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Cuba One Year Later
One Socialist Hellhole Implosion at a Time Please

12 months to the day tomorrow (Dec. 17), President Obama announced the normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba. The Washington Post offers a glimpse of how it’s been going. On the one hand, tourism is up:

A U.S. tourism tsunami still seems to be building. American travel to the island is up more than 50 percent, according to U.S. officials. Overall tourism to Cuba increased nearly 20 percent, bringing in billions of dollars in additional revenue for the government.

On the other, the Castro government is increasing its repression:

The changes of the past year have set Cuban authorities on edge, too, bringing an escalating crackdown on public protest and opposition activity.

Dozens, even hundreds of activists are detained or arrested each Sunday, when the Ladies in White dissident group attempts to march in Havana and another group, the Patriotic Union of Cuba, stages its weekly mobilization in Santiago, the island’s ­second-largest city.[..]

The illegal but tolerated Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation tallied 1,447 political arrests or arbitrary detentions in November, the highest monthly total in years.

On top of that, 70,000 Cubans have fled to the U.S., fearing that full legalization would spell the end of asylum. And business licenses and reconciliation on property issues are still proceeding at a snails pace, if at all.

But something significant is not mentioned in the WaPo article: The big driver of Cuba’s foreign policy moves is the continuing implosion of Venezuela. Venezuela is Havana’s closest ally and main source of funds since the fall of the Soviet Union. And now Caracas is sinking into failure and bankruptcy.

More U.S. tourists will help replace this income, which is probably the main reason the Castro government allowed the limited opening to America. At the same time, American tourism is, from Havana’s point of view, an unsatisfactory replacement for Venezuelan largesse as an economic mainstay. The tourists and their money are harder to control, and the unmistakable contrast between affluent American visitors and miserable, desperate Cubans undercuts everything the regime wants its people to believe.

It is in the U.S. interest for the tourist boom to continue, despite the ugly human rights consequences. The thundercloud over Venezuela is enough of a problem for the Caribbean right now. We don’t need two socialist hellholes simultaneously imploding.

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  • Jim__L

    “We don’t need two socialist hellholes simultaneously imploding.”

    Prudentially speaking though, it is an eventuality we should plan for.

  • Andrew Allison

    Why do we not need two, or better yet all of them imploding?

    • Jim__L

      I like the idea, but look at what’s happening with the Middle East imploding right now.

      We at least need to have a plan for it.

      • Andrew Allison

        There’s a good argument to be made that the US is largely responsible for the Middle East exploding. Perhaps we should just stop meddling in other peoples affairs, while securing our own borders as Europe is being forced to do.

        • Jim__L

          The actual cause of the rebellion against Assad was the Assad regime’s atrocities. I don’t see how non-interference on our part could have prevented that. Or fruit sellers torching themselves in North Africa.

          In Egypt, we would not have been able to prevent the transfer of power to the military with Mubarak’s fall, which was inevitable as he aged. That raises the same question with Ghaddafi’s eventual death, or aged Saddam’s, natural or not. The potential for the schism in Libya or the awakening of the Shia majority in Iraq was latent and not caused by the US. Not to mention Kurdish aspirations, Saudi, Iranian, and Pakistani (and Israeli) power plays, and the continued existence and/or flourishing of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

          I really don’t think you can pin all that on the US, although if you could spin me a well-referenced tale that did I’m curious to hear it.

          Just don’t include Global Warming, but if you’d like to mention ethanol regulations I’m open to that.

          It’s said that Roger Ailes has only one political question when he interviews news anchors for a job at FOX — “Do you think that the United States is the problem?” While I don’t respect FOX enough to actually watch it, I think Ailes has a point.

          • Andrew Allison

            Will do? The root cause of the Middle East disaster was, of course the carve-up of the former Ottoman Empire after WW-I, which completely failed to recognize the power of tribalism. Just as the Treaty of Versailles set up WW-II, this provided the fuel for the fires which erupted following the invasion of Iraq and the Libyan intervention. BTW, the fruit seller was Tunisian, not Egyptian [grin]. Of course it’s all a result of Global Warming! Don’t you understand that AGW is the cause of all mankind’s maladies, including acne [/sarc]

          • Jim__L

            To be fair, the Treaty of Versailles would have put us in the Middle East 100 years ago — I have heard that by the terms of the treaty the US was to be the occupier of Istanbul (Constantinople). The Senate promptly ignored the offer. I think that’s a shame, considering what happened to the Christians in Asia Minor once the Turks took over…

            I think you may be on to something — I’m convinced that stereotypical 50’s society was a deliberate effort on the part of our government to make sure that trained, effective, and victorious soldiers coming home from WWII had a stake in harmonious, family-oriented society and we wouldn’t have a repeat of the Bonus March (or the Bolshevik revolution.)

            The scary part is, it looks to me like in the Left’s rejection of 50’s culture in favor of the 60’s is leaving the US vulnerable to the same toxic alienation that’s affecting the Middle East. If you’re a 10%er with good job prospects and an active Tindr account you don’t care; but for someone growing up in the Rust Belt (or for someone with actual moral values), the opportunities are fewer and farther between, and the chances of having even a modest home and family of your own are looking pretty bleak.

            No wonder Trump is so popular.

          • Andrew Allison

            Yes, I’ve commented previously about the current (mal)administration’s blatant encouragement of tribalism (genetic?) — for which we will suffer for decades. What we’re really seeing, in MNHO, is the same thing that is destroying the economies of Europe, namely an unaffordable level of welfare. As Mr Micawber stated, and the fall of Greece confirmed, you can’t maintain an artificially high standard of living on borrowed money indefinitely.

          • Boritz

            ” an unaffordable level of welfare”

            And the prospect is accelerating that we will get what you get when it comes crashing down, not what you get when it is reversed through painful but mature and responsible effort.  If that was who we were we wouldn’t be in this spot.

  • Fat_Man

    “We don’t need two socialist hellholes simultaneously imploding.”

    Wrong again. We need to have these cancerous pits on our backdoor implode. The only problem we have is that Obama loves anti-American Latin Communists. If we have a pro American President who does not believe that Raul Castro is not an ideologue* maybe we can work to restore liberal democracy in the Caribbean Basin.

    Foreign Policy Professors, Foreign Policy Journalists, and Foreign Policy Pundits like to pretend that Foreign Policy is something that occurs in the Eastern Hemisphere, that our most pressing foreign policy issues are Russia, Ukraine, Syria, Turkey, etc.

    This so wrong on so many levels. What happens in the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico basin is far more important to the health, happiness, and prosperity of American Citizens than anything that could come out of the Eastern Hemisphere, short of a nuclear warhead.

    Anyone who thinks that Obama will be able to improve the lot of ordinary Cubans, simply does not understand the reality on the ground on that wretched Island. Read the following:

    “The Last Communist City: A visit to the dystopian Havana that tourists never see” by Michael J. Totten

    *”Obama Doesn’t See Raul Castro ‘As An Ideologue’” By John Fund

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