U.S. and Cuba Must Share Stewardship in the Gulf


(Photo Credit: Deepwater Horizon Response photostream)

This guest post, which originally appeared at
The Havana Note, is a guest note by Tom Garofalo, a consultant for the New America Foundation/U.S-Cuba Policy Initiative.
The blame for the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is now flowing almost as freely as the oil, and even after a month, the full extent of the Deepwater Horizon disaster won’t be known for some time. The explosion and the futility of efforts to stanch the flow have sounded a nightmarish alarm for the United States, Mexico and Cuba.
These three countries not only share the coastline of the Gulf, we share (to decidedly different degrees) the pain of recession. Only days before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, the Obama Administration moved to open new areas of the East Coast to oil drilling, in part in response to the siren song of jobs and profits for American companies. The American Petroleum Institute claimed that “exploring for and developing our nation’s offshore resources could help generate more than a trillion dollars in revenue and create thousands of jobs to add to the already 9.2 million jobs supported by today’s oil and natural gas industry.”
What a difference a few weeks makes. While the debate about drilling will continue in the United States, Cuba is in a different position, and their economy in a different place: not facing mere recession, but a free fall. Cash-starved Cuba’s drilling in its Economic Exclusive Zone is not a question of if, but when. And with U.S. law prohibiting any meaningful cooperation not only on exploration and extraction but also on disaster preparedness and mitigation, the future may hold more Deepwater Horizon disasters, and even less capacity to handle them.
The Spanish oil company Repsol has contracted with an Italian company to bring a deepwater drill rig into Cuban waters. If that’s not ominous enough, the rig is being assembled in China, a country that does not enjoy a reputation for quality control. That may be unfair, but it is fair to say that many people who might not have been that concerned about such an operation before the Deepwater Horizon incident are paying close attention now.
Today’s New America event U.S. – Cuba Engagement in the Gulf: Lessons from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill asked the questions: Are we prepared? What’s at stake? And, where should the Obama Administration go from here? The answers: no, a lot, and forward with alacrity.

Jorge Pi


9 comments on “U.S. and Cuba Must Share Stewardship in the Gulf

  1. David says:

    Spoke today with a friend who has long experience working on drilling platforms in the North Sea. He is enraged at BP, and wants criminal charges brought against the CEO and all of senior management. He also wants BP assets escrowed. His position is that only if BP management pays the full criminal price for their actions and BP pays every cent of every consequence of this spill, up to and including consuming BP’s assets if necessary, will management at the oil corps change their behavior.
    He is pro-drilling, but he minced no words about who was at fault, why, and what price they should pay. The one thing about BP he was unaware of, which I described for him, was the overthrow of Mossadegh by the US on behalf of Britain and BP. He was very aware of BP’s bad actor history all the way back to its role in the Exxon-Valdez debacle.
    He also told me that anything that blocks the oil from exposure to oxygen prevents the natural breakdown of the oil. I knew there were naturally occurring enzymes that attack oil, but I didn’t know it needed to be in the presence of oxygen. Using those toxic dispersents is simply adding ecocidal insult to injury.
    And now the Gulf is beyond well and truly screwed. As a species, we’ve essentially lost our gd minds.


  2. ... says:

    dan g – i agree with you on garofalo’s recommendations… that are the right idea, which means the usa will probably not adopt them… now if it was some other country that the usa didn’t have a perpetual axe to grind with, it would be different… these politicians have to look after the fanatics in florida at all costs ya know…


  3. Dan G. says:

    Garofalo is recommending high-level technical cooperation with
    Cuba to mitigate environmental risk to the Gulf, something of clear
    urgency. The author is spot on in his recommendations– it’s time
    for America to start changing an outdated and less-than-effective
    policy with this neighbor.


  4. Don Bacon says:

    steel production March 2010:
    China — 55 million tonnes
    USA — 7 million tonnes
    China’s #1 export to the U.S. is $46 billion of computer equipment — ours to China is $7.6 billion of waste paper and scrap metal.
    Only 2% of new semiconductor fab plants under construction in 2007 were in the U.S. — 30% were in China
    LDC screens? — two new $3 billion+ plants are being built in China, none in the U.S.
    The November 2009 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) reported that China, Japan, and South Korea have passed the U.S. in production of virtually all clean-energy technologies, and over the next five years their governments will out-invest the U.S. by 3:1.
    Why? The pursuit of short-term profits in the US ignores worker, community, and national interests — leading US vendors and builders to purchase off-shore products, including the shoddy materials used in home construction.


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, Don, I run into young tradesman every day that have no idea they’re working with crap hardware, because they learned their trade using crap hardware.
    They were simply born too late to have seen America before we were a nation of suckers. So I guess whatcha don’t know won’t hurtcha, eh? Unless, of course, you’re eatin’ a melamine sandwich in your formaldyhyde castle.
    Bend over America, China is about to give you a barbed wire colonoscopy.


  6. Don Bacon says:

    POA — better learn some Chinese.
    news report:
    BYD Co. (China) has topped Bloomberg Businessweek’s annual ranking of the world’s fastest-growing tech companies, out-performing well-known global companies such as Apple, Nintendo and Google. Businessweek, which released its Tech 100 list in this week’s issue, rated 6,000 companies by revenue growth, operating profits, shareholder return and employee growth.
    news report:
    Last fall Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett) bought 10% of BYD for $230 million. The deal, which is awaiting final approval from the Chinese government, didn’t get much notice at the time. It was announced in late September, as the global financial markets teetered on the abyss. But Buffett and Munger and Sokol think it is a very big deal indeed. They think BYD has a shot at becoming the world’s largest automaker, primarily by selling electric cars, as well as a leader in the fast-growing solar power industry.
    You want eggrolls with that?


  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I guess Michael Dell is stupid because the computer I’m pecking on says MADE IN CHINA on its bottom”
    That may well be, Don, but their tools, construction hardware, and fasteners are pure unadulterated SHIT.
    As is their plywood and sheetrock. But they do quite well at putting poisons in it.
    They’re pretty good at poisoning foods too.
    Just call me realistic. I wouldn’t get within ten miles of a drillin’ rig made in China. But what the hell, I’d probably think twice about casting my line in the water near one of BP’s bailing wire contraptions too.
    As far as Garofalo’s essay goes; Good luck.
    With this abrasive braying jenny Clinton as SOS, “cooperation” between Cuba and the USA is a pipe dream. She thinks the definition of “diplomacy” is saying;
    “Fuck you very much, lets talk”.


  8. Don Bacon says:

    “China, a country that does not enjoy a reputation for quality control.”
    I guess Michael Dell is stupid because the computer I’m pecking on says MADE IN CHINA on its bottom. Instead, let’s get Halliburton, an American company, involved as they were with Deepwater Horizon.


  9. ... says:

    …”China, a country that does not enjoy a reputation for quality control.”
    lol! and the usa does? geez, it is the comedy channel here!


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