Cuban Embargo


What began over 50 years ago as Cold War posturing, has evolved into one of the longest standing embargoes in world history. “Posturing” might be a little unfair – Cold War fears and hysteria presented themselves as ever present dread. Communists were the enemy – an enemy poised to unleash global nuclear annihilation. Communists were the reason we built shelters and stock piled supplies. Only 2 years old in 1961 as the Bay of Pigs played out, my mother tells of utter despair listening to news reports – convinced unthinkable was inevitable.

Capsulizing Cuba”s predicament isn’t easy –  In 1959 Fidel Castro led Cuban rebels to victory by ousting Cuban president Fulgencio Batista. Castro’s revolutionary government drastically altered American interests in Cuba. Socialist land reform (three quarters of arable Cuban land, owned by foreigners under Batista) led to seizure of U.S. owned sugar plantations. America countered in 1960 by reducing Cuban sugar imports, the Soviet Union agreed to purchase the difference. Escalating reform of privately held land, business ,and education, coupled with increased Soviet trade, and expulsion of religious organizations (Cuba declared itself an Atheist nation in 1962 – a prohibition removed by the Communist government in 1991) meant one thing, and one thing only – Communism.  Cold war anti-communists lost their minds over socialist reforms and Soviet presence – in 1962 president John F. Kennedy signed an executive order, effectively severing all ties with Castro’s Cuba. Linked below, a good timeline of embargo progression….

http://www.historyofcuba.com/history/funfacts/embargo.htm

The Cold War resides in history books, America trades with Russia, and Cuba is now a member of the UN Human Rights Council – a council that’s voted 22 consecutive times to end the U.S. embargo. The latest vote, an overwhelming majority (188 UN general assembly members in favor) with America and Israel the only hold-outs. More astounding is news that Barrack Obama signed up for another year of embargo under the Trading With the Enemy Act of 1917 – a federal law restricting trade with nations hostile to America – a law requiring yearly review by the President. A law pertaining to Cuba alone, after George Bush removed North Korea from the naughty list in 2008.

Not even the fact I’m Canadian, negates bat shit absurdity of continued embargoes with Cuba. Ponder Obama’s about face – help me make sense of this crazy world.

John Oliver on the Daily Show….

 

 

 

Ted Cruz – Please Stay Away From Canada


Our world is a weird and wonderful place – I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Ted Cruz is a Texas Republican elected to the U.S. senate; he’s also holding dual Canadian/American citizenship. Born 1970 in Calgary, Alberta to a Cuban father and American mother – he left Canada at age four, America has been his home ever since. He has served as the Texas Solicitor General, Director of Policy at the Federal Trade Commission, Associate Deputy Attorney General for the federal Dept. of Justice, Domestic Policy Advisor to George W. Bush in the 2000 Bush/Cheney campaign, taught U.S. Supreme Court litigation as a Law Professor at the University of Texas, and is endorsed by the Tea Party and Republican Liberty Caucus.

His father – Rafael Cruz – left Cuba as a teenager, finding his way to Texas where he attended school. Prior to leaving Cuba he supported Fidel Castro in the revolution aimed at dictator Fulgencio Batista.  During his run for the senate,Ted Cruz made a point of publicly explaining –  his father had no idea Castro was a Communist. Today, Pastor Rafael  Cruz seems to “know a socialist” when he sees one. Speaking recently at the Family Leadership Conference in Iowa, Rafael Cruz likened Obama to Castro, telling the evangelical conservative crowd that Obama policies mirrored those of Castro. His statements backed by his assertion – life in Cuba allowed him to recognize socialism when he saw it. He claimed policy changes such as same sex marriage were part of a socialist agenda.

“Socialism requires that government becomes your God,” he said. “That’s why they have to destroy the concept of God. They have to destroy all loyalties except loyalty to the government. That’s what’s behind homosexual marriage. It’s really more about the destruction of the traditional family than about exalting homosexuality.” – Rafael Cruz

Ted Cruz opposed banning high capacity gun cartridges with more than ten bullets; likewise any further restrictions on background checks or meddling with the “right to bear arms”. Obviously against gay rights, and voted “NO” to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Cruz believes insurance companies should deny women coverage for birth control and wants to ban any state funding of abortions. Cruz is fighting tooth and nail to halt any attempts by the Obama administration to introduce universal health care.

The debate over his partial Canadian citizenship is nothing short of lunacy. Round the clock coverage on American news stations only reinforces my belief that America has lost its way. Quibbling over this Tea Party poster boy’s eligibility to run for president, rather than stopping to ask themselves how they could live with his nonsense speaks volumes for an America headed towards a train wreck.

Once upon a time a great Canadian named Tommy Douglas had an idea. A Baptist preacher who believed in “social religion” – taking care of people in life rather than dwelling on the afterlife – entered politics. Douglas is responsible for universal health care in Canada – a country where most people don’t sleep with a gun under their pillows. A place where gay marriage is old news, and religion has no business in politics.

Please America; believe me when I say Ted Cruz is not a Canadian. He belongs to you now – good luck with that.

Cuba on My Mind


I’ve been feeling rather grumpy lately, and just figured out why; I have Cuba on my mind. Not the “all-inclusive” this beach could be anywhere in the world Cuba – I need the living, heart pounding, take your breath away Cuba. The Cuba that prompted my son to ask how people with so little could be filled with such joy.

Havana is like no other place I’ve travelled. Evidence of the revolution; images of Lenin and Che Guevara , bullet scars, socialist slogans, and meandering lines of residents waiting patiently outside government stores for state supplied rations of rice, beans, and rum – are nothing more than a small chapter in Cuban history. A 16th century Spanish fort stands guard over Havana’s harbour; the shells of giant sea turtles float in the murky waters surrounding it, centuries old refuse alluding to lavish meals of Spanish rule. Taxi stands filled with pre 1959 American cars compete with horse drawn carriages for tourist dollars. Remarkably clean streets do little to hide the crumbling façades of Spanish colonial occupation. Gorgeous building held together with chicken wire and cinder blocks. Ballerinas from the National Ballet spill onto the street, mindful of the broken pavement and uneven curbs. Open air markets filled with books, soviet era propaganda, old movie posters, and art. A meal of chicken, potatoes, and beer for $2.00 as night falls and the air fills with music.

Cuba stole my heart and I need to go back. I long to be stuck in time, surrounded by remarkable people who when given lemons made lemonade. People who persevered, improvised, and never forgot how to laugh and sing. I don’t for a second believe life is all roses, but know Cuba is a special place with people I admire. At the moment my only wish is to fly to Havana, get on an ancient train complete with a roll of toilet paper and coffee mug as none are provided, and travel the 500 miles to Santiago de Cuba. The train will likely break down along the way stranding travellers for hours, hopefully days. I can’t think of anything I would rather do. I have Cuba on my mind.