Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cuba - Anniversary of the Bay of Pigs Invasion

First a big moan – my computer packed it in and I am now on the hunt for a replacement. I vow to take my time and be more careful about the selection – there was so much I hated about my last one which was bought on whim when I noticed a computer sale at my local Staples! Not this time. I may even venture into apple territory!

But I will hoof it right out and buy a cute, little, cheap net book to serve in the interim. I have been thinking for some time how useful it would be to have a net book which I could literally throw in my purse and take with me up north or on vacation. Though I have my iPhone, the keyboard is too small to do much typing and the screen is not really built to spend a lot of time reading. So today at lunch I will run up to future shop and check out those net books.

So the reason this is published without pictures is because it comes from my iPhone - the blog software can't manage pics.

I have been thinking about the Cuban situation lately – it has been in the news. Also, as mentioned in an earlier blog, I follow a blogger who lives in Cuba - The Cuban Journal is published by quite a prolific Cuban-American blogger by the name of Jorge Gonzalez. He publishes many entries a day –some baseball, some social commentary, but mostly repeats of news items of interest from the US. From this source I have come to appreciate a different perspective from the one which the media presents. From his blogs, I assume he has news sources from within Cuba, relatives, perhaps. It does seem to provide a unique Cuban perspective.

I wrote a while ago about, the Cuban Journal blog titled “Fifty Years of Infamy, which was a first hand account written by Alberto N. Jones. This was a recollection from the time of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, no doubt prompted by the anniversary of the attempted invasion of Cuba by the USA, Apr 15th -20th, , 1961. I don’t really know who this person is, there were no hits on Google, but the blog is a first hand account of those days. I found the blog fascinating, since it provided a quite different viewpoint on the incident, which previously I had not even imagined. Of course now reading the actual history of events from Wiki, it is understandable that the Cubans (and Fidel in particular) should be enraged by the behaviour of the US to bring salvation by way of democracy to the Cuban people. We need to remember that this was in the time of McCarthyism, during which even patriotic US citizens were persecuted, most notably Hollywood movie stars. America was quite active in the politics of other nation in Central and South America and it seemed they were able to justify a lot of unacceptable behaviour in the name of “the American Way”.

Read the Cuban Journal Blog entry on the Bay of Pigs Invasion here.

I have the greatest respect for Cuba, its social system and its leaders. One only has to look at it’s neighbour Haiti to know what conditions might exist in Cuba if it were not for Fidel Castro. When I visited Cuba I found the people to be well educated, happy and friendly. I saw none of the extremes of poverty which exists on the other Caribbean islands. Don’t get me wrong – there is hardship and they do without a lot of goods we take for granted here – for instance toilet paper is handed out in measured pieces in the washrooms.

I must admit, it is a bit odd when the guy handing out the beach chairs has a PHD in Business Administration. When I was in Cuba a few years ago I discovered when I chatted with our beach guy that he used to work in an office in Havana. He gave up his job – he made only 20 pesos a month – because he could make much more from tip money working at a resort. He said that no one starves in Cuba – but no one iscwell off either. I guess every system has its pros and cons. The tourist jobs are very sought after. Anyone who wants to make more than the normal wage needs to either work in a resort or set up some sort of business and it appeared that capitalism exists at least in the tourist retail sector. I imagine elsewhere as well.

Of course, it is not a democracy and its human rights record of the time was much worse than the US. However, neither was a lot of other countries at the time with disreputable governments and Cuba is the only one suffering long term deprivation due to long standing policy in the US. I even wonder, if it were a less unscrupulous man than Fidel who overturned the Batista Government in 1958, one who was not communist, but just self serving (like Duvalier of Haiti who was the Dictator in Haiti from 1957 to 1986) Cuba might be in a much, much worse situation today. A lot has to be said for the integrity of Fidel Castro and his dedication to overall improvements for the people of his country. The good of the many over the good of the one. The Cuban model of socialism (with its benevolent dictator) has seemed to fare much better in the last 50 years than other socialist states such as Soviet Russia and China. Fidel is revered in his country and it is no doubt why.

Yesterday, the Cuban Journal blog included something titled “Reflections by Comrade Fidel – Days that Cannot be Forgotten” which was a reprint of something published by Fidel to the Cuban people just yesterday and in it he comments on the recent change in heart of the US Government. An interesting read as well. You will find "Fidel's Reflections" here.

Back to current events.

Obama’s announcement this week that he was opening the door to Cuba a crack was a welcome and overdue improvement in the world order. However the floodgates are not going to be opening for American vacationers as yet and us Canadians will still have our Cuban paradise minus their overwhelming presence for a while.
From my reading of the information available the key provisions are:
To allow relatives within 3 degrees of family relationship (i.e. 2nd cousins) to send money and visit Cuba without restrictionAllow unrestricted telecom links with CubaTo allow donations of communications equipment to CubaI would commend Obama for his actions and look forward to increased electronic communications with the Cubans as a consequence. I note that at present, the Cuban Journal frequently republishes many of the US Publication news relating to articles of interest to Cubans, I suspect that is because information flow between the two countries have been hampered by the embargo as well.
I look forward to gradual improvements in relationships between the two countries and stand by watching to see it happen,
Mobile Blogging from here.

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