Monday, January 21, 2013

Odds and ends

  • Two Cuban-Americans in today’s presidential inauguration ceremony: poet Richard Blanco, profiled here in TIME, and Rev. Luis Leon, who will give the benediction.

  • This article in El Confidencial Digital reports that the Spanish government has decided to adopt a “more serene posture” regarding Cuba, including fewer activities in Havana involving dissidents and no activity regarding Cuba in the European Parliament.  This has led many to say that Madrid has entered a pact of silence that has kept Angel Carromero, the Partido Popular activist who drive the car in which dissidents Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero were killed, from telling what really happened in that crash last July.  See, for example, this call from a Cuban organization in Spain that says that Carromero, having been “a hostage of the Castros,” cannot now become “hostage of his party and the Spanish government.”  When we last heard from Carromero’s associates, they were saying that he was considering speaking out, and he was in the process of reconstructing his memory of the event.  They have been quiet for some time now.

  • The Cuban television program Al Derecho has questions and answers about the new immigration law.

  • In Diario de Cuba, Oscar Elias Biscet’explains his “Proyecto Emilia” and Miguel Fernandez-Diaz offers a critique.

  • Cuba’s lineup for the 2013 World Baseball Classic was announced last week.

  • Granma on “the most Cuban of masses.”


brianmack said...

Some incredible links that gives a balanced perspective on Cuba and what's behind the surface. The Havana Times is a great blog to read daily as it gives a fresh outlook
as to what young Cuban's are thinking and doing. I've stated a year or so ago that things will start
to change radically between the USA
and Cuba and my guess is that we are about to witness some incredible breakthroughs in the days and weeks to come.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Peters,

Everyone seems to be worrying about letting the Cubans out of their island but very few about allowing the Cubans who live abroad return to the island.

This is illogical because national reconciliation and the return of many of the Cubans living abroad is a necessity to ensure a rapid democratic transition and a viable, efficient private sector as well as a market economy for the island.

The solution to Cuba's problem is not to allow all the young population to abandon the island and turn it into a gigantic old age home.

Rather it is to create private sector jobs in the island and to carry out a democratic transition there so that the population can find jobs and enjoy the human rights and political freedoms.

When this occurs, not only won't the existing residents have to leave the island but many of the Cubans living abroad will return to it.

What then are the policies that the the Obama administration should follow to search for a solution to the Cuban crisis?


Anonymous said...

First of all to settle the unimportant problems so that serious negotiations could occur on the important ones.

The Alan Gross- five spies imbroglio should be settled by carrying out a 5X5 swap of spies and political prisoners.

Once this is out of the way the US should do away with the Cuban Adjustment Law to stop the Cuban government from:
1 Sending their surplus labor force to the US and increasing US unemployment.
2- Decreasing their payment of unnecessary salaries in the state sector.
3- Obtaining additional convertible currency by exporting their excess labor.
4- Decreasing popular discontentment with its policies by allowing the disgruntled to leave.

The US government should follow a policy of turning back at its borders all Cubans who do not have a visa from US consuls and deporting all Cubans who have received a temporary entry visa and have overstayed its authorized duration.

This would allow the US government to regulate efficiently the total quantity of Cuban immigrants it admitted to its territory as well as to choose who they would be.

This would allow it to reduce the number of spies and criminals of Cuban origin arriving to its shores and to ensure that those that receive political asylum or refugee status meet the conditions necessary to qualify as such.

It would also allow the US government to regulate the quantity of active opposition members that remain in the island as well as to select their leaders indirectly by allowing all those that hinder the opposition movement to emmigrate to the US.

The US government should also seek, once the Cuban Adjustment Act is done away with, to increase the number of temporary visas it grants to Cuban residents to:
1- Increase the proportion of Cuban American aid to their families in the island that is spent in the US instead of in Cuba and help the US balance of payments.
2- To increase the turnover of Cubans that visit the US and the spread of democratic and free enterprize ideas they introduce in the island.

But the main benefit of such policies would be to force the Cuban government to seek more dollars and lower unmemployment by the growth of the private sector within the island instead of by exporting its population.

And since the Cuban government cannot do this without investment from abroad and the best available source of such investment is the Cubans living abroad, such a policy would not only slow down the number of Cubans who leave from the island but force the Cuban government to follow a policy of encouraging potential Cuban investors from abroad.

Such a policy would not only speed up economic growth and provide productive employment for the hidden unemployment present in the island but it would also foster natonal reconciliation and the introduction of new ideas that would promote economic and political reform.


Anonymous said...

After solving the Alan Gross- five cuban spies imbroglio and ending the Cuban adjustment act, the US should proceed to end all restrictions on US exports to Cuba as a way to recover the sizable dollar income Cuba receives from remmitances and expenditures of Cuban Americans in the island.

This would favor US interests by having a higher proportion of these dollars recovered by the US instead of being spent in third countries and by promoting US employment.

As a way of faciliting the increase of US exports full naval and air communications should be established between Cuba and the US.

US airlines should be allowed to visit Cuban airports to carry passengers and mail between both countries and US exports to the island.

Tramp and conference line ships as well as ferries shuld be allowed to travel to and from Cuba and US ports.

For the same reason limited US bank services should be authorized in Cuba to provide ATM services for authrorized Cuban American and American visitors and to facilitate the payment of US exports without using the services of foreign banks.

Embargo restrictions should only be applied to Cuban efforts to obtain additional dollar income.

This would mean continuing to restrict US credits, investments and also continuing the existing prohibition of the export of Cuban products to the US and the visit of US tourists.

These remaining restrictions should serve as negotiating chips to stimulate future Cuban government economic and political reforms.


Anonymous said...

The next logical step in the lifting of the embargo should be to reauthorize the initiation of US investments in the island.

This should be done only in the key sectors that are necessary to allow the growth of the private sector in agriculture,manufacture commerce and other services.

US investments should be autorized in:
1- Wholesale commerce of agricultural products and productive an service inputs.
2- Transportation of goods and people.
3- Motor vehicle maintenance and repair.

But the authorization of these investments should depend on previous US government negotiations with the Cuban government that will permit the US firms that would invest to:

1- Hire its own employees directly and negotiate with them the salaries that they would be paid.
2- To pay them directly in US dollars.
3- To tax their incomes at rates that will not exceed those charged in US income taxes for each income level.
4- Freely set the prices they charge for the goods and services they charge.
5- To deposit all their income in the US banks that will be created in the island.
6- To freely repatriate their profits.
7- To sell their business to other investors or close it at anytime
8- The Cuban government should also guarantee that these firms would never be expropiated without full payment of their value as set by an international commercial tribunal.

The negotiation of further agreements between both governments would require reaching agreement on the above.

Cantaclaro Cantaclaro

Anonymous said...

The next steps in the conditional lifting of the embargo should be to negotiate:

1- The reinitiation of the export of different Cuban products to the US and of US investments in the production and export of these products.

2- Allowing US tourists to visit the island and US firms to invest in the Cuban tourist industry.

These negotiations should be conducted simultaneously.

Before a Cuban product not owned by a US firm is allowed to be exported to the US agreement should be reached on what % of the income should be set aside to pay for US property in the production and commercialization of such a product that was expropriated in 1960.

Before US firms are authorized to invest in the production and commercialization of each of such products an agreement must be reached between the US and Cuban governments granting such firms the same rights previously specified for US investments in the key activities to stimulate the growth of the Cuban private sector.

Also the rate of taxation of the profits of such companies must be agreed as well as the proportion of such taxes that the Cuban government will set aside to pay for expropiated US property in the production and commercialization of such products in 1960.

Export quotas could also be set for each of the products in question.

Such agreementes could be made for each Cuban product that is going to be exported to the US among them sugar, tobacco, nickel seafoods,citrus fruits, industrial products etc.

The US executive should set the export quota for each product in such a way as to reward adequate Cuban government economic and political reforms and to sanction Cuban government measures that are considered to be harmful or to block reforms.

However, the principal instrument that the US government should use to influence the Cuban government reforms should be US tourism.


Anonymous said...

But it is in the area of tourism where the US government has the potential to develop a flexible tool that could have the greatest influence on future political reforms.

At present the US allows unlimited Cuban American visits to the island and authorized visits for certain categories of US citizens and residents, namely US government officials, newspapermen, businessmen and participants in the people to people diplomacy programs that potentially cover a wide area of human endeavors that promote human understanding such as the arts, culture, natural and social sciences, student and academic exchanges etc.

Such programs are an efficient way of introducing ideas and information to Cuba that would favor reforms and should be expanded as much as possible whenever the existing human rights conditions in the island are not threatening for visiting American citizens.

Normal tourism that occurs out of these already authorized areas is where an bargaining tool could be created if certain difficulties could be overcome or minimized.

The general way of implementing this would be simple.

The executive branch of the US government would be given the authority to determine the number of american tourists that would be allowed to visit Cuba in the following 12 months and to create a mechanism that would enforce such quotas.

Such quotas could then be used as a carrot and a stick to reward democratic reforms and to sanction human rights violations.

However, there would be several difficult problemas associated with this approach.

The first would be to find an efficient way to detect and sanction unauthorized american tourists who travel to and from Cuba via third countries.

No american administration has been able to clear the twin hurdles of the:

1- Threat to foreign sovereignty of setting up a supervisory apparatus that would collect the names of American citizens and residents travelling to and from Cuba through third countries.
2- Prosecuting in US courts Americans citizens and residents who have been detected visiting Cuba through third countries.

The difficulties in prosecution stem from the fact taht those accused could claim violation of their constitutional rights to travel and to receive equal treatment under the law.

It is to be noted that the present existing legal burden of proving equal treatment under the law for all Americans would be aggravated if a blanket prohibition non authorized tourism is substituted by quota limits.

It is hard enough to justify the equal treatment principle under conditions that prohibit most Americans to travel to the island while permitting Cuban americans from doing so freely and others to be authorized to do so.

But it would be even harder to justify this principle if the prohibition of tourist travel to the island is lifted.

Why some americans of non Cuban origin would be allowed to travel to the island and others who desired to do so would be stopped from doing so and the specific way of going about it would be very dicey.

It would be extremely difficult to create a scheme to implement such quotas that would at the same time be economically viable and juridically acceptable.

In the following message, we request due benevolence from the readers to indulge in some pleasant brainstorming to that effect.


Anonymous said...

A hypothetical scheme with such objectives that could be eventually submitted to the judgments of the courts might be:

1- To divide the yearly tourist quota into twelve equal monthly quotas.
2- To subdivide each monthly quota into two parts one that could be acquired immediately and one that would have to be bought ahead of time.
3- The two parts would be apportioned in set proportions (for example 20%-80%)and if necessary would be further subdivided between airline and ferry tickets.
4- The part of the monthly quotas that would have to be bought ahead of time would be filled on a first come first served basis by buying existing airlines or boat tickets beginning one year ahead of time until the monthly quotas are filled.
5 The portion that could be bought immediately would begin to be sold on the first day of each month for the month in question on a first come first served by buying existing airline or boat tickets at existing prices plus a special federal government tax that could vary in relation to airline or boat tickets and that would be sold on a first come first served basis.
6- The federal tax would be set so as equal efective demand with the existing quotas for airline or boat quotas.
7- The income from such a federal tax could be used to pay for the Cuban government debt for confiscated US citizen's property or for an acceptable program that would contribute to bettering the understanding between the peoples of both countries such as, for example, financing scholarships for exceptional Cubans students in American Universities. Or they could be apportioned in different proportions between different purposes.

Readers comments on these suggestions or brainstorming suggestions of their own are welcomed.

In summary I would strongly urge the Obama administration and Secretary of State john Kerry to design a bold new imaginative program for the conditional lifting of the Cuban embargo.

Such a program should have the purpose of peacefully negotiating our way out of the US Cuban imbroglio while simultaneously bringing a nearby nation and a friendly people historically vinculated with the US and the American people back into good relations with our country and into the international mainstream of a globally competitive and increasingly democratic environment.

Let us try to find intelligent ways to dig ourselves out of the existing hole instead of continuing to dig down deeper into it!