The View from My Room: Miami


I am in Miami for a couple of days and this beautiful pic was taken from my balcony yesterday evening.
I have been discussing US-Cuba relations with quite a number of Cuban-Americans who live here. I have been telling them about the work that Senator Richard Lugar and his Latin America senior policy advisor Carl Meacham have recently done.
A couple of big surprises. Most want the embargo to end and are indifferent to the political issues that have kept a failed embargo in place for so long.
Secondly, many want to be entrepreneurs in a restarted US-Cuba relationship.
The other nice surprise is that when I put the issue of a relaxation of travel for Cuban-Americans to move back and forth from the US to Cuba, about half of them have the same reaction I do. Why should we create “categories of Americans”? They think we should not be excluding other Americans when legislating about relaxation of travel.
Very surprising — and very refreshing.
— Steve Clemons
Editor’s Note: For the next week, I will be posting intermittently. Probably brief stuff. Others in the TWN network will be adding quite a bit of content as I get recharged on a vacation. I hope all of you have a great week — and encourage you to read TWN, participate in discussion, stand your ground — but stay civil. All the best to all my readers.
— Steve Clemons


11 comments on “The View from My Room: Miami

  1. Paul Norheim says:

    I wish you a nice and well deserved vacation in Miami!
    It`s 1.10 PM in Addis Abeba, and I still have one more month of
    my vacation in Ethiopia. I`m writing this on an expensive (and
    poor) broadband connection at Hilton in Addis. I haven`t been
    catching up on the debate between varanasi and POA and the
    rest of the commenters for almost a month now – and realize
    (believe it or not) that I somehow can survive without it for
    another month.
    I am blissfully ignorant about what have happened in the rest of
    the world as well during the last weeks. It`s nice to be off line
    for a while; I recommend it.
    Have fun!


  2. Cee says:

    Some people and lobbyists make you hate them
    From Politico
    Freeman “requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed,” Blair’s office said in a statement. “Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman’s decision with regret.”
    The withdrawal came after Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) grilled Blair at a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing Tuesday. Lieberman cited his “concern” about “statements that [Freeman] has made that appear either to be inclined to lean against Israel or too much in favor of China.”


  3. benjamin nutand yahoo says:

    please dont bother steve re:palestine….let the palestinians perish….his zionist comrades wont approve an out and out support for palestine/palestinians….
    humansbeings first.
    some lobbys are easy and other lobbies are powerful.


  4. Kathleen G says:

    Attention Steve/all
    March 9, 2009
    George Galloway stoned in Egypt
    George Galloway waiting on the Egyptian side of Rafah
    Anne Barrowclough and David Byers
    A convoy led by the maverick MP George Galloway carrying supplies for Gaza has been attacked in Egypt, apparently injuring several people travelling in his party.
    The convoy, carrying aid worth £1 million, was pelted with stones and vandalised with anti-Hamas slogans after it stopped overnight in El-Arish, a small town around 28 miles from the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.
    Code Pink’s Medea Benjaman and Alice Walker in the Gaza today. International Womens Day (Amy Goodman covered this today)


  5. Joe M. says:

    Steve Clemons,
    I will just point out another article by Elliott Abrams. This one was more developed in his view of the Arab/Israeli relationship. And, if you ask me, he is basically explaining the policy of Netanyahu toward the Palestinians:


  6. samuel burke says:

    history has not been kind to cubas (pre castro) past accomplishments…while castros police state gets a pass on everything because he stands up to the colossus of the north…thats america.
    history will not absolve fidel..unless its written by an ivy school leftie.
    but what the heck fidel had bigger fish to fry.
    Stephen Soderbergh and Benicio del Toro’s Movie, Che, is every bit as slavishly compliant to a script from a totalitarian propaganda ministry. (With apparently a straight face) Soderbergh and del Toro followed a screenplay confected by Castro’s propaganda ministry (Che Guevara’s Diaries), with the forward written by Fidel Castro himself – (“I am not a Communist! I am an Christian Humanist! I am a lover of liberty! 1958)
    Cuba’s Gross Domestic product in 1957 was $2.7 billion. Cuba’s foreign receipts in 1957 were $752 million – of which tourism made up only $60 million. Gambling was a small fraction of this $60 million.
    Another interesting statistic – in 1953, more Cubans vacationed in the U.S., than Americans vacationed in Cuba. “Primarily for the gambling” my parents tell me, Las Vegas, Tahoe, etc. “Primarily for all the cheap prostitutes,” my older cousins tell me, “they swarmed in New Orleans French Quarter – and were much cheaper than Cuba’s ladies of joy.”
    “High infant mortality” – Cuba’s infant mortality in 1958 was the 13th lowest – not in Latin America, not in the Hemisphere – but in the WORLD – lower than Ireland’s.)
    “Subhuman housing” – Cuba’s per capita income in 1958 was higher than half of Europe’s, including Ireland’s.)
    “Dispossession of small farmers” – (in fact, Cuba’s agricultural wages in 1958 were higher than half of Europe’s, including Ireland’s. And – far from huge latifundia hogging the Cuban countryside – the average Cuban farm in 1958 was SMALLER than the average in the U.S.)
    “Illiteracy” – (In fact, in a mere 50 years since a war of independence that cost Cuba almost a fifth of her population, Cuba managed 80 per cent literacy and budgeted the most (23% of national expenses) for public education of any Latin American country (more than Ireland, by the way). Better still, Cubans were not just literate but also educated, allowed to read George Orwell and Thomas Jefferson along with the arresting wisdom and sparkling prose of Che Guevara.
    You will be shocked to hear that English’s sources (like Jon Lee Anderson’s sources for Che, A Revolutionary Life) are primarily officials of Cuba’s Stalinist regime which English visited often. Indeed, English dedicates his book to one such official, Enrique Cirules, who he calls a “Cuban author.” Fine, I’ll call Julius Streicher “a German author.” and Ilya Ehrenburg “a Russian author. ”
    In fact, of Cuba’s 161 sugar mills 1958, only 40 were U.S. owned. And United Fruit – the outfit generally cast as the Boss Hog/Luigi Barzini/J.R. Ewing/Snidely Whiplash/Hannibal Lecter in this episode – owned only a third of these. And according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in 1958 U.S. investments in Cuba accounted for only 13 per cent of Cuba’s GNP.
    “44 per cent of Cubans – a higher percentage than Americans – are covered by social legislation,” starts a report on Cuba dated 1957. “One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class. Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8-hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. According to the Geneva-based International Labor Organization, the average daily wage for an agricultural worker was also among the highest in the world, higher than in France, Belgium, Denmark, or West Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 per cent, in Switzerland 64 per cent.”
    Prior to Castro, Cuban industrial workers had the 8th highest wages – not in Latin America, not in the hemisphere – but in the world. Cuba had established an 8-hour work-day in 1933 – five years before FDR’s New Dealers got around to it. The much-lauded (by liberals) Social-Democracies of Western Europe didn’t manage this till 30 years later.
    These aren’t the ravings of a “Cuban exile right-wing crackpot!” (me) this right-wing crackpot is only regurgitating a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report on Cuba from 1957.
    When no New York Times reporters, CNN correspondents, and eminent American Ivy League and Think-Tank scholars are within hearing range, Commies can be extremely frank with each other.
    Early in the Cuban revolution, for instance, Czech economist Radoslav Selucky visited Cuba and was rudely awakened: “We thought Cuba was underdeveloped except for a few sugar refineries?!” he wrote when he got home to Prague. “This is false. Almost a quarter of Cuba’s labor force was employed in industry where the salaries were equal to those in the U.S.!”
    Now here’s Che Guevara himself in 1961 after he returned to Cuba with his Cuban underlings from a lengthy tour of Eastern Europe: “We’re not going to say we only saw marvels in those countries, ” admitted Che who (given their national propensity for sarcasm had undoubtedly heard much scoffing and snickering from his Cuban subalterns about the – to them – pathetic socio-economic conditions in the major capitols of Eastern Europe – that Cuba was supposed to emulate!!)
    “Naturally for a 20 th Century Cuban with all the luxuries which Imperialism has accustomed him,” Wrote Che Guevara, “much of what he saw (in eastern Europe) struck him as belonging to undeveloped countries.”
    We turn now to a United Nations (no less!) study of Cuba circa 1958. “Cuba has a tremendous advantage in national integration over other Latin American countries because of a largely homogeneous white Spanish immigrant base. Cuba’s smaller Negro population is also culturally integrated. Those feudal modes of labor that exist in the rest of Latin America, don’t exist in Cuba. The Cuban campesino does not resemble the one in the rest of Latin America who is tied to the land, and is profoundly tradition-bound and opposed to innovations which would link him to a market economy. The Cuban campesino, in all respects, is a modern man. They have an educational level and a familiarity with modern methods unseen in the rest of Latin America.”


  7. Kathleen G says:

    the last time I was in Miami was 20 years ago with my three daughters. We stayed at a hotel that was owned by Cubans who had fled during Castro’s victory. When I let these older women know that Cuba was the first place I would take my children (at that time they were,10,8 and 2) because I believed in Castro’s core beliefs. These older women freaked out, could not understand why I would say such a thing. They had obviously been the owning class in Cuba.
    Would still like to get to Cuba before the negative influences of our culture poison Cuba again. (will have to wait until my youngest daughter is done with college $$$) The embargo needed to be dropped years ago
    Really appreciated it when Castro offered to send
    Castro offers to send Cuban doctors to help Katrina victims
    Delta Farm Press ^ | 9/03/05 | N/A
    Posted on Monday, September 05, 2005 2:57:38 PM by MplsSteve
    HAVANA – Cuban President Fidel Castro has offered to send 100 doctors to Houston immediately to help provide medical care to residents of New Orleans who have been evacuated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
    Another 500 clinicians and specialists could be dispatched to Houston “or any other airport of your choosing,” by Sunday, Castro said during a TV Roundtable discussion broadcast in Havana with another 500 to follow.
    The offer was relayed via e-mail to members of U.S. organizations that have traveled to Havana on commercial licenses in recent months. Members of the USA Rice Federation met with Castro during a visit to Havana to discuss potential sales of U.S. rice on Aug. 25-26.


  8. WigWag says:

    Steve, have a wonderful vacation in Miami. If you have time, a great restaurant to try is Doug Rodriquez’s South Beach establishment called “Ola.” You can find it in the heart of South Beach at 1745 James Avenue, Miami Beach, FL (305-673-5455).
    They make the best ceviche you’ll ever eat (at least in this country) and a pretty mean mojito as well.


  9. samuelburke says:

    very cool for you mr clemons, i am immersed in the miami community and can attest to the fact that miami is exhausted (sick and tired) of the bellicosity between the govt bodies of fidels cuba and the govt of the united states.
    Most of those who like me either came to this country very early in our lives and grew up as young americans, while our parents remained exiles, probably view the animosity between the two political systems as an anachronism whose shelf life has expired but still sits on the shelf as a viable product.
    the old cuban lobby was laden with animosity against what castros revolution had done to their old way of life and driven by hatred and deep resentment against an alien ideology (boshevik communism)that had left destitution in its tracks across many nations before taking hold of their capitalist cuba. by now even our parents are ready for change…and while not many of those who left cuba early have the energy to go back there to live, there is a new generation who have not been able to assimilate as easily and would be happy to return.
    i acknowledge that the embargo has not worked, the evidence is overwhelming…castro and communism won that battle (they have survived the embargo) , i now believe that no embargo would have been the more intelligent strategy, open trade would have adulterated castros attempt at leninist communism to some degree and whatever hybrid of totalitarianism his country has utilized to remain barely viable all these years would have been more population friendly.
    it is time to change the lives of the cubans in that police state for the better, and a removal of the embargo is the one way which has remained untried. if your interest in removing the embargo is for humanitarian reasons i applaud you.
    now lets see if you can get together with alan dershowits and maybe bill kristol, the kagan brothers and a group zionist here in the u.s and see if you can bring back as good a report as your visit to miami has produced and we as america can start to effect a humanitarian change against the war crimes that israel perpetrates on the palestinians under the umbrella of our financial and military support.
    no foregin entanglements, free trade and open travel.


  10. Hijikata says:

    Steve, you do rack up the miles… Is there any evidence that the Cuban embargo has lead to anything substantial in Cuba? Has it truly been the primary driver of what we percieve is a depressed economy (chronically; one wonders if their relative isolation has protected them from current market freefall, but I expose my naivete about Cuban politics and economics here), and if so to what end? I have never really understood the rationale for the embargo, particularly in to context of the more real threat Mexico represents to the US. It seems to me, on admittedly shallow inspection, to be a hold over whose purpose is no longer relevant.


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