Sensible policy toward Cuba developing, or the beginning of the end for Colin Powell?
April 27, 2001 8:29 AM   Subscribe

Sensible policy toward Cuba developing, or the beginning of the end for Colin Powell? "He's done good things for his people," Powell told Rep. Jose E. Serrano, D-N.Y., who called the embargo of Cuba senseless. For most of his 42 years in power Castro has fomented revolutions and insurgencies, "but he is no longer the threat he was," Powell said.

This certainly breaks with what appears to be a fairly hawkish international stance by the administration, but maybe it's punishment aimed at Florida for not delivering a decisive victory? Poor Jeb.
posted by shagoth (22 comments total)
the beginning of the end? Punishment for Jeb? how do you mean?
I guess this kinda shows that the bush administration isn't looking to return to cold war, ofcourse it was probably a matter of time, the whole thing is really beyond idiotic. Clinton's reason for not doing anything was?
posted by tiaka at 8:36 AM on April 27, 2001

Whatever our policy was or is or will be, I hope the Intelligecne folks get told about it. Soon:
posted by Postroad at 8:37 AM on April 27, 2001

If the U.S. makes nice with Cuba, even in small ways like this, it will hurt Jeb because he's depending on a strong Cuban vote to be re-elected. Florida's growth is fueled largely by non-Cuban Hispanics, and the Republicans are having trouble getting these people to break the normal immigrant tradition of voting Democrat.

If Clinton had given the South Florida Cubans everything they wanted in regard to Elian, I think it would have been enough for Gore to win the state handily.
posted by rcade at 9:12 AM on April 27, 2001

Don't worry, rcade, if Jeb can't break "these people," he'll just ban them from voting altogether.
posted by jpoulos at 9:52 AM on April 27, 2001

I HATE Florida. I want to establish a residence there just so I can vote against every evil #@$%^& associated with the Florida election process and last November's debacle.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:12 AM on April 27, 2001

There doesn't seem to be any policy change here, shagoth. Kind words for domestic consumption but the big stick remains.
posted by dhartung at 10:44 AM on April 27, 2001

I'm still waiting for someone to explain exactly what good things Castro has done for his people.
posted by Dreama at 10:57 AM on April 27, 2001

What has he done for his people? I remember a couple, maybe someone can add more:

Close to the highest literacy rate in the western hemisphere.

They had the highest levels of protein in their diets from chickens until the US dropped diseased chickens into their supply and decimated the chicken population.

Number one organic farming country in the world - the US won't sell them toxic fertilizers.

Socialized medicine.

Freedom from US controlled gambling and whoring houses.
posted by jeffus at 11:08 AM on April 27, 2001

dhartung, as the point has already been made about the Florida Republican dependence on Cuban Americans' votes, it does indicate some change in candor if not policy.

I do wonder whether Colin Powell is spending too much time being his own man for his career to survive. He's already had to back out of statements regarding things as diverse as policy toward Israel and the initial reactions to the Chinese/spy-plane debacle. It would be a shame for someone of Powell's stature to be forced to buckle to less well considered opinions or simply the opinions of the more hawkish members of the administration such as our illustrious Secretary of Defense.

posted by shagoth at 11:12 AM on April 27, 2001


Also, a lower infant mortality rate than the US.

And Cuba sends doctors overseas to assist countries strapped of cash and resources. THIS from a country that has survived 40 years of embargo from the US.

Viva Fidel!!
posted by mapalm at 11:41 AM on April 27, 2001

These same achievements are always touted in Cuba's defense, but come on - socialized medicine is nice, but being able to leave the country is even nicer!

The U.S. is principally responsible for Cuba's current economic straits, but Castro is also a crazy old tyrant.

If anything, Powell made the comment he did because there is enormous pressure from U.S. companies who are watching joker countries like Canada and Spain beat them to the post-Castro gold rush. Spain practically runs the tourist economy in Cuba singlehandedly. U.S. companies could do a very nice little business with Cuba.

And for the record - having a high literacy rate isn't all that great in a country with only one newspaper
posted by preguicoso at 12:10 PM on April 27, 2001

Powell also is trying to change the policy towards Iraq to shift to one of only banning trade that could be used for weapons and allowing trade in food, medical supplies, etc.
posted by john at 12:18 PM on April 27, 2001

Preguicoso, a high literacy rate is always great. The Reading is Fundamental program is also great. Maybe one newspaper could be good if it isn't owned by Mr. Moon, Mr. Murdoch, or some other multinational media conglomerate with a hidden agenda. At least one would know the agenda of the one newspaper in Cuba. I agree that the pro-business branch of Bush Incorporated is probably salivating at the idea of doing business in Cuba right now and would be willing to overlook a LOT to do so. Kinda like China, just smaller.
posted by nofundy at 12:25 PM on April 27, 2001

The embargo is a stupid political holdover. We trade with many communist/socialist/evil countries - most notably China. The only reason the embargo goes on is because no U.S. politician wants to have a picture taken shaking hands with Castro. The symbolism would put off too many old coots and exiled Cuban-Americans. Once Castro dies, or steps down due to poor health, I predict we'll see one of his more moderate ministers take the helm and the U.S. moving pretty quickly to re-establish relations and trade.
posted by sixdifferentways at 12:34 PM on April 27, 2001

socialized medicine is nice, but being able to leave the country is even nicer!

is it really? i mean, isn't access to affordable health care more important than the ability to travel abroad. castro's cuba oppresses its people and denies them some basic human rights, but give credit where credit is due. the cuban government assures access to health care better than the US.
posted by jpoulos at 1:35 PM on April 27, 2001

(Well, six, at least one has.)
posted by dhartung at 2:52 PM on April 27, 2001

Cuba sends doctors overseas to assist countries strapped of cash and resources.

Cuba offered to send vets to the UK to assist in treating the foot-and-mouth epizootic, given that they have experience gathered from treating the diseases introduced into Cuban livestock by US agents. Quite.

And I'm with jpoulos: Cuba is a very broken country in many respects, but its breakages are simply a different set to those in the US. And the differences between many of the regimes that the US chooses to support, and those it chooses to suffocate, are slender. And it's Castro, bizarrely, who represents the last political link to the "greatest generation": after all, the White House archives still hold the letter he wrote to FDR, asking for greenbacks ;)
posted by holgate at 4:19 PM on April 27, 2001

And for the record - having a high literacy rate isn't all that great in a country with only one newspaper.

What the hell are you talking about? What, no books? No private correspondance? Like any professional job can be done without literacy? I'm guessing that was just a weak joke. And anyway, there are plenty of newspapers. Here's a list compiled from Cubaweb and else and where. You can find many of these in libraries across the US.

Agencia de Información Nacional, AIN. A press agency.

Prensa Latina. Another press agency, with news from across Latin America.

El Economista de Cuba. Economic and business news.

Granma. Cuba's most well-known newspaper. Also, Granma Internacional Digital, with news in Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Italian and German.

Juventud Rebelde Digital. Youth newspaper.

Negocios en Cuba. Business and economic news.

Marcas, Revista Deportivas Cubana. Sports.

Orbe, Seminario Internacional. Weekly with wires stories from abroad.

Trabajadores. Worker's newspaper.

Prisma. Tourist and tourism news.

Avances Medicos de Cuba. Medical research journal.

Periódico Provincial Vanguardia. Villa Clara Journal.

Girón. Matanzas Journal weekly.

There's also a lot of exile publications that find circulation, on and off the Internet.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:39 AM on April 28, 2001

Don't worry, rcade, if Jeb can't break "these people," he'll just ban them from voting altogether.

I guess you didn't see the bill that passed recently, where Jeb kept a promise to overhaul the state's voting system by agreeing to loan counties the money so they could foot the bill. He's the king of pass-the-buck politics. By the end of his term, I'm confident the only thing the state will be paying for is corporate welfare.

As for "these people," are you highlighting my phrase because it has a negative connotation? If so, it certainly wasn't my intent ... I love Florida's first-generation immigrants, because they're the best chance we have to send Jeb and his legislature packing.
posted by rcade at 8:54 AM on April 28, 2001

If you're going to make comparisons with Cuba, how about starting with comparable nations? Cuba despite it's one party state is still a better place to live than most countries in Central America (except maybe for the top 5%).

America is a bully. Long live independent Cuba!
posted by lagado at 5:46 AM on April 29, 2001

posted by clavdivs at 7:09 AM on April 30, 2001

Since the US is no longer a country of elected representatives but rather schills for large corporate interests, it makes Cuba look much, much better. Besides, what with Miami being the capital of South and Central America, it makes sense that travel, commerce and communication between Miami and Cuba be allowed dontcha' think?
posted by nofundy at 1:10 PM on May 2, 2001

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