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The Two Americas
September 4, 2005 9:54 PM   Subscribe

Last September, a Category 5 hurricane battered the small island of Cuba with 160-mile-per-hour winds. More than 1.5 million Cubans were evacuated to higher ground ahead of the storm. Although the hurricane destroyed 20,000 houses, no one died. What is Cuban President Fidel Castro's secret? According to Dr. Nelson Valdes, a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico, and specialist in Latin America, "the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with. People know ahead of time where they are to go. Cuba's leaders go on TV and take charge," said Valdes... "Merely sticking people in a stadium is unthinkable.. Shelters all have medical personnel, from the neighborhood. They have family doctors in Cuba, who evacuate together with the neighborhood, and already know, for example, who needs insulin." They also evacuate animals and veterinarians, TV sets and refrigerators, "so that people aren't reluctant to leave because people might steal their stuff," Valdes observed.

The Two Americas. See also A Nation's Castaways, 'To Me, It Just Seems Like Black People Are Marked' & White Man's Burden
posted by y2karl (69 comments total)

 
Interesting collection of links that add complexity to the race and class issues - thanks. Cuba's advance preparation sounds like something that should be looked at more closely. And this from the 2nd link is worth quoting at length:

A helicopter passed them by. A National Guard unit passed them by. "Black National Guard unit, too," piped in Warren Carter, Washington's brother-in-law.

In the South, the issue of race -- black, white -- always seems as ready to come rolling off the tongue as a summer whistle. A black Guard unit, passing them by. Something Carter won't soon forget.

Before long the whole family, watching the water rise, made it to the roof. Three men in a boat -- "two black guys and an Arab," Washington said -- rode by and left some food on the roof of a van parked nearby. Ernest went and retrieved the food.

"A little hustler he is," Thomas said.

"Child [is] something else," Washington said.

It took two days for a helicopter to fetch them. They were delivered not to some kind of shelter, but to a patch of land beneath a freeway.

"I thought we were going to die out there," Bernadette Washington said. "We had to sleep on the ground. Use the bathroom in front of each other. Laying on that ground, I just couldn't take it. I felt like Job."

Then, somehow, a bus, and then Baton Rouge. At that moment, a lady -- white -- came by the rest stop and handed her some baby items.

"Bless you," Washington said.

That exchange forced something from Warren Carter: "White man came up to me little while ago and offered me some money. I said thank you, but no thanks. I got money to hold us over. But it does go to show you that racism ain't everywhere."

posted by mediareport at 10:16 PM on September 4, 2005


"After this," her husband, Brian Thomas, said, "I want to move my family to California."

Um, why not try somewhere not prone to natural disasters?
posted by delmoi at 10:17 PM on September 4, 2005


Cuba's System is intresting, although Cuba gets hit with hurricanes much more often.

That said, the fact is cuba does a much better job of taking care of it's citizens basic needs.
posted by delmoi at 10:19 PM on September 4, 2005


Cuba's System is intresting, although Cuba gets hit with hurricanes much more often.

Plus Cuba is much smaller, making it easier to move people from one place to another and get the word out. Plus, Cubans are pretty much used to being told what to do, so the fact that large numbers do not ignore the evaucation is not surprising.
posted by b_thinky at 10:33 PM on September 4, 2005


See also,

PRESIDENT FIDEL CASTRO REITERATES MEDICAL CARE OFFER TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IN HIS REMARKS DURING THE TV ROUND TABLE.

Here is the translation of his communication...
Our country is ready to send, in the small hours of morning, 100 clinicians and specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine, who at dawn tomorrow, Saturday, could be in Houston International Airport, Texas, the closest to the region struck by the tragedy, in order to be transferred by air, sea or river to the isolated shelters, facilities and neighborhoods in the city of New Orleans, where the population and families are that require emergency medical care or first aid.

These Cuban personnel would be carrying backpacks with 24 kilograms of medications, known to be essential in such situations to save lives, as well as basic diagnosis kits. They would be prepared to work alone or in groups of two or more, depending on the circumstances, for as long as necessary.

Likewise, Cuba is ready to send via Houston, or any other airport of your choosing, 500 additional specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine, with the same equipment, who could be at their destination point at noon or in the afternoon of tomorrow, Saturday, September 3.

A third group of 500 specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine could be arriving in the morning of Sunday, September 4. Thus, the 1100 said medical doctors, with the resources described tantamount to 26.4 tons of medications and diagnosis kits, would be caring for the neediest persons in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

These medical doctors have the necessary international experience and elementary knowledge of the English language that would allow them to communicate with the patients.

We stand ready waiting for the US authorities’ response.

September 2, 2005
18:00 hs
posted by wilful at 10:34 PM on September 4, 2005


That entire article is laced with bullshit.

y2karl, just say "Hi, I'm a fucking Communist" and get it over with.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:39 PM on September 4, 2005


...no one died.
posted by y2karl at 10:43 PM on September 4, 2005


Metafilter: laced with bullshit

----
Interesting.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:44 PM on September 4, 2005


I don't want to say this too loud, but Colorado only has wildfires, blizzards, and landslides.

45 years of practicing for something that will surely happen every year. Being 'ever vigilent' in worn into their society.
posted by Balisong at 10:48 PM on September 4, 2005


just say "Hi, I'm a fucking Communist" and get it over with.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:39 PM PST on September 4 [!]


Don't think capitalism is going to work to solve humanitarian crises.
posted by Balisong at 10:51 PM on September 4, 2005


Hurricane Ivan didn't even hit Cuba, you dolt. It grazed cuba's western tip. No wonder it didn't kill anybody. Compare it to Katrina, you stupid shitbox clown shoes.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:54 PM on September 4, 2005


Metafilter: stupid shitbox clown shoes.

Is that a bannable offence?
posted by Balisong at 10:58 PM on September 4, 2005


Metafilter: United Together In Friendship and Labour.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:03 PM on September 4, 2005


I'm supposed to give y2karl the benefit of the doubt and assume he's just ignorant? y2karl??

He heard something ++good about Cuba and just assumed it was valid, relevant, and true... so I should be nice or else get banned??

How come I should be held responsible for the things I say on metafilter, but y2karl can say whatever devastatingly moronic politicized bullshit he wants and you blank out? Too bad there are no knives named for communism, eh?

Just remember how many people have died being eaten alive by sharks after falling off of their makeshift rafts on the way to Cuba from the United States. Bet it's fewer than have died despite Castro's hurricane preparations.
posted by techgnollogic at 11:08 PM on September 4, 2005


Dictators always do a good job gettings its citizens to move en masse. It is not always to shelter, though.
posted by Falconetti at 11:11 PM on September 4, 2005


How come I should be held responsible for the things I say on metafilter, but y2karl can say whatever devastatingly moronic politicized bullshit he wants and you blank out?

Because he does it without calling you a derogatory name?
posted by Balisong at 11:17 PM on September 4, 2005


you stupid shitbox clown shoes.

oh man that's so awsome. lulz...
posted by Dreamghost at 11:26 PM on September 4, 2005


Honestly, what the hell is with everyone blaming capitalism for all their problems?
Not referring to the Cuba issue, I am sure there's lots Cuba does right. Just that every second discussion on Mefi these days contains a "goddamn capitalism, destroying the world" comment in it.
posted by nightchrome at 11:30 PM on September 4, 2005


Hahaha. You're more sensitive to namecalling than you are to the derogative treatment of liberty and the free market. Your actuative treatment of Communism is telling. y2karl needs as many apologists as he can sustain. Congratulations, you're hired. You'll be paid nothing, according to your need.
posted by techgnollogic at 11:34 PM on September 4, 2005


In Cuba no casualties are reported due to the evacuation plan set up by the government. Cuba has been pointed out as a model in hurricane risk management in developing countries by the United Nations. The worst affected areas in Cuba were Pinar del Rio and Isla de la Juventud in the eastern part of the island. They are the same areas that were also heavily affected by Hurricane Michelle in 2001 and Isidore and Lily in 2002. Last month Cuba suffered an estimated one billion dollars in damages from Hurricane Charley that hit the Havana province.

Action by Churches Together Alert 2/2004

From techngnollic's link above:

In 1998, [in Cuba] only four people died during Hurricane Georges, while 600 died elsewhere. This year, Hurricane Charley killed four people in Cuba, but 27 in Florida.
posted by y2karl at 11:36 PM on September 4, 2005


Eh? Communists do a better job of looking after the poor than capitalists?

Wow. Real shocker.
posted by dreamsign at 11:36 PM on September 4, 2005


man, I hadn't seen techgnollogic around in a while, or at least hadn't noticed him/her. good to have another insane crank back in the mix.
posted by papakwanz at 11:53 PM on September 4, 2005


People with truly open minds would still be willing to learn from someone they otherwise do not like, if it is valuable knowledge.

You don't have to like Fidel Castro or his politics - if Cuban methods of evacuation and refuge are better than American, they are worth learning from. They plan to have shelters, medical care - to keep communities together (good for security as well). These all sound like good ideas, and have nothing whatsoever to do with economic policy.
posted by jb at 11:54 PM on September 4, 2005


Metafilter: y2karl can say whatever devastatingly moronic politicized bullshit he wants.

/stupid shitbox clown shoes is the new noon blue apples
brilliant!
posted by Smedleyman at 11:55 PM on September 4, 2005


We should learn to ask ourselves, "How does it feel to be the problem?"

Apropos
posted by Smedleyman at 11:57 PM on September 4, 2005


You know Fidel is offering the medics just to embarass us. But we should accept the offer, then watch 2/3 of them defect, and wipe that silly commie smile off Fidel's face.
posted by b_thinky at 1:27 AM on September 5, 2005


Don't think capitalism is going to work to solve humanitarian crises.

I don't think communism is going to solve humanitarian crises.

Why? Because communism, like capitalism, is a fucking economic system and not in any way relevant to this discussion. For fucks sake look at some of the humanitarian crisis in Stalinist Russia or Mao's china, there were failures far, far beyond the failure we see here. While conversely communist Cuba obviously has it's shit together. So what can we learn from this? Economic system is irrelevant, it's about preparedness and government competence, regardless of the economic model they choose.

Implying Cuba is simply better at this stuff because communism, and capitalist societies are too moribund with greed to be as effective is simply the product of your biases.
posted by Jezztek at 2:04 AM on September 5, 2005


How come I should be held responsible for the things I say on metafilter, but y2karl can say whatever devastatingly moronic politicized bullshit he wants and you blank out?

bcuz u say this stuuuupd shitz n u luk lik a fucking retarded LOL!!1!!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:31 AM on September 5, 2005


Thank You Civil_Disobedient. That guy is pure warped noise and no substance.
posted by adamvasco at 4:46 AM on September 5, 2005


So, just so I have this right, if a Communist country does something better than we do, we should all close our eyes real tight and pray for Jesus to "take out" their leader and start calling anyone who introduces the concept a filthy commie bastard rather than learning how to keep hundreds of our own citizens from dying of fucking dehydration!
posted by Talanvor at 6:13 AM on September 5, 2005


This Cuban Hate goes deep. Except, of course, you are a Wall Street Monkey abroad and someone offers you a Cuban cigar.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:56 AM on September 5, 2005


Except, of course, you are a Wall Street Monkey abroad and someone offers you a Cuban cigar.

Well, as Kinky Friedman said when Bill Clinton demurred his offer of a Cuban: Don't think of it as contributing to their economy, think of it as burning their fields.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 AM on September 5, 2005


And as far as Cuba goes, I don't like Castro either, but if he managed to do something right that we didn't it's worth learning from, right?
posted by jonmc at 7:16 AM on September 5, 2005


"You're more sensitive to namecalling than you are to the derogative treatment of liberty and the free market."
Man, that's shitbox clown shoes stupid.
posted by klangklangston at 7:31 AM on September 5, 2005


Speaking as a paid-up "fucking communist" and "stupid shitbox clown shoes" myself, I have to say that I think jezztek makes a fine point that we don't often see here.

It's not so much the system (communist or capitalist) as the level of compassion and competence of the people in the system that makes the difference.

A country tends to get a government that reflects the consciousness of its people. What we're seeing in Louisiana (and Baghdad, for that matter) reflects extremely badly on both the individuals running America, and on the level of consciousness of American people in general.

There are too many techgnollogics in America, and not enough y2karls, and that, I would argue, is the problem that we need to collectively address.

How do we turn sulky adolescent selfishness into an imperfect but genuine desire to help? Many people have been through that process, so it's certainly not impossible, although it's surely hard to codify.
posted by cleardawn at 7:36 AM on September 5, 2005


Clownshoes is one word.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:48 AM on September 5, 2005


While conversely communist Cuba obviously has it's shit together.

That's a bit of a stretch. When it comes to hurricane evacuation, they seem to know what they're doing. But as for having their shit together in general, I believe that when I see people in Miami building rubber rafts to float to Havana.

Also, cleardawn, bith hear and in your own thread, you displayed a tendency to lecture and scold when a response is not what you expect or like. Don't do that. It's condescending, imperious, and didactic. We are not children. Even people who do not accept the Gospel According to Cleardawn have a right to be heard.
posted by jonmc at 7:51 AM on September 5, 2005


I'll go with jb here. Less preoccupation in burying Fidel, and more with good ideas on effective evacuation of a poor populace.
posted by slf at 7:57 AM on September 5, 2005


jonmc: It's true that I sometimes find myself explaining very obvious things - usually because someone makes a post that indicates they don't understand the very obvious thing.

I like to try to help people in that situation. To me, that seems preferable to snarky one-liners. For those who ALREADY understand the obvious thing, it's true that my posts probably bore the pants off them.

I often wish I could do it in fewer words. Practice, perhaps.

Incidentally, jonmc, I find your post somewhat accidentally self-referential. Condescending, imperious, and didactic.

Even people who do not accept the Gospel According to Jonmc have a right to be heard.

The only person here saying "Shut Up!" is you.
posted by cleardawn at 8:35 AM on September 5, 2005


"I believe that when I see people in Miami building rubber rafts to float to Havana."

I don't see anybody from the US trying to escape to capitalist Mexico or capitalist Haiti or capitialist Colombia either.

If the USA announced free citizenship for everyone who came from Mexico to the US, how many people would remain in Mexico?

Yet there are still some people in Cuba, in spite of America's best efforts to bribe them and bully them and starve them into the refugee boats.
posted by cleardawn at 8:42 AM on September 5, 2005


Cuba's apparent success in hurricane evacualtion derives more from their being a totalitarian state than any consideration of communism or capitalism. I suspect Singapore could pull off similar evacuation miracles if they needed to. If we want to be able to quickly evacuate coastal or other disaster areas in the future, a great deal more social cohesion will be required. This can come from within, as people somehow view themselves as more of a cohesive whole (as is more prevalent in asian cultures), or it can be imposed from without, as we have seen in totalitarian states.

To imagine that the poor disenfranchised people of NOLA would band together as part of something greater and would obtain their own internal organization is, I suspect, laughably unlikely. Therefore, the only way we can expect to effectively evacuate a similar population in the future is by totalitarian force. We're talking huge military mobilization, door-to-door marched out at gunpoint evacuation. Even if successful, there'd be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And the first time such a forced evacuation happened and the expected catastrophe failed to materialize, well, draw your own conclusions about the political outcome.
posted by gregor-e at 8:47 AM on September 5, 2005


Yet there are still some people in Cuba, in spite of America's best efforts to bribe them and bully them and starve them into the refugee boats.

Actually, during my two years in my Miami working as a shopclerk, most of my freinds and associates were Cuban exiles and their children. A few of their parents had been in Castro's jails as political prisoners. They didn't have much nice to say about the man. And forgive me if I talk their word over yours, your eminence.


Even people who do not accept the Gospel According to Jonmc have a right to be heard.


The crucial difference between you and me is that I have no Gospel, political or otherwise.

BTW, MeTa. For the record I posted that thread before your response to me.
posted by jonmc at 8:54 AM on September 5, 2005


jonmc: Your "gospel" is clear enough, your eminence.

The crucial difference between you and me is that you think there is a crucial difference between other people and yourself.

You think your opinion is a fact, and others should be silenced.

I disagree, and you don't like that at all.

Nor do the other folks (dios, parisparamus, etc etc) who share your adolescent rightwing worldview, and who, I'm sure, will be happy to join you in attacking me.

Feel free. The truth will out.
posted by cleardawn at 9:04 AM on September 5, 2005


yes, we do need good ideas on effective disaster preparation and relief strategies, but know that y2karl didn't post this thread to compare and contrast hurricane evacuation plans. This thread is about America being racist and hating poor people and Cuba being wonderful and non-coincidentally communist.

Those "See Also" links have no relevance to a discussion of evacuation techniques. They're about race, because this post is about race. The snippet about Cuba and Ivan is just a mechanism to get the (white) America-bashing ball rolling.

But unfortunately for y2karl, those articles say more about his preconceptions than they do about a racist America. Look at the "Black people are marked" one. Did y'all read that? It's a black man saying he thinks black people are marked. He's saying bad shit happens to him because he's black. Everything's racist. His brother in law points out how a Black National Guard unit passed them by. Like "Can you believe that? Blacks!" Can you imagine a white guy saying "I can't believe those other whites didn't help us out" and not being shocked at how racist that is? Then a white lady gives them some baby supplies, and a white guy offers them some money... and a light bulb goes off as he realizes that racism isn't everywhere. His every waking moment is seemingly spent assuming racism is at work, except for the exceptions.

Now you can tell me I don't know what it's like and that being surrounded by racism and feeling its impact all your life shapes your worldview, fine, but if that guy's instincts are valid, and he has a legitimate right to blame racism or assume it as an initial condition, then the evidence for that is somewhere else. It's not in those articles. Racism's like roaches and it scurries away from the light but depicting a black family struggling along and blaming unseen and amorphous 'Racism!' for their struggles is not proof of racism.

And please don't anybody excuse the guy feeling betrayed by a Black National Guard Unit as a justifiable "we gotta stick together" coping mechanism, cuz when whites become the minority in this country, like all these "you'll get what you deserve, racist white america" people keep telling me we will, I don't imagine "white solidarity" will become the PC bee's knees.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:06 AM on September 5, 2005


jonmc: Your "gospel" is clear enough, your eminence....Nor do the other folks (dios, parisparamus, etc etc) who share your adolescent rightwing worldview

apparently not clear enough. My Clinton/Kerry voting, anti-war marching, ant-racist, pro-gay, living in sin, public transportation taking, for labor organizing self has an "adolescent rightwing worldview."

That makes loads of sense. See where assuming things about your critics gets you?
posted by jonmc at 9:15 AM on September 5, 2005


technologic: you are starting to sound as tiresome as clerdawn. Take an anti-zealot pill.
posted by jonmc at 9:16 AM on September 5, 2005


(also that's "former labor organizing," I ttried to unionize a former workplace and wound up in court for my troubles. damn typos)
posted by jonmc at 9:17 AM on September 5, 2005


Just remember how many people have died being eaten alive by sharks after falling off of their makeshift rafts on the way to Cuba from the United States. Bet it's fewer than have died despite Castro's hurricane preparations.

Haitians, on the other hand, suffer no deaths at all when they are safely returned by force to their homeland after fleeing that capitalist worker's paradise. As techgnollic pointed out, the post is about race. Only Cubans fleeing from Castro count for liberty and the free market cold warriors. Haitians fleeing from a non-communist hellhole are not worth the thought, let alone mention.

From Amnesty International--Bush Policy: All Refugees Are Not Created Equal

By saying that resources expended in the rescue of Cubans is money well spent, but that resources expended to rescue Haitians is a waste of money, the Bush Administration implies that a Cuban life is more valuable than a Haitian one. This is fundamentally discriminatory in the most noxious sense and as offensive to American values as anything said by Trent Lott.

The Administration's policy announcement explained that Cubans were exempt because the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 allows any Cuban "who is inspected and admitted or paroled" to become permanent residents after one year. But the new policy defines the category of boat people slated for detention and fast-track removal as persons "who are not admitted or paroled." Similarly, the Immigration and Nationality Act makes an exception to fast-track removal only for Cubans who arrive by plane. Therefore, by exempting the Cubans from the new harsher treatment for boat people arriving without inspection, the Bush Administration goes beyond the two exceptions carved out in law for Cubans.

This is not to suggest that Cuban boat people should be treated as badly as Haitian boat people. The solution is not to treat Cubans worse, but to recognize that the United States should put the same value on the life of a Haitian as that of a Cuban, and treat them according to the humane standards reserved, thus far, for Cubans.

posted by y2karl at 10:27 AM on September 5, 2005


Incidentally, jonmc, I find your post somewhat accidentally self-referential. Condescending, imperious, and didactic.
Even people who do not accept the Gospel According to Jonmc have a right to be heard.


You know, cleardawn, I was starting to think you might have a clue up until you started spouting that childishly condescending crap. Now you're right back in the "asshat" category with techgnollogic.

Great post, as usual, y2karl.
posted by languagehat at 11:08 AM on September 5, 2005


techgnollogic, marked and unmarked categories exist, and no amount of huffing and puffing will make them go away.

They are embedded in our language and thought. Take the category of number in English: the plural number has the mark, the morpheme -s, as in shoes, while the singular is unmarked: shoe.

The simplest, shortest constructions are the unmarked ones. Man stands for men, or people in general, whereas Woman means only women.

These are culturally relative, so that in the US, you encounter the phrase non-white but not non-black.

Unless otherwise specified, person is used to indicate the unmarked member of any set of categories: a white, male, straight, tall, healthy, adult person.

It also happens that racism (and sexism, etc.) really does exist, and really does have a profound impact on peoples lives. But that's a separate issue, which is not so easy to demonstrate to someone who hasn't experienced it first hand. Perhaps if you eventually fall into a marked category (when you grow older, or discover you're gay, or lose a limb, or your ability to earn a comfortable income), you might come to understand that people aren't just making this stuff up.

Until then, if you can really look at something like the Katrina disaster, and the overwhelming proportion of poor and black people among the people who suffered the worst, and the neglect and criminal treatment they received, and still say that racism and classism do not exist, well, then, I'm not sure what to say to you.
posted by cytherea at 11:10 AM on September 5, 2005


"who share your adolescent rightwing worldview,"

BWAHAHAHAhahaha...

Wow, if you think jonmc has an adolescent right-wing worldview, you really haven't been here very long, cleardawn. C'mon, lighten up a bit. Let's discuss more civilly.

It certainly would be great to work toward a more cohesive community all around here in the US, especially in places that can be hit by massive disasters. I'd sure like to see some more community togetherness here in Los Angeles... in a major disaster here many neighborhoods might turn into armed camps - and I'm not talking about the poor neighborhoods, because interestingly they seem to have the strongest sense of community.

It would be sensible and helpful to try to foster better community ties in cities prone to destruction, to make collective evacuations easier and more effective, and to increase the overall support base for people who don't or can't evacuate.

In hyper-individualist America, that might be awfully tough to do.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:23 AM on September 5, 2005


Um, why not try somewhere not prone to natural disasters?

Like West Virginia!
posted by davy at 12:08 PM on September 5, 2005


Metafilter: I sometimes find myself explaining very obvious things

cleardawn and jonmc, will you both STFU? Your personality-based flamewar is distracting people from filling dozens of 400-comment-long threads arguing about whether we should blame Bush for everything.
posted by davy at 12:21 PM on September 5, 2005


The big picture preparation (for the last 40 years) of protecting NO has been woefully inadequate and all the people in emergency manangment with any brains at the Local, State, Local and Fed level knew it. The immediate preparation for this one event, Katrina left out 100,000 poor folks. Again the EM people knew they had no plan for this issue. And, the rescue has been totally inept. Administrations going back 30-40 years can be blamed for this short-sighted, on the cheap planning. However, the Bush Adminsration has managed to distill all of the stupidity of the last 40 years into just the few he has been in office. He has slashed funding to the Army Corp of Engineers, hired retarded hacks to run FEMA and stripped it of its power.

I'm not one bit surprised that Castro or just about any other leader could do it better. The irony is that we have the funds, the expertise, and the wherewithall. America is just too greedy to do this stuff right. The private interest always prevails over the public.
posted by philmas at 7:07 PM on September 5, 2005


Wow, lots of cuba-hate. I'm an australian, I don't know anything about why you're also so angsty towards that country. I hear they have a different political system, is that it?

Why the irrational hate speak? I hear they have over a thousand doctors who are willing to help your sick and dying....
posted by Jerub at 7:55 PM on September 5, 2005


Evacuees not told they were going to Utah-- It wasn't confusion that prevented Hurricane Katrina evacuees from learning they were headed to Utah — it was intentional. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:09 PM on September 5, 2005


In the meantime, what we know from Katrina is that, in George Bush's new America, we are no longer capable, as a civilian society, of rescuing ourselves. Even the more civilian part of our military is gone. The Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard, after all, are mainly in Iraq, feeling, I'm sure, mighty helpless right now, while chaos reigns in their home cities. Thank you, George. Mission Accomplished!

Before the Iraq War, it was already evident that the State Department -- the foreign policy equivalent of a civilian effort -- was atrophying. (Administration officials were, after all, starving that beast too.) "Diplomacy," such as it was, was being conducted with other nations ever more regularly by our military proconsuls like our Centcom commander in the Middle East on a military-to-military basis. A grim wag suggested to me recently that the only way New Orleans would have gotten some quick action was if the administration had renamed Katrina "Osama," claimed it left behind weapons of mass destruction (as it may, in fact, have), and then invaded the city.

When an administration which has long believed that the resort to force should be the initial impulse behind any policy finally acts, force is unsurprisingly all it knows. If what we've observed in the last week is the response of the Bush administration to an essentially predictable civilian catastrophe, then imagine how prepared it is, after these four years of "homeland security," for an unpredictable one. Or what about, for instance, just another massive hurricane in this age of Xtreme weather? After all, though you can't find a word in the papers about it at the moment, we are only halfway through the fiercest, longest hurricane season in memory. We should be scared. Very scared.

In the end, this country remains in a powerful state of denial on two major matters which help explain why the elevation of George Bush and his cronies was no mistake. We are now a highly militarized society in all sorts of ways that any of us could see, but that is seldom recognized or discussed (except when the threat of base closings sends specific communities into a panic). Unrecognized and unconsidered, the militarized nature of our society is likely in the future to prove both dangerous and highly destructive. Right now, we are a weakened superpower wired for force and force alone -- and if Iraq has shown us one thing, it's that, when it comes to solving human problems of any sort, military force is highly overrated.

And of course, we are as a society in denial over the toxic sludge pool where climate change (or global warming) meets Middle Eastern energy dependence. On this, our future rests. If someone doesn't get to the frontlines of planetary security soon, we may be living not just with one feral city, but on a feral continent, part of a feral world.


At the Front of Nowhere at All - The Perfect Storm and the Feral City
posted by y2karl at 8:27 PM on September 5, 2005


zoogleplex > "in a major disaster here many neighborhoods might turn into armed camps - and I'm not talking about the poor neighborhoods, because interestingly they seem to have the strongest sense of community."

Not terribly surprising. When you have less, you depend more on your social networks to fill the gaps.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:12 PM on September 5, 2005


Cuba's apparent success in hurricane evacuation derives more from their being a totalitarian state than any consideration of communism or capitalism.

Actually, if you think about it carefully, this causative relationship may work in reverse, which may be exactly what the folks on the right fear so strongly.
posted by dhartung at 10:16 PM on September 5, 2005


Wow. Lots of confused people.

1. Why is Cuba bad? Cuba is bad because it is a totalitarian dictatorship that denies basic rights to people that we think everyone should have (i.e. voting, the right to take care of yourself)

2. Why is the situation in New O so bad? Because it was built below sea level, it's very crowed and very poor, and the voters didn't prioritize law enforcement or hurricane safety.

3. Is Capitalism useless in a crisis? Well, our tax dollars are being spent in a largely socialist fashion in the wake of Katrina. Hopefully there will be a number of disincentives to reduce reconstruction. capitalism: It's up to you.

4. Is communism/socialism a better way to govern, especially if it is one of those and not just a totalitarian dictatorship masquerading as one of those? No. What's best is that people take responsibility for their own rule. As in voting. So far, no one seems interested in voting for communism/socialism, probably because, having seen them first hand, they suck.
posted by ewkpates at 8:30 AM on September 6, 2005


1. Why is Cuba bad? Cuba is bad because it is a totalitarian dictatorship that denies basic rights to people that we think everyone should have (i.e. voting, the right to take care of yourself)

Of course, not unlike Israel and Frannce, Cuba has universal health care and, despite 40 years of embargo and ten years after the loss of all Russian aid, the life expectancy of Cubans is roughly equal to that of the United States, although both trail France and Israel in this respect.

America #1 -- Score Card 2004

See also A Few Cuban Resources

Then there is the number of totalitarian dictatorships--Turkmenistan comes to mind, for one--that are current American allies, or were American allies--Saddam Hussein comes to mind, for one--in the recent past. Both lists can be expanded at length. Evidently some totalitarian dictatorships are more equal than others. Considering the the USA quite handily does and has done business with totalitarian dictatorships, the Cuba hate is remarkable.

and consider these, from the cuban resources links above:

Illiteracy rate

Cuba 1999 average youth (age 15-24) illiteracy rate: Zero percent

or

"Six for every 1,000 in infant mortality - the same level as Spain - is just unbelievable,"

"You observe it, and so you see that Cuba has done exceedingly well in the human development area."

"Even in education performance, Cuba's is very much in tune with the developed world, and much higher than schools in, say, Argentina, Brazil, or Chile."

--Jo Ritzen, World Bank Vice President for Development Policy


Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship yes--but one that does better by its people than any other country in Latin America, despite 40 years of embargo.

And if the figures from the links above are correct, the USA apparently has twice as many prisoners as China--a country with a population of over one billion. A comparison regarding the percentage of the population in prison between Cuba nd the USA would be of interest.
posted by y2karl at 11:19 AM on September 6, 2005


It's shameful that we have bloated corpses on New Orleans streets, it's even more disgraceful that the infant mortality rate in America's capital is twice as high as in China's capital. That's right - the number of babies who died before their first birthdays amounted to 11.5 per thousand live births in 2002 in Washington, compared with 4.6 in Beijing.

Indeed, according to the United Nations Development Program, an African-American baby in Washington has less chance of surviving its first year than a baby born in urban parts of the state of Kerala in India.

The national infant mortality rate has risen under Mr. Bush for the first time since 1958. The U.S. ranks 43rd in the world in infant mortality, according to the C.I.A.'s World Factbook; if we could reach the level of Singapore, ranked No. 1, we would save 18,900 children's lives each year.

So in some ways the poor children evacuated from New Orleans are the lucky ones because they may now get checkups and vaccinations. But nationally, 29 percent of children had no health insurance at some point in the last 12 months, and many get neither checkups nor vaccinations. The U.S. ranks 84th in the world for measles immunizations and 89th for polio.


The Larger Shame

The links in the last post date from 2001--currently, it seems, our infant mortality rate is now higher than Cuba's. But at least American, and especially African-American, babies have the right to take care of themselves.
posted by y2karl at 11:30 AM on September 6, 2005


Wow! Cuba denies basic rights, but who cares because you get better medical coverage and a higher literacy rate!

I'm surprised Americans aren't flocking to Cuba to take advantage of this "constitution for benefits" swap!

I'm sure the transparency afford to the general population by Cuba's well meaning government will allow independent auditing teams to validate this data.

This is exactly the challenge democracy always faces: People would rather a well meaning dictator/state take care of them then that they take responsibility for their own lives. Read Up From Slavery before you post any more crap about dictatorships with great literacy benefits.

Ooh! And I bet we could keep child mortality rates down by imposing a 1 child per couple law! Happy days!
posted by ewkpates at 11:37 AM on September 6, 2005


Jerub writes "I hear they have a different political system, is that it?"

Yes, and it's part of the 'threat of communism' that so enthralled some during the last century. It's a throw-back from Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfhowitz's last successful attempt to instigate fear (amongst other things) in the US and the world at large. Whilst profiting themselves, obviously.

ewkpates writes "independent auditing teams to validate this data."

Looks like it's the UNDP. The UN!!! Oh noes.
posted by asok at 5:33 PM on September 6, 2005


Those numbers again. Firefox finding some of the page a bit of a challenge.
Literacy - average
96.9 percent (2002)
Source: UNDP - Human Development Report 2004

Literacy - male
97.0 percent (2002)
Source: UNDP - Human Development Report 2004

Literacy - female
96.8 percent (2002)
Source: UNDP - Human Development Report 2004

posted by asok at 5:38 PM on September 6, 2005


Hurricane Ivan didn't even hit Cuba, you dolt.

Oxfam America's April 2004 report praising Cuba's hurricane preparedness plans [pdf], 5 months before Ivan hit

International Red Cross' 2002 discussion of Cuba's response to Hurricane Michelle

Medicc Review on the evacuation numbers game
posted by mediareport at 9:11 PM on September 6, 2005


For the record, and from Human Rights Watch from 1999, here is an answer to my rhetorical question:

Summary

Over the past forty years, Cuba has developed a highly effective machinery of repression. The denial of basic civil and political rights is written into Cuban law. In the name of legality, armed security forces, aided by state-controlled mass organizations, silence dissent with heavy prison terms, threats of prosecution, harassment, or exile. Cuba uses these tools to restrict severely the exercise of fundamental human rights of expression, association, and assembly. The conditions in Cuba's prisons are inhuman, and political prisoners suffer additional degrading treatment and torture. In recent years, Cuba has added new repressive laws and continued prosecuting nonviolent dissidents while shrugging off international appeals for reform and placating visiting dignitaries with occasional releases of political prisoners.

This report documents Cuba's failures to respect the civil and political rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as well as the international human rights and labor rights treaties it has ratified. It shows that neither Cuban law nor practice guarantees the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. Cuba's obligation to respect the declaration arises from its incorporation into the United Nations Charter, rendering all member states, including Cuba, subject to its provisions. The UDHR is widely recognized as customary international law. It is a basic yardstick to measure any country's human rights performance. Unfortunately, Cuba does not measure up.


Cuba's Repressive Machinery - Human Rights Forty Years After the Revolution

Their prison population per capita is no doubt at least comparable to--if not in excess of--ours while their prisons are far worse.
posted by y2karl at 9:15 PM on September 6, 2005


Correction on that last part:

Average daily population/number of prisoners.
By 1990, the prison population in Cuba had dropped
to around 19,000 as a result of the liberalized
penal code that went into effect in 1988. This
number yields a rate of imprisonment of
approximately 190 per 100,000 population
.


World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems - Cuba

Summary findings
On June 30,2004,

-- 2,131,180 prisoners were held in Federal or State prisons or in local jails -- an increase of 2.3% from midyear 2003, less than the average annual growth of 3.5% since yearend 1995.

-- there were an estimated 486 prison inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents -- up from 411 at yearend 1995.


Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics
posted by y2karl at 9:33 PM on September 6, 2005


An Imperfect Storm--
How race shaped Bush's response to Katrina.
--...Because they don't see blacks as a current or potential constituency, Bush and his fellow Republicans do not respond out of the instinct of self-interest when dealing with their concerns. Helping low-income blacks is a matter of charity to them, not necessity. The condescension in their attitude intensifies when it comes to New Orleans, which is 67 percent black and largely irrelevant to GOP political ambitions. Cities with large African-American population that happen to be in important swing states may command some of Karl Rove's respect as election time approaches. But Louisiana is small (9 electoral votes) and not much of a swinger these days. In 2004, Bush carried it by a 57-42 margin. If Bush and Rove didn't experience the spontaneous political reflex to help New Orleans, it may be because they don't think of New Orleans as a place that helps them. ...The kind of constituency politics that results in a big life-preserver for whites in Florida and a tiny one for blacks in Louisiana may not be racist by design or intent. But the inevitable result is clear racial discrimination. ...
posted by amberglow at 2:59 PM on September 8, 2005


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