labor shortage is acute—but decentralizing as well

Anyone who thinks Cuba is going capitalist, however, should check more carefully with the facts and the half-century dedication of its leaders to socialism. The small private sector that will gradually reopen, under President Raul’s announced reforms, existed until 1968 when the “revolutionary offensive” shut down the small stores, street peddlers, service providers and artisans.

The changes, compelled by economic reality, should not blind observers to the fact the generation that made the revolution had pledged to carry out the goals that their revolutionary ancestors had in the 1860s, 1890s and 1930s. Under Fidel, Cubans’ deep sense of their role in the island’s history helped them to have the courage to commit the unpardonable sin: disobedience to the United States.

Cuba is still paying the price. The embargo is 50 years old. Hey! Give it time!

Saul Landau is finishing a film with Jack Willis, “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up,” about 50 years of U.S.-Cuba relations and five Cuban spies in U.S. prisons. He is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.


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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment

At least click on the link to see what it is… if anyone has any semblance of Americana in them they’d actually ‘get’ what J.F.K.‘s message was, regardless of your party affiliation or whatever one calls themselves.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, September 27, 2010 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

Napolean:

Oh, God! Not another YouTube video!

And why does anyone still think that Castro is anything other than just another greedy, power-hungery dictator?

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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment

I too grew up believing Castro to be an evil villain as portrayed in media and hearing family opinion alike, but once I began to educate myself by-way of history, books and both the unpopular and popular opinion, I see Fidel’s efforts to have been initially made to return ownership of Cuba to Cubans… and it seems to me, as happened to Napoleon in his day, the power had gone to his head and corrupted his judgment…. leaving him, as it did Napoleon, to stray from the initial purpose and spirit of stripping power from the monarchy / blue bloods / empirical leadership and ‘giving it to the people’...

only to stumble about when confronted with that power and the responsibility it takes and noble character needed to truly LEAD…  and facing the empire like Luke Skywalker, all have failed or ‘limped about’ as on crutches and have gone down in history as idiots and fools…. only poor Fidel doesn’t believe in the ‘Force.’

We won’t live long enough to see how Fidel’s history will be written on this side of the Caribbean… unless things change and our hegemony and plutonamy is brought into the light…

Remember what JFK said so long ago… still rings and echoes true:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhZk8ronces&feature=player_embedded

and at the bottom of this page here:

http://www.smartpeoplesmartmoney.com/Smart_Education.html

Play, listen and learn!

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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

I think the biggest real issue with Cuba is the recompense expected from ex-patriots and ex capitalists, not political affiliation.

That issue, amicably dealt with without putting Cuba at risk of typical usurpation via debt service to banksters, would be a historic example of ‘the people’ taking the helm and another turning point in history.

Any investment in Cuba should be allowed only to be direct investment via public citizens of whatever country, not banks, governments nor particular organizations I won’t go into listing here nor big corp… that particular private citizen is put in FIRST POSITION and can then sub-lease to whatever corp, but public consensus ( democracy within a sovereign state ) will dictate what is offered and its demand, not big money pushing product…

It’s all about what order you put the ‘pecking order’ or order of influence and power on the pyramid.

So, a lucrative Lease Option:

Term of ‘x’ amount of years income from lease of particular swaths of Cuban real estate paid to the plaintiffs; similar development deal in China’s Hong Kong, but nothing near a 100 years, starting at maximum 25 on down to 2 year for big and small development projects.

And something akin to building blocks and those “Legos” (TM) since hurricanes our as common as cigars, something eco-friendly, easily dismantled and erected, sturdy, safe and spacious living structures.  ( shipping container housing comes to mind )

NO INTEREST by the way on that payback for capital / interests lost to any plaintiff entity… for since the money is fictional, so too is the interest, so NEITHER will be present in these particular contracts and social agreements.

The Lease Term can be ‘sold’ or traded for cash or whatever via an escrow, and there goes your real estate leasing market in Cuba 8^) and semblance of capitalism in a sovereign nation without subjugating its populous.

Good evening and cheers.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, September 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

Napolean:

De nada!

“If Fidel is indeed really so rich, what in the world does it serve him?” Great question, but the truth of it remains. Same with Yasser Arafat- tens of millions, and for what? Only thing I can think of is ego. (Do you really think that his will gives it all to Doctors Without Borders?)

Anyway, I agree that Cuba MUST control ALL of its resources, a worthy goal for any nation. However, and I’m sure you’ll disagree with this, that doesn’t preclude the existence of multi-national corporations. It only means that the contracts written must protect national sovereignty.

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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 22, 2010 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

Hahahah.. I was wondering when someone was going to point out that THAT was ONE sentence, thanks rico!~!

Wonder if most folks either just ignore me altogether or are too afraid to respond and get a novel response.

The best one sentence rant I’ve had so far, huh?

But you didn’t get the druid / witch thing?

The pagan ritualistic religions which are the backdrop to Skull n Bones, that thing with the owl in California, all that secret society stuff… from which stem the ‘good ole boys’ clubs at the helm of corporate and government positions… you silly goose, where you’ve been?

If Fidel is indeed really so rich, what in the world does it serve him?  Has he been spotted on the Mediterranean on his 280 ft. yachty?  Or flying to Paris for a midnight sandwich atop the Eiffel Tower?

Hopefully he and his government have amassed enough of a fortune to leverage out the influx of foreign investment and commerce in years to come when this country’s stranglehold is BROKEN… again, the death switch or final nail in the coffin for Cuba and the Cubans would be allowance of a central bank / FED / IMF or similar entity.

Only Cuban banks held and funded by Cubans owning Cuban assets and all territory, minerals, resources, above, on or below the ground owned… lock, stock and double-barrel.

“Yankee, go somewhere else.”

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By rico, suave, September 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

Napolean:

“Some of us too fall into rhetorical conversation instead of dialogues which spawns real answers and real solutions.”

And,


“Embargo by the biggest super power ever known to exist on this planet… and Cuba is a spec of a satellite resource and truly more a resource of historical fortitude of a people NOT subject to anyone’s rule, unlike most other races, creeds, ethnicity or whatever EuroEnglishTrash superiority attempt of world ownership using an anglo$saxon people enslavement system, druid and witch centric religion type thing, serving egocentric status driven, idea of wealth equals self worth ‘king’ and ‘queen’ verbiage using sort of nauseating folks who may think they own others, or those who try to emulate them and thus do as they do and further dismantle society the supposed ‘free society’ which runs free with madness just the same.”

Now that sober and thoughtful sentence will really spawn dialog and debate! (”...druid and witch centric type thing…”???)

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, September 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

Francisco:

“What is wrong with a Egalitarian society that tries to be just for the people?”

What do you think Fidel Castro’s net worth is? What was it in 1959? (Hint- he’s one of the richest men in the world.) Another question- Do you really believe that an ordinary Cuban would have gotten the same level of medical treatment that Castro did for his intestinal ailment?

And are you really saying that poverty in the US is worse than poverty in Cuba? That Cuban cops don’t shoot Cubans for bogus reasons? The level of crime is low because there’s nothing to steal, and the punishment for minor infractions is extreme by US standards.

Egalitarian my ass.

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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

Francisco, ‘call me Roy’ may very well be a CIA operative or someone who’d rather muddy intellectual discourse than have the truth be told.

Remember, many people we know and encounter on these sites use words, phrasings, dogmas and mental perspectives which are REPEATED DAILY ON TV AND RADIO, so no wonder folks cannot think for themselves, let alone speak for themselves.

Some of us too fall into rhetorical conversation instead of dialogues which spawns real answers and real solutions.

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By Francisco Antonio, September 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

@ call me Roy-

Are you kidding me!? The question is have YOU ever been to Cuba? I was there in November and did not stay at any of the tourist hotels. I traveled around the country staying at different casa particulares and did not see the the extremes that you mentioned below. Yeah, there’s definitely poverty, but to the level of poverty and crime that we see here in the states, not so much. There’s such a wealth imbalance here and when cities like New Orleans are allowed to flood and have it’s residents killed by cops or treated less humane then we treat our industrial cattles, then maybe something just might be wrong with our system, don’t you think? What is wrong with a Egalitarian society that tries to be just for the people?

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment

Who hasn’t seen the pride Castro and his close executives carry for over half a century now?

But everyone must ask themselves personally- is their life paradise, and what hell have they seen in their own country ( here in Amerika ) and just batted an eye and mentally justified your passing by? 

Yet, you can consider, this epoch in Cuban history, as the previous times during Spanish and Amerikan / English attempts at usurping sovereignty, this epoch will go down in true history as a ‘point’ made by ‘Raging Against the Machine’ and not being a stalwart of sorts, at least in the real story of ‘history’ but not what will be media modified nor taught throughout middle Amerika.

If commerce is allowed by big brother, without inserting a central bank ( FED ), and if the Cuban government “SMARTLY” only LEASES ( Never Sell System ) parts of real property to foreign interests / capital for 5 through 15 year terms and thus ensuring the state and people’s sovereignty ( or better, if an amendment to their writ allows only natural born Cubans to own / keep Cuban property but may lease, something like Hawaii ), then and maybe only then we’ll see a state which is finally let alone to trade with the rest of the world as should be by my guesstimates a natural right of just being alive.

Castro is not trying to keep trade back, just the most valuable assets the country has- its people.

Same thing this country does, only everyone here is on the tip of that paper money, the fiat currency which is really a fugazi, a facade of nothing to come.

Bunch of donkeys chasing carrots we are in Amerika, don’t you notice?.. the Banksters think it’s fun playing monopoly with people less sophisticated, don’t you?

Yet one must consider why ‘really’ are the people of Cuba starving?

EMBARGO

Embargo by the biggest super power ever known to exist on this planet… and Cuba is a spec of a satellite resource and truly more a resource of historical fortitude of a people NOT subject to anyone’s rule, unlike most other races, creeds, ethnicity or whatever EuroEnglishTrash superiority attempt of world ownership using an anglo$saxon people enslavement system, druid and witch centric religion type thing, serving egocentric status driven, idea of wealth equals self worth ‘king’ and ‘queen’ verbiage using sort of nauseating folks who may think they own others, or those who try to emulate them and thus do as they do and further dismantle society the supposed ‘free society’ which runs free with madness just the same.

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By call me roy, September 21, 2010 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment

) Q. “Why does the Cuban CIA operate in groups of three?” A. “One can read, one can write and one to keep an eye on the two intellectuals.”

Castro decides to go out one day and see what it’s really like for the workers, so he puts on a disguise and sneaks out of the palace. After a while he wanders into a cinema. When the film has finished, the Cuban anthem plays and a huge picture of Castro appears on the screen. Everyone stands up and begins singing, except Castro, who in disguise smugly remains seated. A minute later a man behind him leans forwards and whispers in his ear: “Listen Comrade, we all feel exactly the same way you do, but trust me, it’s a lot safer if you just stand up.”

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By call me roy, September 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

A Cuban officer is walking in the park and he sees and old Jewish man reading a book. The officer says “What are you reading old man?” The old man says “I am trying to teach myself Hebrew.” The officer says “Why are you trying to learn Hebrew? It takes years to get a visa for Cuba. You would die before the paperwork got done.” “I am learning Hebrew so that when I die and go to Heaven I will be able to speak to Abraham and Moses. Hebrew is the language they speak in Heaven.” the old man replies. “But what if when you die you go to Hell?” asks the officer. And the old man replies, “Cuban, I already know.”

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By call me roy, September 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

Forever Fidel Obsession?
Your kidding, right?
What a revelation! An old Communist finally acknowledges that Communism has failed in Cuba and that after five hours of interviewing, unfortunately his Depends are also failing.
Ever been to Cuba? The people are a broken people. Food is rationed. Children have no milk. Hospitals have no bandages and drugs are out of date. An individual can’t even fish for himself. Everything of any value has to be bought on ther black market. It is a mess. The nice hotels for tourists are very nice. Everything else is broken. The people are in bad shape and hate the government. Fidel must have had some good chats over some Cuban rum and Cuban cigars. Communism, what a concept, on paper

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By IGELLE ELIAS TERHEMEN, September 21, 2010 at 3:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The position of the Cuban leaders on economic issues in the 20th century and the 21st century is an attempt to develop world rubbers for the 22nd century to come. Left with no much food to less income ,the need to satisfy basic needs will directed towards the economies of developed nations either by negotiations or by crude terrorist acts of vandalism and banks luting.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 20, 2010 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment

At least in Cuba, there is no ‘game of money’ to make you think you’re really doing something… money is the carrot in front of the donkey… and we’re the donkeys.

I’m glad I live here, but it took a long time too see through the propaganda.. for every country has its propaganda to keep their people from either leaving or revolting… we have the means, but we don’t see the problem’s perpetrators… so we devour each other.

And keep electing the very punks that keep us chasing the carrots… for they get their carrots for free.. don’t they? We give them our carrots, we root for them… then we tear them down and get another one… and repeat..

At least in Cuba, you can’t buy anything so you focus on other things… like people, nature, history, food, relationships, your neighbors, the people that they will soon be voting for…

Cubans living in Cuba simply don’t want to give up their island to foreigners. Period. And they don’t want their major resources being granted to the highest bidder to buy and sell to their private profit and have the Cubans ‘working’ for a living, instead of living for a living.

How quickly we forget history and miss it in the first place!

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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

Castro seems to have tried to ( I think ) to give Cuba to the Cubans, not Spain or the US as history has shown ( Cuba was never sovereign until Castro came, read the history of the island before you get your panties in a knot people ).

But how can one person or desire fight against centuries of royal policy, owning states and governments and even people? Yes, even here… read your history and how Hamilton mustered all the wealthy upper class in the US and made them the backstop to the country upon separating from England ( revolutionary war ).... and that is further supported by the people; their labor, time, strength, blood, etc….

Some Cubans are happy to be slaves to this country, to this policy… only to be able to say they ‘have’ or ‘own’ something… wow.

I’m not defending Castro, nor any policy by him or some other political figure… folks don’t see themselves as the docile masses they’ve been conditioned to be, believing everything they hear and see on tv… or the dribble of ignorance forwarded by ignorance…. whether in Cuba, Russia, Amerika or Canada…. anywhere in the world now.

The majority of industry and capital was foreign owned and run by foreigners in Cuba prior to 1959…. But people don’t see the fact that the Cubans first were the chattel of the Spanish empire, and then the American empire… Anyone remember Marti and what he was standing for? Of course not, but folks could tell you how many superbowls the packers or cowboys have won. TV is the real WMD ( weapon of mass distraction ).

Problem is, people don’t know history and blindly follow what the propaganda and rhetoric keeps pumping into our minds daily via tv and radio… and now internet.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

I’ve seen grants from Uncle Slam to insert groups of people in Cuba to gather dialogue among the people and get them ‘trained’ into voting for the popular candidate / whom…ever will be the face of mass consensus…

Thought about writing my proposal to get the grant and make it happen and ‘liberate’ the people of Cuba… but I was actually going to bait and switch… as has always happened.

Cuba is one a few ‘holding out’ to the empire, the nwo, whatever you want to call world-wide plutocracy.

Let’s figure out a better ‘union’ of master and slave, owner and worker, employer and employee ( the definitions lead to the same destination )... if we EVEN NEED see the world in that dark paradigm now that I think about it…

Not endorsing socialism, communism, capitalism, whatever else idiosyncratic pigeon-holed “ism” that man has attempted to define.

Let’s start first realizing we need each other to make things work for each other and for oneself. Consider each other… like brothers and sisters… then maybe you will NOT be tempted to subdue your brethren to make your labor easier… but carry your own load… EVERYONE, no so-called king or queen on earth… for the KING is in heaven.

No king which makes you pay him taxes and such exists on earth, how ridiculous a notion. Believing otherwise is a flat out LIE.. and you know where lies come from.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment

Un cubano, al llegar a este pais, el imperio mundial, dijo que Cuba es comunismo sin comida, y aqui… es comunismo con comida.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

KNOW YOUR HISTORY… or you’ll know NO history and bear the consequences of its repeatability.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, September 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment

“When ever clever businessmen need loyal employees they recruit those that are sleeping under the bridge.”

Substitute “the Democratic Party” for “clever businessmen” and “voters” for “loyal employees” and you have Obama’s constituency.

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By morristhewise, September 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

When ever clever businessmen need loyal employees they recruit those that are
sleeping under the bridge. Once a person experiences the chill and hunger that
comes with sleeping without shelter, they will never bite the hand that feeds them.
Hitler recruited his SS from the gutters of Berlin, they never forgot his kindness
and were loyal until the end. No person is too proud to be a bootlicker,when
horrible circumstances present themselves.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, September 20, 2010 at 9:29 am Link to this comment

“...Fidel declared himself a socialist…”

Actually, he declared himself a communist.

“The revolution he directed until 2006 ... had achieved its goals…”

Sad, but true. Now instead of a few hundred thousand rich people and a lot of poor people, there are just poor people, with free health care and no medicine, 100% literacy and nothing to read.

“...an island nation without strategic resources…”

Hello? Huge nickel deposits. Huge cane fields.

“This history has given Cubans a sense of pride—not to be mistaken for democracy.”

Heaven forbid!!

And this is my favorite Orwellian paragraph:
“Over the decades he outfoxed U.S. strategists. Like a modern Machiavelli he exported his enemies to his larger enemy—or induced Washington to import more than 1 million Cubans who opposed revolutionary policies. When resources became scarce after 1991, hundreds of thousands more left the island for the United States.”

“Induced”?! That’s like calling Barack Obama a successful politician for “inducing” so many people to flee to the Tea Party movement. And if Republicans take over congress, it must mean that Obama will have cemented his legacy as a successful politician.

Only a totally moronic koolaid drinker like Saul Landau would categorize the pathetic sight of hundreds of thousands of fleeing boat people as a foreign policy success for Fidel Castro.

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By felicity, September 20, 2010 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

Did Britain boycott the United States following the
Revolutionary War?  And what about France without whose
military aid we probably would not have won the War? 
Did we reciprocate when the people of France staged
their revolution in 1789?  On a different note, Iran
recently released two American prisoners. The US
refuses to release any Iranian prisoners held at Gitmo
for, probably, the rest of their lives with no access
to habeaus corpus. 

The point is, we easily take but we never give.

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By Dooooooglas, September 20, 2010 at 6:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

gerryhiles nailed it but I’ll add a few.
Michelle Bachelet, Lula, Evo Morales,Oscar Arias.
My father in law ran from the Nazis.He was Ukranian.
He thanked me for taking his daughter away from the current Nazis. The govt of the United #by force# States of fallen empire.
Until it falls or is overthrown, I’ll never return. Not even for a visit.
Hopefully the current activities of the IRA might be used as educational material for those more concerned about their children’s future than Britney’s shaved cooter.

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By tedmurphy41, September 20, 2010 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

I would imagine that the people of Cuba have had a bellyful of capitalism courtesy of America’s pre-revolution days when it was in the ascendency and had no trouble fully supporting Batista up to 1959; it was never a problem for America to support such dictators around the World and then preach democracy at home.

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By Robespierre115, September 19, 2010 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

The US remains obsessed with Cuba because this tiny island has given imperialism the finger for more than 50 years. And Cuba has always been an imperial prize going back to the founding of the country.

As for Cuba’s system, it isn’t paradise, but in the US it is convenient to slam Castro while ignoring the more disastrous conditions in Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia etc. Nobody is finding headless bodies hanging upside down from bridges in Havana, and the Cuban army doesn’t roam the country pillaging and raping as in Mexico.

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