Lets Talk About Cuba

  • #51
TheStatutoryApe said:
In the mean time I guess no one has anything to say about the ICRC not being allowed in Cuba since 1989 (which I did point out and source myself), or the Un Special Rapporteur not being allowed to visit, or the commissioner of the UN HRC not being allowed to visit?
I think the answer is actually in an extract you quoted yourself, TSA:
Cuba said everyone knew that the real cause of attempts to stigmatise Cuba at the Commission was Cuba's unyielding rebelliousness against the world's imperialist unjust order and because of its unflinching defence of its independence and sovereignty. Cuba would not get tired of fighting; would not surrender; and would never make concessions.
But I will search for more information about this and see what I can dig up.
  • #52
Talking with Cubans about the State of the Nation (3/5/04)

I foundt this non-partisan article that outlines view that are both pro and against the Castro government and Cuba's version of socialism. I have copied a few selected passages from it. Anyone who is interested in reading more can go to the link shown below.
HAVANA — After nearly half a century of revolution, the small island of Cuba is still evolving. Even Cuba’s supporters were moved to criticize the nation’s human rights record last April, when 75 Cuban dissidents were sent to jail, and three men who had hijacked a ferry in an attempt to reach Florida were executed. At the same time, the Bush administration continues to pander to the anti-Castro Florida vote while it pours millions of dollars a year into attempts to topple Fidel Castro.

But while Cuba and the political debates that surround it receive overwhelming attention, the inside reality of life there and the opinions of Cubans themselves are often absent from the discussion.

With a population of more than 11 million, Cuba, like any other country in the world, is full of all types—patriots, dissidents, the educated, the apathetic, and many who are just trying to raise their kids, work a job and live in peace. As most Cubans point out, daily life on the island is a struggle. The refrain "No es fácil, muchacho" ("It’s not easy, kid") peppers any discussion....

Before the Cuban revolution in 1959, unequal distribution of wealth and foreign control of resources caused widespread poverty and crime. While some young Cubans are dissatisfied with their social reality now, older citizens say that Cuba today is much better off than it was 50 years ago. They say that while there are still differences in living standards, resources and social services are widely available and more equally shared....

Equally varied are public opinions regarding personal freedom. Some Cubans are die-hard Castro supporters, while others are quick to call the government a restrictive dictatorship. And though people aren’t allowed to speak against the government in public, many do so unabashedly in personal conversations. The majority of this criticism is directly related to the low salaries and the scarcity of basic household products, difficulty of travel to other countries, and the absence of freedom of expression. Still, these opinions do not always seem to carry over into social relationships, and many people commented that they had friends both pro and anti-Castro....

In many ways, the average Cuban is guaranteed more essential rights than most people in the world. One hospital lab technician in Havana remarked that during Cuba’s alliance with the Soviet Union, "We were living like millionaires and we didn’t even know it." It remains to be seen what Cubans will be saying when the reign of Fidel Castro ends.

More: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/42/43/
  • #53
The coolest part of that link is:
In the tiny rural community of Gramali, there is no electricity or running water and the bus comes three times a week, when it’s not broken. Yet the four corners that constitute the center of town are made up of a store/pharmacy, a bakery, a school, and a solar-powered medical center.
That's awsome!
  • #54
Cuba's innovative alternative energy programs

Smurf said:
The coolest part of that link is:
In the tiny rural community of Gramali, there is no electricity or running water and the bus comes three times a week, when it’s not broken. Yet the four corners that constitute the center of town are made up of a store/pharmacy, a bakery, a school, and a solar-powered medical center.
That's awsome!
There’s lots of good stuff happening on the energy front in Cuba. Here are some extracts from a recent news article on energy:
Fidel Castro Highlights Importance of Energy Revolution in Cuba

The energy revolution currently boosted by Cuba geared at making the national power supply system safer and more efficient will mark a new stage on the island, said Cuban President Fidel Castro.

In a ceremony held Tuesday night at a power substation in western Pinar del Río province, the Cuban head of state termed that process as a decisive battle, which could yield useful lessons for the Cuban people and the world.

During the ceremony, the president officially declared energy independence in that territory, the first of a program that foresees the national transformation in that sector….

“All this –highlighted the Cuban president– is linked to an intensive research program on the use of wind and solar power across the country”.
As part of the country’s saving policy, Fidel announced that as of May 1st, 2006, 100 percent of Cuban households consuming liquefied gas will stop using it to cook, following the introduction of highly efficient electric appliances….

More: http://www.cubasi.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?SPK=160&CLK=107895&LK=2&CK=56373&SPKA=35
Here’s more information about alternative energy development projects in Cuba:
A couple of weeks ago I videotaped a renewable energy teach-in at Humboldt State University in Northern California for public access television, it was appropriate subject matter for Californians facing an energy crisis. Our teacher that evening was Mr. Bruno Henriquez, a Cuban physicist who works with approximately 400 other scientists for CubaSolar, a Cuban NGO that recently received a United Nations grant for a pilot study on expanding electricity production. Cuba has educated 35,000 scientists who research and develop alternative technologies at more than 200 scientific institutes. Mr. Henriquez is also an editor for Cuba's most popular magazine, "Energy and You." I had dinner with him after the meeting.

CubaSolar has installed solar panels on more than 300 family doctor clinics in the island nation's remote mountainous regions. Many rural schools are electrified with solar power and one village, Magdalena, is entirely powered by solar energy. In the last ten years, Cuba has emerged as an innovator in Latin America in developing alternative energy programs and is rapidly becoming a world leader in solar energy research and development. Most of its mountainous areas lie beyond the easy reach of power lines but now 98% of the island has access to electricity.

More: http://www.swans.com/library/art7/mws005.html
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  • #55
Effects of US-led blockade on Cuban people

TheStatutoryApe said:
Is there an embargo with any other country aside from the US?
I'm not here to argue US policies that I likely wouldn't agree with myself. The points I have been making so far are in regards to the oppression of the people in Cuba. I haven't touched on their economics and how well off these people are economically at all. If you want to say that Cuba only violates human rights because of the US then I don't think there is much point in carry on this discussion.
I imagine you would not agree with some/many(?) of the US policies I have found in my research. I want to focus on the economic, daily hardship faced by ordinary Cuban citizens as a result of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the US on Cuba. The 66-page PDF document, Report by Cuba on Resolution 59/11
of the United Nations General Assembly: The necessity of ending the
economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United
States of America against Cuba
http://www.granma.cu/bloqueo/infome-ingles.pdf outlines in detail how the US government forces other countries to follow its agenda re-Cuba as well. Here are some excerpts:

…the US Federal Reserve imposed a
fine of 100 million dollars in May 2004 on the Swiss Bank, UBS AG,
for having supposedly violated the US sanctions on Cuba, Libya,
Iran and Yugoslavia. The purpose of this was to prevent the deposit,
exchange into other currencies or transfers through banks in third
countries of the dollars that Cuba obtains legitimately by way of
tourism, remittances and sales in shopping centres, with the aim of
preventing Cuban importations, mainly of food, medicine and fuel,
thus promoting a collapse in the economy and an extremely critical
social situation [pp.6-7]

30 September 2004, the US Treasury Department let it be known
that, following the recent changes to the Regulation for Control of
Cuban Assets, 31, CFR part 515 (the Regulations), US citizens or
permanent residents cannot legally buy products of Cuban origin,
including tobacco and alcohol in a third country not even for their
personal use abroad. The penalty for violating these Regulation can
be a fine of as high as one million dollars for corporations and of
US$250,000 and up to 10 years in jail for individuals. Fines of up to
65 thousand dollars can be imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets
Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department [p.7]

22 February 2005, the OFAC reinterpreted the concept of ‘payment
in cash and in advance’ to purchases by Cuba of agricultural and
medical products in the United States, saying that this means that
this means that the payment must be made before the merchandise
is loaded in a US port for shipping to Cuba. This measure, which
represents an extra obstacle for the limited importations of food,
came into effect 24 March 2005. The lack of security in the supplies,
derived from this interpretation, forced Cuba, in the first four
months, to purchase use alternative food suppliers from third
countries in order to ensure the purchase of 3 million dollars worth
of food and agricultural products that were originally going to be
imported from the United States. The transactions fell by 26%
between January and April of 2005 compared to the same period in
2004, according to statistics issued by the US Department of
Agriculture. This contraction includes a decrease of 52% in the
purchases of rice. [p.8]

Subsidiaries of American companies based in third countries are
forbidden from carry out any kind of transaction with Cuban
companies, or acquire goods that have been made using any
Cuban product.

Companies from third countries are forbidden from exporting any
product to the United States if it contains Cuban raw material.

Companies from third countries are forbidden from selling goods or
services to Cuba which use US technology or which are made using
products from this country which exceeds 10% of their value, even
when the proprietors of these products are from third countries.

Ships that have transported merchandise to or from Cuba are
prohibited from entering US ports.

Banks in third countries are prohibited from opening accounts in US
dollars to Cuban juridical or natural persons or to anyone who carry
out any financial transaction in this currency with Cuban entities or
individuals, and if they do the accounts shall be confiscated.

Businessmen from third countries are prohibited from making
investments or during business in Cuba, under the supposition that
these transactions are related to properties subject to retrieval by
the United States. The businessmen who do not honor this ban will
be the target of sanctions and reprisals. [pp. 14-15]

Examples of the impact of the extraterritorial application of the

In August 2004, as part of a social programme aimed at providing
soy yogurt to all Cuban children aged 7 to 13, Cuba purchased
equipment from the Brazilian company MEBRAFE in order to
modernize all of the UNION LACTEA’s refrigeration facilities. The
equipment purchased included 14 Danish SABROE refrigeration
compressors, which cost Cuba $ 339,389, a price already 40 %
higher than that which could have been paid buying these
compressors in the US market. Denmark’s SABROE was bought
over by the American company York and York’s distributor in Brazil
received instructions from the US head office to prohibit the sale of
compressors to Cuba [p.26].

Since 2004 to date, the government of the United States has
forbidden the European laboratory Intervet Holanda from selling
Cuba vaccines for avian diseases, claiming these contain 10 % or
more antigens produced in the United States. This prohibition
includes the Marek vaccine, designed for a specific type of avian
disease and a vaccine for other diseases such as Gumboro, New
Castle, bronchitis and Reovirus. Cuba is forced to purchase these
vaccines through third countries, paying more than what it did when
it purchased them from the WINCO firm — $ 9.50 (as opposed to $7) for every unit of the Marek vaccine and $ 150 (as opposed to $
68) for every unit of the quadruple vaccine. By undertaking
measures to reduce the number of birds in Cuba, the United States
hopes to undermine an important source of food products for the
Cuban people [p.27].

With respect to cancer treatment, Cuba has been unable to
purchase spare pieces and radioactive sources for two
automatic deferred charge units used to treat gynaecological
tumours (brachitherapy units), purchased from the Canadian
company MSD NORDION, as the latter sold the trademark to
the American firm VARIAN. As a result of this, 120 patients
were unable to receive this kind of treatment (the best option
available) until these units were replaced with others of
European make [p.28].

2.1 Overview of the impact of the blockade on some of the most vital
social sectors

The blockade has brought the Cuban people untold sorrows. Highly
vulnerable sectors upon which any country’s wellbeing depends, such as
food, health, education, transportation and housing, have been some of the main targets of this genocidal policy [p.37]

More: http://www.granma.cu/bloqueo/infome-ingles.pdf
The report stresses that many US citizens and groups are against US government policy, so please don't anybody take this as a 'personal attack' - I am not 'bashing' US citizens!
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  • #56
In a little more than 24 hours I will have left my canadian igloo and be sipping on 'cuba libres' and perhaps having a smoke in good ol Cuba. In about 26 hours I will probably be running around with my pants down thinking its the most clever thing Ive ever done.

Thats all I know about Cuba.
  • #57
Are you going to Cuba, Homer? Enjoy! I've been reading lots of travellers' accounts - many of them seem to get 'hooked' and keep returning to Cuba time and time again.

Here's a Canadian website I found with some useful-looking information about travel in Cuba: http://www.cubafriends.ca/
  • #58
Thanks alexandra!! This will be my first visit, I'm looking forward to it for sure.

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