I thought it was worth posting.
Bush an easy target for Cuba
By PETER WORTHINGTON -- For the Toronto Sun
CBC Radio's Anna-Marie Tremonti kicked off this last week of the U.S. presidential campaign by interviewing a woman in Cuba about George W. Bush.
The woman said she was speaking personally, and regarded Bush as something of a gangster, a thug who was filled with mischief towards her country. Anna-Marie went on to document how difficult it was to live in Cuba under the U.S. embargo ("blockade" is the word she used, if I remember correctly).
The woman's pension ran to $4 a month, while that of her husband, a sporadically unemployed taxi driver, was the equivalent of $6 a month.
Apart from the anti-American flavour, it was an enlightening program that created a thoroughly misleading impression: That Cuba's shortcomings were somehow linked to America's economic boycott of Cuba. This is a widely shared view, but utterly false.
The U.S. may not trade with Cuba, but every other country in the world is free to do so.
America's boycott should be -- and is -- opportunity for others. Canada, for instance, is a thriving partner with Cuba on various ventures.
Travel in Cuba and you see the Canadian flag flown alongside the Cuban one at various projects. Go to Cuba as a tourist -- a relatively inexpensive holiday -- and resort tables are loaded with food for visitors from all over the world, especially Europe.
This opulence while Cuban citizens scratch for food and stretch their ration cards.
In short, the deprivation that exists in Cuba is homegrown, and the fault of the socio-communist system it practices. Goodness -- a country renowned for producing sugar has to ration sugar to citizens!
Like most Canadians, I think the U.S. is nuts to maintain its economic boycott of Cuba. U.S. policy just feeds the myth that it is responsible for Cuban poverty.
In fact, Cuba is the most politically repressed country in the Western hemisphere. Where 20 years ago most of Latin America was deemed by the respected Freedom House to be "unfree" or "partly free," today most of South America is "free" and evolving towards greater democracy.
Although Cubans who escape their regime are arguably the only genuine political refugees in the Western hemisphere, Canada insists of viewing Cubans who seek asylum here as "economic" refugees, and liable for deportation.
A curse of being a profitable partner with a Cuban dictator.
Until this week, Cubans accepted the U.S. dollar as de facto currency, as well as the less-valued peso. No longer. Fidel Castro has decided that all dollars held by Cubans must be exchanged for pesos, with a 10% surcharge to the state. As well as a quick tax, this will also mean more hardships for Cubans (and relatives in the U.S. who send money in Cuba).
It will encourage a blackmarket in currency and is yet another indictment against the regime. While there's no overt revolutionary spirit in Cuba, it is generally accepted that when Fidel dies, changes will occur. But not until then.
It's too bad Anna-Marie Tremonti's voyage of discovery to Cuba couldn't have explored why it has failed so wretchedly to live up to the promise of revolution nearly 45 years ago. Instead, in the parts I heard, an impression was created that its hardships were another reason to hope a new U.S. president is elected Nov. 2. Sorry, Anna-Marie, but I'll bet a pina colada that Dubya is returned to the White House more substantially than he was in 2000.