Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Odds and ends

● The EU Council, led by Slovenia, welcomed Cuba’s signing of the UN human rights conventions, “encourages Cuba to continue these positive evolutions,” and “awaits the application of these obligations legally by Cuba in the area of human rights.” Meanwhile in Geneva, Foreign Minister Perez Roque again claimed victory, saying that the “Human Rights Council put an end to the unfair and selective exercise conceived of and imposed by the United States.

● The long arm of OFAC: an English travel agent’s websites are shut down, according to this blog, because they discuss Cuba and the domains were hosted by a U.S. company.

● From a new report on telecoms in Cuba: “Despite strong economic growth in 2006, Cuba still occupies last place in Latin America for both mobile phone and Internet penetration, and is fifth from the last in fixed-line teledensity. The government has blamed the embargo for the country’s poor telecom development, which has prevented the implementation of submarine fibre-optic cables; thus, Cuba has had to rely almost exclusively on satellites for international connectivity. However Etecsa, controlled 73% by the government and 27% by Telecom Italia, holds a monopoly in both fixed and mobile services. It offers GSM, TDMA, and AMPS services through its subsidiary Cubacel, though mobile rates are prohibitive for the vast majority of Cubans.”

● This instructive essay by Raj Desai of the Brookings Institution looks at options for Cuban economic reform and argues that the chances for reform would be enhanced if American sanctions were dropped. It assumes a Cuban government interested in far-reaching economic policy decisions, which is not quite the case today. And I’ll quibble with one thing: it is not the case that Cubans jeopardize their housing or access to health care if they move to the private sector, such as a person who leaves a government or state enterprise job and moves into self-employment. But that’s a very small point; the essay’s great strength is the way it uses many examples from China’s and Eastern Europe’s economic reform experiences to put Cuba’s choices in context.


Anonymous said...

with respect, OFAC long arm is one of abuse and imperalism when it comes to Cuba.

Horrible, ashmaed to be american sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Raj's essay is instructive, too bad the miami folk won't even read such a report.