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664908.  Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:53 pm Reply with quote

CB27 wrote:
You have to remember that Cuba did enjoy a very capitalist past, and that after the takover of Castro they did receive a lot of financial and other aid from the USSR, some of which was spent well, some not.

OK, but in fact I regard Cuba's most impressive achievements were made during the "special period" after the collapse of the USSR and the shut-off of the cheap oil tap and exports of sugar to USSR.

Then the country was severely tested and did some remarkable things. They are currently rated by the UN as the most sustainably developed country in the world. Due to removal of oil (fuel, pesticides, fertilizer) Havana alone now grows 90% of its (organic) food within its city limits - that's just one example.

671662.  Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:03 pm Reply with quote

Was the status of Ernst Thalmann Island ever resolved? (as raised in the East Germany area)

671715.  Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:11 am Reply with quote

I was in Cuba for 6 weeks about 7 years ago and thought the place was at once enchanting, inspiring and spoiled.

It was shortly before Castro's health began to deteriorate and the dual currency was in operation, which helped the country deal with the loss of the fantastacally unrealistic oil for sugar swapping, oh, and a few warheads.

I found the people of Cuba split. many of the older generation had experienced the revolution and were pround and stoic about the regime, whilst the younger folk were far more western in their views. These people wanted change, based a great deal on the American dream which is thrust at them. Interestingly, when I first gave a young guy (barman) a tip of 10 US Dollars he went away to split that with a bunch of friends. I heard later that one of the reasons that the dual currency was ditched was that people were beginning to accumulate individual wealth - I saw no evidence of that but I was only there a short time and contacted very few people.

Castro's brother is said to be far more left wing than Castro himself, which could retain the socialist party but I wonder how much of the success is down to the charisma of Castro (see Marx on charismatic leadership). Without Castro at the helm there is a real risk that the young could demand the end of the regime.

One final thing, when travelling around Cuba, there was a real sense of paranoia which spoiled things for me. I know it's understandable given that there have been so many alleged attempts on Castro's life but it does (or did) take a bit of an edge off the free travelling.

In the times of Obama and the issues in the East, my thoughts are that any change in the Cuban Regine will come from internal rather than external motives.

674636.  Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:54 pm Reply with quote

It's easy to criticize some of the abuses of power in Cuba but there are also many things to admire. Cuba, unlike all of it's Caribbean neighbours, has a very well educated population. That's because education is free through post-graduate level and every child is encouraged to take advantage of it. The other thing I really admire is their comprehensive and universal health care system so they also have a healthy population.

I notice that any positive news about Cuba is ignored or suppressed by the North American media. We found out through European media sources that Cuba was the first to respond with Doctors and field hospitals to the earthquake victims in Haiti. Cuba supplies Engineers and Doctors to many other nations in need as well but we never hear of it.

674994.  Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:05 am Reply with quote

I also remember being told by a doctor in Cuba that they have some kind of reciprocal medical training agreement with Potrugal, and given that Portugal is the UK's oldest alliance and we traditionally have reciprocal medical rights, the UK must gain something too.

675426.  Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:59 pm Reply with quote

Cuba is also a leading light in matters of organic crop-growing, so I'm told by people who are keen on organic gardening. Apparently because of the restrictions on imports from the US and the expense of importing artificial fertiliser from the rest of the world, they have become expert in composting and organic gardening generally.

675532.  Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:06 am Reply with quote

I would guess that is true. In Cuba it's not unusual to see people ploughing with horses, oxen and dated machinery - the whole thing is labour intensive - after all, their aim is full employment so intensive systems are not really relevant.

Organic farming would fit well into their existing systems. they are only producing enough food for their population to eat and the more jobs it creates the better.

675728.  Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:57 am Reply with quote

I've been to "post-oil" talks where they use Cuba as a demonstration that we can survive the disappearance of cheap oil.

Not convinced about temperate-climated, 70 million-peopled UK, though....

675737.  Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:19 am Reply with quote

Interesting stuff. Even with our climate and population, I feel the profit drive would be the main factor in stopping the UK in this matter.

I think it's worked in Cuba because they made the oil adjustment (ooh, 'the oil adjustment' - I'm claining that one) in a stable, profit free regime, and whilst the oil for sugar trade was always a bit of a joke and a financial unreality, the stability of the closed (ish) economy rode the oily waves fairly easily.

Our capitalist peak/trough may not cope so well.

675758.  Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:52 am Reply with quote

Think you might be right, scottydog. We'll need our own "benign dictator" (at least, benign if you don't argue).

It will also cure our obesity-epidemic. The Cuban people measurably lost weight during the Special Period due to a fall in food calorie intake.

675879.  Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:21 pm Reply with quote

gruff5 wrote:
Think you might be right, scottydog. We'll need our own "benign dictator" (at least, benign if you don't argue).

So, the search is on for our benign dictator.
Any offers? Vince Cable? errr.....oh shit, I've runout of candidates.

675956.  Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:18 pm Reply with quote

There is the downside to Cuba which still has its political prisoners one who has recently died in prison while on hunger strike.

Last edited by Zebra57 on Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:20 pm; edited 1 time in total

675957.  Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:20 pm Reply with quote

Benign dictator was an image that Hitler put forward during the rise of the Nazism.

676002.  Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:27 am Reply with quote

Ah! And therein lies the difficulty, sorting out the benign dictators from those that merely put themselves forward as such.
There is a maxim that I remember from my youth that says 'if you find a good, man, woman, Yank, (or other preferred prejudice), shoot him/her, as he/she is bound to go bad'.
A rather over pessimistic view of the world perhaps but how often we are let down by our heroes.

676132.  Fri Feb 26, 2010 8:13 am Reply with quote

Zebra57 wrote:
There is the downside to Cuba which still has its political prisoners one who has recently died in prison while on hunger strike.

That was what my reference to "benign, if you don't argue" was about.

If you disagreed with Fidel and looked like you might do something about it, you were in trouble.

Unlike almost every other dictator, though, there is little or no evidence that he took power to line his own pockets.


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