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Cuba

Problems of liberalism

Nuclear free, smoke free, predator free, Covid free…to save the careers of MPs and cabinet ministers it seems we also need to be sex free.

Meanwhile, for those of a left liberal inclination there remains the problem of Cuba, a country for whom the predator problem is of pressing importance because the US has imposed a stringent economic blockade ever since the revolution. There’s no more vicious predator than a bourgeoisie whose economic urges have been negated. As trade and financial transactions have been made as difficult as possible it has cost the Cubans billions of dollars. Obama tinkered with it, as was his want – when he wasn’t killing people by drone strikes (empathy doesn’t extend far) – but Trump has imposed it ever more stringently.

Every year the UN Assembly, opposed only by the US and Israel, votes to judge the embargo illegal. NZ diligently votes for the motion, but – here’s the rub –does nothing to back it up. The local commercial sector with its ties to the States whether by banking or trade, avoids the sanctions by obeying the blockade and having nothing to do with Cuba. The embassy and its staff are refused a bank account – even an eftpos account. A local importer of Cuban coffee cannot process the necessary transactions except by operating via a European country, which adds significantly to the cost. A NZ resident can’t send a donation to a Cuban school… and the government does nothing.  It could, like some European governments, pass a law making it illegal to apply the sanctions within our territory. The banks and companies would then have a safety net if penalised by the US. The US could well be outraged and even cancel our naval participation in the current war games aimed at China. That would be a tragedy?

But at least we wouldn’t be hypocrites. And our current hypocrisy should be a matter of concern. It should be noted that Cuba, a poor country, still managed to send medical teams to countries in need, causing apoplexy in the Trump administration. Have we been similarly generous or internationalist? Commentators point out how drastically Covid is affecting and will continue to affect developing world countries. Here’s Fatima Hassan, South African Civil Rights Lawyer talking about the impossibility of a successful First World Covid response in South Africa. ‘That science and that evidence is a First World science and evidence. It’s designed for countries where people can stay at home and work from home, where they have secure employment. It’s designed for countries where there is sufficient socioeconomic rights protection and benefits if you are unable to go to work. It’s designed for countries that can socially distance, where you don’t have thousands of informal settlements that are densely populated. It’s designed for countries where there’s proper sanitation, where there’s running water for every single person, where there’re secure food supplies…’  The UN has calculated that justice for the developing world in the current situation will cost 10% of the GDP of the First World. At the moment we contribute 0.2%; the US 0.15%. Sweden is the most generous with 1.36% followed by Norway with 1.14%.

When it comes to the number of refugees a country is giving shelter to per thousand inhabitants: Chad  30; Jordan  89; Lebanon  208; Sweden(once again the most generous developed country) 14; NZ  0.3.

Unfortunately this conversation is not part of our Covid response. Instead we’ve adopted a ‘God’s Own Country’ mantra, safe, wealthy and self congratulatory behind our borders.

Cuba

I feel a growing outrage as the Trump regime increases its persecution of Cuba. Outrage at the absurd resurrection of old language – ‘communist’, ‘dictators’, ‘spreading revolution to neighbouring countries’, portraying the American continent as ‘their territory’ and one which they must control economically and politically. Outrage at what it produced in the past and what it will produce now: the training of torturers, the arming of contra gangs who became mass murderers, the bombing of presidential palaces – all in the name of ‘freedom’.

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So they will persecute the Cuban citizenry, starve them, torture them slowly, for that is who sanctions hit, the ordinary folk who are supposed to then rise up and welcome Hitler and his gang (sorry, a slip of the tongue) as they march in as saviours. It is the worst sort of theatre of the absurd, for sado masochism is always absurd.

I’ve been to Cuba. Cubans don’t shoot one another with monotonous regularity, they seemed to have very little domestic violence, they don’t have anorexics or teenagers exposing their genitals on social media, – in fact the kids were wonderful, they still plough their fields with oxen and don’t do factory farming, they supply doctors to disaster zones, there was no overt military or police presence, they dance very well and sing beautifully in complex rhythms; education and health care is free and they rate high on well being indices. They’re freeing the economy from state control and encouraging co-operatives, there were no beggars or homeless, they have a civil society, have elections and they have respected elders who forged a revolution and kicked out the mafia, the gangsters and the American corporations. They live at a humble level economically and there can be a lack of consumer items because of the sanctions, but it is a country that copes and is resilient. When I was there I decided the world could live at the Cuban level economically and things would be fine.

cubanschoolkids1

Hence the outrage when these mendacious and ugly bullies start kicking the other kid on the playground because they are bored with their own stupidity, their paranoia and the toxicity of their banal and greedy lives.

Could the NZ government have the gumption to kick out the US ambassador? Or at least, Winston, call him in and give him a dressing down?

Meanwhile the US government will inspect one’s social media output before granting a visa. I suspect, if I were ever wanting to go there, this missive will count me out.

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