Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How Obama Trumped Fidel and Changed CUBA's Future Forever

While you weren't watching, President Obama has done something no other president has done -- he put dictators in a situation where they had to answer questions from the press for the first time in their lives!

He did it first to President Xi of China and then again in Cuba when he and Raul Castro made a statement to the press.  When the statements were over, Castro wanted to leave but Obama sandbagged him (good Texas expression) and stated that "both" of them would take a couple questions.

Needless to say Raul Castro was not pleased. It was the first time ever that he or his brother Fidel ever had to answer a question by the press.  Andrea Mitchell posed a question about political prisoners - you can bet he didn't expect that. He almost sounded like Trump saying "What political prisoners? Show me a list and they will be released tomorrow." Yeah, right.

Nevertheless, CUBA will never be the same again.  No longer can Castro blame their crappy economy on the United States instead of Castro's outdated socialist model that has kept Cuba locked into the 1950's, its unpainted buildings and rutted roads being the norm not the exception.

By opening the door to Cuba, Obama has driven a stake through the heart of Fidel's shabby empire of falling down buildings and creaky old classic cars.  There are no Cuban factories making cars or computers or much else. Yes, you can still get a good cigar but that's it.

Fidel just doesn't know it yet. I had to laugh when he said after Obama's trip: "Cubans can do anything."  Apparently they can do "anything" other than build a country whose economy works or allow people to protest without being thrown in jail. A group of protestors that hit the streets as Obama landed were quickly hauled off before the president's drive by. That's old Cuba.

New Cuba will find American tourists coming to town in droves along with new Internet cafes opening up the world to ordinary Cubans. Cubans will, for the first time, see how far behind their country is compared to the world. Only Venezuela, another failed socialist state, is in the same lousy boat as Cuba. However, Venezuela has oil to sell for hard currency, Cuba does not - except  it may find it does have some offshore and will need American technology to get it.

Mexico, Columbia and other countries in this hemisphere shook off dictators in the last two decades and have had good economic growth by allowing people to start businesses and trade with other countries. These countries are far ahead of Cuba.

It's time for the American people to realize that we have a smart, intelligent President who is forcing dictators to answer questions by their people and face a challenge to their anti-freedom ways.  Chinese people still can't get on facebook, but yet they find a way to get the information from the Internet, so they aren't as controlled as the government would like. The same will happen in Cuba now.

By allowing ordinary Cubans to meet ordinary Americans, both sides will discover common interests and new opportunities in tourism and buying and selling goods from farm products to computers.  No longer can Castro claim America and its boycott is the root of their troubles. Cubans will discover that Americans are generous, innovative people, and very likable. And Americans will discover that Cubans are just like us and desire to improve their lives and Cuba has its own assets from baseball players to a cancer vaccine.

It's a win-win. Soon, the Castro's will die and their era will be truly over. Most Cubans alive today will see an entirely new Cuba rise, just as poor Chinese under Mao saw a new China develop after its isolation ended with an historic trip by President Richard Nixon in 1972.  (I was one of the first to go to China after that opening to negotiate sales of American pollution control technology, which I describe in Better Times Ahead April Fool).

Frankly, I'd like to see Cuba myself very soon. I may wait until there are better hotels or visit it while staying nights on a cruise ship. But do it soon because "old" Cuba, just like the old China I saw in 1982, will soon disappear. Better see it while you can and before its a land of McDonald's and KFC's.

Thank you President Obama for having the vision to break us out of  50 years of a failed policy and start a new relationship, based on smart diplomacy instead of  military action.

And thanks for getting the dictators to answer questions to the press on national Cuban TV, so all Cubans can see how we do it in America. That is an example none of them will ever forget, and would not have been possible without this historic trip by the president.

Michael Fjetland, BBA/JD
Author, Better Times Ahead April Fool

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