Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Cuba: To Embargo Or Not’

Full piece here.

‘In a non-communist country where such a basic product is in short supply, somebody would mass-produce it and sell it. Soap-making doesn’t require nuclear physics. You can make it at home. Google “soap recipe” and you’ll see how easy it is. But Cuba is a communist country where private commerce is banned. If you make stuff and sell stuff, you might become “rich” and “bourgeois,” and the authorities will send you to prison.

That’s why Cuba is poor. Lifting the embargo would have little or no effect on such tyrannical imbecility.’

Related On This Site: Sandinistas At The NY Times: ‘A Mayoral Hopeful Now, de Blasio Was Once a Young Leftist’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

Repost-From Michael Totten At World Affairs: “Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”

Free Speech Requires Backbone-Michael Totten In Cuba: ‘The Lost World, Part II’

Full piece here.

Why do so many in the American media choose not focus on the immiseration of the Cuban people under Communism?

Well, I’ve often heard: ‘True communism was never tried’ as though that were some kind of deep wisdom.

Let’s just say old dreams die hard.

Totten visited Trinidad, in central Cuba, and found well-maintained Spanish colonial architecture:

‘The streets are made of stone, the roofs beautifully tiled. All the buildings and houses are colorfully painted. Every visible structure in every direction pre-dates the Industrial Revolution. The city is a living museum piece, not just of Cuba before communist rule, but of Latin America during the Conquistador era, of the world before industry and machines, before globalization and standardization and the mass society changed politics and culture for everybody forever.’

The Cuban people, like all others unfortunate enough to have undergone Communist revolution, live in a time-warp, frozen-in-place by a failed industrial-age theory of history, frozen further still to year-zero of their own revolution. Most Cubans live not only without basic modern conveniences like cars, cell-phones, and computers, but also without the health-care and education promised them but never delivered.  Many also live without much vision for the future, Cuban leaders strolling the deck of a rotten, totalitarian police-state above them, everyone listing to and fro on unforgiving Caribbean currents.

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

Gloria Estefan offers a window into Cuban culture, music, honor, and immigration as it mixes with American culture.

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Some light humor:

Michael Moynihan reviewed Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ which praised the Cuban Health Care System.

Christopher Hitchens took a helicopter ride with Sean Penn, and that tracksuit-wearing strongman of the people, Hugo Chavez-Hugo Boss:

It’s a long way out of socialist and revolutionary solidarity, which continually occupies the South American mind. One more revolution: Adam Kirsch takes a look at Mario Vargas Llosa. The Dream Of The Peruvian.

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The true time-warp and bizzaro-land is likely still North Korea, however:

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What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

The End Of History? –Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

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Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

Full piece here (Link may not last)

Totten, in this blog’s opinion, is at his best discovering new places as a travel writer/journalist.  Some pictures included:

‘I’ve seen cities in the Middle East pulverized by war. I’ve seen cities elsewhere in Latin America stricken with unspeakable squalor and poverty. But nowhere else have I seen such a formerly grandiose city brought as low as Havana. The restored part of town—artifice though it may be—shows all too vividly what the whole thing once looked like.’

Havana wasn’t just another 3rd-world and/or typical Carribbean capital, it was a Spanish-style city of genuine character, class and wealth, showing American/English influences as well.

Now, unfortunately, as Totten explains, it’s the capital of a rotting, totalitarian police state, with its citizens still forced to live under a maximum salary of $20. Even if one had $20, there’s nearly nothing to buy, as many stores have only a few items on the shelves.  Cubans are still forced to live this way.

An anecdote:

‘He told me about what happened at his sister’s elementary school a few years after Castro took over.

“Do you want ice cream and dulces (sweets),” his sister’s teacher, a staunch Fidelista, asked the class.

“Yes!” the kids said.

“Okay, then,” she said. “Put your hands together, bow your heads, and pray to God that he brings you ice cream and dulces.”

Nothing happened, of course. God did not did not provide the children with ice cream or dulces.

 “Now,” the teacher said. “Put your hands together and pray to Fidel that the Revolution gives you ice cream and sweets.”

The kids closed their eyes and bowed their heads. They prayed to Fidel Castro. And when the kids raised their heads and opened their eyes, ice cream and dulces had miraculously appeared on the teacher’s desk’

Look at where that gotten them.

Some ideas on what’s next for Cuba here, at Law At The End Of The Day, from someone with roots.  More here.

Towards a theme-Apparently, memory is short.  Some people in America have taken-up romanticized notions of Communist revolution (no more Che shirts, please, even if done with ironic or iconic cool).  Unmistakably, from Moscow to Beijing to Pyongyang, the same totalitarian impulses are there, the same rigid State and party control, the same centrally planning, ruthless junta living according to very different rules from the “People.’

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North Korea has been frozen in time since 1948, when the first Kim was installed by the Soviets.  Since the Korean War, it’s grown into a cult of personality, headed by the divinely inspired, thoroughly repressive Kim dynasty and in its wake, a totalitarian State.  It is bizarro world, but still has a large military, with missiles pointed at Seoul, and virtually little else.  Like a sick dog on a rusty chain, it growls when it needs food.

Take a trip to the Hermit Kingdom:

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What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-’Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

The End Of History? –Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

What set-off the Spanish-American war and a good run of yellow journalism?  The 1898 destruction of the Maine in Havana, which led to Cuban independence a few years later in 1902, until the revolution in 1959.

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

From Foreign Policy: ‘Not Your Father’s Cuba’

Full piece here.

Our author argues that Marco Rubio may be experiencing a demographic shift beneath one of his strongest bases:

‘These recent arrivals travel to Cuba frequently, reject the all-or-nothing political polarization of the older generation, and maintain links with their relatives and social groups — particularly religious ones — on the island.’

Here is a Rubio tribute to Cuban exiles from the floor of the Florida house:

Addition: Are you convinced?

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