So Cuba Becomes a Potential “See if Anything Sticks” Distraction

From Washington Post:

As sanctions bite in Cuba, the U.S. — once a driver of hope — is now a source of pain

HAVANA — Just like that, the cruise ships are gone, along with thousands of cash-toting Americans who oohed and aahed — and shopped — amid the crumbling grandeur of Old Havana.

For Cubans, it’s a bitter reversal of fortune. President Barack Obama’s opening of relations here, leading to his historic visit three years ago, inspired hopes of an economic boom, bringing American investment and visitors back to this communist island largely shut off from the United States for more than a half-century. A new crop of restaurateurs, IT entrepreneurs, artists and fashion designers, reveling in a fresh sense of optimism, began building businesses to tap into the seemingly lucrative detente.

But as a deepening frost settles in between the Trump administration and Havana, Cuba is instead confronting its worst economic setback in years. 

Lines have snaked for hours in front of markets selling rationed meat. The lawn of the Nicaraguan Embassy — a launch point for migrants seeking to enter the United States via Mexico — is overflowing with visa applicants.

The near collapse of Cuba’s most important patron, oil-rich Venezuela, and the Cuban government’s own failure to enact reforms more rapidly, have damaged the fragile economy, analysts say. But especially in recent weeks, nothing has stung more than stiffening U.S. sanctions.

* * *

The Trump administration is tightening sanctions only a year after Raúl Castro stepped down, leaving someone outside the family dynasty in charge of the island for the first time in nearly 60 years.

Administration officials say President Miguel Díaz-Canel is navigating a still delicate transition, and mounting pressure has led him to dial back support for Venezuela’s Maduro in his standoff with the U.S.-backed opposition leader, Juan Guaidó.

Analysts and some Cuban insiders say the brain trust in Havana has done itself a disservice by seeking to portray Díaz-Canel as a caretaker of continuity rather than a figure for change. Though Cuba has taken important steps toward modernization under Díaz-Canel — improving access to the Internet via smartphones and allowing private WiFi more broadly — it has moved far more slowly on the economic front and remains years behind the free-market reforms made by communist governments in China and Vietnam, for example.

Carlos Alzugaray is a former senior Cuban diplomat.

“This government has a problem,” he said. “And the first problem is the way they have framed themselves, by continually calling themselves ‘continuity’ — which might be pleasing ideologically for some but gives the bureaucracy the perfect excuse to change nothing.”

Trump administration officials accuse Cuba of maintaining “thousands” of military and intelligence personnel in Venezuela. Havana denies the claim.

Carlos Fernández de Cossío, Cuba’s director of U.S. affairs, said Havana supports “any process that avoids military action and that implies a negotiation that solves the Venezuelan problem.”

Asked whether that might mean accepting the U.S. insistence that Maduro leaves power, he said that depended on the Venezuelan leader.

“To start with, you have to ask if Maduro is willing to abandon power, because Maduro has significant support from the population,” he said. “No one knows exactly how much support, but it’s significant. It’s probably higher than some presidents of many Latin American countries have at this moment. It’s probably bigger than the support President Trump has.” 


The stupidity from the White House is absolutely stunning. Does SFB REALLY think that Cuba has more sway over what happens in Venezuela than the US has?

And I REALLY wanted to visit Cuba. Oh, well.


16 thoughts on “So Cuba Becomes a Potential “See if Anything Sticks” Distraction”

  1. wapo:  

    House passes $4.5 billion emergency border aid bill with provisions for the treatment of migrant children in U.S. custody

    [….describes bill, opposition, etc…]

    The Senate bill, however, does not contain most of the strictures that House Democrats are demanding to ensure humane treatment of migrant children in U.S. custody. The Senate bill also includes $50 million more than the House measure for immigration judges to speed the adjudication of asylum claims, as well as $61 million in back pay for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.  

    Republicans described some of the provisions in the House Democrats’ bill as unacceptable, diminishing chances of a deal. Rep. Charles J. “Chuck” Fleischmann (Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, said Republicans are especially unhappy with the lack of funding for immigration judges and restrictions on Immigration and Customs Enforcement funding.


    “This should have been an easy situation,” he said. “But, right now, nothing is easy when it comes to the border.”


    Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that he expected a quick negotiation to reach a compromise once both chambers pass their bills: “We’ve got to get some aid to these poor children. You read about this; it just wrenches your heart.”


  2. save the date


    The House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, in an announcement late Tuesday, said that “pursuant to a subpoena,” Mueller has agreed to appear before both panels on July 17. Mueller, who oversaw the 22-month inquiry, is perhaps the one person lawmakers and the nation have been wanting to hear from the most.

  3. So it looks like Mueller will be chatting with the House of Representatives, or at least the intelligence and judiciary committees. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I suspect if it hasn’t already happened essay SFB and Barr will try to prevent his testimony, and I am hoping that Mr. Mueller says something along the lines of “Mr. President what makes you think I give a shit about whether you want me to testify? I have a duty to this country and a duty to the constitution that is much stronger than any duty I ever had to Bill Barr or to yourself. I’ll be testifying – you may want to watch.“

  4. Pat, I scheduled an 8:30p post for a live thread on tonight’s Dem debate, which starts at 9p ET on NBC.

    Tonight’s debate will feature:

    • Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey
    • Julian Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development
    • Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City
    • John Delaney, former representative from Maryland
    • Tulsi Gabbard, representative from Hawaii
    • Jay Inslee, governor of Washington
    • Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota
    • Beto O’Rourke, former representative from Texas
    • Tim Ryan, representative from Ohio
    • Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts

    Thursday night’s debate will feature:

    • Michael Bennet, senator from Colorado
    • Joe Biden, former vice-president
    • Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana
    • Kirsten Gillibrand, senator from New York
    • Kamala Harris, senator from California
    • John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado
    • Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont
    • Eric Swalwell, representative from California
    • Marianne Williamson, activist
    • Andrew Yang, tech entrepreneur
  5. Patd, you have my unbridled admiration for the way you have assumed interim leadership in the void created by Craig’s unavoidable ’emergency leave’. I’m not going to start naming the others that have pitched in as well because I would undoubtedly sin by omitting several vital trail hands. But, let me say one more goodbye to Jace who pressed enter with a fresh selection on the week of his ultimate demise. Such a group that you have created, Crawford.

  6. Add my thanks and accolades to Patd.  You have done yeoman’s work on behalf of the trail!!!

    Looking forward to tonight’s debate.  I hope Amy Klobuchar does well since neither MSNBC or CNN seem to be able to remember her name. 

    Cuba has been a major cock up since the beginning of the Castro revolution.  There was a opportunity to side with the revolutionaries instead of the dictatorship that caused it.  Instead the US went with siding with Batista and the mob.  Castro won and any hope of helping Cuba to turn towards a democracy died when Russia stepped in.  


  7. patd…  let me echo everyone else….  great job!…  and thank you!
    If there were Russian missiles in Cuba now… does anyone think trumpty dumpty would care…

  8. Housekeeping: For the first time in many months our server company has faced a major attack from unfriendlies, not specific to our site but them in general. After many hours on the phone we think this is under control. 

  9. Casino plus hotel, golf course, MLB baseball team, tv network, stadium and lotsa hot babes*. 

    *I don’t mean the dead and dying Central American children – who, by the way, can leave any time. Losers, believe me.

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