Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Lisa Harris (lrph) Mon 19 Jan 09 16:58
It's a pleasure to welcome Reese Erlich to the Inkwell to discuss his book, "Dateline Havana: The Real Story of Â US Policy and The FUture of Cuba" Reese Erlich's history in journalism goes back 41 years. Today he works as a full-time, freelance print and broadcast reporter, regularly filing for NPR, the San Francisco Chronicle and CBC Radio, among others. He shared a 2006 Peabody award, received the ?best depth reporting? award in 2002 from the Society of Professional Journalists (Northern Calif.), and received an award from Project Censored in 2003. Erlich?s book, Target Iraq was a best seller in 2003. The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of US Policy and the Middle East Crisis came out in 2007 and Dateline Havana: The Real Story of US Policy and the Future of Cuba was released Jan. 9, 2009. Leading our discussion is our own Miguel Marcos. Miguel Marcos was born in Havana, Cuba and raised in New York City and Florida. His career has taken him from music to computing in the finance industry. His restless curiosity has made him a master of no trades. His soul hovers somewhere between his Cuban upbringing and the American experience. He lives in Madrid, Spain with his wife, daughter, dog and guinea pig.
Reese Erlich (reeseerlich) Tue 20 Jan 09 06:38
I'm on my book tour talking about Dateline Havana. I started in Miami, then hit Washington DC (before the inauguration), New York and Philadelphia. I'm off to Montreal on Wed. The response, including from people in Miami, has been quite good. My sense is that Cubans in Florida are changing their views and are no longer wedded to the hard-line, anti-communist stance of the leaders. The book store where I spoke, Books and Books, had a policeman present in case the event was disrupted by hardliners; but he wasn't needed. Reese
Miguel Marcos (miguel) Tue 20 Jan 09 11:37
Reese, thanks for coming and sharing your knowledge and wisdom on the topic of Cuba and the US. Though I was raised by Cuban parents and lived through some of what you write about, there's a great deal in the book that I've learned. It's succinct, a great read and comes at a unique point in time in the history of Cuba and the US. It seems like at practically any given point in the past, we've been at a crossroads with Cuba and this moment is no exception. Both Fidel and the reactionary Cuban exiles are getting well on in age and will diminish in influence over time. Raúl has little charisma in comparison yet seems to be open to the Chinese and Vietnamese model of opening up the economy; then again he seems to backtrack on his own words. Obama became president today and may spur a change in Cuba policy. With the steep drop in oil prices, Chavez won't have as much disposable income to aid Cuba as he has up to now. Since today is such a momentous occasion, I'd like to kick this topic off by discussing the change in our Administration and what it may portend. Given the weakening of the Cuba lobby compared to its heyday and the desire for change expressed by many in the US during the past election, do you think Obama will be able or even willing to change the path of US policy towards Cuba in a constructive way? Or do you suspect there may be more of the same? It seems some sense of moderation has weaved its way through the younger generation in Miami. Is it an indicator that a new approach is feasible? How would Cuba react to such a change?
Lisa Harris (lrph) Wed 21 Jan 09 04:09
Reese is having a techinical difficulty, but he asked that I post this response for him. Hi Miguel. The Cuba Lobby is clearly weaker today than in years past. Obama won Florida, the first time for a Democratic candidate in years. He picked up 35% of the Cuban vote. However, three ultra-rightist Cuban American congress people won re-election from south Florida, indicating the hardliners still have money and electoral clout. A Florida International University poll shows 55% Cubans in Florida opposing the US embargo. Thatâ s a huge shift from years past. So the Obama administration could make significant changes in Cuban policy. Obama promised to allow unlimited Cuban American visits to relatives on the island and allow unlimited remittances to be sent to relatives in Cuba. Those will be positive steps, but hardly earthshaking. Obama could immediately allow more Cuban musicians, actors and academics to receive US visas to travel and perform in the US. He could allow more legal travel to Cuba by American non-profits, religious and cultural groups. The US military would like greater cooperation on drug interdiction, which the Cubans are certainly willing to provide. Such steps forward could be followed by serious talks about lifting the US embargo and restoring full diplomatic relations. Cuba is willing. But will the US take the necessary steps? Initially, Obama will be consumed with the economy, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel/Palestine. But he could deal with Cuban issues later, particularly if there is pressure from grass-roots groups, liberal congress people and business interests. I consider myself a sober optimist. I am optimistic about change under Obama, but sober enough to realize it wonât happen without pressure from below. Can you hoist a glass of aged, Cuban rum to a toast of â saludâ ?
(dana) Wed 21 Jan 09 10:29
(Note: Offsite readers with questions or comments may have them added to this conversation by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org -- please include "Dateline Havana" in the subject line.)
Miguel Marcos (miguel) Wed 21 Jan 09 14:56
I'd raise a glass of Matusalen Rum if I had any. I got to know that rum in Santiago. It's claim to fame is that it will never give you a hangover no matter how much you drink. "Ron Matusalen. Hoy alegre, mañana bien." ("Matusalen Rum. Happy today, fine tomorrow.") They now call that rum Santiago de Cuba as Matusalem was claimed as a trademark by the descendents of the company owners. One of the latter chapters in your book is on the history of racism in Cuba. I know Raúl Castro has commented that he would be willing to have talks with Obama as long as it was on an equal basis but I'm not aware of any mention about Obama being the first black leader of the US. I vaguely remember a remark by Fidel that a black would never come to power in the US. He's been disproved now. How do you compare the history of racism in both countries? It seems that in Cuba integration in the population at large is much greater than in the US yet in the upper echelons of power in Cuba, blacks are hardly represented.
Steven McGarity (sundog) Wed 21 Jan 09 15:05
Welcome to the well and the conversation on your new book, Reese. I read it recently and found it a very enjoyable experience. Thank you. It solidified some of my thinking on Cuba and raised many thought provoking questions as well. For my part in the discussion I would like to begin by raising two questions that might serve as an overview to which I will return. First, in the historical setting you pointed out that throughout the continuum of U.S. history we have desired Cuba to be a part and have often seen it as a natural extension of our country. Given the balance of resources between the two countries and the great number of former Cubans living in the states (nearly a million?) why should not Cuba become the 51st state? Secondly, what can the United States learn from Cuba regarding such essential issues as health care, self sufficiency, education, equal opportunity for all citizens, social rights and organic gardening, if anything?
Reese Erlich (reeseerlich) Thu 22 Jan 09 06:42
Wow. Two good sets of questions that could require entire essays to reply. I'm still on my book tour; I'm in Montreal at the moment. But I'll try to answer. 1. Racism. Before 1959 Cuba was a racist society, having combined the worst elements of Spanish colonialism and American Jim Crow segregation. American firms in Cuba didn't hire black workers, even blue collar laborers. The clubs and casinos were for whites only. After 1959, the revolution abolished segregation and the government moved many blacks into white neighborhoods to live in houses abandoned by people who fled the revolution. Fidel announced that racism no longer existed in Cuba, something which was obviously not true. Years later, Fidel and the party leadership admitted that they were wrong on that question. Today Cuba has black surgeons, symphony musicians, administrators and managers positions that would have been impossible before 1959. Yet, young black men are still stopped by police disproportionately for identity checks, blacks make up a large percentage of the prison population, and blacks continued to have lower incomes and poorer housing compared to white Cubans. Unlike the US, there is no institutional racism in Cuba. But the fight against it continues. 2. Cuba the 51st state? Nobody in Cuba or the US wants Cuba to become a 51st state. The Cubans value their hard-fought sovereignty. Puerto Rico isnt about to become the 51st state, and it has a colonial relationship with the US already. Historically, some US presidents and leaders wanted to annex Cuba as a state. But they settled for making it a neo colony after the Spanish American War of 1898. That all ended in 1959. 3. What can Americans learn from Cuba? There are specific lessons to be learned from Cubas development of medicine and organic farming that could be shared by scientists and ordinary people in the US. About 30% of Cuban farms are organic, with another 40% using organic methods and some pesticides. Thats a tremendous achievement that could be more widely understood in the US, both to protect human health and the environment. More broadly, Americans can learn that certain basic services shouldnt be trusted to the profit motive and free markets. Our health care system, for example, provides excellent care for the rich and those with high-priced insurance, and excludes millions of others. Wheres the logic or justice in that?
Teneo, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Thu 22 Jan 09 08:08
>Wheres the logic or justice in that?< I'm struck by the possible trade-off between freedom and justice when thinking of what the US could gain from Cuba's experience. While freedom and justice are not opposites, could the pluses in Cuba be somehow dependent on some restriction of freedom? In some on-line discussions with some in the mid-east, I was struck by the desire for justice over some freedoms such as free elections, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, gender freedom, etc.. With experience with the putative advantages and benefits that Cuban's enjoy, would US citizens be willing to give up selective freedoms? Could both broad freedoms AND effective social justice be beyond the practical ability of governments, in part because governments must be run by humans? I'm assuming here that few, if any, humans can wield power in any system while resisting seduction by power.
Miguel Marcos (miguel) Thu 22 Jan 09 09:00
An interesting question. I think part of it has to do with the level of economic development of a country. Where economic development is poor, social justice *can* be much more important than freedom. It may also be much easier for an authoritarian government to implement some forms of social justice such as free education and medicine. As Reese notes in his book, racial justice is not something they've been able to achieve. It has improved but it has not been eradicated as Fidel once claimed long ago. Reese, how about a what-if exercise? Had Fidel not succeeded in 1959, what might Cuba be like? Would it have progressed in terms of social justice? I find it difficult to believe that medicine would be freely available everywhere or for the literacy rate to be high, for example. What do you think?
Reese Erlich (reeseerlich) Thu 22 Jan 09 14:36
Freedom vs. justice? The Cuban government argues that the US is in a state of war with island of Cuba. The economic embargo, called a blockade in Cuba, constitutes an act of war, not to mention the thousands of terrorist attacks launched from the US. So, the argument goes, the government must restrict certain freedoms, such as freedom of advocacy, freedom to hold demonstrations, uncensored access to the internet, etc. I dont buy the argument. Any government has the right to jail and punish those who seek its overthrow through violence. But what about peaceful advocacy of unpopular ideas? In Dateline Havana, I devote a chapter to the question of democracy. Cuba has survived 50 years in this state of war, has a stable government, supported by a sizeable percentage of the population. The US is likely to remain hostile to Cuba even after the embargo is lifted. So does the state of war exist forever? What would Cuba look like today without the Revolution? I also devote a chapter in the book to this question, phrased a little differently. What if the US succeeded in bringing US style democracy and free markets back to Cuba. Under the guise of free elections, various pro-US parties would proceed to bribe and steal elections as they did before 1959. They would form paramilitary groups to enforce their power, as happens in Russia, Bulgaria and Colombia. Criminal cartels would be free to sell drugs and bring back gambling and organized prostitution. The parties, needing money for their armed militias, would form alliances with the drug cartels. In short, Cuba would become a perfect model of US-style democracy: periodic elections, free press followed by closing of newspapers, followed by military coups and harsh repression.
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 22 Jan 09 14:54
> The Cuban government argues that the US is in a state of war with > island of Cuba. The economic embargo, called a blockade in Cuba, > constitutes an act of war, not to mention the thousands of terrorist > attacks launched from the US. What terrorist attacks are we launching from the US on Cuba?
Steven McGarity (sundog) Thu 22 Jan 09 20:46
Ok Reese, reference Cuba as the 51st state. We can agree that it is most likely out. Does that bring up a huge reparations issue? I remember a junior college spanish teacher I knew in east Texas in the early 80's, a young woman married to a dentist. I asked her once why her family left Cuba in '59. She stated most indignantly that, "they took their family car." Does that become a major issue which might interfere with normalizing relations? I noticed you pointed out that the Helms Act already allowed lawsuits in U.S. courts to recover property? Am I correct on that. Has this been done frequently yet? I would think we are talking some significant money. Regarding what we can utilize. I greatly enjoyed learning about the organic effort in Cuba. I had no idea. Dr. Funes seemed a remarkable man to know. It seemed you were describing a system where more food was being grown by small private farmers rather than the big state farms now specializing in sugar cane. Is there a premium for organic products on the private market? I am sure chemical fertilizer, pesticide, etc costs are a prime driver in the transition to organic methods in Cuba. Does this seem cost dependent on oil and due to fluctuation or more of a policy to nuture the land and long term productivity.
cyndigo (cynthiabarnes) Fri 23 Jan 09 15:40
Welcome, Reese! I'm traveling this week, unfortunately not to Cuba. I wanted to go very badly, and as a journalist I can. But my boyfriend works in aerospace, with various clearances, and if anything "went wrong" on our trip it could compromise him professionally. So we chose Mexico instead. I find it interesting that as a U.S. citizens we can travel to Iraq, to China, Vietnam ... but not 90 miles from Miami. Just starting the book. Very interested to see what changes the new U.S. administration will bring.
Miguel Marcos (miguel) Sat 24 Jan 09 06:24
Fidel praises Obama's honesty and suggests he won't live to see Obama's second term: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ghGthxqnYMWcICCnEkjH5ayqPamQ D95SHNCG0 Raúl has also praised Obama publicly. Obama is savvy enough to give the Cuba issue a good positive push. He has publicly stated he will keep the embargo unless the Cuban government takes steps toward democracy. This amounts to throwing bits of meat to the ultraconservative Cuban and Republican community. However, I think he has such a strong mandate from the population that a little risk taking would be accepted. Going back to that 51st state issue: My father, fortunately, was not a barking reactionary Cuban. He is rather rational about everything that happened in Cuba and has told me numerous stories about poverty in the countryside, corruption and torture in the government and state and local police. When it comes to the US, however, he has always been clear that the US has always been in a position to abuse Cuba due to its dominance and size and despises Cubans who wish to overthrow Cuban from the US. His point is, if you want to change things in Cuba, go and live there and do it. Like Gutierrez Menoyo. I agree. I think he is a reflection of the Cuban mindset: The US is a great country, just keep your hands off us.
Miguel Marcos (miguel) Sat 24 Jan 09 06:36
Another interesting bit of news, Venezuela is requesting (again) the US return Posada Carriles. Carriles is 'a former CIA operative accused of plotting the 1976 bombing of a Cuban plane that killed all 73 people on board'. Carriles has a long list of terrorist activities he's accused of. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5icrRloDQ-4ivMeYQJsqIQFpar6vw D95T3G501
Reese Erlich (reeseerlich) Sun 25 Jan 09 11:59
Please excuse my tardy response. I just returned to the Bay Area after a three week East Coast book tour. So I was a bit tired. If anyone is interested in hearing me speak about Dateline Havana, Ill be in the Bay Area from Jan. 26-Feb. 14, then off on a Midwest tour for the rest of February and then touring the west coast in March. For details, see www.reeseerlich.com Responding to the recent posts: 1. US Attacks on Cuba? From the 1960s-80s, the US government actively organized terrorist campaigns to overthrow the government of Cuba. The Bay of Pigs and numerous assassination attempts against Fidel Castro are well known. But as recently as the 1980s, the US spread swine fever to kill Cubas domestic pork production and in the 90s, the Clinton administration sprayed aerial pests to kill crops. Ultra-rightists, such as Luis Posada Carriles, are allowed to live freely in the US, even after they organized assassination plots and hotel bombings in the 90s and 2000s. And of course the US continues the economic embargo, which Cuba considers an act of war. So the Cubans have a legitimate beef about being under siege from the US. I dont agree, however, that this justifies the lack of civil liberties on the island. 2. Reparations for Cubans in the Diaspora? For sure, Cubans in the US will want compensation for their property confiscated in the early 1960s. The Cuban government will also submit claims for damages due to the illegal US embargo. If the US and Cuba reach the point of having normal diplomatic and trade relations, such competing claims will be negotiated (or arbitrated by an international body). Cubans in the US wont receive money from the Cuban government, let alone a return of their property; they might receive money from the US government in order to resolve the issue. The most odious provisions of Helms Burton, which allow law suits against people in other countries who invest in Cuban property or businesses, have never been implemented. Both Republican and Democratic presidents have signed waivers every six months to prohibit those provisions from being implemented. In my opinion, the Justice Department knows such provisions are illegal under international law and dont want to risk an international court decision against the US. 3. Organic farming In my opinion, Cuba is running the purist experiment in organic farming anywhere in the world. Cuba turned to organic farming in the early 1990s due to the complete lack of chemicals from the Soviet Union. Organic products cost the same in Cuba as non-organic. Theres no profit motive as in the US, where organic products are intentionally priced way above their cost of production in order to make excessive profits for some farmers, distributors and supermarket chains. The only question in Cuba is: Can organic methods feed the country? Today about 30% of Cuban farms are totally organic and about 40% use a mixture of organic and chemical methods. The remaining 30%, mostly large sugar cane and citrus operations, use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. 3. Travel Americans are the only people on earth who are prohibited from spending money in Cuba (the technical terms of the embargo). So much for our treasured American freedoms. Nevertheless, some 150,000 Americans travel to Cuba every year legally and illegally. Airlines at the Cancun airport sell you a Cuban tourist visa on the spot for $15. The Cuban government doesnt stamp American passports. So lots of Americans, including Cuban Americans, travel to Cuba without penalty. 4. Change from within I agree with the comment that change in Cuba will come from within. The ultra-rightists in south Florida are totally discredited in Cuba, and for good reason. I interviewed Gutierrez Menoyo, a former leader of Alpha 66, who now lives in Cuba. He has no influence there, and in my opinion, change wont come from the old generation of dissidents. 5. Venezuela/Posada Carriles Imagine for a moment that Osama bin Laden was living freely in Venezuela, holding press conferences and attending banquets. Hugo Chavez announced that he couldnt turn bin Laden over to US authorities because he would be tortured. So bin Laden walks the streets of Caracas. Thats the situation facing Venezuela today with Louis Posada Carriles. The FBI has implicated him in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Airliner flying from Venezuela to Cuba; Posada Carriles admitted to the NY Times that he organized a campaign of hotel bombings in Havana in the 1990s. Yet Posada Carriles walks the streets of Miami. The Venezuelan government has guaranteed that Posada Carriles wouldnt be tortured and would be put on trial. So much for the US commitment to combat terrorism.
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 25 Jan 09 16:10
"Theres no profit motive as in the US, where organic products are intentionally priced way above their cost of production in order to make excessive profits for some farmers, distributors and supermarket chains" If prices are excessively high, why aren't more farmers converting to organic farming to get a better price?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 25 Jan 09 16:41
What Brian asked. I don't know of any farmers making 'excessive profits.'
Gary Greenberg (gberg) Sun 25 Jan 09 17:34
>If prices are excessively high, why aren't more farmers converting >to organic farming to get a better price? There is lots of industrial scale organic farming, especially in the lettuce/salad green business. It's the stuff that shows up in those hi-tech plastic bags (each with an atmosphere customized to its contents) at the Safeway. I'm sure the production costs are higher that for conventionally farmed greens, but not as much higher as they are for the small guys. So they can get the organic premium price without much of the expense. A lot of this goes back to the regulations promulgated by USDA a few years back for organic farming, which were more or less written by the industry.
Miguel Marcos (miguel) Mon 26 Jan 09 03:36
Sometime ago I read a number of articles that Cuba had a fairly strong bio-technology industry, including development of drugs from plants, but I haven't heard much since then. At the time it seemed it might be the source of revenue from patented drugs and such. When you dig deep you realize Cuban society, for all its political faults, is quite advanced in a number of different areas and compares starkly in this regard to the rest of its neighbors in the Caribbean, and pretty darned well for its size and situation (the embargo) compared to other neighbors in the hemisphere.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Mon 26 Jan 09 05:28
<Cuban society, for all its political faults, is quite advanced in a number of different areas and compares starkly in this regard to the rest of its neighbors in the Caribbean> ...and the Soviet Union, lest we forget, had the first manned spacecraft in outer space... Autocratic socialist rule, such as Cuba has endured for fifty years, has indeed come with some decided social advantages for its citizensmost notably in the area of universal health care. In the name of "security" since 9/11/2001, the US has taken several well-documented authoritarian measures. (None more egregious than the rendition/torture policy in Guantanamo). Let's just hope that it isn't in the authoritarian tendency through which the US is growing more similar to Cuba. The incremental erosion of human liberties has unfolded in Cuba under the guise of being "at war" with the great capitalist pigs of the U.S., and in the U.S. by being "at war" with an elusive, self-defined notion of "terrorism". Such institutionalized diatribe hampers both nations if they are to move forward in a more civilized/humanitarian fashion. In other words, I can hear Rush Limbaugh ranting to his base: "The United States, for all its faults, is still the most advanced..." Enough rationalization and apologetic BS. Only if both the U.S. and Cuba can move beyond self-limiting rhetoric will there be any hope that each nation can learn from the best each other has to offer. Why can't the richest nation in the world find a way to enact rudimentary universal health care for all? Why can't Cuba allow free elections and freedom of speech within the framework of a social democracy and without bringing back an unfettered Banana Republicanism? Why can't a hybrid model that is decidedly not authoritarian/totalitarian serve to advance humankind. It's time for a paradigm shift in the opportunistic world of politics as usual, and away from the Cold War dialectics of Capitalism/Communism. Let's hope that a new window of genuine opportunity presents itself with the departure of Fidel and Dubya.
Miguel Marcos (miguel) Mon 26 Jan 09 08:00
Per a blog called The Havana Note, Geithner has promised to review policy towards Cuba. In the blog post, the writer says a policy review is a big deal. Here's the URL: http://thehavananote.com/2009/01/geithner_also_pledges_cuba_rev.html Reese, is it really a big deal or could it be more of the same? Have previous administrations done Cuba policy reviews?
Ian Duncan MacDonald (imacd) Mon 26 Jan 09 12:19
I am curious about the statement by Reese Erlich that the "most odious provisions" of the Helms Burton Act which allows law suits against foreigners has not been implemented. What about Ian Delaney and all the other executives of Canada's Sherritt International Corporation? They have invested many hundreds of millions in Cuba over the last 30 years to develop Cuba's nickel mines and are now in the midst of spending over a billion dollars to develop the Cuban oilfields. Since 1995 it has been illegal for these executives to enter the USA. If they do, supposedly they will be jailed. Ian Delaney looks on as the USA's loss not his. He thinks the embargo is an anachronism and is unenforceable and always has been. Canada is the biggest foreign investor in Cuba and has much to lose if the embargo is lifted. Perhaps they have been funding the Cubans in Miami to make sure it is not lifted. I've been to Cuba and all over the Caribbean. There are several "democratic" countries in the Caribbean whose standard of living is much, much lower than that Cuba and whose infant mortality rates and life expectancy are terrible. The infant mortality rates and life exectancy of the US and Cuba are not much different. While I would never choose to live in a dictatorship like Cuba, "freedom" is a relative thing. "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones". There are many aspects of the American style of democracy that do not look particuarily "free" and "democratic" from the outside. The USA is considered to be the "evil empire" by many
Reese Erlich (reeseerlich) Mon 26 Jan 09 16:17
In response to todays posts: 1. Organic products in the US today have become a highly profitable niche market for a small number of farmers, distributors and supermarkets. Ive investigated organic wine making, vegetable production and forestry. The cost of producing organics is somewhat higher than using chemicals because theres more manual labor and greater crop loss. But the supermarket prices are two or even three times the cost of non organics. The supermarkets charge high prices because they can get away with it. Please note that organic wines dont cost more than non organic because vintners cant get the high prices; theres too much competition. What we need is more organic farms with more competition and a movement to force supermarkets to make organics affordable to ordinary working people. Its better for our heath and the environment. 2. Cuba does indeed have a sophisticated bio tech industry, having developed several successful drugs now used in the third world, and developed new uses for interferon. Up until now, however, Cuban drugs are unavailable in the US; one European company is conducting trials and may eventually make one available in the US. 3. According to UN statistics, Cuba ranks #54 out of 194 countries in terms of life expectancy, education, health care and similar criteria. When the status of women is factored in (e.g. womens health, education, etc.), Cuba is #2 in the world, way ahead of the US. Being authoritarian doesnt account for such progress. Cuban doctors, for example, really do believe that medicine should help the poor and be available to everyone for free. Such sentiments cant be imposed from above by authoritarian rulers. As noted elsewhere, and described extensively in my book, Cuba faces massive economic problems and is certainly no democracy. But Cubans are far better off today than most third world countries, and certainly better off than before 1959. 4. The Treasurys decision to make a policy review on Cuba is a positive step forward. It remains to be seen when and whether officials recommend a change in policy. 5. The banning of Sherritt executives and a few others is one of the few times those provisions of Helms Burton were applied. Many dozens of European investors, however, are free to travel to the US. The US has not authorized law suits by Cuban Americans against investors in Cuba who might use property once owned by those Cuban Americans. As far as I know, Sherritt executives very much favor lifting the US embargo, as do international business people in general. Sherritt is solidly established in Cuba and wouldnt likely lose out to US companies. But lifting the embargo would simplify shipping, banking and other practices currently mucked up by the embargo. For all of you in the Bay Area, I'm speaking about Dateline Havana and US foreign policy in general at a series of events over the next two weeks. See www.reeseerlich.com for more details.
Authentic Frontier Gibberish (gerry) Mon 26 Jan 09 18:32
Hello, Reese, and welcome to the WELL. I'm sorry for coming late to the discussion. I haven't read your book yet, but I did read the introduction and had a chance to browse through parts of the book. (I loved your vivid description of Havana's idea of a "frigid winter.") I recall that in the introduction to your book, there was a mention of something to the effect that the book offers a correction, both to those left-leaning folks who've been romanticizing the Cuban Revolution, as well as to those right-wingers who've had nothing but condemnation for it. (Please forgive my shoddy paraphrasing, and correct me if I got it wrong.) Could you please provide one or more examples of how lefties get it wrong, as well as how righties got it wrong?
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