LA ALBORADA: Beyond the blockade: What else can they do?
- Beyond the blockade: What else can they do?
La Alborada - 28 nov
Looking for votes in Miami, presidential hopeful Herman Cain said this month that �The United States needs to put more pressure on Fidel Castro� --not on Raul, the current president of Cuba, but on his brother Fidel. That Cain appeared not to know that there has been a new Cuban president for several years now is not surprising. He also, for example, had no inkling of what the "dry foot/wet foot" policy is about. More to the point, he did not suggest what he would to do to increase pressure on Cuba. He does not know. Neither do most of the other Republican candidates, short of letting loose the drones or declaring a no-fly zone over the archipelago.
Hillary Clinton seemed to share Cain's confusion when she said, in response to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's questioning at a hearing, that "Our position has been the same for more than 50 years. We think Fidel Castro should go. She added: "That is the unfortunate commitment that we have put forth over many years. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be going anywhere." She alluded to actions that the US is taking to try to overthrow the Cuban government, but figuratively shrugged her shoulders at what else could be tried. This was one time she did not repeat that "all options are on the table." Just days before, the nations of the world had told her, by a vote of
186 to 2, that they do not support the US' policy of economic strangulation. What's a smart-power advocate to do?
President Obama, for his part, had declared earlier, before Clinton's testimony, that it was "time to make changes in Cuba's regime." He seemed to be stating a wish, not a policy. He mentioned that although �the government of Cuba has said it wants to change, relax the economy so that businesses can operate more freely, we have not seen evidence that they have been sufficiently aggressive in changing their economic policies.� That sounded like he had not heard of the sweeping changes taking place in Cuba (among the latest: making loans available to new entrepreneurs). Perhaps he is waiting for Cuba to declare itself ready for shock therapy, but that's not likely to happen.
A lot of Cubans are in fact starting new businesses, and the government has been responsive to their concerns. The news from Cuba tell daily of new government investments in infrastructure, and of new investments from abroad, or partnerships with businesses from other countries. Early in 2012 it may be announced that the long-sought deposits of offshore oil have been tapped, something that, together with the ongoing reduction of state obligations, could improve qualitatively the island's finances. Tourism is at record levels, and sugar production seems to be on the road to recovery. The ace in the hole for the US is now the Ladies in White v.2, whose periodic strolls receive dutiful coverage in the corporate media but have minimal effect among Cubans.
A similar situation will soon become apparent in Spain. There, the economic crisis swept out the Socialists in a vote of punishment that handed over the reins to the ultra-conservative Popular Party of Mariano Grajoy. The new Prime Minister of the Kingdom has made clear that he will take a harder line on Cuba than did his predecessor, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Rajoy, following the talking points, is a fan of the Ladies in White v.2. Yet, the company that may announce the oil find within months, Repsol, is Spanish. So are several corporate administrators of Cuba's major tourism hotels, which are frequently visited by Spaniards, among others. So are hundreds of other enterprises in Cuba.
While Cuba's economy and finances seem to be heading up, Rajoy is looking at the abyss of a potential collapse of the euro over the accumulated debts of the Eurozone members. Spain needs the income it receives from Latin America, including from Cuba. Rajoy is not going to join the blockade and order his companies out of Cuba, nor forbid his tourists from visiting.
What else can the White House, Congress and Rajoy try now?