Big news this week! US senators visit Cuba and meet with President Raul Castro. The ostensible goal is to work for the release of Alan Gross, American citizen who was arrested in Cuba when discovered to be bringing in sensitive electronic communications equipment to assist a democracy promoting program of USAID. In short he broke Cuban law and was arrested. The senators ate at an “upscale restaurant in Old Havana,” always a dicey thing to do. In spite of all the difficulties with Cuba and our relationship with the country, the US is now the second largest source of tourists ranking just behind Canada. Food sales to Cuba increased by $100 million, making the US one of Cuba’s top ten trading partners. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s assistant Secretary of State once referred to the economic blockade of Cuba as America’s dumbest foreign policy ever. So much of the issue with Cuba has to do with angling to get the Cuban Vote in America, a small part of the Latino vote that has traditionally gone to the Republicans until recently. Raul has been more open to allowing Cubans to purchase homes and cars and things like that. Last hear when I was in Havana a good friend of mine bought her first house. It was a huge step up for her and her family, all of whom had been living in a one room efficiency apartment for years. Working as a photographic assistant and guide she had amassed $15,000 dollars to make the purchase. That’s a veritable fortune for the average Cuban citizen.
Further evidence of the foolishness toward Cuba was contained in a statement from Cuban diplomats who pointed out that “even North Korea, which earned global condemnation when it conducted an underground nuclear test earlier this month, is not on the terror sponsor list.”(Paul Haven, Associated Press) The most dangerous thing in Cuba are the piles of rotting mangoes on the corners when they fail to collect the garbage on time! With large enough catapults they could wreak havoc on South Beach!