August 03, 2006

Fidel Castro...Bush Like a Waiting Vulture

It comes as no surprise that President Bush is sitting like a vulture over Cuba, waiting for Fidel Castro to die. The United States has long considered Cuba a thorn in it's imperialistic side, so with Fidel recovering from surgery, Georgie Porgie is calling for democracy in Cuba.

Why is it the U.S. is so insecure about half-democracy? Cuba has it's problems like any other nation, and dissidents stand to be jailed or killed....but that happens in the States too. Cuba is certainly a strategic military position, the U.S. stronghold on keeping Gitmo isn't for detainees alone. So here sits a gem of an isle in the Carribean, under supposed communist rule (for one, it's social democracy, but let's face it, it's dictatorship), who's people have been forced to be forever ingenious in a wild political world that saw it's main supporter, the U.S.S.R. go down and the U.S. place embargoes to try and starve her out. Threat is a strange stranglehold and the more competitive one is, the more threats to one's being. Why a person or nation becomes so competitive in the first place is beyond me save for observing the need to proove oneself. That says a myriad in it's own.

If Cuba were placed in proportion to it's real threat to the United States , she would weigh in at about the size of a mouse, but then elephants purportedly scream at the sight of tiny creatures. Castro only figured out America's achilles, that's all, while Canada has always enjoyed good relations with this Spanish speaking nation (it's indigenous people having been wiped out enough that there are no full bloods left).

It remains to be seen how Mr. Harper will handle our friend Cuba with his ears full of Bush-shit.

When we were there five years ago the first thing that struck me besides Havana crumbling, was how patriarchally she is ruled....the posters, billboards and art all reflecting the famous men who fought to win the revolution with only the occasional whisper of Tanya, and one museum on the southern end dedicated to the women who hid, nursed, and fed these men, putting their own lives on the line for the cause. Otherwise the scenery is incredible, the people welcoming, and the Unesco saved architecture awesome. The 40's and 50's cars still running with cardboard and tinfoil hoses or tractor engines socked in make it feel like yesteryear, and the donkey driven taxis that are tourist attractions in Havana are guenuine transport in small towns and villages.

We were lucky enough that people at the Casa Paticulars (bed and breakfast) we stayed in opened up to us somewhat, politically; they were mostly middle aged and older ones who remembered the horrors of the Batista Regime. Despite long line ups for locals with their vouchers for goods at stores who's shelves were often 3/4 empty because of Clinton's embargo, the loyalty remained with the attititude being, "There are other nations far worse off then us". We would always join in singing when 'Hasta Siempe' was played (a beautiful song dedicated to Che Guevera) for we were there to travel and take in the culture, not to judge it's political system.

Most of the youth we spoke with were restless and somewhat reckless with their speech (we were warned by many that to even shout out 'I love Fidel' on the streets could get you arrested), complaining that the revolution had gotten them nowhere, they had nothing. I replied to a couple of cocky ones , "When you were ten years old you had a lot, then the embargo came so now you want everything back right now. You better be careful what you are asking for because if you think that becoming part of the United States will make you wealthy you can forget it...they are sitting over you like a vulture and you will be nothing more then another Puerto Rico".

Castro had decided long ago that his brother Raoul should take over when he was gone, but the general concensus was to vote for someone else...people didn't like that Raoul came from the military. I can't email, write or phone our friends there to ask how they are feeling right now as it would be risky for them to reply. I can send soap, toothpaste and other items that are in need.

Despite the poverty everyone had a home. Education was and still is free and the store clerk or taxi driver is probably higher educated than most North Americans. I spoke with the player of the tres, a Cuban guitar of unique sound requiring complex adeptness. who was a doctor who decided to take a four year leave to persue his musical passion. His wage would not have differed much and he was glad to have the choice. I had brought some guitar strings and wind reeds along as gifts for musicians, they were well appreciated.

Toursim was rapidly becoming Cuba's number one industry then, we never made it to any resorts for our interests took us by train (forget going first class, we tried it once and sorely missed the joking and commaraderie with locals that went on on the regular lines) to the sites of our interest. The fastest way to a Cubans heart...swig out of his bottle of rum with him and he'll share story after story. Most of the hotels were foreign owned, and except for Havana I would recommend Casa Paticulars.

Every land you visit has it's own heart and pulse. Cuba's is slow and gentle and she holds you in the palm of her hand, unlike the fiery energy of Madame Pele on the Big Island of Hawaii who slowly grips you, finger by finger, until you are clenched in her fist, or the skipping pulse of Ulster that rolls you like a ball bearing on an ever-tilted hand. There is no 'macho' in Cuba, rather a gentleness prevails, and curiosity is rampant. If I had the money I would return again and again, but this was a special 25th anniversary present to ourselves and we bought airmile points at a huge discount from our daughter's boss to be able to afford the flight.

Fidel's future is unknown but the press is making it seem like he's dead already. The media loves to prepare obits of the famous years in advance so they can hit the public with details of a person's life in the ten seconds that seems to be the norm. It would be a shame to see this country somehow fall prey to the talons of the vulture; no matter what, it's just another country with it's own lies and it's system is not hurting anyone anymore then half-democracy. I suppose besides the military aspects, too many of the wealthy ruling U.S. families are still embittered that they lost one of their corrupt playgrounds.

To see some of the works of our good friend and Cuban artist Pavel Lominchar Quintana, please go to
Pavel.. If you are interested in his work and the email bounces back please email me at and I can put you in touch with him via another address. Pavel is a master and Cuban artwork is inexpensive. Him and his wife now have a baby to support.

If you held with this piece, thank you very much.
In spirit,

Scout, very good write up. I have never been to Cuba but given the resources Cuba has it is doing very well under Castro. I am Castro fan. Call me commie but he is the best who survived close to fifty years despite vultures being at his throat. I will live in Cuban dictatorship/democracyanytime than current Iraqi democracy where Bush is carrying out crimes against humanity with impunity.

Yes he is almost 80 and he may not live very long but he will be leaving his mark not only on Cuba but also world for his tenacity and pursuit of fair society. He is a dictator but benevolent dictator. He survived even after its great supporter U.S.S.R disappeared and that speaks a lot of his tenacity. People like Lenin who changed Russia and the world and his legacy evaporated in recent years. It may happen in Cuba too but Castro will never be forgotten. I pray for Castro’s good health and may some good hunters find the vultures and decapicitate them or use them for dinner. No hidden meaning. Just that dictatorship by the rich and multinationals is not much different than the one-man dictatorship and Castro is at least benevolent dictator.

I believe more blacks/minorities, on the average, are imprisoned in U.S. than dissidents in Cuba. Now blacks do revolt against injustices and so do native brothers and sisters and they find themselves in jails. So what is the difference? I can go on and on but I should stop.
anon, thanks. you are perfectly right...the u.s. is more then likely far worse than cuba for it's own internal crimes, and cuba does not committ external ones like the u.s.. cuba has many brilliant people which adds to her survival rate. the 'doctors for oil' program wih venezuela is one example.

cuba is also a world leader in perma-culture, setting a fine example.
What a beautiful analysis about not only Cuban politics but world politics.See,what most of us dies for nowdays is lack of information.We allow ourselves to be fed with lies and propaganda.I believe in human equality and therefore believe that I am not a better person to tell the Cubans what to do and who to choose.Unfortunately,there are people,lots of them who thinks they are meant to be gods of the world.They are dead wrong.
Scout, this is a wonderful piece you wrote. It shows the heart of Cuba, and depicts the real people and situation. I agree with both you and Anon...

I commend Castro for his stalwart stance agains the big bully to the north. In spite of everything the US has tried to do -- and continues to do, about which I wrote a piece on my blog a while ago -- to replace Fidel and reshape the country into US' image, and its abandonment by the former USSR, Cuba has done very well. Cubans are the most educated people, and indeed far more so than Americans. Also, as you've mentioned, their perma-culture is an example the rest of the world should follow. CBC had an excellent program about this the other night, and for once, it was unbiased.

I have not had the opportunity to visit Cuba, but relatives and friends did, and they were all quite impressed.

I could go on and on, but your piece more than aptly described the situation. I hope Castro recovers, and is able to resume his leadership. I would hate to see the vultures win. I found the premature joy of Miami's 'Little Havana' Cubans -- upon hearing the news about Castro's surgery -- to be despicable. Most of them got rich on the backs of the poor. No, Castro's system is far from perfect, but then, whose is?? Certainly not the U.S'. or even Canada's for that matter...

Cuba under Fidel Castro's leadership has shown the world that hard work can and does benefit the poor.

I wish him a speedy recovery!
jeff, gee thanks. and you''re right on about 'the gods of the world''s a bit heinous, isn't it? and why oh why would anyone want to travel to judge ?

annamarie, thanks too....cuba is well worth a visit asap if you can scrounge up the dough. i know you wouldn't be the type to be into the 'resort' there are very cities like havana and santiego de cuba there are officios on every corner, partly to protect tourists, partly to keep drug use down (very heavy penalties), and all sorts of other reasons.

we met a few democrats travelling there.....while u.s. citizens aren't SUPPOSED to go to cuba, the ones who do enter from mexico or via toronto. cuba does not stamp your passport so there is no trace of you being there, save for cuba's own records.
You're right, Scout, I'm not the tourist-type and not into 'resort' vacations. Never have been, never will be. (You know me well...) Wherever I visit, I go there to learn about the people, see how they live and work, learn about their culture and customs, and interact with the locals as much as possible...

Thanks for the pointers on Cuba. If/when I can scrounge up the money to go, I'll let you know beforehand for sure... Maybe you could come too...? (That would be cool!)

I like the way some Americans visit Cuba, via Toronto.
I enjoyed this piece of yours about Cuba very much! I also have always wanted to visit Cuba.
That is also interesting about the use of Permaculture there. We have quite a movement here in Oz so it would be interesting to compare.
Gwynne Dyer had an article in the press today about Hugo Chavez and Castro/Cuba. I had no idea before I read it about the relationship there, and the potential for more of one after Fidel's death.

Enjoyed hearing about your experiences there.
annamarie, because your heart and mind are in the right place it was an easy guess :). ok, well, keep buying those lotto tickets so we can go :)

austin, thanks, didn't know permaculture was so 'on the go in oz'. we have a woman on our island who leads tours of canadian farmers to cuba to study and witness permaculture in cuba. maybe there's someone doing that downunder.

cheez, thanks...i could have gone on and on but it was like a novella as it is. ya it's quite a cool set up they have with venezula ...'doctors for oil', who'da thunk?
What a beautiful testimonial to Cuba. Thanks for taking the time to write it.:)
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