Monday, October 8, 2007

Odds and ends

  • From Mario Loyola writing in the Weekly Standard, an interesting critique of the Bush Administration’s approach to Cuba that concludes with a very modest proposal to end restrictions on Cuban American travel to the island. Mr. Loyola, a former Pentagon official, participated in a symposium on Cuba last March in Front Page Magazine, here.

  • “Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul.” The U.S. Interests Section drops the news-only format of its big electronic signboard, leading with a Mark Twain quote.

5 comments:

Omar said...

I also like the analysis by Loyola. However, I disagree when he refers to the irrelevance brought by Cuba's economic disaster under Fidel. The economic disaster is a fact, the irrelevance is not.
The only time in History that Cuba was relevant for immediate economical factors was in the middle colonial times due to its strategic position in the traffic of products from Latinamerica to Spain. While sugar production was high in the fifties, just before the Revolution, that didn't made us relevant.
The second time we were relevant was when the Revolution came to power. We then were relevant for political reasons. Understandably, there could be useless controversy concerning which kind of relevance is better. But there is no discussion in what kind of relevance is possible.
Now we are not relevant anymore, because the media decides so. We would be relevant again if the systems collapse. The Power will say: "You see, that doesn't work". And it really mean: "Don't dare!". For that purpose the embargo and all the hostility deserve a try no matter for how long. Personally, I prefer that Cuba wouldn't be relevant at all. I would like Cuba to be a real democracy, with complete control of its interdependency ties. But such a humble goal is condemned to relevance in this world.

leftside said...

I (and the Cuban Govt.) knew it was only a matter of time before the USIS Billboard turned into something else. From a Mark Tawain quote, it is only a short step away from outright foreign subversion. They are playing their old game of daring the Cuban Govt to take action against its provocations. I mean would the US allow Cuba to beam messages in Times Square? Conservatives didn't even want the Iranian leader to speak when here.

Omar said...

“Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul”
This is a very nice quote.
While reading reports about the debates taking place in Cuba I had again the sad impression, share by others, that this is just a game. A move by the government that already knows what people think. So, even if changes are introduced, what we had was just a theater. Or being more accurate, a lecture. Citizens are trained in our own brand of democracy. I'm aware that in more famous democracies consent is manufactured by the Power in very sophisticated ways. So, we shouldn't be ashamed of our school. However, the illusion of freedom is far more effective in those democracies than in ours. And that matters, and matters a lot because life is just one and short, and illusions should be as powerful as possible to make the best of it. We cannot afford that democracy because it is reserved for strong economies under no threat. Unless we develop ourselves into educated and, more important, cynical citizens, our little physical nature won’t allow stronger illusions. In this sense, our extended corruption and two-sided moral could be interpreted as a primitive form of a national cynism that with patience and under the very same tight control of our interdependencies could turn into a solid form of civism. Is this a petrified opinion?

Omar said...

It is true that conservatives, and liberals, didn't want Ahmadineyad to give his speech at Columbia University. The speech was nice, interesting and ... funny. It was also a technical tie. US propagandized it as an obvious evidence of free speech and Ahmadineyad made his point clearer and probably collected popularity in Iran, mainly among his Revolutionary Guards fellows. By the way, Ahmadineyad's strategy of questioning the unquestionable Holocaust is a risky but interesting one if the point is to attract attention to the Palestine-Israel problem.
I could also be offended by the electronic board at US SINA, but so far it has been a good opportunity for the Cuban government to gain another argument, albeit mild, against US meddling in Cuban bussines and also to practice some original responses. It would be nice that the Cuban government had a Billboard in a correspondingly central location as the one at the US SINA. However, the quotes to present would require extra elaboration to be somehow effective. In Cuba a quote by Martin Luther King can understandably have a subversive connotation. Again, the American system is far more robust than the Cuban, although that does not justify any of the American policies towards Cuba. On the contrary, Love is needed but is always in short supply.
Viva Lincoln!

Anonymous said...

I like the quote but sadly it is totatlly

"...a short step away from outright foreign subversion... "

we should be ashamed.