Thursday, February 21, 2008

Castro’s Cuba was no place for a socialist like me



This article of mine appears in the new edition of The Spectator.


It’s a country where the vast majority live in poverty, while a tiny, corrupt elite live in luxury. It’s a place where, 14 years after South Africa abolished apartheid, a form of it still operates. And it’s a country where you can be threatened with prison not just for criticising the country’s leadership, but also for querying a medical bill.

Welcome to Cuba, the ‘socialist’ paradise built by that great egalitarian Fidel Castro, who after 49 years at the helm has finally decided to hand over power — in the manner of a true democrat — to his brother Raúl.

My wife and I, as unreconstructed paleo-lefties who support Clause Four, free school meals and NHS dental provision, had long wanted to visit Castro’s Cuba. All the people whose views we respect had said that the Caribbean island was a progressive model whose policies on education and healthcare ought to be copied throughout the world. We went there last April desperately wanting to like the place — after all, if George W. Bush and other right-wing nasties hated Cuba so much, then the country must be on the right tracks.

But we returned home terribly disillusioned.

Neither of us had been to a country which was so utterly decrepit.
Stay on the officially approved tourist trail round the newly renovated streets of ‘Old Havana’ and you’d get the impression that Cuba was a tropical version of Switzerland. There are smart restaurants, designer shops and modern hotels. Wander a few streets away, however, and you’ll witness scenes of incredible dereliction. Dilapidated buildings with wires hanging out, streets that haven’t been resurfaced for more than 50 years, balconies that look like they’re going to fall down at any minute. In my travels in the Middle East and Asia, I’ve certainly witnessed squalor, but nothing prepared me for the back streets of Havana.

The average wage in Cuba is a pitiful $17 a month. The monthly ration which includes 283g of fish, 226g of chicken, ten eggs and 1.8kg of potatoes is barely enough for a fortnight, meaning most Cubans need to work the black market to stay alive. Things that we in Britain take totally for granted — such as toilet paper, toothpaste and pens — are luxury goods in Cuba. I’ll never forget the look of joy from an old lady when I handed her a couple of old marker pens and a coloured pencil.

For Fidel’s chums, life is somewhat easier. Despite its calls for further belt-tightening, the Cuban government last year ordered Series 1, 3 and 5 BMWs for all its ambassadors and a Series 5 model for Raúl Castro, who had taken charge of the country after his brother’s hospitalisation.

The heartbreaking consequences of Cuba’s currency apartheid were bought home to my wife and I on a Saturday afternoon visit to Havana’s Coppelia ‘Ice Cream’ park. To the right of the park gates was a long queue of Cubans who had only Cuban pesos. They have to wait on average two hours every weekend to get their weekly scoop of ice cream. On the left, there was walk-in access to tourists and the lucky locals who had convertible pesos.

Fifty years on, the Cuban revolution has turned full circle in a truly Orwellian fashion. Once again the locals find themselves excluded from the best beaches in their country, as they were under Batista. And prostitution, so rife in pre-revolutionary days, is back — the jineteras being the only group of Cubans allowed to enter the new purpose-built resorts.

US sanctions are routinely blamed by Cuba’s defenders for the country’s plight. But while sanctions are harsh and morally indefensible, there’s little doubt that they have been used by the regime as a smokescreen to cover up inefficiencies and corruption. Four years ago the head of the country’s largest tourism company, Cubanacan, was fired after millions of dollars went missing — the loss only coming to light after all state enterprises were ordered to transfer their US dollars into convertible pesos.

The totalitarian nature of Castro’s Cuba is no right-wing myth, but a reality. And you don’t have to be a political agitator to fall foul of the authorities, as my wife and I discovered. We had been told by our holiday rep that the hotel’s resident nurse would administer free basic medical care, but if we required the call-out services of a local doctor, we’d have to pay. After a day’s snorkelling I had a touch of ear-ache, so I popped along to the nurse’s office to ask if she had any medication. The nurse was a man, who after the most cursory examination of my ear pronounced that I had an infection which required antibiotics. How much would the antibiotics cost, I asked. About £60, he replied. As we were returning home later that day, I told him that I’d leave it till I got back. ‘Yes, but you still have to pay me £30 for this consultation,’ he replied. ‘But the services of the nurse are free,’ I said. ‘I’m a doctor,’ he replied.

Furious at being taken for a ride, my wife and I refused to pay and headed back to our room. But on trying to check out of the hotel later that morning, we were astonished to be told by the receptionist that if we did not settle the medical bill, she would ‘call state security’ and we would be arrested. We would not be allowed out of the country — ‘state security’ would apprehend us at the airport. The ‘doctor’ then reappeared to say that the rate — which had been set in stone — was after all negotiable, and that he’d accept £25. Forced into the corner and threatened with a night (at least) in a Cuban jail, we reluctantly paid up. ‘It’s nothing more than theft,’ I said to the ‘doctor’ as I handed over the money. ‘It doesn’t go to me,’ was his response. ‘It goes to the state.’

If the money from such scams really did go to the state — and towards improving the lot of the Cuban people — I wouldn’t have been so upset. But I strongly suspect that a share of my £25 will go towards the next fleet of BMWs for Castro’s cronies.

After the stress of our final day in Cuba, my wife and I were hugely relieved to leave the country. And when we were safely airborne, we both reflected that if any country was in need of a revolution, it was Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

67 comments:

David Lindsay said...

As I sometimes have cause to tell people, if I wanted a government which persecuted those who engage in homosexual acts, then I'd move to Cuba. The American blockade has won the Cuban regime the sympathy of huge numbers of people who should know better.

Since there is both a Santiago de Chile and a Santiago de Cuba, I propose the Santiago Test: however you reacted to the death of Pinochet, then that is how you should react to the clearly impending death of Castro. Watch out for the people who don't pass the Santiago Test.

Nick said...

What a terrible pity; the idea sounded so good (from a distance).

Jock McTrousers said...

That's shockingly negative Neil - a small country that's been under blockade by the US for 50 years - what did you expect? The contrast between the tourist sector and the rest, the compromises necessitated by the 'special period' has been well discussed, as has the corruption, in the Morning Star, which you must be aware of - and even you mentioned their steps to combat it. How does the condition of the Cuban poor and poorest compare to those in Guatamala, Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica...or a dozen other Latin American countries? I shouldn't even have to ask YOU that. I don't think a few flash cars for some party bosses is anything to get worked up about, compared to the injustice that screams at we Londoners everyday in the unearned luxury of the City lot. I'm sure you're aware that gay rights have been assured in Cuba for 30 years; so it's not perfect in practice... imagine two guys holding hands in the centre of Glasgow, Newcastle or Liverpool when the pubs come out, or London for that matter.

And comparing Castro to Pinochet is just sick.

So a doctor ripped you off - get over it. What's your point, anyway? I take it you don't support the return of the mafia spivs and the US plantation owners, the end of free medical care, education and probably ANY food at all for many; I take it you would agree that the social upheavals of a 'worker's revolution', as advocated by some Trots, would just invite the Yanks in? I take it you know, because I assume you read the Morning Star as well as write in it, that their democratic process is a lot more convincing than ours. Do you have no faith in their ability to work it out? Do you really think that Castro could stay in power so long, in such circumstances without the support of his people?

I'm quite shocked to find you weighing in on the side of the Trots and Tories on this one, Neil. Could you quibble about paying a medical bill in this country without being threatened with the police?

Roland Hulme said...

That's a truly brilliant article Neil. Very enlightening.

Neil Clark said...

Jock: Cuba isn''t socialist. It's a long, long way from being socialist. Have you been there?
It is shockingly inegalitarian. 'The Special Period' is a betrayal of everything socialists believe in.
Do you think it's right that a country has two currencies and that with one of the currencies there is virtually nothing to buy? Do you think it right that Cubans are forbidden to enter the new tourist resorts, even if accompanied by foreigners? Do you think it right
that Cubans are barred from enjoying the best beaches in their country, as they were under Batista? In what way is that socialist?
Yes, the blockade is inhuman and indefensible. But to put all of Cuba's troubles on to that won't do. Did the US order the Cuban govt to buy a new fleet of BMWs? Why if Raul Castro is such a good communist, can't he use public transport?
Yes, I do think it obscene that the party faithful get new BMWs, while the locals pile on to clapped out and downright dangerous buses (over 400 accidents on buses since 2005).
"So a doctor ripped you off - get over it. What's your point, anyway? "
It wasn't so much the ripping off, it's the way that almost straight away we were threatened with the state security and being arrested. It was very intimidating. Cuba is a police state- and that's not 'right-wing propaganda'.
"I'm quite shocked to find you weighing in on the side of the Trots and Tories on this one, Neil. "
I'm not weighing in on the side of anyone. Cuba is not a socialist model that we should be aspiring to. We can do a lot better.
"I take it you don't support the return of the mafia spivs and the US plantation owners, the end of free medical care, education and probably ANY food at all for many"
I most certainly do not support support that- but to say the only options for Cuba are a Batista style dictatorship or a Castro dictatorship is absurd.
Cuba needs more socialism- not less, but it is getting much at the minute.
best wishes,
Neil

Karl Naylor said...

Excellent piece, Neil, but you'll find the clique Straight Left to which Seumas Milne belonged support Cuba with fervent devotion. Slimeballs like Calvin Tucker who regulary prates on about things like the the glories of Cuba's new found tolerance of homosexuality and advertising the place as a sexually liberated playground.

Castro in a speech to the General Assembly in 1992 touted the benefits of Cuban protitutes and sex tourism is a major source of hard currency that undeprpins the kind of low grade corruption that penetrates every level of the gimcrack bureaucracy and dictatorship.

Writing for CiF and his positively sinister '21st Century Socialism' propaganda site ( one that also supports North Korea and Chinese imperial involvement in Africa )about how transvestites could parade in downtown Havana whilst dissidents rot in jail and women are reduced to protitution shows the depth to which hack apologists such as Tucker are prepared to plummet in their defense of dictatorships which promise investment opportunities. One of the jobs Tucker has in his dayjob at Portman Aptus in the City Of London. He is nothing more than a latter day version of Walter Duranty.

For this I was labelled by Tucker as 'basically a nutcase', a 'troll' who was supposed to have been 'banned' from CiF for spreading false information. This is part of a squalid attempt by Tucker to get me banned which also connects to my refusal to shut up about Straight Left. This is why that clique and Milne's part in it today is still important now.

In fact, all my writing there dealt with facts and dissecting those who rationalise leftist dictatorships and ignore Castro's appalling human rights abuses and imprisonment of dissidents.

Cuba under Castro was nothing but a mercenary client regime of the Soviet Union and he was able to survive only by pimping his guerillas out to support Soviet proxy wars across the globe and ramping up the rhetoric of Cold War conflict, to the point where he seemed sanguine about Soviet brinkmanship during the 1962 missile crisis that might have led to armageddon.

Now this repulsive regime is reduced to selling the island as a beach resort but sex tourism has increased massively since 1991 as has been documented by a study at the John Hopkins University, the same place known for its meticulous scholarship on the number of casualties caused by the invasion of Iraq.

Moral consistency requires both denuciation of the 'neoconservative idea that power grows from the barrel of a gun no less than those like Castro who, like the Straight Left sect, supported both the invasions of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979.

What is so difficult about that?

For more on this see my blogsite and read the exchange I had with Calvin Tucker to see what kind of person he is.

Anonymous said...

The point is that we'll never know how well Cuba would have fared because of the embargo. If the US ever lifts it, then we'll be able to find out.

Dan, portsmouth said...

"14 years after South Africa abolished apartheid, a form of it still operates."

It seems you have forgotten Israel.

Thank you for the excellent article.

jolies-couleurs said...

uzrpmThe UN Human Development Index ranks Cuba at a respectable 51, just above Mexico at 52; and, substantially above Jamaica at 101.Where would it be without the embargo? Or the counter-balancing (until the early 90s) massive injections of Soviet subsidy? Impossible to say. But where it is not, as your excellent article demonstrates, is anywhere representing either socialism or democracy. As Gandhi might have said there is no dignity at arriving somewhere that you have not chosen for yourselves - and that (both social and democratic) is what Castro and his clan has denied the people of Cuba, ably abetted by the United States: the odd couple that needed each other perhaps?

As to the comparison between Pinochet and Castro: they both had/have blood on their hands(varied quantities but what does that matter to the individual victims) but whereas one risked testing his popularity and failed, the other has never had the gumption to try!

Outraged of Tumbridge Wells said...

So you spent a couple of weeks in a tourist resort and you feel qualified to judge an entire country? What breathtaking arrogance!

Ok, on to your arguements, if one can describe them thus.

1. Learn some basic history, please. Raul Castro is vice president because he led a revolution along with Fidel, Che Guevara and Camillo Cienfuegos, not because Fidel decided to do his brother a favour.

2. You complain that the tourist area you stayed in was nice, as was your hotel. Brilliant arguement, Neal! Absolutely stunning. What Cuba should do, of course, is develop their tourism industry through the unique policy of making things as unpleasant as possible for the paying tourists. That'll sure bring 'em in in droves. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?

3. The average wage in Cuba is $17 a month, you tell us. Yes Neal, but unless you also explain that rent, gas, electricity, transport, health and education cost only a few dollars a month, you are misleading the readers. That's dishonest journalism.

4. You were dumbstruck that some things you "took for granted" in one of the richest countries in the world, were considered luxuries in a third world island. Well knock me down with a feather, Neal! Tell me it wasn't so. Just out of interest, is this the first time you've travelled out of western Europe?

5. *Cuban ambassadors have government cars and the president doesn't take the bus* I'm shocked, Neal. Really, really shaken. This proves beyond all doubt that Cuba is one of the most unequal societies on earth. What revelations can we expect next? Fidel has a wide screen TV? Raul bought a new suit?

6. *The Cuban government is corrupt*. And the evidence for this bold claim is... that somebody who WAS corrupt got fired. Devastating arguement you have developed there, Neal.

7. *Cuba is a poor country* and you were SHOCKED by what you saw! I mean, it's not at all like Tumbridge Wells, is it? Nope, Neal, it isn't. BUT it's not like the rest of Latin America either, where tens of millions live in shanty towns in fear of armed gangs, and without access to medical care or education, and children sleep on the streets.

8. And finally, we get to the guts of the issue: you mistook the hotel doctor for the hotel nurse, and had to pay a consultation fee of £25 before you skipped off out the country. I hope you have informed Human Rights Watch of this gross violation of your civil rights. Guantanamo pales into insignificance by contrast.

Forgive me for crying with laughter Neal, but are you normally in the habit of doing a runner without paying the bill and damning an entire social system for not letting you get away with it?

Karl Naylor said...

OutragedofTunbridgeWells.

Don't be daft.

The article makes it clear that you cannot stay anywhere outside the official tourist zones into which the jineteras go with the tacit acceptance of the regime.

The points might seem obvious to you but the fact that a socialist is not prepared to defend Castro's appalling regime and to write about it as he sees it is in itself significant.

Why ? Because, though most social democrats would agree Castro's regime is a gimcrack dictatorship, there are those on the 'hard left' who are prepared to defend it.

Nick here visited my blog to tell me I was wasting my time to draw attention to this and the excuses made by propagandists like Calvin Tucker who waxes lyrical about the place.

People believe the tripe written about Cuba. My purpose was to remind people of the squalid reality rather than the Utopian expectations of those who don't actually have to live there.

Such as the scale of the prostitution poor women are reduced to whilst Tucker on his vile '21st Century Socialism' website' warbles on about transexuals parading in downtown Havana in freedom.

Karl Naylor said...

'OutragedofTunbridgeWells'

BTW, how long did you spend in the country, yourself ? Sounds like you speak from experience or a desire to deny what a person has seen or tell them they're not seeing it right. A bit like O'Brien in 1984. :))Like him do you ?

Let's take each point one by one.

1)'Raul Castro is vice president because he led a revolution along with Fidel'.

How does that apply to the notion that it still is not democratic. Or do you hold to the notion that 'the general will is the will of the general' ? I have the sneaking feeling you do.

2)'What Cuba should do, of course, is develop their tourism industry through the unique policy of making things as unpleasant as possible for the paying tourists'

The authorities promote sex tourism as a way of introducing hard currency into the economy. In your lingo, maybe, they believe in 'human resources'.

3)'The average wage in Cuba is $17 a month, you tell us'

Neil was writing about food, that is what you have left over after basic utilities. I just get the teeny weeny feeling you would not feel you were living in Utopia if your money, after that, didn't go much further. Think of the new cut of your suit, for example....

4) 'Just out of interest, is this the first time you've travelled out of western Europe?'

But have you ever travelled out of Europe. Do tell ? Or , at least, stop trying trite propaganda tricks and cheap sarcasm...Sure you would never resort to that as a means or argument, would you ?

'7. *Cuba is a poor country* and you were SHOCKED by what you saw! I mean, it's not at all like Tumbridge Wells, is it? Nope, Neal, it isn't. BUT it's not like the rest of Latin America either, where tens of millions live in shanty towns in fear of armed gangs, and without access to medical care or education, and children sleep on the streets'

Two wrongs don't make a right and I get the feeling you don't care either.

Come off it, using the sarcastic Blimpish card with regards Neil Clark won't convince 'leftist' opinion which is genuinely concerned with freedom and democracy that this must be traded off in favour of the 'iron rice bowl'.

Pathetic attempt.

BTW, I like the deliberate spelling mistake of his first name. A perfect touch...Just a bit too self conscious but try better next time...

david montoute said...

Neil,
this is a throroughly disappointing piece, and does you no credit at all. To compare the standards of luxury in the imperial hub that is Britain to tiny, blockaded Cuba is about as myopic as you can get. It's a comparison even more absurd than david lindsay's ridiculous "santiago test". I'm far from justifying everything that happens in Cuba, but as a citizen of an imperial metropolis that runs roughshod over half the world, i don not feel myself in a position to lecture to Cubans.
What, Cubans turn a blind eye to prostitution? Shock horror! In Spain, prostitution is legal.
What, Cuba orders plush cars for its ambasadors? Why, they ought to just try tunrning up on Embassy Row in rusty antiques. I'm sure no-one would say 'boo' to them.
What "Fifty years on, the Cuban revolution has turned full circle".
Hardly. In the 1950s black Cubans weren't even allowed into bars. The country was a huge sugar plantation and gambling den for the mafia and the CIA and extrajudicial killings were commonplace. Now Cuba has the most highly educated population in the Americas. Now Cuba has a life expectancy and infant mortality comparable to that of the UNited States, and with only a fraction the energy expenditure. Now Cuba has 28,000 volunteer doctors providing free medical care in 67 countries. Now Cuba has an electoral system in which 96 % of the electorate have voted. Now Cuba has the probably only capital city in the world that is largely food-self-sufficient and provides a model for other countries when petroleum supply begins to decline.
So, let's put things in perspective, hey?

Jock McTrousers said...

Well said OutragedOfTurnbridgeWells

Try a holiday in Colombia, Guatamala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Haiti, Neil. Or Mexico - my sister goes there regularly, but she says she never sees any Mexicans.

Jock McTrousers said...

By the way, does Karl Naylor write for Harry's Place?

Karl Naylor said...

Again, don't be daft. Harry's Place IS a site run by those who either tend to agree with the Iraq War, but they also let people write who did not. So I do. And ?

I think the Iraq war was not just a 'mistake' but a violation of the development of international law with a very thin and spurious basis.

AS I tire of repeating, It is possible to be against the neoconservatives AND 'hard left' apologists for Leninist dictatorships.

They feed off each other rather like other eschatological creeds such as militant Islamism.

Douglas said...

I spent two weeks in Cuba in January of 2001. I stayed in the Golden Tulip hotel, and I know exactly what you are talking about about when you describe the decay of Havana.

Our hosts at the Universidad de la Habana, and the Institute Superior Politechnico Jose Antonio Echeverria (ISPJAE) were very nice people, but Cuba in general is a country with with a major chip on its shoulder, full of propaganda on every corner on how great the Revolution is, and how evil America is.

When somebody mentions something about Cuba's history, and says "So-and-so fought in the revolution," you have to ask "Which one?" The history of Cuba is a repetition of cycles where today's revolutionary is tomorrow's tyrant.

What I find so sad is the waste of human capital used for propping up the regime. I found books for sale at many different shops in Cuba, but they were all a bunch of political gobbledygook, with titles like "The Impending Collapse of Neo-Liberalism," written by Cubans at the behest of the government for Cuban consumption.

You may wish to consider making TheRealCuba a regular read.

Anonymous said...

Jock Mctrousers, the only comment that I can vaguely agree with in your entire tirade is the point you make that "comparing Castro to Pinochet is just sick." Whilst it is true that both have done terrible things Castro is of course far worse. Pinochet’s murder of 3000 people was evil and brutal but pales into insignificance in comparison to the predicted murder of about 15,000 political opponents in summary executions in Cuba, this is ignoring the imprisonment and forced emigration of many thousands more. In addition at least Pinochet introduces some policies that in some way helped the people he left alive, lifting them out of economic crises and massively reducing poverty levels for many. The classic retort to this is, of course, that inequality increased, but the only reason this is so is because some got better off while others stayed the same. The same cannot be said of Castro’s disastrous project which has led to the poverty of the vast majority of Cuba’s population, whom cannot get access to basic goods above their pathetic rations without having to queue for hours or break the law, thus forcing them into the black market. Let me guess that you believe all this is justified due to what he has done for health and education? Well the only reason why Fidel has invested in education is because he has used it as a platform for indoctrinating the Cuban youth into believing his failing Marxist ideology. I wonder if you have heard of the Cuban “cumulative school file” which measures "revolutionary integration," not only of the student but also of his family. This file documents whether or not the child and family participate in mass demonstrations, or whether they belong to a church or religious group. The file accompanies the child for life, and is continually updated. His university options will depend on what that file says. If he does not profess a truly Marxist life, he will be denied many career possibilities. If this still does not convince you perhaps you will consider that his achievements in education have been minor at best. When he came to power the Cuban education system was one of the best in the developing world and in his 50 years he managed to increase the literacy rate by a modest 20% , at the expense of all freedom and cost of many thousands of lives. Whilst the Pinochet regime was also deplorable one other thing we must remember is that due to the Neo-Liberal elements operating inside his economic policy, the regime was inevitably and thankfully short lived. The introduction of democracy in 1988 was something that was unavoidable as the economic freedom that was granted paved the way for demands for further political freedom. The lack of any such freedom in Cuba is the reason for the longevity of Castro’s tyranny. The thing that you and your socialist, morning star reading chums will never realize is that, due to its lack of consideration for individual rights and liberties socialism and collectivism in general will always tend towards tyranny and oppression. As Hayek explained, such collectivism truly is “the road to serfdom.” So I say instead; “Viva Libertarian Revolution!”

Outraged of Tumbridge Wells said...

as karl naylor is clearly a very odd individual, i was going to ignore him altogether.

but i couldnt let this pass: "The article makes it clear that you cannot stay anywhere outside the official tourist zones"

this is just complete and utter garbage. karl you are a shameless liar! utterly, utterly shameless. i can say with 100% confidence that you have never been to cuba. no, let me make that 1000% confidence.

given that tens of thousands of ordinary brits HAVE been to cuba (including me on numerous occassions) and travelled anywhere they goddamn liked, it's also an incredibly stupid thing to say. in fact its mind blowingly dumb.

what on earth do you think you achieving by telling bare faced lies, apart from making yourself look like a village idiot on crack?

and what's all this weird shit about hookers? give it a rest will you? sure theres a few pros and good time girls that hang around the tourist areas. that's what happens when rich tourists visit poor countries and anyway the police move them on most of the time. it wasnt like castro invented prostitution, you know. it is the oldest profession in the world you know.

honestly mate, i don't what your problem is, but you seem to have some serious issues. carry on like this and you'll end up like david icke.

Outraged of Tumbridge Wells said...

and as for this douglas fellow and his nonsense, well i shoulda guessed he was a bible bashing christian fundamentalist. have you read the guys blogs? one is all about jesus and the other is some kooky republican campaign against some politician who didnt support the iraq war. the website douglas linked to in his post is the most extreme right wing anti-cuban website in the whole of south florida, and believe me there's some stiff competition.

Neil Clark said...

Thanks to all who have commented. I'll try and get back later- but just a couple of points now:.
Karl- you say: "The article makes it clear that you cannot stay anywhere outside the official tourist zones into which the jineteras go with the tacit acceptance of the regime."

It doesn't. Tourists as 'outraged of tumbrdige wells' says can go anywhere in Cuba. My wife and I hired bikes and cycled freely round the countryside- we wandered around the back streets of Havana and went wherever we wanted to.
But while tourists can go anywhere, native Cubans can't. Hotel staff and prostitutes are the only Cubans allowed into the tourist resorts. The beaches are fenced off to the locals. As a socialist I found this very bad, escpecially when you remember that full access to all the country's beaches was one of the achievements of the revolution.
My criticism of Cuba is not that it is too socialist, but that it isn't socialist enough. Currency apartheid isn't socialism in my book. Those who have access to convertible pesos and a privileged group compared to those who don't- the majority of the population. Jock McT- I have absolutely no intention of lining up with Tories and necons on this issue. They want Cuba to become another neoliberal, privatised US big business colony- I don't.

olching said...

Cuba is not a utopian society, but then again, did anybody expect that? Just because it doesn't tick all the boxes doesn't mean - to my mind anyway - that it should be 'struck off the list', as it were.

We all aware of some of the human rights issues, and I don't think anybody condones them. But as a symbol of resistence and defiance it is invaluable.

It's a very particular situation Cuba has found itself in, not just over the last 50 years, but longer than that. It has been at the gate of American empire-building from the outset. What has happened in the last 50 years is very particular to Cuba, its location, and its history. To simply dismiss it and say "oh, it's not upholding human rights" is, I think, simplistic, and doesn't really deal with the context.

And that's precisely what a lot of commentators on the right do: They deal with Cuba as if it were the Netherlands. There's no sense of historical and cultural context whatsoever. And while I can see Neil's point about disillusionment (after he visited it), I think it would be wise not to simply compare like with like (European standards, without embargos, historical context etc...versus Cuba...it doesn't work).

slapheads anonymous said...

AS I tire of repeating, It is possible to be against the neoconservatives AND 'hard left' apologists for Leninist dictatorships.

Not merely possible but arguably the only truly sane position to take.

Which is why I find it so amusing to be called a "neocon" every time I suggest that Neil might be talking through his ringpiece.

Perhaps if I were to respond by calling him a duck-molesting Aboriginal he might understand just how futile misapplied insults can be.

(On the other hand, to give credit where it's due, he hits the nail on the head more often than not in the Cuba piece - the only thing I'd seriously take issue with is the conclusion that it needs a good dose of socialism, as though they haven't suffered enough).

Anonymous said...

Outraged of Tumbridge Wells, I suppose given your previously ignorant comments it shouldn’t surprise me, but I cannot believe you do not recognise why there is such a prevalence of “anti-Cuban” websites in Florida. Let me first tell you these websites are not anti-Cuban, just anti-Castro, although I won’t just wildly accuse you of lying about this (as you did to Karl) instead let us agree you are simply mistaken. The reason why the websites are so prevalent is because there are many former Cuban’s living in Florida, the very people who have suffered at the hands of Castro and his tin-pot (or should i say crack-pot?) dictatorship. These people know far more than you of the evil of his tyranny so I find it amusing that you, as an apologist for his murder, human rights abuses, political suppression and economic failures can scoff at such people because you have visited Cuba “on numerous occasions.”

Martin Meenagh said...

Outraged--Why call Douglas a Christian fundamentalist? He has a website focussed on Thomas a Kempis's 'Imitation of Christ', which is a devotional book from 1420 that was born out of the plagues, wars and famines of the fifteenth cntury. It is an inspirational work and, of course 'about jesus', but only through a devotional medium.

As for him being against Keith Ellison, I was in Minnesota to give a lecture at a peace conference a couple of years ago and their politics doesn't fit into easy ideological grids. There are some very right wing, and very left wing people there, but also it's fair for people to question Ellison's involvement with the Nation of Islam, his votes in Congress, and his ties to Arab regimes. I think that Ellison is basically being wrung through the wringer for things he did when he was young but you shouldn't just leap at Douglas's throat for the sake of it.
As for Karl Naylor, I bear no candle for him but why just dismiss him as 'an odd individual'?

Karl Naylor said...

'Outraged'

I wouldn't say I'm a 'village idiot on crack' but just a few too many bottles of Zlaty Bazant and Budvar last night. I did get that wrong about not being able to travel around.

What I think I meant to say was that people 'don't' stray outside the tourist zones not that they 'can't'

It would just be enough to point that out but I hope you enjoyed the rant against me.

Because I did !!! Ridiculously OTT. What's wrong with David Icke ? Surely I'm a shapeshifting 12 ft lizard myself whose part of a global neo-con cum ZionoIslamofascist plot to engineer discord amongst people.

Aaaanyway, there is obviously one standard of comfort for the tourist and one for the people who live there and, in practice, most people are not going to leave the tourist sectors where everything is laid on for them.

This makes those who go to Cuba feel uncomfortable if they stop to think about it. Maybe not 'Mr Outraged'.

What is interesting is how the issue Cuba divides a lot of people. How they all contradict one another and how people argue about what they believe the reality is from experience.

No, I haven't been there and I would not want to help to prop up such a regime anymore than I would in somwhere like Burma.

I'm off to the pub again.

pquod said...

Cuba made its compromises with global capitalism in order to survive following the fall of the USSR. You went for a holiday, and the effects of some of those compromises offended you. Fine. They also offend most of the Cubans, but what alternative did they have?

They could have taken the way of Eastern Europe, and had the full economic and political capitalist/neoliberal experience; or possibly that of China- privatisation, even the end of free health care, while retaining Communist Party rule.

And what of the other ex-socialist countries. One wonders whether North Korea... or ex-Yugoslavia... offers a better model.

The Cubans have done their best, in the worst circumstances. And their best has been quite good. As their health and education record proves conclusively.

Get off your high horse, Mr Clark. The restrictions on Cubans visiting hotels etc, are the attempts of the government to mitigate the corrupting effects of tourism. And who gives a flying F**k that a Western tourist was charged £25 to see a doctor.

BTW, interesting where this article appeared in print. Oh- Cuba is no place for a socialist like you! But in the pages of The Spectator- - a socialist like you feels quite at home?

And as for you, Karl Naylor.

Indeed, Mr Naylor, the sex trade is a dreadful thing. You have never been to Cuba, yet you are apparently an expert on prostitution in that country. On the other hand, you spend a lot of time in Eastern Europe.

Strangely, you are silent about the use of poor Eastern European women by men from the richer West of our continent. I wonder why.

Outraged of Tumbridge Wells said...

Neil Clarke -

Did it occur to you to find out WHY Cuba has a dual economy before you condemned it?

The collapse of the USSR led to a meltdown of the Cuban economy. They was no hard currency, few trading partners, and hardly any oil. Cubans were facing starvation, literally, and the only thing that prevented deaths was their socialised economy was able to equally distribute what little food there was.

In the early 90's, the Cuban Government considered the options.

These were:-

1. Reintroduce capitalism and go the way of Eastern Europe.
2. Keep "pure socialism" and take the North Korean road.
3. Develop a mass tourist industry, legalise the dollar and encourage Cubans in Miami to send remittances. Then manage the contradictions and mitigate the consequent inequality through super-high taxation.

Sensibly, Cuba took the third option.

You say: "Currency apartheid isn't socialism in my book. Those who have access to convertible pesos and a privileged group compared to those who don't- the majority of the population."

Presumerably you would recriminalise the dollar, and thereby end all remittances sent to Cuban families from abroad?

Now unless you've got any better ideas about how Cuba can survive in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, you are simply suggesting that your "socialist principles" are more important than Cubans being able to eat.

Outraged of Tumbridge Wells said...

Karl Naylor

Why do you write with such certainty about a country you have never visted?

You've already been caught lying once, when you claimed that tourists can't leave tourist resorts. Now you're at it again with prostitution. Far from encouraging prostitution, the government's response to this problem is draconian. Anyone who has ever been to Cuba knows that. You haven't. And it shows.

Douglas said...

@outraged of tumbridge wells...

First of all, I think you mean to say "Bible-thumping" instead of "Bible-bashing."

As Martin said, The Imitation of Christ is one of the most widely read devotional books in the history of the Christian community. I had this idea about blogging about it as I read it, but the book encourages people to love to be unknown, so promoting a blog seemed to fly in the face of what the book was about. I got about 2/3 of the way through. I'll have another go at it in the days to come.

My only regret is that I haven't been more effective in making the case as to why Keith Ellison shouldn't be a U. S. Representative. Scott Johnson does a pretty good job here. What got me started with Dump Keith Ellison was Keith Ellison's comparison of 9/11 with the Reichstag fire.

Finally, TheRealCuba won the same award for best Latino, Caribbean, or South American blog, that our gracious host Neil won for best UK blog. So nice try characterizing as an extremist rant.

Karl Naylor said...

Hi Pquod. I knew you'd be here soon. No, I haven't been to Cuba but I know enough about the place to have an opinion on it but I'm not sure I would feel comfortable propping up the Castro regime by visiting it and staying in one of the designated tourist areas.

Yet the simple fact is that a significant degree of tourism in Cuba is sex tourism and the regime has done little to raise living standards whilst reducing people to such low levels of income that only by selling their bodies can they make money.

The continued embargo imposed by George Bush who himself used the sex tourism issue to justify reducing the cash remittances that could be sent from the USA to Cuba is playing its part too.

THe point here is that people in Cuba do not have the political choice to determine their own destiny and using the fear of Cuba being remodelled along neoliberal US lines complete with 'shock therapy' to justify dictatorship shows a really low degree of faith in democracy.

I'm not a socialist but not do I believe in 'shock therapy' as was administered in the ex-Soviet bloc which failed dismally. Consistently I have made it clear I'm against all ideologies that rationalise suffering and privatin in the name of a later higher good that the elites believe in whilst being protected from themselves.

Moreover, Communism and doctrinaire neoliberalism are two peas from the same pod here and in the nations of the ex-Soviet bloc it was the former communists who maintained their privileges and, like Gyurscany, in Hungary prospered through using his connections to benefit from the crooked and botched privatisations.

Cuba needs a change of regime in which the people themselves throw off Castro's clan and in which there is not the manipulation of pseudo-dissidents in Miami to put another corrupt regime which is little better but that just benefits the USA.

Pqoud then says,

"Indeed, Mr Naylor, the sex trade is a dreadful thing. You have never been to Cuba, yet you are apparently an expert on prostitution in that country. On the other hand, you spend a lot of time in Eastern Europe. Strangely, you are silent about the use of poor Eastern European women by men from the richer West of our continent. I wonder why".

Well, this is underhand.

For a start, the term 'Eastern Europe' is misleading if one refers to Hungary or Slovakia which are ,and always have been, Central Europe.

Firstly, there is no organised sex tourism here, though consistently I have complained to newspapers like the Slovak Spectator about the use of Bratislva as a 'stag nite' destination.

Secondly, where sex trafficking is rife and prostitution has increased is in Eastern Europe if one means Russia where again neoliberal 'shock therapy' immiserated so many.

When I complained about sex tourism in Cuba I also condemned neoliberalism its hallucinatory fetish for the free role of unfettered capital movement bringing about a global Utopia when it encourages a view of nations and peoples as some exotic other to be packaged for the excusive pleasure of the sovereign consumer.

That includes Cuba, a painful fact for a defender of Castro to think his priority is to sell out the people to preserve his power at any cost. Maybe not in your case.

Literally, the regime is ideologically and economically bankrupt. Members of his regime benefit from their role in tourism , much of which is sex tourism. This has been documented by people like Jennifer Karsseboom of Global Policy Research and a John Hopkins University research project which also mentions the tacic complicity in the regime.

Such reasearch is far more exhaustive than the lame idea 'well, you ain't been there mate, have you'. Many sex tourists have but they don't tend to write about Castro's regime. Everyone's a winner, eh ?

Most importantly, 'look over there' diversionary propaganda does nothing to deal with the issue at hand-Cuba and not 'Eastern Europe'. Naturally, the propaganda here is designed to convince people that Central Europe is now crawling with prostitutes and punters because of the fall of the Soviet Union.

That is a very lame rationalisation for a system of dictatorship and totalitarianism and its network of spies, informers and so on. Then again, this seems to be the kind of politics you see as a model.

I'll let others judge whether I'm a 'degenerate' for opposing you and your ilk or whether I've seen through you.

Back to the crack pipe, eh ?

Give me a break.

Karl Naylor said...

Clearly, now,it should be clear that Pqoud and Outraged of TumbridgeWells are following the same agenda and where it is coming from. I know you lot loathe my guts and I like the phoney use of Soviet police style vilification, though it is petty.

Nasty cop Tumbridge and nicer cop Pqoud. It does not intimidate me. Make that the starting point of your thoughts. I made a balls up on Friday, that's all. No lying. Why assume there is some sinister impulse ? Perhaps, because hack propaganists suffer from the vice of projection, perhaps ?

I have no agenda but, of course, you have to assume either that or that I'm a crank or David Icke wannabe. Either way, the technique is to try and destroy a person as a human being just as the Soviet police state did.

Just let's get to the real point here. Since Castro's speech to the 1992 General Assembly where he basically tried to float the idea of Cuba as some tropical island paradise with unspoilt beaches and women who were free from HIV, Cuba has gone right up in the league of sex tourist destinations.

A regime that has the power to imprison dissidents and writers somehow just does not have the power to prevent widespread sex tourism is either a rather ineffective and corrupt one. I would say both.

Now, the reason this is wrong is because women in Cuba do not have much opportunity to make enough money to live on whilst the elite enjoy luxuries and have set aside special zones for the Western tourists that native Cubans can't enter.

The regime turns a blind eye to prostitution, though it has made efforts to crack down on child prostitution.

If native Cubans were given enough to live on and the opportunity to make enough to live on, then there would be far less need for young Cuban women to sell their bodies.

Let reader here think about this. Why is it that sex tourism increased exponentially after the demise of economic support from the Soviet Union ?

The regime has not liberalised as far as the repressive apparatus of the state is concerned ? Is that meant to be purely a co-incidence ? Or an unfortunate side-effect of the growth of tourism in general ?

Academic studies have proved there is no 'draconian' crackdown on prostitution at all. The regime turns a blind eye to it.

Now, as you, would say that Cuba needed some access to 'hard currency' to survive ? This , of course, would then suggest that the aim is not the survival of the people of Cuba so much as the power of the elites.

After all, the EU has promised investment if Cuba improves its human rights record but it has not done so. It has not released the writers walled up in prison for their independence of mind. They all 'neo-con stooges' , I suppose.

Pqoud

The 'either-or' way you pose the question of Cuba's transition does not include the question of democracy. Why ? Afriad that people would reject the survival of the regime ?

And do you not believe that the middle way between neoliberalism and 'shock therapy' and Leninist dictatorship might actually be the introduction of real political democracy?

For in the end, both the neoconservatives and the Castro regime has for long existed in a state of mutual and yet antagonistic interdependence rather like Orwell wrote of in Animal Farm and 1984.

And yes, I know you've been to Cuba and 'seen the future' no less than lots of businessmen and journalists did when they rhapsodised about the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Remember Walter Duranty ? Henry Ford ?

The way you have come down upon Neil Clark like a ton of bricks for suggesting that Cuba isn't in fact 'real socialism' say more about you and your squalid little sect.

Those who defend Castro and dictatorship would have any Cuban imprisoned if he wrote what Clark wrote. But Clark is free to because he is a Westerner, which means that the same standards for Cubans do not apply as they do to those from outside.

And you are defending that ? Seriously ?

pquod said...

Karl Naylor, I'll say this for you- not having a clue what you're talking about has never stopped you talking.

Eg: **The regime turns a blind eye to prostitution, though it has made efforts to crack down on child prostitution...Academic studies have proved there is no 'draconian' crackdown on prostitution at all.**

Interesting that you, as somebody who has *no agenda*, are taking your cue from George W. Bush, who in 2004 used an *academic* reference to prove that Cuba encourages prostitution.

This claim has been de-bunked by Wayne S. Smith, who is Visiting Professor of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University. As you seem to believe that academe trumps personal experience, why not check out Prof Smith's CV:
http://www.ciponline.org/cuba/contactus/waynebio.htm

Now, here are a couple of excerpts
from Wayne S. Smith's article:

"...does the Cuban government encourage sex tourism? After all, President Bush seems to quote Castro as bragging about the sex industry in Cuba and saying that Cuban prostitutes were the best educated and cleanest in the world.

"No, the Cuban government does not encourage sex tourism. On the contrary, as stated above, it began a sweeping crackdown in 1998 and energetic measures to diminish prostitution continue today. As for Castro's remarks, they were made in 1992, in the depths of the economic crisis, at a meeting of the National Assembly. Castro was not bragging. Quite the contrary, he was lamenting the fact that with the economic difficulties, prostitution had reappeared as a social problem. But at least, he said, Cuban prostitutes were well educated and clean, as demonstrated by the fact that Cuba did not have an AIDS problem -- or one with venereal disease.

"Where did the White House get the quote? According to the Los Angeles Times, only a day before the President's speech, the State Department, asked for material on prostitution in Cuba, did a quick internet search and came up with a paper written by a Dartmouth undergraduate which contained the quotes, but without footnotes. But the White House included them anyway. (George W. Bush, after all, has never been big on footnotes). The former student, Charlie Trumbull, is quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying the President misconstrued Castro's statement. "It shows they didn't read much of the article," he said.

"And what of the so-called Hopkins report? [ie, the *academic* reference]

"The report to which President Bush referred is not meant to be a definitive statement. Rather, in a page and a half, it cites a number of newspaper articles, most of which are dated and report information from the 1990s. It thus tends to reflect a view of the problem in Cuba prior to the crackdown. It makes no effort at independent confirmation of what the news clippings report. Further, President Bush takes out of context certain of the report's statements. It, for example, cites newspaper sources as saying that "Cuba is one of many countries that have replaced Southeast Asia as a destination for pedophiles and sex tourists."

"Again, there may have been some truth to that statement prior to 1998, but certainly not today. President Bush, however, would have us believe not only that the statement is valid today, but that it is Cuba alone that has replaced Southeast Asia.

"None of this is to say that prostitution does not exist in Cuba. It does, as it exists almost everywhere, including the United States. But the point is that it is no longer any more of a problem in Cuba than it is in those other countries, again including the United States. Indeed, without question, child prostitution, pornography and abuse of children is more of a problem here than in Cuba. The President says he doesn't read newspapers. He should. He might also occasionally check the web!"

You can read the full article at:
http://www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca/Documents/WSmith-prostitution-jul04.shtml

But Naylor, not only do you have no grasp of the facts, you are also lacking in common sense. You say:

**If native Cubans were given enough to live on and the opportunity to make enough to live on, then there would be far less need for young Cuban women to sell their bodies.**

*...given enough to live on*! As if the government could simply print more money and hand it out to people!

Then you ask rhetorically, as if scoring some kind of a point: **Why is it that sex tourism increased exponentially after the demise of economic support from the Soviet Union ?**

It's very simple, Naylor. This hardly needs spelling out, but here goes-

1) Following the end of it's trade & investment relationship with the USSR, Cuba desperately needed new sources of income.

2) One of the main solutions was the development of tourism.

3) Tourism has several negative by-products, one of which is prostitution.

Clear enough for you now?

Karl Naylor said...

Pqoud.I mentioned the fact that George Bush had tried to exploit the issue of sex tourism as a way of justifying a continued embargo and reducing the cash remittances that Cuban exiles can send back to Cuba.

Yet again the technique is to try and brand anybody who opposes the Castro regime as a 'neocon' in Stalinoid fashion.

No less than the defence of China's Imperialism in Africa that Noah Tucker prates on about in '21st Century Socialism'. That's a form of 'socialism' in China then is it as well ? All that boasting about China's beneficial role in Africa ?

Naturally, George Bush tries to use the John Hopkins research project for his own propaganda but the fact is that Castro regime does turns a blind eye to it, even though it has cracked down on peadophilia and child prostitution.

As Jennifer Karsseboom and the Hopkins study make quite clear. Karsebomm wrote for the Global Policy Forum in March 2003 on sex tourism that

'Nobody is prohibiting the business and, although it is illegal , the Cuban government does nothing to stop it. Sex tourists bring money into the Cuban economy by drawing money to hotels, restuarants and other state run businesses'.

Writing about 'Tacit complicity' is not direct 'encouragement' or 'promotion' but in practice the rise of sex tourism cannot just be a mere side effect of tourism in general or why else is not Turkey or Spain full with prostitutes ?

Attempts to regulate prostitution or 'crackdown on it' are not going to work because of the very nature of the currency apartheid, Neil Clark mentions, and the fact people have so little money.

Are you seriously suggesting that this is ONLY the result of the embargo ? Not the result of a failed social experiment dependent upon Soviet aid for so long ?

The regime is still responsible for having tried to rationalise the existence of prostitution once more by drawing attention to how clean and educated they were compared to prostitutes elsewhere.

This ties in with the notion that the health and literacy programmes have yielded positive results and somehow absolves the Castro regime for trying to suppress freedom of speech and claiming that speech that goes against the 'socialist' nature of society is somehow treasonous.

All this at a time when the full implications of Cuba's failed economic model were becoming apparent and where , regardless of the proclamations of the regime, the poverty of so many women has led them into it.

Now, it is quite consistent to draw attention to the fact that Cuba might not have more of a problem that SE Asia but, given that this is meant to be a 'really existing socialist regime' it is not a particulary great acheivement, even by your standards, to compare it with those places such as Thailand which suffered disastrously as a result of the 1998 economic crisis.

The Hopkins study was objective and did not set out to 'demonise' Castro but nor did it mention the fact that the regime had not in some sense contributed to the rise of sex tourism by its attitude of tacit complicity.

You finish with the absurd comment *...given enough to live on*! As if the government could simply print more money and hand it out to people!

No, it could just allow people to vote for their next government in free and fair elections and release all political prisoners and the EU would begin to give Cuba aid in response. Or should that not be conditional on democratic reform ?

After all, the '21st Century Socialism' propaganda site you support seems to encourage investment and trade with China no less than Rupert Murdoch or Henry Kissenger or Ken Livingstone who all see the economic benefits, the latter for the City of London.

So that's 'socialism' is it ?

Karl Naylor said...

Here is an extended version of the Global Policy Research article written in 2003 by Karsseboom. That's right 2003.

"Economic enablers for sex tourism

Aside from the tasty mojitos and astounding music scene, one of Cuba's greatest lures to the male tourist is its booming sex tourism industry. Sex tourism, a sub-sector of Cuba's prosperous tourist economy, is a significant industry and a major employer for many Cuban women and girls. This is obvious by the number of women seen in the streets, bars and hotels openly soliciting foreign men. It is difficult to obtain statistics on the number of sex tourists and sex workers since it is considered illegal but what is known is that one-fourth of the investments in Cuba have been made in the tourist industry, making it one of the country's most dynamic economic sectors.

Cuban tourist agencies do a great deal of business with other tourist agencies in places like the Bahamas. Tourists from all over the world pre-book, and in some cases booking on the spot, tours that are thinly disguised weekend sex tours to Havana. In addition to Mexico, the Bahamas serves as a conduit for those tourists, particularly Americans, who are unable to legally travel to Cuba.

Nobody is prohibiting the business and although it is illegal, the Cuban government does nothing to stop it. Sex tourists bring money into the Cuban economy by drawing money to hotels, restaurants and other state-run businesses. Castro has declared, "Sex tourism will never be permitted, nor drugs nor anything of that sort. This is healthy tourism, and that is what we want; it is what we promote because we know that today tourists are worried about their safety and we have conditions to offer them that security."

Despite the fact that the government does not "permit," promote or legalize sex tourism, a handful of underground tour operators are catering to American and European travelers by promoting trips through advertisements in adult magazines, direct-mail solicitations and referrals from satisfied clients. To help the industry thrive, Cuban authorities and government officials look the other way so that the local economy can receive the foreign currency and foreign men that sexualized travel attracts.

Sex tourism has bloomed in part as a result of "dollarization," which is the legalized use of the U.S. dollar in Cuba in addition to pesos, the national currency. The U.S. dollar was legalized in Cuba as an attempt to boost the stagnant economy but instead has created a two-tiered society in Cuba: the privileged foreigners and the underprivileged locals.

In an effort to get more tourist dollars, the government created tourist stores, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels and even taxis that are accessible to foreigners with hard currency. Dollarization, in conjunction with the embargo, has opened the door to a proliferation of prostitution called "jineterismo" (a derogatory word translated literally to "horseback riding", in colloquial form translating to "gold-digger").'

21st Century Socialism, eh, Pqoud ?

pquod said...

By the way, Naylor, I note that as well as citing the so-called *John Hopkins University research project* as per George W. Bush, which, as shown above, has been revealed by Prof Wayne S. Smith to be little more than a page and a half of out-dated press clippings; you also cite another supposed piece of *exhaustive* academic research- the work of one Jennifer Karsseboom of Global Policy Research.

Now, the internet is a wonderful thing. A 30 second google search takes one to the piece by Ms Karsseboom to which I assume you refer:

http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/develop/2003/0326cuba.htm

Well, Mr Naylor, Ms Karsseboom's article is a colourful piece of journalism, complete with quotes from locals and reportage on the practical hardships of life in Cuba. And Ms Karsseboom shows some understanding of the very difficult economic choices faced by Cuba after the loss of the USSR.

But the article is not what you claim it is. It isn't a work of academic research. It's anecdotal journalism. Indeed, Ms Karsseboom makes the assertion that: "Nobody is prohibiting the business and although it is illegal, the Cuban government does nothing to stop it." But apart from her own impressionistic account, there is no methodology, no research produced, to show how she arrives at that conclusion.

And, contrary to your claim, there is nothing in Ms Karsseboom's article which *documents* your assertion that **Members of his regime benefit from their role in tourism , much of which is sex tourism.**

Naylor, you are a fraudster, a purveyor of disinformation. Whether you are a deliberate fraudster or a self-deluding fraudster I do not know.

Here's my advice. Stop writing about things that you know nothing about, and pretending that you have a factual basis for what you say when you do not. Either admit that what you are posting is nothing but your own opinion, or stick to subjects on which you have some expertise. Zlaty Bazant and Budvar, perhaps.

Karl Naylor said...

The report by Wayne S Smith was critical of Bush but he ends the piece you cite with the words

'Both countries should be doing more to address these problems ( sex tourism ). We can all agree on that'.

Now that's hardly a ringing endorsement upon Cuba either is it ?

The real point here is that if prostitutes are at least better educated and healthier why it is that they are reduced to prostitution when their intelligence might have otherwise been used so constructively for other purposes.

Anonymous said...

wow pquod, a single academic study from some obscure university... that must prove your correct...??

Karl Naylor said...

One more thing Pqoud/Tucker et al.

Interestingly, perhaps, a more honest appraisal of sex tourism has been written by a Western woman called Lisa Wixon who has written a book Dirty Blonde and Half Cuban about 'Prostitutes, sex, communism' after having stayed there a year.

Wixon had this to say,

'The humiliations Cubans endure -- and with such beautiful dignity -- is an arresting saga. I felt compelled to write about what I witnessed and experienced. A Cuban jinetera would sock you in the nose for confusing her with a prostitute!.

'Of course there are typical prostitutes in Cuba, like everywhere in the world. But in Cuba, the jineteras are not interested in a simple money-for-sex exchange, and they take their cues from the heterai of ancient Greece.

The heterai were educated and culturally sophisticated mistresses to wealthy men -- the long-term girlfriends who were compensated with property, clothes, and money. The heterai generally spoke several languages and were encouraged to entertain with their opinions on art and politics.

A jinetera in Cuba is very much like the heterai, but her clients are international sex tourists. The jineteras in Cuba are generally bright and educated women, and I'm talking practicing doctors, professors, and lawyers.

Their daytime jobs cap out at about $32 a month. (The average Cuban salary is $8).

But a pair of jeans cost $40; and Advil is $10 a bottle, if it's even available. Without families abroad to support them, many women, and also men, have little choice but to pursue the sex tourist, and hope a relationship develops that will pay for the things they need'

...'the Cubans are now living their Great Depression. If anything, this novel is aimed at being a testament to the human spirit, and its ability to endure hardships while maintaining a certain level of dignity.

sex tourism is on the upswing. Women, too, are joining the ranks of male tourists who shop poor countries for sex partners. And with so many desperate people on the planet, there is all too much supply.

'In Cuba, the scene is slightly unusual. The government has a schizophrenic policy on allowing its subjects to engage in sex with foreigners. Sometimes there are police crackdowns, and women and men are arrested for cavorting with tourists. Then, at other times, the government openly encourages this kind of tourism. It's maddening'.

Certainly, not all Cubans are for sale. Not even close. But if a foreigner propositions a beautiful Cuban woman, she has not only her own comfort and needs to consider, but also those of her family. A week with him can resolve a lot of problems. She's put in an excruciating position.

What I found most disturbing about sex tourists was this idea of what I call sexual colonialism. Sex tourists believe, whether they admit this or not, that by "conquering a Cuban, or anyone from a poor country, they are restoring things to their natural order.

Cubans are supposed to serve and fawn. Sex tourists of European descent often see themselves as entitled, and that the world is theirs to plunder. It's very disheartening.

Perhaps strangest of all is the new trend: Americans born in Cuba, returning to their homeland on vacation with the explicit purpose of buying sex from their less fortunate brethren. Of all the tourists, they are the most despised'

As you can see Pquoud it is those who are professional women forced into becoming jineteras, so that is rather different from the kind of street hookers one might get in the USA or Britain.

If that is meant to symbolise some kind of triumph for Castro's regime, then God knows what a defeat might look like for the people there.

Outraged of Tumbridge Wells said...

Karl Naylor

Here's what the bona fide sex tourists say about prostitution. From the sleezy 'World Sex Guide':

Anon: "I was escorted and flown to Havana, that evening and turned over to the ministry, who itemized all my belongings and then put me in a cell with 6 other men from various countries... They never charged or arrested me at all and where actually very nice to me. I just wanted to let everyone know to be careful when traveling to Cuba. There are plenty of nicer ladies in other countries with less hassle. Hope this helps someone."

I hope this helps you too, Karl.

Archimedes: "I have just spent 6 weeks in Cuba and I must say that sex in Cuba is no longer what it used to be. Gone are the days when you could pick up a nice negrita or mulatta and spend the night with her in your casa particular. The socialist government stopped it years ago. Nowadays casa owners are not allowed to accept a chica in their house, and they are strictly controlled about that."

Archimedes, who is something of an expert on these matters, continues: "Outside Havana there are very few prostitutes to choose from... So if you don’t mind sleeping alone, Cuba is the right holiday destination for you... I suggest going to Thailand, where things are easier and much cheaper."

YYZ: "The girls were wary of the police and we had to be very discreet but this was only a minor inconvenience."

A different Anon writes: "...many sexy girls but they wouldn't talk to any one... I kept trying and then I asked this other girl if she wanted to have drink and hangout later on she said no thanks I'm shopping now I let her go too... they keep saying no! I couldn't understand what was going on... maybe I should try a different city in Cuba or maybe forget Cuba all together."

And here's another <Anon explaining how to escape the attentions of the police: "Vedado and El Centro are heavily populated with Cops. Be careful, for the girls sake. For you the worst that's going to happen is you'll be told to keep moving. For her, she could get 3 years. Always have her meet you somewhere, do not leave together. She will be the one who suffers."

person gives a blow by blow job account of his travels: "CIENFEUGOS...great place to find chicks. Some guest houses wont let you bring girls in though. Police less present than big touristed cities"

Next he describes his experience in the city of TRINIDAD: "Police are watching heavily in the more touristy places, so its tougher."

He recommends CAMAGUEY: "Great for girls like Cienfeugos. Because not many tourists, lots of chicks, not so many police watching you."

thanks fidel, who describes himself as "an ambassador for the United States", has this advice: "Discretion is very important. Most respectable "casa particulars" in the city will not allow "street guests".

Riccardo writes: "... if you are staying at the resort (choice of most first-timers to Cuba), bringing a girl to your room is not allowed. Sometimes you have to find the way to sneak her into your room or you have to pay the security guard."

El Mariachi chimes in: "They will offer you girls but they are not able to find you a house for fucking purposes and as you've heard entering a girl in a Cuban hotel is a very difficult"

Quest Inc describes his time in Cardenas: "If she is only doing this part time she will refuse to sit down with you and drink cause she is afraid of the cops. However if she is one of the regulars, then she will take her chances"

Grxxx tells us that Cuba is a waste of time: "Cuba is closed. On Jan.4 new laws were introduced providing severe penalties for jineteras and casa owners. There is too much risk for a Cuban to associate with a tourist. Police are on every corner all over Cuba. The situation will be around for a long time."

http://www.worldsexguide.com/guide/Caribbean/Cuba/index.htm

Well, Karl Naylor, how does what they sex tourists themselves say, square with your assertion that "Cuba is being promoted as a sex tourist destination"?

Just like your lie about tourists not being allowed outside resorts, you made this p as well. Unfortunetly for you, you got caught.

Karl Naylor said...

Pquod

The only thing that is fraudulent is the '21st Century Socialism' site of which you are part and which lauds China's role in Africa as somehow 'progressive'.

Defending repressive and authoritarian regime based on massive inqualities between the elite and ordinary people who do not have the chance of social advancement other than to work for peanuts or prostitute themselves and to choose to do so in the name of 'socialism' is the very definition of fraudulent.

Evidently you are nothing more than a propaganda shill for such regimes such as Cuba and China.

For example, most of the 'research' in an article such as Noah Tucker's repulsive 'No Strings Attached' article about how wonderful China's role in Africa is is often based on boosterism and quoting bits of other financial journalists from papers like the London Evening Standard about how China's role in the global economy benefits all.

So don't lecture me about research. I'm countering what I consider blatant and duplicitous propaganda from people such as yourself. To refute what I am saying you might like to reveal your own academic expertise on Cuba or Latin America.

Even assuming the Karsseboom article, indeed 'merely impressionistic', would in any case, thus not be much different to that churned out by Calvin Tucker when writing about how wonderful the sight of transvestites promenading around downtown Havana singing 'Give Peace a Chance' is, whilst professional women are forced into prostitution to make ends meet.

The evidence is as damning in Cuba as it is in other nations across the world where it occurs on a mass scale.

After 1998, the Castro regime might have made some attempt to crackdown on sex tourism and its evidently unsavoury aspect but the real issue is the reduction of so many to it as an outcome of a failed economy presided over by a gimcrack dictatorship.

The academic research on the web I have looked is critical of the role of sex tourism but this is a function of the way the Cuban dual economy works. Some of it has said that the effects are mitigated by the sex education policies in Cuba.

Yet as the writer Lisa Wixon points out the Castro regime's response has been 'schizophrenic'.

So she's a fraud. Karseeboom is a fraud, Neil Clark is a fraud and I'm a fraud. Only Pqoud and Calvin Tucker could be telling the truth because they insist upon that. Everyone else is a hallucinating liar or a sinister 'neo-con'. That's supposed to be an objective approach is it ?

Certainly, the information on the web should be treated with care, as should any other source, but the picture of sex tourism in Cuba is consistent with many different ones and with people who do not all necessarily have some ideological agenda as I have proved is the case with Tucker time and time again.

Karl Naylor said...

Pqoud/Calvin Tucker et al

'And prostitution, so rife in pre-revolutionary days, is back — the jineteras being the only group of Cubans allowed to enter the new purpose-built resorts'

Is Neil Clark lying about that then ? Despite crackdowns is some areas, there is tacit complicity in others.

Nowhere here have I said Cuba had been directly 'promoted as a sex tourist destination', though he was 'touting' or, perhaps better, 'soliciting' the merits of the jineteras when compared to prostitutes elsewhere.

Hardly 'bragging' as Wayne S Smith suggests, but hardly going to put off those who might want a higher class of prostitute and a reflection of the bankruptcy of the regime.

Tumbridge ( Tucker or one of his hounds ) started off with 'what's all this weird shit about hookers? give it a rest will you? sure theres a few pros and good time girls that hang around the tourist areas'

So from being flippant about 'good time girls' now you are changing tack to get all serious about defending Castro's regime, one that is hardly socialist in having such an obvious division between the elite and those professional women, all educated as Castro mentioned in the 1992 speech, and so many reduced to being jineteras or, if possible, to become long term partners of a Western man who can take them out of poverty somewhere else.

Hardly an advert for 21st Century Socialism is it ?

pquod said...

Hmmm. So it's clear, Karl Naylor, that when you claimed to be relying on *exhaustive* academic research, and when you said: **Academic studies have proved there is no 'draconian' crackdown on prostitution at all. The regime turns a blind eye to it**, that your source was indeed that journalistic piece of reportage, which - as your quotes from the article demonstrate - can in no way be described as academic research.

And, as the de-bunking by Prof Wayne S. Smith showed, your so-called *John Hopkins University research project* turned out to be little more than a page and a half of out-dated press clippings.

You pretended that you had *exhaustive* academic proof to support your assertions. You have no such proof. You are a liar, and you have been caught out.

Further. Possibly because you can locate no more fake academic references to assist you, you quote a novelist, Lisa Wixon, who spent a year in Cuba. And she said:

"Sometimes there are police crackdowns, and women and men are arrested for cavorting with tourists. Then, at other times, the government openly encourages this kind of tourism. It's maddening."

Well, she is right when she says: "Sometimes there are police crackdowns". That contradicts your other source, Jennifer Karsseboom, who claimed: ""Nobody is prohibiting the business and although it is illegal, the Cuban government does nothing to stop it."

So, one of your sources admits the truth, that the Cuban government does do something to try to stop the sex trade. They have police crackdowns.

BTW, given limited policing resources and the endemic nature of many social/criminal problems, that's the nature of a lot of police work around the world. In areas of London, for instance- one month they have a crackdown on prostitution, then they have a crackdown on carrying knives, the next month they have a crackdown on crack-houses. Then back to prostitution.

One thing you have got right. As you have noted, a lot of Cuba's sex-trade problem takes the form of the 'jineteras', a kind of soft-prostitution; as you say: ** ...rather different from the kind of street hookers one might get in the USA or Britain.** Exactly. And, as perhaps even you will appreciate, much harder for the police to stamp out. But they are trying.

As for Ms Wixon's claim that "at other times, the government openly encourages this kind of tourism". She gives no examples of this. By profession, she is a fiction-writer, and possibly her imagination, or perhaps her professional instincts, got the better of her. Either way, no examples. And no substitute, Mr Naylor, for the academic proof which you falsely claimed to have.

OK. Onto your proposal for Cuba to solve its economic difficulties: **it could just allow people to vote for their next government in free and fair elections and release all political prisoners and the EU would begin to give Cuba aid in response. Or should that not be conditional on democratic reform?**

Well! And you claim to be against prostitution. Yet you propose a form of political prostitution: the country should change its political model, to the model prescribed by the rich countries; and for this, it will be paid with a few million euros in 'aid' money. Lovely!

Now, Mr Naylor. I gave you some advice in my previous post: Stop writing about things that you know nothing about, and pretending that you have a factual basis for what you say when you do not. Either admit that what you are posting is nothing but your own opinion, or stick to subjects on which you have some expertise. Zlaty Bazant and Budvar, perhaps.

Please, consider seriously. Are you not embarrassed by the exposure of your lies and your ignorance?

Karl Naylor said...

Pqoud

Now you are beginning to sound like a propaganda machine repetitively churning out the same robotic malice rather like a Dalek.

There seems to be no consistent policy towards prostitution in Cuba because it does bring in hard currency.

The point that you won't answer is simply this: if Cuba is a model of 21st Century Socialism then why are women trained as lawyers and doctors acting as prostitutes or sex workers.

The question is whether they have the choice and it is clear that to make ends meet , they don't have much choice.

Next, it is rather malicious of you to equate that with the EU's offer of trade and aid for democratic reform and a halt to human rights abuses all consistently documented by Human Rights Watch.

Read those reports have we ? Disagree with them do you ? And what PEN international writes about them ?

'you propose a form of political prostitution: the country should change its political model, to the model prescribed by the rich countries; and for this, it will be paid with a few million euros in 'aid' money'.

Trying to equate the promotion of democracy and economic development in Cuba with prostitution is absurd.

The only prostitution here, and far worse, is the one which involves shilling for totalitarian regimes and those which imprison native Cuban writers and reduces its people to near destitution.

At least, the jineteras are offering their services in order to survive. Those who have the luxury of living in Britain and pontificating about Cuba or China do not.

The only person who is an embarassment is you and the people at 21st Century Socialism. An embarassment to the human race that it can produce such vile gloating apologists for disctatorships.

Outraged of Tumbridge Wells said...

Karl Naylor, who has never been to Cuba, continues to assert in contradiction of all the evidence that the Cuban Government promotes Cuba as a destination for sex tourism. As other posters have shown, Karl is lying.

The Cuban authorities have taken the following measures to tackle prostitution:

1. Passing laws that prohibit Cuban girls from staying in hotel rooms with foreigners.

2. Increasing the penalties for prostitution and pimping.

3. ID checking Cuban girls that are seen on the streets with foreign men.

4. Sending prostitutes who have three convictions to rehabilitation and education centres.

5. Tackling the social problems that lie behind prostition, through the work of the Federation of Cuban Women and the Cuban Sex Education Centre.

6. Closing down bars and discos which turn a blind eye to prostitution.

7. Enforcing a 'couples only' entry policy on other establishments.

8. Introducing the compulsory registration of any Cuban girl who stays overnight with a foreigner in a private rented room.

Mr.T said...

Just a minor point, but look closely at who is agreeing with you Neil.
They agree with you on very little else.

pquod said...

Well, Karl Naylor, you made the false claim that you had exhaustive academic proof to support your assertion that the Cuban government turns a 'blind eye' to prostitution, and that the government does not crack down on it.

But, although your attempt at deceit has now been thoroughly exposed, it seems that you feel no need to make amends. Instead, you reduce yourself to raving about *daleks* and *propaganda machines*.

So it seems that in your view, all is fair, even a blatant lie, in your little web-war against Cuba? Oh, and of course, also against Seumas Milne, Calvin Tucker and the 21stCenturySocialism.com website. These people are so terrible, Mr Naylor, that in your mini-campaign against them it is justified for you to tell lies?

You ask: **if Cuba is a model of 21st Century Socialism then why are women trained as lawyers and doctors acting as prostitutes or sex workers.**

Cuba is a small Third World country, under economic blockade from its huge neighbour, the most powerful nation on Earth. Cuba's situation is far from ideal. Britain, which is a very rich country, also has a prostitution problem, and indeed many other very serious social problems. The UK, with a per capita GDP many times that of Cuba, is unable to solve these difficulties.

Nobody here, so far as I can see, is trying to represent Cuba as a kind of utopia. Yet the Cubans have managed to achieve results, in terms of health and education, which are outstanding by Third World standards, and are in fact comparable with those of countries which are much wealthier. To that extent, yes, Cuba is a model. And recognised as such by many in Latin America.

Karl Naylor said...

Outraged

So now you've been rumbled as a shill for '21st Century Socialism', you've dropped the fake laddish pose which you started off with, with all the rhetoric about what's wrong with 'good time girls' and it's the 'oldest profession in the world' to a quite serious defense of the Castro regimes attempts to deal with prostitution.

Well, even on its own terms the regime's response is a failure.

The simple fact is that the crackdown after 1998-99 has punished the women for the failings of the regime to allow women to make anything more than a subsistence wage. If this was happening under 'capitalism', you'd be apoplectic.

But no, now you laud a crackdown which has not, indeed cannot stop it, because despite the political cheography of the regimes measures it cannot abolish the poverty that drives it.

Only getting rid of the regime will be a start, though the transition to a democratic Cuba should not mean that it just reverts to the pre-1959 days.

The disgrace is not so much that jineterismo exists but that conditions reduce so many to this state. The point of Neil Clark's article is that in a socialist nation there would not be a dual economy with women, many of whom are educated as Castro boasted in his 1992 speech, having to turn either to prostitution or courting Western men in the hope of gaining intimacy and affection in return for consumer gifts they would be able to get if they lived elsewhere.

The real problem the jineteras pose for the Castro regime is nothing to do with conventional morality but with maintaining control and power.

By representing the dollar economy and a very obvious yearning for consumerism through sex, the jineteras reveal the bankruptcy of Castro's social experiment.

The Jineteras undermine the morale of Cuban society and the 'revolutionary ethic' by revealing only those willing to sell their bodies and affection and caresses can live like others want to. By gaining that advantage , they have a comparative advantage and can get ahead ( hence why the term means 'jockeying' ).

That's why they are often made an example of and sent to re-education camps because they don't believe in real work for a pittance of a wage.

All this about not having been to Cuba is an irrelevance. Enough people have ( including you Mr Tucker ) and clearly choose to write about what they know and see. Are you saying Neil Clark is a liar for writing about the jineteras ? Yes or no ?

When I read this piece, my first instinct was, how long before Tucker's crowd get here?

The use of the Tumbridge Wells name and blatant and repetitive technique you use of creating pseudonymous commentators to attack anyone who deviates from the one dogmatic line you have, as well as the fake characters you invent on the net who pipe up in support of Tucker, is blatant. Especially, the use of corny English to try and make it an 'authentic' view of a Cuban or Venezuelan.

Calling others a liar is projection. Lying, deception and fraudulence is the game as far as you are concerned. I can see through you. My job in the future is to make sure others can as well, so they can challenge your repugnant Stalinist techniques and the defence of dictatorship offered in 21st Century Socialism. Nothing to do with socialism but a pure power trip by a bunch of psychopathological creeps.

Karl Naylor said...

Pqoud

'Yet the Cubans have managed to achieve results, in terms of health and education, which are outstanding by Third World standards, and are in fact comparable with those of countries which are much wealthier. To that extent, yes, Cuba is a model. And recognised as such by many in Latin America'

That was only made possible by becoming a satellite of the USSR and deprived of that it has struggled to survive. Having said that, there is no reason why some of those acheivements should not be preserved and why the US model should be copied.

The point you won't and can't except is that the regime needs to move away from dictatorship and let Cubans decide for themselves. Dictatorships such as Castro's are based on peddling revolutionary fictions whilst ordinary people are excluded from beaches and still only those who get into the hotel complexes are jineteras.

Unless Neil Clark is lying and every eye witness apart from Tucker is just lying. They al;l need to see reality as he does in the politically correct way.

Outraged og Tumbridge Wells said...

Karl Naylor opens this thread by declaring that the Cuban government is promoting sex tourism, and finishes it by complaining that they're trying to stamp it out.

In the course of Karl's journey he has told blatant lies and passed off newspaper cuttings as academic research papers.

Karl Naylor said...

Look, you've lost the argument and have resorted to logic chopping nonsense. Let me make it clear once more.

Consistently the Castro regime has vacillated between tacit acceptance and open crackdowns on the jinteras. The feeble defence of Castro's policy of 'tourist apartheid' you have offered here does nothing to get around why this has happened.

In 1992 in that speech to the National Assembly Castro did not openly say he wanted sex tourism but he mentioned the advantages of when compared to other nations and used it to advertise a certain image of Cuba that he must have known would attract tourists.

George Bush in 2004 subsequently went on to use that speech to say Castro was happy to encourage child prostitution and immorality as a way of luring unwholesome US tourists as part of his attempts to damage Cuban tourism and tighten the embargo.

This was not popular even with anti-Castro Cubans any more than trying to limit the remittances that can be sent to Cuba.

The speech in 1992 was an irresponsible ploy to get tourists to buy into Cuba's sexy Playboy image, but only later when the scale of the street prostitution threatened his regime did the crackdown really begin by 1998-1999.

The reason's for this are obvious and I have outlined them. The material I referred to , 'the press clippings', were concerned with the pre-crackdown period that Bush rehashed later to justify a policy in 2004, some 5 years after Castro started getting tough.

The reasons for that are obvious. Castro started to rail against the jineteras as a threat to Cuban society and 'the frivolous things they buy' because the dollar mentality and quick buck consumerism that comes from cavorting with Western men threatened to undermine his political power.

The reason for the policies since and the use of 'rehabilitation' is thus to cure a social problem that Castro was partly, though hardly wholly responsible, for creating. More generally, though, the reduction of large numbers of often educated women to something bordering on, if not becoming prostitution, is a result of the continued subsistence wage such people live on and that Neil Clark mentioned in the article.

So whilst the police do clear away jineteras from the streets, some are still allowed to get into certain tourist areas which make profit largely for businesses owned by cronies of none other than Raul Castro. 60% of all tourist revenue goes to 'La Gaviota', or the military holding companies that receives the cash.

Even people as pinheaded as you Tumbridge and Pqoud must know that but you continue to spread disinformation about the Cuban regime and then accuse me precisely of what you are doing yourselves.

For what ? All in order to propagandise for dictatorship and a military junta which imprisons even those like Oswaldo Paya Sardinas of the Christian Liberation Movement who says he is for preserving Cuba's health and education system and against adopting neoliberalism, much to the annoyance of some in Miami.

The very expert Wayne S Smith that is mentioned as some kind of defender of your views actually writes that though the regime had to turn to tourism that the division of the elite and Westerners from the rest of Cubans is a reversal of the intial policy of opening the beaches to all people. Smith writes 'It is a contradiction of revolutionary values but there it is' ( see the interview for Salon Magazine ).

For all the banal waffle about the health system somehow only being preserved by Raul Castro's military junta, none of you at '21st Century Socialism' have tried to explain why it is then that a doctor gets 20$ a month whilst a doorman or a member of the Special Brigade charged with driving jineteras off the streets gets more.

The lame rationalisation that by preventing native Cubans being able to go into bars and trying to drive them out of the beaches and upmarket areas the economy will prosper in the long term shows a remarkable lack of belief in the people of Cuba that is reflected in the fact that power today has been merely handed to Fidel's brother.

Got it now ?

Outraged of Tumbridge Wells said...

Karl

Your lies have been exposed on several occasions.

1. You claimed that tourists are not allowed out of tourist areas. You later admitted you made this up, and blamed it on being drunk.

2. You claimed that the Cuban government is promoting Cuba as a sex tourist destination. In support of your assertion, you quoted "academic sources" which turned out to be press cuttings.

3. You also parroted George Bush's misrepresentation and misquoting of a speech made by Fidel Castro in 1992, and ommitted the all important line: "prostitution is not allowed in our country".
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/28/bush_sees_clean_cuban_hookers/

4. Having realised that your arguement had fallen apart, you then switched to attacking the crackdown on prostitution - a crackdown which only moments before you claimed didn't exist.

5. You claim that Cuba "imprisons even those like Oswaldo Paya Sardinas of the Christian Liberation Movement who says he is for preserving Cuba's health and education system". Oswaldo Paya is not in jail.

Karl Naylor said...

Nothing that you have written here rebuts the main criticisms made of the Cuban regime. This is just some perverted power game that you are playing and that you enjoy playing.

Oddly enough, though I find it somewhat unpleasant, I find it grimly fascinating. It reveals the mindset of what Orwell called the Pigs in 1984.

It is futile trying to reason with someone who ignores reality in favour of absurdly playing with logic all the time.

The power game consists of trying to repetitiously hone in on any weakness that can be found to turn it on the opponent and force him on the defensive.

As a polemical tactic it is interesting but it is designed to try and trap the opponent into revealing perceived inconsistencies instead of actually attempting to deal more broadly with what is at stake.

Those issues you have chosen to ignore because they are ultimately indefensible to anybody who is not a fully fledged propagandist whose 21st Century Website acts as a conduit for Cuban state press releases.

I like the fake and staged debate on the 'forum' too. Classic fabrication as well.

Oswaldo Paya, as far as I understand, stands up for the dissidents and those who ARE imprisoned. He is not. That should be made clear. But he has being subject to routine harrassment and certain restrictions on his mobility.

What does fascinate me is how you square militant Stalinist fantasies and a defense of the police state mentality and techniques of propaganda with working as a headhunter in the City of London for Dagama Executive Research.

It does prove that there a certain psychopathology within the corporate work world with a fetish for successful ruthlessness and cruelty.

How do you sleep at night knowing that your propaganda attempts to present a regime which imprisons its writers and dissidents as a wonderful experiment in 21st Century Socialism ?

One final thing. Realising that people such as you defend the Castro regime have made me more interested in the subject, whereas usually I'm interested in Europe and don't venture into L America so much.

Realising ,however, that this 21st Century Socialism scam is trying to connect investors from some non-aligned bloc globally by advertising the benefits of it is interesting and that's where your 'specialist knowledge' comes in.

Really, you seem like something from SPECTRE or some corny Bond movie.

Karl Naylor said...

One more thing, Mr T..

Silvano Paternostro's article for the New Republic in 2000 summarises the sex tourism issue in Cuba remarkably well. Perhaps, she's a 'neo-con', Clark is a secret neo-con stooge and everyone is lying.

Karl Naylor said...

Just to make this absolutely clear.

'You claim that Cuba "imprisons even those like Oswaldo Paya Sardinas of the Christian Liberation Movement who says he is for preserving Cuba's health and education system". Oswaldo Paya is not in jail'.

It imprisons those like Paya in the sense that of the 300 political prisoners in Cuba's jails a number consist of those like Paya who are in the Christian Liberation Movement.

Paya was merely arrested and detained by police back in 1992 two days before he registered his candidacy for the elections to the very National Assembly that almost unanimously voted by Raul Castro to succeed his brother.

Would you care to try and defend that Mr T ?

Or just try the oh so clever-clever power games as a substitute for engaging with might what be called reality in its broader sense-ie what is actually happening in Cuba.

Evasion of this point I will take as an unwillingness and inability to answer a legitimate question and a descent into crude abuse, a technique you already tried and that failed miserably.

pquod said...

Hey, Naylor, like I said before, not having a clue what you're talking about has never stopped you talking. Take this latest gem:

**That [Cuba's outstanding achievements in health and education] was only made possible by becoming a satellite of the USSR and deprived of that it has struggled to survive. Having said that, there is no reason why some of those acheivements should not be preserved and why the US model should be copied.**

But Cuba's health results have actually IMPROVED, quite significantly, since the end of the USSR.

And no other Third World country has matched Cuba's level of development in education and health.

*...there is no reason why some of those acheivements should not be preserved and why the US model should be copied*

Er, yes, there is a reason. Cuba's neighbour the USA, the world's most powerful country, uses the blockade & finances the 'dissident' organisations, precisely in order to destroy those achievements and make Cuba *copy* the US model.

Of course, Cuba's development from the 1960s to the 1980s was assisted by its trade & investment relationship with the Soviet Union. All countries advance by means of their mutual relationships with each other. Hence the negative effects on Cuba from the US blockade.

While you claim to have *no agenda*, you slip rather easily into US Cold War rhetoric, describing Cuba as a *satellite* of the USSR. Well, Cuba allied itself with the USSR in its struggle against US imperialism. For you, that was a dreadful thing. Fine.

More: **Unless Neil Clark is lying and every eye witness apart from Tucker is just lying**

*Every eye witness*. Really? So having shifted from your previous spurious claims to having *exhaustive* academic proof to back you up, you now assert that everybody (apart from one person) who has seen Cuba, supports your position!

Ludicrous.

And BTW, you have as yet posted neither explanation nor apology for your previous lies about the exhaustive *academic research* which you said proved your assertions.

Karl Naylor said...

Pqoud

If any apology is needed it is from hacks such as yourself and Tucker who collude in producing lies, dissimulation and disinformation in '21st Century Socialism'. There is exhaustive academic proof and here's more that proves the full scale and extent of your fabrication and lying.

Tucker lies directly when he asserts mt 'misquoting of a speech made by Fidel Castro in 1992, and ommitted the all important line: "prostitution is not allowed in our country".'

This is the Big LIe in action with Goebbels like audacity. Prostitution IS legal in Cuba.

Article 302, Ley No 62 of Cuba's Penal Code has stated 'prostitution in itself is not a crime but all acts relating to prostitution such as the exploitation of the prostitution of others are punishable by law with deprivation of liberty for from four to ten years'

This was confirmed by an academic study by Radhika Coomaraswamy 'Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective of Violence Against Women Feb 2000.

So that merely conforms that there is no 'backpeddling' in my argument which refers to the way in which Castro did tout the advantages of Cuban prostitution in the 1992 speech to the National Assembly. When it threatened the control of the regime ,only then did Castro start to crackdown.

Nor does that invalidate anything said before that the regime turns a blind eye to it when convenient and still does as Neil Clark reveals in this article.

There is little pressure on those who profit from prostitution precisely because if the jinteras are allowed access to certain tourist areas it does attract the punters from rich Western nations out of the view of other Cubans.After all 60% of tourist revenue goes to the military holding companies controlled by cronies of Raul Castro's.

The assertion that 'prostitution is no allowed' does not mean it is illegal because in Cuba nothing is in a strict sense legal unless it is expressly permitted by Castro's regime unless in complies with 'socialist' notions of legality ie the political will of the regime, including the packed National Assembly that voted Raul into power yesterday. The same idea that placed people like Paya under detention in 1992 for daring to put his name forward for the National Assembly.

That's how totalitarian power works. As the 'socialist' conception of law means law is an instrument of whatever the unelected dictatorship demands it is not subject to any control and so in a stricter sense the use of the Special Brigades, of police method to crackdown on street prostitutes is done without even due proceedings in law and violates their rights according to the UN and confirmed in the light of the research carried out by Coomaraswamy.

The same rule by decree that can be used as a pretext to incarcerate dissidents, sweep prostitutes off the streets, allow them access to resorts that profit the regime and use police state harrassment to remove ordinary Cubans from public places such as beaches as well as bars.

Yes, no concerted campaign was made to encourage prostitution in the early 1990s if you mean tour brochures but Castro understood the meaning of his words and there was an attempt to tacitly promote an image of Cuba as a sexy resort for Western male tourists which later backfired when set against the increased poverty not only of the 'Special Period' but also of the fact that wages are stagnant for professional women forced into it by circumastances over which they can have no control.

According to Castro, the prostitutes 'were doing it voluntarily' because Cuba was a socialist paradise. The point is not that this does not happen elsewhere, as in Thailand, but that professional women and not just rural migrants are reduced to that condition and that such educated jinteras that Castro boasted of might have a proper chance of life if the system reformed itself whilst the police and doormen in the special tourist zones that make profit for the regime are quite well remunerated.

In the end who suffers? Not people like you Mr Tucker at Dagama Executive Research or Pqoud but ordinary women trying to bring up their families. Unless, of course,they are just anti-social counter-revolutionary elements. Though, it is hard to see how all this adds up to some '21st Century Socialism', especially when trying to promote the idea of Chinese investment in Cuba to prop it up. Now there's a great model to follow!!!

Anonymous said...

Pquod

In defending the tyranny of the Castro regime you have resorted to the usual claim about health and education in saying “But Cuba's health results have actually IMPROVED, quite significantly, since the end of the USSR.” Well, not exactly. In 1959 Cuba had 128.6 doctors and dentists per 100,000 inhabitants, placing it 22nd globally—that is, ahead of France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Finland. In infant mortality tables, Cuba ranked one of the best in the world, with 5.8 deaths per 100,000 babies, compared to 9.5 per 100,000 in the United States. In addition, in 1959 Cuba had one of the best literacy rates in the developing world which has been improved by a modest 20% at the cost of all those killed and all the freedoms that have been lost. If I had a choice between an 80% literacy rate with freedom or an almost 100% literacy rate without the freedom to use it to write criticisms of the government, I would choose the former. In addition the idea the Castro has made these improvements in education through some benevolent desire to help his own people is laughable. The only reason for these improvements is Castro has realized as both Hitler and Stalin did, that education is a fantastic tool for indoctrination. For example, as I mentioned earlier, Castro has introduced the ‘Cumulative School File’ which measures "revolutionary integration," documents whether or not the child and family participate in mass demonstrations, or whether they belong to a church or religious group. The file accompanies the child for life, and is continually updated. His university options will depend on what that file says. If he does not profess a truly Marxist life, he will be denied many career possibilities. What’s more, even if these improvements had been significant they would not have been justified and the regime would still be immoral, the claim is rather like the well known comment that “at least Mussolini made the trains run on time.” It always amazes me that people such as yourself find it necessary to act as an apologist for murderous, tyrannical, regimes by quoting the typical canard about relatively minor improvements made at the expense of liberty and human rights.

Karl Naylor said...

Pquod.

'Hey, Naylor, like I said before, not having a clue what you're talking about has never stopped you talking'

That's the second time you've repeated the same sentence.

But, I'd like to put some questions to you now. Hey, it's your turn to be questioned. Let's see how you fare. You might succeed in re-educating me, Oh Wise Teacher.

'But Cuba's health results have actually IMPROVED, quite significantly, since the end of the USSR'.

How has this been acheived ?

'And no other Third World country has matched Cuba's level of development in education and health'.

Define 'Third World Country'. Provide statistics comparing the health situation in Cuba with other nations such as Chile for example, now under a social democratic government.

*...there is no reason why some of those acheivements should not be preserved and why the US model should be copied*

Er, yes, there is a reason. Cuba's neighbour the USA, the world's most powerful country, uses the blockade & finances the 'dissident' organisations, precisely in order to destroy those achievements and make Cuba *copy* the US model.

So all dissidents are wholly within the control of the USA. All of them ? There is not one independent Cuban dissident in the world who opposes Cuba. Not one. I wonder why they don't appear more often in Cuban public life or why they are not part of the National Assembly.

Have you read Kafka ?

'Of course, Cuba's development from the 1960s to the 1980s was assisted by its trade & investment relationship with the Soviet Union. All countries advance by means of their mutual relationships with each other. Hence the negative effects on Cuba from the US blockade'

The Us embargo continues but, hark, Cuba has ties with Venezuela and could have better ties with the EU. When Zapatero came to power in 2004 certain dissidents were released.

As someone SO concerned with democracy, what would it take for other nations to do to tempt the Cuban regime into conferring democracy on its people ?

'While you claim to have *no agenda*, you slip rather easily into US Cold War rhetoric, describing Cuba as a *satellite* of the USSR. Well, Cuba allied itself with the USSR in its struggle against US imperialism. For you, that was a dreadful thing. Fine.'

Moron. The Cold War has been over for nealy two decades now so the use of the present tense in place of the past is an obvious grammatical fiction and a daft pervertion.

'More: **Unless Neil Clark is lying and every eye witness apart from Tucker is just lying**

*Every eye witness*. Really? So having shifted from your previous spurious claims to having *exhaustive* academic proof to back you up, you now assert that everybody (apart from one person) who has seen Cuba, supports your position!'

OOOh. Exclamation mark indeed !!! I've just provided a study put out by the UN which backs up not only what I say, but also puts into context the prostitution issue in Cuba. That's right CONTEXT. Nothing in your shoddy and pathetic one dimensional propaganda has done so

'Ludicrous'

An echo of a bad conscience, no?

'And BTW, you have as yet posted neither explanation nor apology for your previous lies about the exhaustive *academic research* which you said proved your assertions'

Over to you, pal.

Karl Naylor said...

Anonymous.

Castro cannot be put into the same bracket as Stalin or Hitler, though the regime is certainly totalitarian.

The health achievements are not so great, not as much as they might have been given that both Cuba and Venezuela were the richest nations in LA in the 1950s.

Even so, the fact that the life expectancy in Cuba for might be longer than in LA is also an indictment of a richer country such as the USA. This is always the point.

Wise governments of nations learn that the price of failure is , in some sense , social disorder and the prospect of social discontent. This is why a government that cares for its people and is also open and free to the world for trade is so important.

The state is there to involve itself in the social life of its citizens or subjects without directing it and to safeguard a minimum of security and education.

I believe Oscar Paya realises this and all support should be given to him.

Jock McTrousers said...

Neil, should you look this way again, a couple of thoughts. But first -

Karl Naylor - I read a few lines of your first post and none of the rest. I would be hugely surprised if anyone else did.

Neil - Mr T is right. Look at the company you've got yourself into.

Neil, as close as a few weeks ago, I remember reading an article by you about how (loosely) " the peoples of East Europe didn't realise they were living in a socialist paradise, until it was too late...". I agree with that, incidentally. I'm sure I don't need to spell out the contradictions between that and what you said above on Cuba? How do you square this?

Neil Clark said...

Jock: my wife Zsuzsanna, who was born and brought up under 'goulash communism' in Hungary was particularly shocked at the differences between the sort of communism she experienced in Hungary and what she experienced in Cuba. There was a genuine air of egalitarianism in Hungary, Kadar led by example; he was a simple man who lived modestly and really didn't have a huge ego. Neither was he corrupt. There weren't different queues for ice cream either, and Hungarians could go anywhere in their own country. Hungary was much freer than many other eastern european communist states- Kadar reversed Stalin's dictum of whoever is not for us is against us. I think that there was a lot of difference between the eastern european countries: the GDR for instance was not as free as Hungary. So to equate all the communist states, past and present is wrong. Some communist states- like Kadar's Hungary- did, by and large, deliver the goods (I know Karl will disagree with me on this) and were relatively liberal, others did not.
I think it's true to say that the vast majority of ordinary people in eastern europe were better off thirty years ago than they are now, even Viktor Orban, the leading conservative politician in Hungary has conceded that life was easier for Hungarians under Kadar than it is today. And yes, it's true that many people didn't realise the benefits of what they had- full employment, social security, low crime, good health care, education and transport, until they had lost them.

best wishes,
Neil

olching said...

Cuba's failings have little to do with socialism, and all to do with the historical and geographical context. We should look at the countries in the vicinity: Jamaica, Haiti, Dom Rep etc...all have similar problems...under capitalism. It's possible to argue (and indeed I would) that Cuba's failings should be placed in a wider geo-cultural context and should not viewed as some kind of Castroite phenomenon.

Prostitution etc...are not specific to Cuba, and some social phenomena are more accentuated in places like Jamaica and Haiti (prostitution being one, drugs, crime being the others) than they are in Cuba.

We need to understand Cuba in its specific context. The embargo, the longer cultural and social trends (before 1959), and the comparative element with its neighbours are essential in understanding Cuban development (politically, socially) over the last 40 years. To view it simply as a totalitarian disaster is, in my opinion, ahistorical and completely ignores context. Number-crunching is part of that anti-intellectual process.

Prostitution is wide-spread in the Caribbean. Homophobia is more than just wide-spread in the Caribbean (please look at 'democratic' Jamaica).

pquod said...

Karl Naylor: **I'd like to put some questions to you now. Hey, it's your turn to be questioned...** etc etc

OK.

Q1: **'But Cuba's health results have actually IMPROVED, quite significantly, since the end of the USSR'.

**How has this been acheived?**

Factors include- an understanding of the importance of preventative & primary care; proportionally very high investment in the health sector; high levels of commitment among health workers; relatively low social inequality; the totally state-run, non-market structure of the health sector; all within a communist-led socialist system. Also, paradoxically, the privations of the 1990s, after loss of USSR & intensified US blockade, resulted in a decline in obesity, also less driving and more walking.

Q2: **Define 'Third World Country'. Provide statistics comparing the health situation in Cuba with other nations such as Chile for example, now under a social democratic government.**

A: Well, no space here for a treatise, but we can note that neither Chile nor Cuba are among the world's richest countries (the USA, Western Europe, Japan and a handful of others), whose per capita GDP is around $35,000 and above.

CIA figures give Chile a per-cap GDP of $14,400, and Cuba $4,500. Though far from rich, Chile is much wealthier than Cuba in dollar terms.

But Cuba has significantly better population health than Chile. Also from CIA stats:

Infant mortality:

Chile 8.36
Cuba 6.04

Life expectancy:

Chile 76.9
Cuba 77.08


Q3: **So all dissidents are wholly within the control of the USA. All of them ? There is not one independent Cuban dissident in the world...**

A: Via the NED, the United States officially provides millions of dollars annually to organise & support Cuban anti-communist dissidents. Also, there are the CIA's clandestine operations against Cuba.

No doubt, there are some Cuban dissidents who refuse to accept US money. Oswaldo Paya may be among those who, for reasons of principle or tactics, do not accept US Government funding.

Q4: **Have you read Kafka?**

A: Yes indeed, & very nice of you to ask this. The Trial, The Castle; also his short stories. In the early 1970s, my local branch of the Young Communist League included in its cultural activities a trip to the Camden Roundhouse Theatre, to watch brilliant stage versions of Metamorphosis and The Penal Colony.

Unfortunately, inspired by literary sources or otherwise, the USA has a modern day version, in Cuba, of The Penal Colony. Guantanamo.

Q5: **As someone SO concerned with democracy, what would it take for other nations to do to tempt the Cuban regime into conferring democracy on its people?**

A: Cuba has its own model of participatory democracy. You prefer the pluralist-consumerist model. Fine. So far, the Cubans are resisting this enticing temptation, even though they would be rewarded with a few million euros in *aid* money.

Anyway, what a pity that you then ran out of questions and, perhaps under the influence of Zlaty Bazant and Budvar, your level of debate reached the profound levels of **Moron**, **daft pervertion**, **OOOh. Exclamation mark indeed!!!** etc, etc.

My question for you remains unanswered. You have as yet posted neither explanation nor apology for your lies about the exhaustive *academic research* which you said proved your assertions.

So please, explain or apologise.

Lopakhin said...

Pquod: 'Also, paradoxically, the privations of the 1990s, after loss of USSR & intensified US blockade, resulted in a decline in obesity, also less driving and more walking.'

Oh right, so the intensified US sanctions are partly responsible for the good health statistics in Cuba? Thanks, Uncle Sam. Don't go listening to those idiots who want you to lift them.

kevin said...

Hi, I think your a little confused about where you stand on the political spectrum.I think there is a big difference between your ideas and that of Marx and Lenin. I don't think that you understand the definition of, "each to his ability each to his need" or the definition "each to his ability, each to his ability to produce." If you understood those definitions you would have a harder time calling socialism egalitarian. There is a huge difference between one persons abitlity and anothers. For instance, a doctor has a greater value than a nurse. I also find it interesting that you judged a second world country like cuba against a first world country like england. Did you do any research into cuba before you went. Yes, it's poor, duh! Socialism is a poor persons movement! You can't think about socialism from a middle class perspective. You seen to think that the proletarian state is an ideallic universe full of lefty -liberal bleeding hearts. It's nothing like your world. I doubt that you have ever worked with the poor and don't plan on it in the future, and if you have it's been in a soup kitchen sort of environment where there is no way that you can screw up. Once you've screwed up a million times, gotten criticized by the agents of the government, promenent poor people who are trying to use you to achieve their individual goals, and the local bourgeousie hangs up on you when you call their office with a simple request that they must comply with by law but are never punished for not doing so, and you are fed up with the problem, fed up with the people you are trying to help and have given up on the idea of having a radio in your car. and you believe there is nothing you can do under the current government to change any of this, and some people still think your a great guy and will go along with helping you to organize, then... you are a socialist. Castro did that, how dare you ever criticize him!

Anonymous said...

the U.S. embargo only blocks cuban american trade.
cuba trades with asia,canada,mexico,spain and many other european nations who disregard the emargo-and guess what -does the u.s. react like how the soviets did to noncompliant eastern europeans-do secret police arrest you for political criticism and send you to arctic gulags by cattlecar?-that happened to over 40 million starting from lenin and ending with gorbechav.
cuba's problem is they restrict their own trade-like any communist regime.