Friday, December 19, 2014

Musing on Cuba and the U.S. … by gimleteye

In Miami New Times, Chuck Strouse writes, "Obama's words were beautiful, but he's wrong about Miami".
"This is where President Obama failed to understand the city," Strouse writes. "It is not just "a demonstration of what the Cuban people can achieve." These days, Venezuelans fleeing a failed economy play a role almost as large as the Cubans. Brazilians, whose economy is also flagging, have bought up huge blocks of downtown condos. Colombians, Nicaraguans, Argentines, Haitians and others all have their piece of the city, too."

Fair enough. The expanding influence of other Hispanics in South Florida has been well noted throughout our economic and political life. Strouse continues,

"… I wish, as the president said, that Miami were "a place that reminds us that ideals matter more than the color of our skin, or the circumstances of our birth." It is not. It is one of the nation's most segregated cities and one of the most extreme when it comes to rich and poor. Blacks have complained for decades of their inability to get good jobs here and many of the best African American minds have departed."

Strouse is right on point, of course, but I have a different interpretation. By singling out South Florida Cuban Americans, President Obama's speech acknowledged the outsized influence on Florida and national politics. (The New York Times ran an analysis along this line, yesterday.)

On this blog, over many years now, we expressed this point less tactfully but more truthfully: how hatred of Castro in Miami moves elections through an orthodoxy as rigid as that in Havana.

The purpose of this orthodoxy -- that manifests in political campaigns and regular broadsides (Spanish language AM radio in particular) -- is economic. By fixing the pecking order in city and county government, Cuban American elites in Miami achieved spectacular results. Not so good if you care about the quality of life.

But times change. Baselines shift. The Cuban American orthodoxies that Bill Clinton responded to in 1992 and Bob Graham even earlier have faded. Antagonists grow old. They disappear.

Every morning at Miami International Airport, in queues to ticket counters of outbound flights to Havana, the failure of the embargo is on full and visible display.

One reaches a simple conclusion ignored by the GOP: the Kabuki theater of US-Cuba relations outlasted audience preferences.

In yesterday's blog post, I called out Republicans for opposing Obama's historic initiative as "fighting yesterday's war". Along this line, angry Senator Marco Rubio, who repudiates reconciliation and science (global warming), ought to have a prayer session with the Pope.

In the meantime, the economic elite in Miami's Cuban American community -- mostly Republican -- if they haven't already visited Havana, will be buying their tickets now.

Fidel Castro's passing will feed a Miami audience hungry for any kind of catharsis, but change in Cuba -- when it comes -- whether slowly or quickly, will not be "democratic" for a long time. In the meantime, our Republican Congress would do well to get our own house in order; never mind Havana. Let's start with campaign finance reform. Imagine the celebrations in the United States, if we had fair elections and fair districts.


Anonymous said...

Great post! It sums up my thoughts almost perfectly.

Anonymous said...

" . . .the Kabuki theater of US-Cuba relations outlasted audience preferences."

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant insight, perfectly stated.

Anonymous said...

I am worn out hearing about Cuba. Enough already. I am eagerly waiting for the sentencing of that Haitian lady ex-North Miami Mayor Lucy Tondreau for using her position to commit mortgage fraud. (Crime committed before her election...) Found guilty and now facing 30 years. A lesson to Haitian con artists...

Anonymous said...

You are right about them buying their tickets! Not only that, while some are screaming and hollering, other people are already quietly trying to get in the pipeline for contracts, sub-contracts, franchises, business opportunities and the like that will be coming soon. Some people know that the early bird gets the worm.

Anonymous said...

The smart money has been going to Cuba via Canada for years staking out their game plan. Only our local politicians fearing they won't get re elected without that particular segment of the vote are worried about the positive changes for the people on the Island, to one day be free, maybe not today, but it will happen.

Anonymous said...

Cuba needs to bring a top tier urban planning firm from America right away to look at what is on the ground and develop a master plan for the island. Visually ugly, incompatible land uses, and crazy patchwork development like we see in many places in the world should be minimized. It would provide a framework upon which everyone could work. A detailed development plan, with phased in infrastructure improvements, would attract investors, speed up development, and create a visually attractive environment for tourist and residents alike.

Anonymous said...

The News Trucks have left Versailles......I can get my morning coffee sans le cirque.

Though I am cautiously optimistic for Cubans on the Island, I do not appreciate those who make light of what was real human suffering at the hands of the Castro's.

Anonymous said...

Someone should explain to Cuba how private property ownership really works. It is a theoretical construct. The private property owner has exclusive use of the property as long as they pay taxes. In reality in the US, local governments in a sense own all of the land. Even if you have no outside mortgage you must pay property taxes to the government every year. Failure to do so, and local government takes your property. Property taxes are how local governments are funded, and with that money they create jobs, provide services, a help create the local economy. The land is the money generator for local government, but if the government owns all the land, there is no source of revenue or dependable revenue source. If the government wants a particular property, it uses eminent domain, and pays the owner for the property. However, if it is off the tax rolls, it cannot generate tax revenue. Property taxes go on forever, they never ever stop, and are subject to yearly increases. Whoever owns it privately, must pay. So it is guaranteed money for local government forever, and is a continous gold mine.

Government also controls what the land can be used for in zoning codes, what can be built on the land in building code requirements, and any other requirement it wants. Perhaps a visit to an American city by Cuban officials would be an eye opener.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully now that diplomatic relations will be established between the U.S. and Cuban governments some journalist may be able to ask Raul Castro to explain how he and his brother have been able to remain in control of the Cuban government for over half a century. Many now we will have access to the Stasi like records that contain the details of the thousands of executions by firing squads in 1959 and throughout the 1960s by members of their military. Maybe now he can explain the fairness of expropriating private property, forcing Cuban citizens to work in labor camps, instituting a communist educational dogma that forced thousands to flee the island. Maybe now he can explain how his government once requested Russian premier Kruschew to initiate a nuclear attack against the U.S. Maybe now the records of hundreds of thousands of Cuban citizens put through gulag like prisons will be made public. We would also like an explantation for the sinking of the 13 de Marzo tugboat sank by Cuban government Coast Guard with over 20 citizens including women and children or the downing of two BTTR planes in international waters carrying three U.S. citizens- one an ex Marine and Viet Nam veteran. These are just some of the highlights of the injustices and crimes committed by the Castro regime. If there was any justice in this world Raul Castro would not making alliances with the U.S.- he would be tried by an international tribunal as a human rights violator and criminal and judged for the deaths of thousands of innocent victims.