Monday, April 05, 2010

Quote of the day: Cuba

"Hugo Chávez has been for the Cuban government like Viagra for an old man."

--Yoani Sánchez in an interview


Jim Hadstate 3:15 PM  

I read the most interesting comment on Yoani Sanchez the other day and I forget exactly where I read it. The gist of it was that if Yoani Sanchez lived in the United States, she would not have the freedom of expression that she does in Cuba. You see, if she were in the US, she couldn't sit at her computer all day complaining about how awful the government is because she would starve to death. She would have to get a job to eat. In Cuba, food is provided for her.
She also would have a problem with health care because it would be hard to afford on her salary with her pre-existing conditions. In Cuba, she gets free medical care whenever she wants it.
Yoani writes nasty things about the government where she lives, yet she is allowed to do so. There are many places where she would not be allowed to do that.
Interesting point of view, no?

Greg Weeks 3:23 PM  

That argument seems silly to me. In the U.S. many people make a living as bloggers (i.e. "sitting at a computer all day"), no one in the U.S. is prohibited from reading them, and everyone is allowed to travel freely. Well, except to Cuba.

Anonymous,  6:22 PM  

If Yoani Sanchez lived in the US she could pursue a career in journalism or academia. She would probably be provided health care with her job. Of course, the idea that all she does is sit around and complain about the government is patronizing. The Cuban govt. makes her life miserable. They follow her. They attack her physically as well as the constant attacks on her work and personal reputation. She must smuggle a good deal of her writing out of the country through alternative means. No, being a dissident in a totalitarian state is no fun. It takes courage and perseverance and Yoani deserves the accolades she has won for her work. Your "most interesting" comment is essentially on par with Archie Bunker.

leftside 2:07 AM  

It is really a myth to think that Venezuela has given Cuba anything it hasn't offered to others as well. Cuba gets the same oil deal as most of the other countries in the region, who are also part of Petrocaribe (when prices are high, they get to finance the oil at low interest rates).

Yes, Venezuela does pay Cuba (like other countries) a modest amount for professional services that Cubans provide (voluntarily) in Venezuela - as doctors, literacy specialists, scientists, sports trainers, etc. But these are not ghost salaries - these people are doing real work for the Venezuelan people (thousands of lives saved, etc). So this is not Venezuela "subsidizing" Cuba

Sure not paying full up front for $100 oil has helped Cuba a fair bit - just like most other countries in the region. Yes, the Cuban state is able to "profit" due to the differential in salaries between Venezuela and Cuba - but Venezuela also profits. Isn't a win-win relationship a good thing?

leftside 2:21 AM  

Yoani would never be able to make a living doing what she does in the US. She is only famous in the West for a series of high-profile lies she has made to the intl. press - and the press's eagerness to find a young quotable Cuban dissident. In the US. maybe 100 bloggers actually make a living - and they work their butt off. Yoani writes a short piece once every 3 days. Plus her writing is crap. She is very didactic, which is frowned upon in US writers. Plus Yoani's logic is often as thin and unoriginal as NY cheese pizza.

Anonymous,  2:44 AM  

"Yes, the Cuban state is able to "profit" due to the differential in salaries between Venezuela and Cuba - but Venezuela also profits. Isn't a win-win relationship a good thing?"

Ah, not so fast, leftyside. The difference between what Venezeula pays and Cuba pays its doctors is money stolen from the mds. It is not taxation. There is no alternative for the Cuban doctor to seek employment elsewhere. Their families are being held ransom in Cuba if they defect. You sure have a fanciful notion of win-win when the parties to the agreement ignore any wishes on the part of the one doing the work. Indentured servitude or wage slavery would be a more honest description.

leftside 7:17 PM  

Anonymous, are you aware the Cuban MDs are all volunteers? Can one really volunteer to be a "slave" or "indentured servant"? The wages the MDs make serving abroad in dozens of countries (not just in Venezuela) is actually very good. Most end up being able to send many things back to their families. And some doctors have left their posts (thanks to a disgusting US program that encourages defections of Cuban doctors). There have been ZERO reports of repercussions to family members. And believe me, we would have heard if that was the case.

Anonymous,  8:45 PM  

Yes, leftyside. The same goes for all the baseball players too. No repercussions. What planet are you living on?

Anonymous,  8:48 PM  

Speaking of volunteerism, how many Cubans get in rafts in shark infested waters to travel to freedom or drown because Castro holds them hostage? The people are voting (volunteering) with their feet. If this were not an island country...

leftside 1:32 AM  

Maybe you can tell us what Cuban baseball player's family is facing repercussions because of their leaving Cuba? Because I follow baseball (and Cuba) pretty closely and this is something that simply does not exist today.

Compared to the few hundred Cubans who take to the seas each year, many thousands of economic migrants vote about capitalism with their feet every DAY. Cuba is 90 miles away - with a perfect current. The US grants all Cubans who reach shore automatic US Residency, plus all sorts of welfare and relief programs to live off of. If any other country were treated this way by US Immigration it would be empty...

Anonymous,  6:03 AM  

"Cuba is 90 miles away - with a perfect current."

Lefty, this is one for the ages. If you think the reason that balseros get in 1950s Fords, adapted to be motorized rafts is because it is so easy, you are certifiable. Thousands have died making this effort. They are driven by economic circumstance, the Castros Bros. have destroyed the economy of Cuba, but also a basic desire to live as free men and women. If this journey is so easy why don't you grow a pair and give us all a demonstration?

Anonymous,  6:33 AM  

"Maybe you can tell us what Cuban baseball player's family is facing repercussions because of their leaving Cuba?"


Of course it is the fundamental right to travel that is denied to all Cubans. Therefore when a ballplayer emigrates in search of a better life, the Cuban government refuses any exit visas for family members out of spite. Families are broken up. That is a punishment. The player's names and records are stripped from public discussion as if they never existed. That is a punishment. (Of course to ordinary Cubans they are heroes.) If discovered talking to the wrong people or exercising their fundamental rights to criticize life in Cuba, players are punished as well. El Duque was removed from his Cuban team and made an orderly in a psychiatric hospital for trying to leave. This has been going on for 50 years now. I remember when in the 1975 World Series, the elder Luis Tiant, the greatest Cuban pitcher of his era, was prevented from seeing his son pitch in the series. Only massive bad publicity and high government intervention allowed him to attend. That was punishment. The state security apparatus that follows around Cuban athletes at international events belies all the bs propaganda spouted by lefty. When was the last time a Cuban family was able to attend an international sporting event to support their loved one?

leftside 5:58 PM  

The only thing the 11 year old article talks about as far as "repercussions" is that families are not entitled to migrate to the United States after a player leaves. This is not a repercussion or retribution, this is a policy that applies to everyone in Cuba because of the insane US immigration policy that gives Cubans privileges (automatic US residency) no one else has. If the US had the same policy with Cuba as Korea or Dominican Republic, then there would be no issue for you. It would be the US immigration laws preventing family reunification.

The US policy is designed to make as many Cubans leave Cuba as possible - to make Cuba look bad. As such, if the Cubans want to remain competitive at baseball (and ballet, and music, etc) they have to be the ones enforcing immigration rules. If you expect Cuba to simply cave into the US desires, and give up all its talent to the highest bidder, think again.

I thought you were talking about actual punishment. After all, international migration to another country is a privilege not a right.

leftside 6:00 PM  

To be clear, once the US drops the special immigration rights provided for Cubans, I will be the first one to argue that Cuba ought to drop its current exit visa system. But first things first.

Anonymous,  12:50 AM  

"I thought you were talking about actual punishment. After all, international migration to another country is a privilege not a right."

Lefty--You really are a dupe. According to Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, adopted by Cuba and the US,

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

So much for your argument about rights and privileges. Even Castro signed on to this one in theory.

leftside 7:42 PM  

I said "international migration to another country is a privilege not a right."

You come back with Article 13, which says nothing about the right to migrate to another country. After all, no country in the world permits unfettered migration. Article 13 is about the right to travel "AND RETURN." Cubans have that right. However, as with all rights, the State has the right to regulate such things through the use of an exit visa. Many countries require such a thing. In Cuba's case, the reason is clear. It is a direct result of a murderous US policy that favors making the Revolution look bad over the lives of Cubans. As long as the US chooses to use migration policy as a weapon against Cuba, Cuba has the right to defend itself.

Do you agree the US needs to reform its migration policy? One that treats Cubans differently than anyone else in the world undergoing real suffering? A policy that says we welcome any and all Cubans but denies Haitians fleeing an earthquake and real oppression?

Anonymous,  2:08 PM  

"You come back with Article 13, which says nothing about the right to migrate to another country. After all, no country in the world permits unfettered migration. Article 13 is about the right to travel "AND RETURN." Cubans have that right."

Lefty, this is a tortured definition of human rights that has only been applied by communist countries or other authoritarian regimes that refuse to accept responsibility for their crimes of denying people human rights. They hold their citizens captive.

No where in any human rights literature does anyone say that an emigrant is required to return. They should always have the right to return to their native land. They should not be punished for having emigrated.

Freedom of movement is an inalienable right. It applies to all countries. Restricting someone from leaving is quite a bit worse than a country refusing to accept more immigrants.

The right to free movement, or the denial of it, within national (also a major problem for Cubans) and international borders can have profound effects upon other basic human rights. Without the right to leave ones home, an individual may be politically repressed, prevented from observing their religion, prevented from enjoying the right to marriage or family life, or blocked from a job or an education that ultimately could enhance their quality of life. All of these rights violations are punishments enacted upon the Cuban people by their government.

You trivialize freedom of movement, however it is one of the most basic rights that in countries like Cuba, when violated, causes enormous human suffering. For shame.

leftside 4:07 AM  

Neither capital, nor labor is free to move wherever it wants, when it wants, free from regulation. Cuba's more stringent international migration policies are clearly a result of US policies that single out Cuba. They are a form a self-defense. Could you imagine if the US were to hold a giant carrot ($$ + US Residency) to the people of any other country? It would empty out without that country regulating exits.

As for internal migration, it is not impossible to re-locate for legitimate reasons in Cuba (job, family, etc). It is generally not a problem to get approved. And people who go re-locate to another province without permission are rarely singled out or arrested. But what Cuba tries to reign in is this open-ended migration to the capital, that plagues most other countries in the region. So much so that the provinces are drained of people and the capital becomes ungovernable. Cuba has always strived for balanced development - and has largely succeeded.

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