Opinion: Starling On USA & Cuba Relationship

December 23, 2014

[Opinion column written by Jonathan Starling] I cautiously welcome the normalisation of relations between the USA and Cuba.

While this does not include the lifting of the criminal embargo regime against Cuba – which requires congressional approval – this is a welcome step forward and will make it easier for Cubans living overseas to visit their relatives in Cuba.

As regards the US embargo against Cuba, it should be noted that just this October the UN General Assembly passed, for a 23rd time, to condemn this decades-long act of economic aggression by the USA against Cuba. This vote passed with 188 votes out of a possible total of 193.

Cuba USA flag banner

While anyone can travel to Cuba as it is – the Cubans do not stamp your passport so as not to get visitors in trouble with the USA – I do expect this will increase overall travel to Cuba too, assisting their economy. Should the USA end its economic aggression towards Cuba by lifting the embargo in the future, this will no doubt further boost the tourism potential of Cuba.

While this is something we should welcome for our sisters and brothers to the south, we must also understand that there may be consequences for our own tourism going forward. It is imperative that we subsequently develop a sustainable tourism product for Bermuda – sustainable in the sense of being environmentally, economically and culturally sustainable for our island and its people.

I would also like to welcome the release of the remaining Cuban Five who were being held as political prisoners by the USA, who committed no crime other than conduct intelligence gathering activities against anti-Cuban terrorist organisation operating out of Florida.

Terrorist organisations such as Alpha 66, Commandos F4, the Cuban American National Foundation and Brothers to the Rescue have operated with impunity in the US, often with the knowledge and full support of the FBI and the CIA. The freed Cuban Five have already been welcomed home as the heroes they are seen as in Cuba.

I hope that the Cubans will seize this moment to deepen their revolution.

Their revolution has served as a beacon of hope in the region, and throughout the world, especially through the solidarity they have demonstrated in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake [where Cuba has provided the largest aid support, primarily in the form of a 1,200 strong medical brigade] and more recently in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Indeed, the single biggest medical force on the Ebola front-line has been from Cuba. Additionally, Cuban interventions in southern Africa proved crucial in setting into motion the end of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

The Cuban revolution is far from perfect; however it has raised the standard of living in Cuba to levels rivalling the West, and this despite the embargo and the Special Period following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Despite the distinct gains of the revolution, it cannot be ignored that Cuba displays certain authoritarian traits that are contrary to the ideals of the revolution – although nothing to the degree of Western Allies such as Saudi Arabia, the military dictatorship of Sisi in Egypt [which has the infamy of having committed a greater massacre of civilians in August 2013 than the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989] or the regime of Israel.

It should also be noted that the USA has normalised relations with Vietnam in the 1990s, despite fighting a ferocious imperialist war there, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of US soldiers. The US approach to Cuba can only be described as irrational, petty and hypocritical, and I hope this move by President Obama can lead to a complete dismantling of the economic impact of the US against Cuba.

Hopefully this development can also serve to encourage the deepening of the Cuban revolution towards revolutionary democratic socialism rather than the authoritarian socialism it has displayed to date, while avoiding the authoritarian capitalism of so-called Communist China.

Indeed, to quote the late Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky, ‘socialism needs democracy like the human body needs oxygen’. Without it the revolution atrophies and becomes the opposite of its purpose, as we saw in the Stalinist counter-revolution in the Soviet Union that created a nightmare regime.

Hopefully this development will breathe new life into the socialist hope that a better world is possible for us all.

- Jonathan Starling

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Comments (8)

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  1. bob says:

    does anyone actually care what starling thinks???

    • PBanks says:

      Judging from the amount of comments his articles gets, at least a fair bit. If people didn’t care, his articles would be ignored entirely.

  2. LiarLiar says:

    “The Cuban revolution is far from perfect; however it has raised the standard of living in Cuba to levels rivalling the West, and this despite the embargo and the Special Period following the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

    Blatant lie or based on the fact that Starling has never ever been to Cuba.

    I have.

    And having to ration food is not a level that rivals the West. That is just one aspect. I suggest Starling that you travel to Cuba to see for yourself as it might prevent you from printing such blatant falsehoods going forward.

    • Stunned... says:

      having been to cuba recently, i can see that the lifting of the travel restrictions for Americans will surely see an increase in tourism in Cuba especially to see the country before capitalism and the American influences take hold. there is also a romantic notion that Cuba is somehow in a time warp stuck in the 50′s. well nothing could be further from the truth – Cuba is in a state of steady decay because of lack of capital to upkeep buildings. 50-year old cars have been rebuilt to the extent that the original parts have long since been replaced. Driving around in the convertible sounds grand until you are trapped in the traffic behind cars, buses and bikes that are emitting fumes that clearly suggest an absence of emissions control.

      Smoking is permissible there and it is easy for a nice dinner to be ruined by cigar smokers no less.

      What Bermuda needs to do in the interim is to step up its game in offering value for money. Bermuda has a lot to offer per square mile. the food is recognizable, the level of sophistication is evident compared to Cuba and it is a pretty island to boot.

      HOWEVER – simple pointers: remove the charge for hotel guests to have to pay to use the indoor pool: SOUTHAMPTON PRINCESS.(just spent weekend there 2 weeks ago)

      Stop charging high rates when the rooms are soooo very ordinary with soooooo very ordinary service. ALL HOTELS

      Train all staff members how to welcome and speak to every guest with a damn SMILE. (how much would that cost?) EVERYWHERE

      Bermuda needs to stop price-gouging our visitors and residents alike.

  3. PBanks says:

    One thing that’s factual is that every nation except the US and Israel has demanded the US trade embargo be ceased. Of course, the US doesn’t give a fig what other countries think of their policy, but it should make one wonder why the policy continues to be enacted in defiance of the rest of the world’s nations.

  4. aceboy says:

    I suggest he have a word with some of the Cubans who managed to get out. Far from perfect is most definitely how they feel. It’s tough when a guy like Castro executes your family.

    Socialists are really really good at spending other people’s money. That is about it.

  5. chipp says:

    Take u s money out of your pocket c what happens

  6. z says:

    Odd that Starling doesn’t realise his opinions (when they differ from those of the Party, of course) would have him imprisoned or executed in Cuba.

    Nor does he seem to know that in exchange for the five “harmless” Cuban spies, who were convicted of conspiring to commit murder in addition to their espionage activities, the Cuban government has released 53 [actual] political prisoners and will return an American aid worker kidnapped by the regime in 2009.

    Or maybe he does realise this and does not care because he is furthering the revolution. How contemptible. What I wonder (and worry about) is whether there is anyone on this island who believes his nonsense.