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Luis Rondon Paz: Originally from Santiago de Cuba, I’m an activist, queer, computer expert, actor, photographer, student and aspiring reporter. I think people are life projects that are constantly changing. I'm usually pretty stubborn, and I consider myself a consistent person and responsible for my actions. I’m committed to just causes and am a lover of good deeds.

Trump’s New Policy, Who Really Benefits?

June 19, 2017 | Print Print |

Luis Rondon Paz

Who will benefit from Trump’s Cuba policy?  Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Last Friday, I was hanging onto every word the new US president said. Personally-speaking, I believe his speech was a well-orchestrated political show to win over the extreme Right of this country which is mainly concentrated in Miami.

I questioned, for a few moments, whether what I was seeing was actually real, I couldn’t get how a power which is so masterful with communication, could be so clumsy. Ah! It isn’t the country, its Donald Trump’s administration. Which has proven that it doesn’t have the faintest idea about what is going on in Cuba, how the Cuban people get by, and how much they suffer as a result of the economic and financial Blockade.

Incidentally, with this setback in relations between the two nations, it is the current regime in force here in Cuba that continues to benefit and not the people.

I can’t get my head around how the speech of one of the richest businessmen in the United States can be so lacking in knowledge of everyday Cuban reality.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s true that human rights are being violated in Cuba which Mr. Trump pointed out, and it’s typical that this happens in a militarized country which has imported a political ideology from the old European powers during the Second World War.

This is a weakness for the Cuban people and a great opportunity that many countries are using to establish their business in Cuba. Especially as the island is already a factory of cheap labor and unfortunately this is accepted by its people, out of fear and ignorance, as a stance which is confused between opportunism, conformity and selfishness due to the current national situation.

I think that it’s the perfect place for any capitalist business person to plant their empire. They don’t need to worry about ensuring basic conditions for their employees’ well being.

But anyhow, going back to Trump, who are really affected by this setback?

It’s mainly the Cuban people and the US tourist.

A person who lives in the United States and travels to Cuba protected by the people-to-people category, has the privilege of being able to enter into direct contact with another kind of Cuban, the Cuban entrepreneur, and they stay in private family homes and can get an idea about how a part of Cuban society really lives. And the most important thing here is that their money stays in the hands of these families and doesn’t go directly to the Cuban government.

When the Trump administration restricted these visits to only being allowed in groups, he is depriving many people of work who are making a living as “guides” under the US people-to-people category. And to work with groups in Cuba, you need to be a member of a job center in most cases, which by the way, are state-owned.

Now let me point out a key issue:

Individual empowerment is being nearly 100% lost, one of the points that the former president highlighted about how change could be brought about in Cuba from within. When a person from the United States enters into direct contact with a Cuban, stays in their home, gets to know their family, their lifestyle, it’s a fact that they will learn that Cuban society isn’t what the mass media have portrayed and propagated for decades, and they will learn to value the great wealth of values the Cuban people have. They will also identify their true weaknesses and they will understand that the embargo is a business which only those in power on both sides of the Florida Strait benefit from.

From a Cuban’s perspective, they have the opportunity to see that not all US citizens are insensitive, trivial and cold; they will learn about other realities firsthand, other cultures which don’t have a reason to destroy the Cuban people’s values.

It’s a source of direct work for those who work in the alternative tourism sector, as well as in transport, art in its many forms, the small tobacco company and other areas of farming, construction, the food industry, as well as helping people who don’t have medicines, one of the most sensitive issues for the ordinary Cuban.

Ahh! And it’s Cubans who buy at hard currency stores that exist in Cuba, except for the odd tourist who goes to buy a bottle of water.

When people have these problems half-resolved, they begin to think about other things, their ambition is no longer to work to eat, they begin to question the many things that don’t work in their country, to the point where they begin to actively engage so as to change this reality. This is called empowerment; this is called individual transformation to push forward collective change.

Unfortunately, Trump’s new policy goes against all of this.

Now, I ask again. Who is this new US policy really helping?


What's your opinion?

  • Nick

    Luis, you are right when you suggest that trump probably hasn’t got a clue when it comes to Cuba.
    Who is this new US policy really helping?
    A bunch of right wing cranks in Miami that’s who.
    The kind of long term loser who probably hates President Obama as much as they hated Fidel Castro.
    Of course trump can now rely on them getting the Florida vote out for him in future. So ultimately its a case of trump putting forward a policy to help trump.
    Same old story – same old game. He’s far from the first US President to play this sad game.
    He is arguably the most pathetic and cynical of all of ’em.
    But he may actually be the last of ’em to try to play this sad game. Who knows?
    (Obviously President Obama showed the way forward by basically acting like a reasonable human being and by realising that this sad game is way out of date and ultimately totally pointless).

    • Kennedy Earle Clarke

      Brother Nick, Thanks for hitting the nail on the head with the hammer of truth, knowledge and genuinely Solid information! Titus 2:8 “Sound Speech, Which Cannot Be Condemned!”

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    There really isn’t any change in policy – the Embassies remain, americans with initiative can still find reasons to qualify to visit Cuba, the President cannot remove the embargo – only Congress can and nothing changes in Guantanamo.
    The left wing nuts will use the so-called policy as reason for ventting more abuse.
    For the people of Cuba, nothing changes. The communist dictatorship remains and hopes for freedom and liberty squashed.

  • lpress

    Trump bragged that “I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.”

    He said he was going to restrict people-to-people travel and stop people from doing business with companies owned by the Cuban Military, but that is far from canceling President Obama’s “deal,” which included establishing diplomatic relations, reducing constraints on remittances, dropping the wet-foot-dry-foot policy, allowing US companies to do business with self-employed Cubans, allowing US companies to sell telecommunication equipment and services, agricultural commodities, medicines, and medical devices in Cuba, taking Cuba off the list of state-sponsors of terrorism, etc. You get the idea — he canceled none of this.

    His speech had more symbolic than practical and it will delay the inevitable rapprochement between the US and Cuba.

    For more on the impact of his policy and links to the speech transcript, FAQs and more information, see: http://laredcubana.blogspot.com/2017/06/trumps-cuba-policy-and-its-impact-on.html

  • Eden Wong

    “… I cannot comprehend how you can eradicate illiteracy and ignorance from a people and still keep them in bondage?…”

    You have never been to Cuba, have you.

    Why don’t you visit sometime and see for yourself?

    • Kennedy Earle Clarke

      Brother Eden Wong, I have been to Cuba four time and each time I am fascinated by the genuine frienship and kindness of these people. I visited as a tourist, I visited for Medical purposes, I visited as part of a delegation twice. Even students from the USA are studying in Cuba. Are they to be indoctrinated as well?

      In the USA, the students are taught about the so-called virtues of Capitalism, never about the slavery which it introduced, the degradation, the exploitation, the oppression, the racism, the squalor that it entails, so, why should Cuba not teach the Socialist system to those students who visit the country to study their preferred profession thanks to the generosity of the Cuban Government and its people?

      Let the Great USA offer scholarsips to worthy students from the THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES FREE OF COST. Only Socialist Countries offer UNIVERSAL EDUCATION to People, because it is a system which eliminates illiteracy, ignorance and sujugation!.

      • Eden Wong

        You’re posting gibberish, refusing to address the one central issue that you brought up.

        It’s easy to teach people to read yet keep them in bondage: You maintain total and strict control over everything that’s available to read. Censorship reins in Cuba, that’s how the bondage is maintained.

        Walk into any Cuban library and see for yourself. This isn’t complicated.

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        Although you carefully avoided my response to your question regarding freedom Earle Kennedy Clarke, let me also answer your latest question which is:
        “Even students from the US are studying in Cuba. Are they to be indoctrinated as well?”
        The answer is yes.
        Having answered that, perhaps you can now say whether you agree with my definition of freedom?

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    Certainly Kennedy Earle Clarke, it will be a pleasure to describe freedom. FREEDOM is the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint and against the law in Cuba.
    In Cuba, the Castro regime eradicated illiteracy in order to instill communism – the purpose declared in their Constitution.
    However by eradicating the free media and replacing it with only State controlled press, TV and radio, the Castro communist regime succeeded in preventing access to information, resulting in much ignorance about anything that was counter to communism.
    For example, a very well educated Cuban school teacher (He holds a Doctorate in Education) asked me how it was that I know more about Cuba’s history than he does. I subsequently asked the same teacher and two of his colleagues their opinions about Boris Pasternak’s book Dr. Zhivago. All three had never heard of a book that is widely regarded as one of the literary masterpieces of the twentieth century. That Kennedy Earle Clarke is ignorance.
    As my wife holds a not insignificant role in education in Cuba, I have had opportunity to visit all the levels of schools from kindergarten to pre-university. I have on several occasions in these pages spoken of my admiration for Cuban teachers, they do their utmost under difficult circumstances for deplorably low incomes. I admire the Cuban people as a whole and their resourcefulness – where else do people have to make chairs out of rebar? All that they the teachers need to be able to fully use their talents is that which all Cubans need – FREEDOM as I defined it.

    • Kennedy Earle Clarke

      Brother Carlyle, is that your definition of freedom? Do you think that what CNN and FOX dish out is freedom of the PRESS or just pure propaganda? I have been in Hospital with a TV in my room and able to watch China Global News Network, BBC, CNN and other USA Networks.

      The Cuban Doctors when they visited my room used to laugh at me when I watched Donald Trump and engaged me in discussing his latest Tweets,because he is known world -wide as a Tweet man. They told me that they watch him on TV in their homes. so, what propaganda are you spreading? You know more about Cuban History than a Cuban teacher? Brother, You are insulting the intelligence of the Cuban People including your wife who you claim is Cuban and a teacher.. On my next visit to Cuba, next year, I will sort you out through H.T. and engage you personally in frank discussions!

      The most ill-informed people in the world are the citizens of the USA! Is Dr. Zhivago such an outstanding book? I do not have a copy and I am not losing any sleep over it because it is not compulsory reading? Have you ever read the book, “CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT-MAN? I am sure you have not! How many USA citizens read it? How come you in Cuba have read Dr. Zhivago? Where is the censorship?? There you go again with your propaganda! Yes! Cuban Teachers are proclaimed all over the world as being the best. They enjoy doing their work. They have not complained to you, so, why are you degrading them like that?

      They are interested in imparting knowledge to their students! Students from my country who have returned home for holidays speak glowingly of them. These teachers seem not to have any problems teaching at all; only you have a problem with them. I ask you this question and you keep dodging the answer. If, under Batista which was supported by Capitalist USA, 70% of the 11 million inhabitants of the country were illiterate, how come, under Communism, illiteracy was wiped out in the first two years, (1959-1961) of the Communist regime? Not even in capitalist USA this has happened?

      How come so many students are coming from all over the globe to attend universities in Cuba and to return home as the professionals from free scholarships compliment of the Cuban people and Government, realizing the dream they always dreamt of becoming?. How come the USA does not offer that kind of educational advancement?.Brother, if your wife is Cuban and you are so totally against the Communist doctrine,what are you hanging around for? Your freedom in capitalist USA, is just 90 miles away, why dont you plunge at it?

      You had the wet foot dry foot policy and you allowed that to evade you? If capitalism is for the rich folks, then surely, Communism is for the working class and your constant griping identifies you as non-Cuban and very anti- working class! I am definitely WORKING CLASS and have to identify with their struggles! Long LIVE the 1959 Cuban Working Class Revolution!!

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        If only Kennedy Earle Clarke you would take time to read contributions before wandering off into illogical dis-jointed rants.
        You asked me to give my definition of ‘freedom’. That is what I did. But you instead of either agreeing or providing reasons for disagreement have to introduce the foreign news programmes of CNN and Fox. Do you agree with the definition?
        However, your response does indicate that when in hospital in Cuba, you were not in one of the usual State institutions as they don’t provide individual rooms with TV. Such luxury is only for fee paying foreigners like yourself.
        I did not claim to have more knowledge than Cuban teachers about Cuban history, I correctly related that which a Cuban teacher holding a Doctorate in Education said to me.
        It does not surprise me that you have not read Dr. Zhivago but confine your knowledge to the type of publication you describe, intellectual challenge is obviously not something you enjoy.
        Although I am not an American, I can state with confidence that more foreign students attend US universities than Cuban ones.
        What were you doing when you were sixteen Kennedy Earle Clarke? I was working on a Scottish farm and earning less than 4 (four pounds) per fortnight (in case you don’t know, that’s two weeks). Is that “working class”? So speak up tell everybody what you were doing.
        You cannot find in any of my contributions anything but respect for Cuban teachers. That respect is gained from knowledge of Cuba and of its people. You lying in the luxury of a private hospital bed (was it the Clinica Garcia?) and spending a few short visits as a tourist, know little of Cuba, but you do insist on demonstrating that ignorance.

        • Kennedy Earle Clarke

          Brother, When I was 16, I worked in the store of an oligarch for less than U.S.C $2.00 per week cleaning out the store and opening it up for work and closing it when work was done. The owner wanted me to kneel down and scrub her floor which was upstairs of the store. I rebelled and walked out of her house. I attended school bare feet. I slept on the floor on old clothes.. I could not attend High School because of my mother’s social standing in the community.

          She could not afford the fees! I broke sugar cane to eat for lunch when nothing was home to eat, OR GO HUNGRY UNTIL 6 or 7pm.. Anywhere I worked for the oligarchs, I always stand up for my dignity as a human being. Do you see working class and why I have to be working class?

          I now own a five bed-roomed house with three bathrooms and a spectacular view of the Caribbean sea, but I am still humble and working class, for material things could never change my status. If my mother is working class, Can I be better than her? Is the egg better than the hen which laid it? Is the chicken better than the mother which laid the egg for it to be hatched from? Do you see WORKING CLASS MY BROTHER?

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            Thank you for the response Earle Kennedy Clarke.
            Your response proves the folly of inane ‘class’ labels. You admit that you live in the luxury of a five bedroom three bathroom house and can afford private medical services in Cuba, but persist in claiming that you are “working class”. By the measures you give, Andrew Carnegie was “working class” but he became the largest steel producer in the world, providing the rails that carried Americans across the USA and building himself a castle in his native Scotland where he entertained the highest in the land. Finally, he endowed over three hundred libraries in North America for the people. “Working class”? Your concept that being “working class” is heredity is so much baloney. Hens and eggs prove naught.
            My Grandfather died as a private soldier in France in 1917 and my Grandmother raised three children on the pitiful income of a privates pension. Through winning scholarships they became University graduates (two with Master’s degrees). So tell me Earle Kennedy Clarke, did they ever cease to be “working class” and if so, at what stage in their lives?
            The conceit that you demonstrate in pretending that because you are “working class” you are better able to comprehend the problems of others is fallacious. Bill and Melinda Gates as amongst the richest people in the world, have proven that the rich can not only care, but actually take action to support people in other countries less fortunate than their own. Their annual contribution to Africa exceeeds that of Cuba.
            so having said all that, how Kennedy Earle Clarke do you define other “classes”?
            Just think for a moment. The grandfather of Donald John Trump(f) kept a brothel. Which “class” does that make the President of the US?