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posted by CoolHand on Sunday March 20 2016, @10:01PM   Printer-friendly

President Obama has become the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since long before the Cuban embargo began:

President Barack Obama embarked on Sunday on a historic trip to Cuba where a Communist government that vilified the United States for decades prepared a red-carpet welcome. Lifting off from Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, Obama headed for Havana where the sight of Air Force One, America's iconic presidential jet, touching down on Cuban soil would have been unimaginable not long ago.

The three-day trip, the first by a U.S. president in 88 years, is the culmination of a diplomatic opening announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014, ending a Cold War-era estrangement that began when the Cuban revolution ousted a pro-American government in 1959. Obama, who abandoned a longtime U.S. policy of trying to isolate Cuba internationally, now wants to make his shift irreversible. But major obstacles remain to full normalization of ties.

Ahead of Obama's arrival, plainclothes police blanketed the capital with security while public works crews busily laid down asphalt in a city where drivers joke they must navigate "potholes with streets." Welcome signs with images of Obama alongside Castro popped up in colonial Old Havana, where the president and his family will tour later on Sunday.

Also at The Guardian and live at The Washington Post. Voice of America reports that dozens of protesters were arrested hours before Obama's visit.


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  • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Monday March 21 2016, @03:31PM

    by cmn32480 (443) Subscriber Badge <{cmn32480} {at} {}> on Monday March 21 2016, @03:31PM (#321126) Journal

    You are incorrect. They COULDN'T leave. The communists were preventing people from fleeing the country in order to keep the money in country. That is why my fathers family went on vacation to Jamaica, with only what they could carry in their suitcases, and never returned. They went to Miami, then Queens, NY, and started over with basically nothing.

    My grandfather made it to where he was under the elected regime pre-Batista. He grew up with nothing, worked his ass off, went to college, and made something of himself.

    I'd suggest this wikipedia article [] to give you some perspective on the social classes of those who have left Cuba in the last 70 years.

    In case you don't read it here is an excerpt:

    The term "Cuban exile" refers to the many Cubans who fled the island of Cuba. These peoples consist of two primary groups loosely defined by the period of time occurring before and after the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s. The pre-Mariel group consisted of the mostly middle and upper classes of the island who fled in the fear of widespread reprisals after the communist takeover led by Fidel Castro in the late 1950 and through the 1970s. The people of these groups were mainly seeking political asylum. The second group consists of those peoples who emigrated from Cuba during and after the period of the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s. By and large, the majority of these peoples were, and are, seeking better economic conditions. The phenomenon date back to the Ten Years' War and the struggle for Cuban independence during the 19th century. In modern times, the term refers to the large exodus of Cubans to the United States since the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

    More than one million Cubans of all social classes have left the island to the United States,[1][2] Spain, Italy, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, and other countries.

    tl;dr: Everybody, particularly those who had supported the return to democracy in the 1959 elections, ran like hell for the border.

    People are STILL trying to get out. Hence the current feet dry doctrine of the US government. If a Cuban refugee makes it to dry land, they can request asylum, if they get caught on the water by the Coast Guard, they are returned.

    And let me be clear, I hope I am wrong, but the deal made by Obama was one sided. Most of the political prisoners that were released, got locked right back up.

    "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
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  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday March 21 2016, @04:26PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 21 2016, @04:26PM (#321143) Journal

    The communists were preventing people from fleeing the country in order to keep the money in country.

    Is it really to keep money from leaving, though? Money knows no boundaries anymore. And nobody can physically pick up machine tools and factories and ore and all the other things that create value and throw them into an airplane seat or rubber dinghy and flee the country; that stuff will always remain. What they're really fleeing with is their skills, know-how, and gumption.

    But then, we've seen this film before in post-colonial scenarios all over the world. If you chase out the skilled and motivated and retain the un-skilled and un-motivated, your country will plunge into abject poverty no matter how rich the natural resources. Take Uganda. Idi Amin expelled the Indians and Europeans and all non-black Africans and the country promptly plunged into poverty. That country has spent the past couple of decades trying to lure them back, for naught. Mozambique chased out the Portuguese, and presto! Instant poverty. Same thing in Rhodesia, even though Mozambique expressly counseled Mugabe against chasing out the skilled classes. As Rhodesia the country was known as the breadbasket of southern Africa; as Zimbabwe it's a basket case.

    The same thing is about to happen to America itself. Its elites think nothing can ever go wrong, they can abuse the American people endlessly and will still remain on top. Because, hey, it's all about the basis points and unicorns and BRICs, right? Those things are all fungible. Why bother with people and families when you can click a mouse and send all your capital to the other side of the world at the speed of light?

    So I submit, as you have affirmed with your family history, that wealth and national strength does not repose in any physical object but in the humans who wield them. Drop a motivated man in a forest with a knife and he will build an empire; retain a coddled welfare recipient, be he in a housing project or a co-op on the Upper East Side, and you will know real poverty.

    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday March 21 2016, @05:44PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Monday March 21 2016, @05:44PM (#321163)

      While I agree that chasing the "elites" away is never a great idea, in many cases the former colonizer retaliated against the government who chased them away. How bad would the situation really be in Zimbabwe, had the UK not started an international campaign against them for thinking that the land didn't belong to the descendants of the white colonizers? Probably still bad, because Mugabe's a classical rapacious dictator, but not quite as bad overall.

      The situation in Cuba would be pretty good if the US had kept trade relations (with good chances of the Castros having lost their job decades ago for lack of an enemy to rally against). Given what they've achieved while under a nasty embargo, the Cuban are not to be underestimated.

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday March 21 2016, @07:13PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 21 2016, @07:13PM (#321203) Journal

        To be sure, it's not simple. In post-colonial situations, race and discrimination have been almost impossible to separate from skills. Zimbabwe/Rhodesia is a particularly weird case, because on the one hand, it was a horribly racially repressive regime, such that put the South Africans to shame. On the other hand, the natives that preceded the European presence did nothing to capitalize on the natural advantages, and those black nationalists who succeeded the Europeans squandered everything good that had been achieved.

        All that notwithstanding, despite the complicated racial dynamics, I think the general lesson shines through: chase away your best people and your nation will suffer, no matter what your natural resources or geopolitical position may be; attract the best people you can, and your nation will benefit, no matter what your natural resources or geopolitical position may be.

        The way I see it, there are about 50 million highly-educated and trained people in the United States whom the elites have disenfranchised. A country that moves with dispatch to attract those people will have a serious leg up on becoming the next superpower.

        Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 2) by gnuman on Monday March 21 2016, @07:10PM

    by gnuman (5013) on Monday March 21 2016, @07:10PM (#321201)

    And let me be clear, I hope I am wrong, but the deal made by Obama was one sided. Most of the political prisoners that were released, got locked right back up.

    If you are causing disorder in Cuba, you will most likely get locked up. (Heck, look at Trump rallies -- seems dissent is not very much tolerate there either?) But that doesn't mean that there is thought police on Cuban streets. There are plenty of reformists inside the party on the island. Even now, hundreds of thousands of small business and cooperatives are allowed to operate on the island. International hotel chains like Starwood Hotels, will invest in Cuba,


    The worse thing that can happen for Cuba and Cuba's future democracy is to keep things as they are. Cubans already can travel freely,


    Regardless, the only change that can come to Cuba is slow, methodological, and through political means. Quick changes are always bad.

    Finally, irrespective of what you were told, most people on the island support their government while acknowledging that there are problems that they will have to work through. Cuban government is not the "boogeymen" as told by many expats. Elections are quite non-partisan -- people run as individuals, not as members of particular party.