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President Obama, make your words ring true - its time to end the sanctions on Cuba!

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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:36 AM
Original message
President Obama, make your words ring true - its time to end the sanctions on Cuba!
Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 09:37 AM by Mika
To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

- President Barack Obama




Before the 1959 revolution

  • 75% of rural dwellings were huts made from palm trees.
  • More than 50% had no toilets of any kind.
  • 85% had no inside running water.
  • 91% had no electricity.
  • There was only 1 doctor per 2,000 people in rural areas.
  • More than one-third of the rural population had intestinal parasites.
  • Only 4% of Cuban peasants ate meat regularly; only 1% ate fish, less than 2% eggs, 3% bread, 11% milk; none ate green vegetables.
  • The average annual income among peasants was $91 (1956), less than 1/3 of the national income per person.
  • 45% of the rural population was illiterate; 44% had never attended a school.
  • 25% of the labor force was chronically unemployed.
  • 1 million people were illiterate ( in a population of about 5.5 million).
  • 27% of urban children, not to speak of 61% of rural children, were not attending school.
  • Racial discrimination was widespread.
  • The public school system had deteriorated badly.
  • Corruption was endemic; anyone could be bought, from a Supreme Court judge to a cop.
  • Police brutality and torture were common.

    ___



    After the 1959 revolution
    It is in some sense almost an anti-model, according to Eric Swanson, the programme manager for the Banks Development Data Group, which compiled the WDI, a tome of almost 400 pages covering scores of economic, social, and environmental indicators.

    Indeed, Cuba is living proof in many ways that the Banks dictum that economic growth is a pre-condition for improving the lives of the poor is over-stated, if not, downright wrong.

    -

    It has reduced its infant mortality rate from 11 per 1,000 births in 1990 to seven in 1999, which places it firmly in the ranks of the western industrialised nations. It now stands at six, according to Jo Ritzen, the Banks Vice President for Development Policy, who visited Cuba privately several months ago to see for himself.

    By comparison, the infant mortality rate for Argentina stood at 18 in 1999;

    Chiles was down to ten; and Costa Rica, at 12. For the entire Latin American and Caribbean region as a whole, the average was 30 in 1999.

    Similarly, the mortality rate for children under the age of five in Cuba has fallen from 13 to eight per thousand over the decade. That figure is 50% lower than the rate in Chile, the Latin American country closest to Cubas achievement. For the region as a whole, the average was 38 in 1999.

    Six for every 1,000 in infant mortality - the same level as Spain - is just unbelievable, according to Ritzen, a former education minister in the Netherlands. You observe it, and so you see that Cuba has done exceedingly well in the human development area.

    Indeed, in Ritzens own field, the figures tell much the same story. Net primary enrolment for both girls and boys reached 100% in 1997, up from 92% in 1990. That was as high as most developed nations - higher even than the US rate and well above 80-90% rates achieved by the most advanced Latin American countries.

    Even in education performance, Cubas is very much in tune with the developed world, and much higher than schools in, say, Argentina, Brazil, or Chile.

    It is no wonder, in some ways. Public spending on education in Cuba amounts to about 6.7% of gross national income, twice the proportion in other Latin American and Caribbean countries and even Singapore.

    There were 12 primary school pupils for every Cuban teacher in 1997, a ratio that ranked with Sweden, rather than any other developing country. The Latin American and East Asian average was twice as high at 25 to one.

    The average youth (age 15-24) illiteracy rate in Latin America and the Caribbean stands at 7%. In Cuba, the rate is zero. In Latin America, where the average is 7%, only Uruguay approaches that achievement, with one percent youth illiteracy.

    Cuba managed to reduce illiteracy from 40% to zero within ten years, said Ritzen. If Cuba shows that it is possible, it shifts the burden of proof to those who say its not possible.

    Similarly, Cuba devoted 9.1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) during the 1990s to health care, roughly equivalent to Canadas rate. Its ratio of 5.3 doctors per 1,000 people was the highest in the world.

    The question that these statistics pose, of course, is whether the Cuban experience can be replicated. The answer given here is probably not.

    What does it, is the incredible dedication, according to Wayne Smith, who was head of the US Interests Section in Havana in the late 1970s and early 1980s and has travelled to the island many times since.




    No one can say with any credibility that universal education and universal health care needs to be forced on any population. Castro didn't give it to them either. Together, nearly all Cubans worked hard to create the infrastructure and systems that they felt were essential for any progressive system.

    The Cuban people wanted universal health care for all Cubans, and they have it. They pushed for government that represented their ideals, and organized and formed infrastructure that enabled Cubans to create a fair and complete h-c system.

    The people of Cuba wanted universal education for all Cubans, and they have it. They pushed for government that represented their ideals, organized and formed infrastructure that enabled Cubans to create a complete and world class ed system, and they have it.

    Cubans want to assist the world's poor with doctors and educators, instead of gun ship diplomacy.. and that is what they have done WITH their government, not at odds with their government.

    Can Americans make this claim about their own country? I'm afraid, not yet.

    Cubans want normalization between the US and Cuba, and they have thrown their doors open to us, but, it is our US government that prevents what the majority of Americans want their government to do - normalize relations. Worse yet, the US government forbids and has criminalized travel to Cuba by Americans - something that Cuba hasn't done.


    President Obama, I beseech you to do the right thing. To correct an injustice that has lasted far too long.

    End the standoff between our two nations and reach for the long extended hand of the Cuban people.





    "When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint; but when I asked why people are poor, they called me a communist." --Brazilian Bishop Don Helder Camara








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    elocs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:42 AM
    Response to Original message
    1. Each day has only 24 hours and so many want what is important to them done now.
    The man did have a rather long day yesterday and there are very many pressing things for him to do. Patience is in order.
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    Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:45 AM
    Response to Reply #1
    2. I agree. Not demanding it this instant. Hopefully soon.
    Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 09:46 AM by Mika
    Its easier to drop such draconian activity than to maintain it.

    Would save millions of taxpayer money. Cuba would purchase billions of out agricultural products and equipment, meds, supplies, etc etc.

    Just sayin', let's make it sooner rather than later.



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    elocs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:48 AM
    Response to Reply #2
    3. I am sure it will have its moment. n/t
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    Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 11:14 AM
    Response to Original message
    4. There is no more important action that Obama could take immediately--
    with the exception of closing Guantanamo prison and all secret torture dungeons around the world--to demonstrate U.S. good will toward the world, than lifting the embargo on Cuba, which many South American leaders have asked for, in their congratulatory messages to Obama--including leaders like President Lula da Silva of Brazil, who repeated his plea just yesterday.

    The insane U.S. policy toward Cuba--dictated by the Miami anti-Castro mafia--is THE symbol of a century of brutality, mass murder, injustice, exploitation and interference by the U.S. against Latin America. Lifting the embargo and normalizing relations with Cuba would, at once, transform our image in this hemisphere, and signal the world that the Obama administration is sincere in its desire for peace.

    Just this September, the Bushwhacks got the U.S. ambassador and the DEA thrown out of Bolivia for funding and organizing fascist rioters and murderers intent on toppling the elected and very popular government of Evo Morales (60% approval rating), the first indigenous president of Bolivia. The Bushwhacks have also been pouring millions of our tax dollars into the rightwing opposition in Venezuela--for dirty tricks, coups, fascist riots and assassination plots--to topple the elected and very popular (also 60% approval) government of Hugo Chavez. And this doesn't even begin to tell of the use of our tax dollars in South America, to harm or topple democratic governments and destroy democracy, and to support fascist thuggery. All these 'dogs' need to be called off. But the injustice toward Cuba is top of the list of BAD, WRONGFUL U.S. policy in Latin America.

    There is worse to tell, of Bushwhack activities in both Central and South America. I think they've got a war all set up, to try to grab Venezuela's and Ecuador's oil, with fascist secessionist plots (similar to the one they instigated in Bolivia), and this war may proceed as a private corporate war--using billions of dollars stolen from us in Iraq, Blackwater, Colombia's rightwing death squads and other resources, and possibly designed by none of other than Donald Rumsfeld--with or without Obama's agreement. Obama may be facing his own 'Bay of Pigs.' If he intends a peaceful, just policy toward Latin America, he needs to head this plot off, by acting cooperatively and immediately with the new South American 'common market,' UNASUR, to normalize relations with Cuba and create a war-free zone in the Caribbean. Even Lula da Silva is concerned about the Bushwhack reconstitution of the U.S. 4th Fleet in the Caribbean, and has said that it poses a threat to Brazil's off-shore oil reserves. It appears designed to threaten Venezuela's big oil reserves in the state of Zulia on the Caribbean.

    USASUR was critical to fending off the Bushwhack secessionist plot in Bolivia. They acted swiftly and unanimously to back the Morales government. President Obama needs to acknowledge and work with this 'common market.' The consequence of continuing U.S. belligerence toward the social justice goals of Latin America--displayed in so many ways, including the U.S. "war on drugs"--will be permanent alienation between the northern and southern halves our hemisphere, to our great loss!

    Yes, there are Bushwhack disasters all over the world--and Obama has a full plate, to say the least--but it would be wise to start in our own 'backyard' and to signal the billions of poor people right here in our own hemisphere, who have been ravaged by U.S. policy, that we are going to begin to be true to our highest values, here, in the Americas.
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    Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 10:48 AM
    Response to Reply #4
    24. If people judge their gov on what they've built, then Cuba's gov should get an A+.
    Edited on Thu Jan-22-09 10:52 AM by Mika
    100% literacy.
    Highest teacher to student ratios in the world.
    Highest doctor per capita ratios in the world.
    Among the highest longevity levels globally.
    Among the lowest infant mortality globally.
    Lowest AIDS infection rates in the W hemisphere.
    Zero homelessness.
    First nation to achieve WWF sustainability goals.

    This has all been done under the duress of sanctions and trade embargoes (that have been overwhelmingly condemned by UN votes year after year).

    Of all countries to immediately extend the hand of friendship to, it should be Cuba.


    President Obama, please make your words ring true.


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    jberryhill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 11:18 AM
    Response to Reply #4
    25. The embargo is statutory

    There is some executive flexibility here, but the President cannot wave a wand and repeal the embargo.
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    Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 06:19 PM
    Response to Reply #25
    26. Then how has each prez waived Title III of Helms-Burton bi-annually since '96?
    Edited on Thu Jan-22-09 06:23 PM by Mika
    I think that the president can waive Helms-Burton entirely.


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    jberryhill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 06:53 PM
    Response to Reply #26
    27. I'll go back and check...

    But there is some agency discretion w/r/t certain enforcement aspects, but not the embargo generally AFAIK (which ain't much).

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    Maven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 11:22 AM
    Response to Original message
    5. I agree. It's time for this ridiculous and arbitrary policy to end.
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    Hell Hath No Fury Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 11:24 AM
    Response to Original message
    6. I agree completely...
    and mentioned it specifically in the fax I sent to him after he won the election.

    It is w-a-a-a-a-y past time.
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    Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:33 PM
    Response to Original message
    7. Here's my idea for closing Guantanamo Bay. Give it to Cuba...
    and fund its conversion to a convalescent facility for those whom we have tortured and unjustly detained, run by Cuba's highly praised medical system. Provide lifelong pensions, and some choices, to our victims. Many are likely very ill--mentally or physically. They need care. They would not be likely to trust U.S. doctors. Provide them with neutral care, right there in Guantanamo, using the medical system that is right there, on the other end of the island. Let Cuban architects, designers and gardeners transform Guantanamo into a beautiful place of healing. Give our victims the option of remaining there all their lives, or immigrating to some country that will have them. Also--very important--offer them U.S. citizenship, if they want it. We owe it to them, for the gross, horrible crimes that have been committed against them. And for those who might actually be guilty of something like participating in 9/11--a fact that we will never be able to establish, due to torture and mistreatment--grant an amnesty--that beautiful old kingly notion. And even make it formal. Sign a peace treaty with any prisoner in Guantanamo, or in other of our torture dungeons around the world, who is genuinely suspected of actual terrorism (--and I don't mean holding a rifle as a foreign army invades your country).

    One of Cuba's achievements is the best medical system in Latin America, and one of the best in the world. They have a surplus of doctors and medical professionals, because they provide free medical educations, and have been exporting doctors and other medical professionals to poor countries like Bolivia, and poor areas in Venezuela, to staff medical clinics for the poor--sometimes for free, sometimes in barter deal (for instance, in exchange for cheap or free oil from Venezuela). This is something that Cuba does well. Acknowledge it, and put them in charge of Guantanamo Bay--along with lifting the embargo and normalizing relations with Cuba.

    There is hardly a gesture I can think of that would more repair relations with the Muslim world than amnesty for the tortured and unjustly detained (indefinite detention without trial) prisoners of this extralegal U.S. prison system. For any who actually committed terrorist acts--as I said, something we can never know for sure--it is a risk, yes. They may use their convalescence, their pensions and their freedom to plot against us. All I can say is, peace begins with peace. There is no way around it. You can never have perfect safety, and if you sacrifice all decency to that end, what is your 'safety' worth? Obama said it himself, in his inaugural speech--the "false choice between our safety and our ideals." Our ideals are an essential component of our safety. And if we choose militarism, torture, lawlesslness and revenge, we will only magnify hatred and multiply danger.

    There is also no better gesture with which to normalize relations with Cuba, than to acknowledge one of their best achievements--their medical system--and entrust them with healing these Bushwhack victims.

    One final thought on this proposal: It seems to me that the Bushwhacks never intended to try these prisoners, and certainly not in a legal court of law. Why? We need to ask that question. What might some of these prisoners know about Bushwhack connections to Al Qaeda and to 9/11, or other dirty dealings (such as Cheney/Rumsfeld illicit weapons profiteering), that might have been revealed in real trials? Were prisoners with pieces of the puzzle of Bushwhack crimes embedded in a general (and highly unjust) roundup--all detained without trial, many tortured--so as to prevent certain facts from ever seeing the light of day? I have long suspected this, because this is the way that fascist juntas behave--creating a general terror (so that all are afraid to criticize or oppose them), and targeting specific persons--with torture and death--to cover up the worst crimes of the junta.

    We should always ask the "why" of secrecy--whether it's 'TRADE SECRET' code in our voting machines, or secret trials and prisoners sequestered from the outside world. Why were so many innocents rounded up and denied a proper trial--or any access to their families, their communities, and the outside world? Why were the possibly guilty kept so hidden, and treated in such a way that no proper trial is possible? Why were numerous laws bent and broken, to do this? There is almost never a good reason for secrecy. And when secrecy prevails, ill motives must be considered--if we are to continue calling ourselves a democracy.

    In any case, our actions with regard to these prisoners are so tainted with illegality and horror that it is going to take strong, principled action--a complete cleansing of this dreadful injustice--to repair the damage to the persons involved (including U.S. personnel dragged into torture and other crimes, or whose careers and lives were damaged trying to oppose it) and the damage to the national and international rule of law. What better way to 'wipe the slate clean' on both wrongful policies--Cuba and our torture dungeons--than to involve Cuba in solving this seemingly unsolvable problem?

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    Freddie Stubbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:08 PM
    Response to Original message
    8. The Cuba you describe sonds like such a lovely place
    Wouldn't they be better off without trade with the big bad capitalist empire?
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    Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:14 PM
    Response to Reply #8
    9. Why does your comment not surprise me.
    Maybe if we Americans were not travel banned by our own government then we could all more easily see for ourselves that Cuba is not the hellhole totalitarian state that the RW insists it is.


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    WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:25 PM
    Response to Reply #8
    11. Are you arguing against the facts?
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    Kingofalldems Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:22 PM
    Response to Reply #8
    14. Cuba is worse than China?
    Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 08:03 PM by kingofalldems
    We do just a little trading with them. :shrug: :shrug:
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    eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 01:06 AM
    Response to Reply #14
    21. Some people don't understand the difference between good Communists and bad Communists
    The good ones allow their political prisoners to make stuff for multinational corporations for pennies a day, and the bad ones don't.
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    EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 01:14 AM
    Response to Reply #8
    23. Cuba has something like two million tourists a year who also think it's lovely.
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    Posteritatis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:20 PM
    Response to Original message
    10. Where does the authority re: sanctions end up?
    Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 06:21 PM by Posteritatis
    Is it something the president can legally say "this goes away now," or does it have to go through Congress (which enacts sanctions several times a year on various countries, but I dunno about revocation)?
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    Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:47 PM
    Response to Reply #10
    12. The POTUS can waive the Helms-Burton law (major part of the sanctions) entirely..
    Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 06:51 PM by Mika
    .. because ever since 1996 every president has waived the Title III portion of Helms-Burton every six months. (The Title III portion of Helms-Burton is the portion of that law that would allow exiles to sue foreign nationals and corporations for their interaction with Cuba and the use of properties they claim were "stolen" by the government of Cuba, post 1959 Revolution.)

    The rest of Helms-Burton are direct trade sanctions and indirect extraterritorial trade sanctions against companies that do business with or in Cuba.




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    Posteritatis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:58 PM
    Response to Reply #12
    16. I thought Helms-Burton was struck down?
    I remember there being a lot of outrage up here over it because the extraterritoriality bullshit going on, to say nothing of trying to legislate Canadian citizens' travel rights, but I could have sworn it had gone down in a court case a few years ago.
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    Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:05 PM
    Response to Reply #16
    17. No it wasn't. Title III has been waived since the start, but the rest is in place.
    Some Canadians have even been arrested in the US for doing biz in Cuba from Canadian soil, others have been denied entry into the US (evil doers).

    The law is extra territorial in effect. It criminalized trade with Cuba for (almost) any company that does business in the US. There are exceptions that require a special US OFAC permit.

    Pathetic.


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    Posteritatis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:51 PM
    Response to Reply #17
    18. Ugh. :P Thanks for the info
    Extraterritoriality pisses me off just about anywhere that isn't an embassy, and this one's attempting to impose US law on 95% of the planetary population.

    I'm doubly hosed by it since I have dual citizenship. I'm told I can get in some level of trouble because some of my relatives have been in Cuba (IIRC people could go after relatives of the visitor, not just companies), but if they aren't enforcing it so actively anymore that's something at least. The sanctions have to go on general principle, though.
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    Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-23-09 10:37 AM
    Response to Reply #18
    29. It also severely restricts who can trade with/sell to Cuba.
    Edited on Fri Jan-23-09 10:38 AM by Mika
    If a company sells to Cuba, they are banned from the US market (and vice versa). Its not just a ban on US/Cuba trade.

    For example, that is why Bayer AG can't sell Aspirin to/in Cuba. They would have to give up the US market to do so.



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    Billy Burnett Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:00 PM
    Response to Original message
    13. Amen Brother!
    It's about damned time!

    -

    Did you see this?

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/obituaries/story/861989...

    Damn. Sucks BIG time. :cry:

    Wish I was there. :(


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    Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:58 PM
    Response to Reply #13
    15. Sorry for your loss, Billy
    :hug:


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    RollWithIt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:55 PM
    Response to Original message
    19. You overlooked the whole stealing of land and property, political persecution, murder, etc
    But I still agree that we should open trade with Cuba. That generation are almost all gone and its time to move on.
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    Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:35 PM
    Response to Reply #19
    20. Yep. Batista was a very bad dictator.
    Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 10:37 PM by Mika
    All revolutions produce accusations of the stealing of land and property, political persecution, murder, etc. by the aggrieved parties.
    The USofA and Cuban history have parallels in this regard. But, of course, Cuba's revolution is still young - about 50 years - and their Revolutionary heroes are still living and influencing the political climate, especially while the self declared enemy is breathing down their necks supporting terrorists and paid "dissident" organizations seeking the overthrow of their government.

    Still, Cuba has done a lot with meager resources for the betterment of most all of the people.

    Cuba has won many awards of recognition for their national and international education and literacy programs, health care programs, vaccination programs, organic farming developments and more.

    Cuba recently received WWF recognition as a leader in sustainable development.

    Cuba only country with sustainable development: WWF

    Cuba - Only Country With Sustainable Development



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    eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 01:09 AM
    Response to Reply #19
    22. Wouldn't that have been re-stealing the land and property?
    As the old joke about the tenant farmer and the landlord goes--

    Tenant farmer: How come I have to give you half of my crops every year?
    Landlord: Because I own the land.
    Tenant farmer: How come you get to own the land?
    Landlord: Because my granddaddy fought Indians for this land.
    Tenant farmer: Well then, can I fight you for it?
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    TheKentuckian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 07:00 PM
    Response to Original message
    28. I'm all for it and have been since the Soviet Union Collapsed
    Certainly, there is little reason to continue with the status quo at this point.
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