Thursday, June 16, 2011

Part 4: Reponse to Freedom House Report

   In the section of the report that adresses restrictions on society, there are contradictions in the report.  The report suggests that when talking about the government people's voices were lowered or they asked to go to a more private area.  First it is probable that since they were conducting interviews with a group funded by the U.S. government they may have been worried about the fact that they were treading close to what is illegal, working with the announced enemy of their country.  In spite of respondents saying that nothing can be said against the government there, Freedom House found a situation where a man was telling jokes about the Castro's in the middle of the sidewalk in Havana.  Perhaps he wasn't aware of the "restrictions."  While trying to convince the readers that Cuba's government is unfair, they point out that penalties are given to those people who don't follow economic restrictions.  Here in the U.S. much is said about the rule of law, so why is a penalty against breaking laws to be seen as a problem?  And why would Freedom House feel it necessary to say "regime critics" when describing those who are penalized?  We all know that in almost all prisons in the world evewryone is innocent(!) so why would they take for granted that the woman's story about being fined for not reporting someone who was renting a room in a timely manner?  Anyone who has been to Cuba has experienced the type of crime like a taxi driver not running the meter and pocketing the money for himself.  Are we to give the lady the benefit of the doubt that she wasn't doing something similar?  Perhaps she wasn't, but if she wasn't reporting things the way that she was supposed to then she was still violating something.  The report, although ignoring the possibility of black market activity in the case of the woman renting rooms, goes on to talk about the black market.  It brings up the fact that these casa particulares (houses for rent) rely many times on food purchases from unlicensed sellers.  The wilingness to engage in the black market whether or not out of necessity, should also call into the claims of the woman claiming to have simply not reported the rented rooms in a timely manner.
   The old complaints about Cuba's hotels being only for foreigners is an issue resolved a few years ago when the government lifted those restrictions.  Now the complaint that remains is that in practice very few Cubans can afford to go to such places.  While this is unfortunate, I'd like to know where there exists a society where all of the people earn enough to go on vacations.  There is no country like that to my knowledge and this complaint only serves as an attempt to pretend that Cuba is unique in this way.  How much emphasis is put on countries with similar situations by Washington?  Does Washington spend millions on reports to point this out?  Certainly not if the country is willing to go along with the economic desires bof Washington.  Washington even doesn't worry much about the form of government in countries who are economically or geopolitically advantageous to its own interests.  Pure hypocricy.  But then again, hypocricy is not all that uncommon when it comes to its policies towards Cuba.

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