Attention COHA Readers

Due to the electrifying news coming from Cuba, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs’ 10-researcher Cuban unit, under COHA director, Larry Birns, will shortly be issuing a series of memoranda on U.S. – Cuban – Iranian – and Venezuelan inter-relations.

Themes to be addressed:

•Castro’s faulting of Iranian anti-Semitism
•Would-be U.S. Ambassador designate Palmer fails at behaving diplomatically
•Repercussions on Venezuelan-Cuban relations
•Castro’s actions will put pressure on White House to come forth with a more robust conciliatory policy toward Cuba, leading up to a possible détente in Washington-Havana ties. A warming up with EU-Cuban ties, championed by Spanish diplomacy, is also likely
•Much is at stake, as U.S.-Cuban ties could be entering into their most important phase since the advent of the Castro regime in 1959
•It is by no means certain that U.S. policymakers will have the necessary imagination and political backbone to take advantage of the important developments now occurring in the Caribbean and take some meaningful moves to advance bilateral ties
•The net result of recent developments in the Caribbean could mean the marginalization of President Chávez as a pivotal player in regional affairs

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14 thoughts on “Attention COHA Readers

  • September 9, 2010 at 10:00 pm
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    Marginalize a president of Venezuela who has just made peace with a right wing government in Colombia whose former president wanted a war at all cost? Marginalize a president of Venezuela who has returned control of the country's oil wealth to the Venezuelan people after 100 years of foreign control? Marginalize a president of Venezuela whose party will have better than 60% of the seats in the National Assembly after one of the cleanest and best supervised elections in the history of Latin America? Think again!

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    • September 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm
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      good for you! I can't help wondering why "marginalize" seems to be used by COHA as if this would be a positive development….? Chavez may be difficult in some ways, but as someone who is just back from a personal 'fact-finding' trip to Venezuela I must say I continue to find him one of the most creative, imaginative, committed, honest and honorable leaders in all the world. So again, why would it be a good thing to marginalize him?

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      • September 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm
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        Fact-finding? What facts could one possibly find in Venezuela? The 20,000 murders since President Chavez took office in 1998? The 30% inflation rate that cuts through middle class salaries? Chavez is committed, but he is neither creative nor imaginative. People need to stop imbuing leaders like this with all of their own characteristics, as if the Venezuelan president, a former coup leader and thoroughly backwards man somehow had a shred of progressivism in him. Did Minister Grigori Potemkin show you around Venezuela himself?

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        • September 14, 2010 at 6:38 am
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          What 20 THOUSAND murders do you speak of Jefe?

          Let the rest of us know.

          Leaders like Chavez who want to actually HELP the poor, instead of getting on their knees and giving the IMF, USAID, the CIA et al their requisite Lewinski are hard to find.

          Thoroughly backwards? A majority of Venezuelans apparently think otherwise.

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          • September 14, 2010 at 1:26 pm
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            Venezuela has a murder rate of about 68 per 100,000 members of the population. Approximately 20,000 murders have taken place since Chavez became president, mainly in the poor ranchos surrounding the capital city. I sometimes wonder how much poverty has been reduced if homicides continue to rise unabated. Not everything is rainbows and sunshine in socialist Venezuela.

  • September 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm
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    If Chavez is "marginalized", he would be very happy himself cause he would not be so indispensable for his country no more and his leadership would then be shared with others. This can only be good and he would be relieved and retire in peace. Right now he really is badly needed where he is, leading the way. In spite of the world-wide media campaign to make him look foolish and a bully, his credibility is intact and all over the world his message is heard.

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  • September 9, 2010 at 10:51 pm
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    I'm delighted to see Larry Birns and COHA take the lead in grasping the importance of Fidel's recent interview with Atlantic magazine. Castro's remarks in the context of recent reform and progress in Congress on Cuban-U.S. relations can only be interpreted as an extraordinary opportunity for U.S. leaders to find a route, however complicated, to normalization of U.S-Cuban relations. The ball is largely in America's court. It's time to toss it through the hoop.

    Stephen Mumme
    Colorado State University

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  • September 10, 2010 at 3:05 am
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    Like "HeavyDuty" and "Fred", I cannot understand so far why Hugo Chavez' policy should "marginalize" him more than Fidel Castro's.
    However, perhaps similarily to Stephen Mumme, I'm very curiously expecting the upcoming article by Larry Birns.
    I hope very much, this will be a contribution for a better understanding and step forward to more respect and truth towards Fidel Castro and the entire Cuban system, which is forced to the attitude of defense of necessity, since 50 years..

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  • September 10, 2010 at 9:19 am
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    Being that American influence in the region cannot be marginalized and must be dealt with, it is interesting that Mr. Chavez is the one in need of marginalization. If that is the price for exposing who is really the provocateur then Mr. Chavez should be proud to stir the elephant dung. Fidel understands now that Cuban prosperity cannot be simply trying to keep what is yours. He was, and continues to be, the most influential political voice in the region. Cuba has paid an immense price for its revolution. Under ideal conditions, there was no reason Cuba could not have been the Japan of the Western Hemisphere, but conditions were never ideal and there is no room for another Japan in the Western Hemisphere. Brazil has requirements for such a position, but even their leadership has been influenced and supported in no small part by Fidel Castro. He was there when they were the terrorists on the run. The Cuban people have paid an immense price for 50 years and their deprivation is not over, but Fidel now sees many fruits of the revolution throughout the region, and that fruit is good(Mr. Chavez notwithstanding) so it is time for the Cuban people to find prosperity for themselves having given so much to others in hardship and sacrifice.

    The US overtures to Cuba while castigating Mr. Chavez are the result of Mr. Obama's election, which the Castro's understand is the best their going to get, and the need to reacquire its hegemony over the resources of Latin America. The first result is fleeting and Mr. Obama's term is unsure, but America has to have those resources to reinflate its economy and it has to have those Latin American consumers to compensate for its present and future lack of consumer confidence.

    Just as we have seen the cruelty and inhumane practices of communism under the Cuban regime, so also have we seen the injustice, inhumanity, exploitation, and absolute poverty suppported by Western capitalism. The world no longer needs Fidel to shout and rant against the Empire because we see every day the result for people. Even the people of the United States begin to understand their place in the capitalist pecking order. A generation of American workers have been discarded and are unlikely to recover their prosperity in their lifetime. It is no crime to have stood against such injustice, and as the literacy and poverty rate slowly improves in Venezuela perhaps Mr. Chavez's actions will one day be seen to have some merit.

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  • September 11, 2010 at 11:07 am
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    It could be reasonably argued that the Right’s demonization of Cuba and the Left’s defense of it are trivial. No one actually lives in Cuba. Mexico’s population (108 +million) is slightly less ten times Cuba’s (11 + million). Those political, economic and military powerhouses, Guatemala and Ecuador, are each about one-fourth again as large as Cuba. Cuba, in turn, has a population a hair more than 10% larger than the world powers, Haiti, and Bolivia. Even the population of Cuba’s neighbor, the sovereign state of Florida, is considerably more than half again the size of Cuba's. There are people in that state who are intensely interested in Cuba, but they are all eligible for Social Security. Fidel Castro's arteries and Cuba have been moving in the same direction. Why are we reading about either of them?

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    • September 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm
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      In the grand scheme of things, Cuba IS trivial. We read about it because some academics still can't forget the glorious revolution of 1959, even if that revolution didn't quite pan out as they hoped it would. Cuba's health care system is not as impressive as Cubanologists abroad would have you believe, and if you talk to people who actually have been hospitalized on the island, their descriptions of the health care system more closely resemble Central America than any welfare state. Cuba's health care system may have been the envy of the hemisphere in the 1960s when few nations had universal health care, but with Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and even tiny Costa Rica improving their populations' life expectancy, trading political freedoms for a semi-clean hospital room doesn't seem such a good deal after all. With the Cuban government shedding half a million jobs in six months, I think glastnost finally reached the little island and we'll start to see the sugar cane curtain finally crumble. It may have lasted twenty years longer than Eastern Europe, but Cuba's anachronistic political system will eventually become a historical footnote as well.

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      • September 14, 2010 at 3:30 pm
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        Costa Rica? Do keep in mind that as early as the 19th century, Costa Rica introduced free and compulsory education, that made most of the population literate by the next century.

        I see no change in Cuba politically until the Castros depart the scene, but not all Communist states transitioned to democracies upon abandoning Communism. China is Communist in name only, in practice it is more like a fascist or Nazi state. Similarly, the Central Asian states like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are run by the same old party elites as before the collapse of the USSR, but they abandoned Communism in order to hold onto power upon independence- albeit maintaining the same police state apparatus.

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  • September 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm
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    One example of why we read about Cuba is to learn more about the organization and science of their advanced medical system, which achieves a similar outcome for average life expectancy and quality of elder-age life as the US, at a bargain cost of $375 per person per year. An example of why we read a little of what President Chavez has to say is because his country may have as much or more oil than Saudi Arabia. Additionally, President Chavez reminds us to ponder the still continuing 510 years of premeditated nation state genocide of the indigenous people of the Americas, these are continuing crimes against humanity and democratic freedom by the United states and the powerful nation states of Europe.

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  • September 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm
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    See the most recently posted article entitled "Castro’s Change of Heart: The Implications for Cuba, Venezuela, and The United States" for more information!

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