Nine or so years ago I spent an afternoon at the Princeton Public Library watching two American-made Cuban propaganda films. One of the films was titled The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.
At the time I wrote,
The film praises the virtues of Medieval agriculture as practiced in modern-day Cuba, including the return to the use of oxen, and how superior plowing a field with two oxen is, compared to using tractors. My late father, who was not Cuban, had a farm and if he got wind of that he would have turned in his grave.
After I posted that, a historian friend joked that the agricultural practices I described date back to the Iron Age, if not earlier, so let’s not give the Middle Ages a bad name.
Fast-forward to yesterday’s article in The Former Newspaper™ (as Andrew Klavan calls the NYTimes), Cuba’s Surge in Tourism Keeps Food Off Residents’ Plates by Azam Ahmed:
Tourists are quite literally eating Cuba’s lunch. Thanks in part to the United States embargo, but also to poor planning by the island’s government, goods that Cubans have long relied on are going to well-heeled tourists and the hundreds of private restaurants that cater to them, leading to soaring prices and empty shelves.
Yes, foreigners and anyone else paying in dollars eat better than ordinary Cubans (be assured that the regime’s elite are not going hungry). As in healthcare, the dictatorship has an apartheid system against its own people.
Otherwise, like Rick in Casablanca, Mr. Ahmed was misinformed:
Nine years ago I quoted IBD: “The inescapable fact is that Castro has ruined the most industrialized Latin American country, and a food importer, and now the U.S. is Cuba’s food lifeline:
“Castro, whose ruined nation shipped $780 million worth of vegetables, sugar and agricultural exports to the U.S. in the 1950s, has turned his nation into a lunar wasteland over his 48-year dictatorship, its famous sugar industry now gone. Does Castro take responsibility? No. He blames global warming, not his disastrous decisions.
“But Cuba’s land lies in ruin not because of bad weather but because its massive propaganda-driven ‘great sugar harvests’ of the 1960s ruined the land in the name of making Castro’s arbitrary quota — and because no citizen can own or trade land for its most efficient use. Now, Cuba grows so little food it must import it from the very nation its leader denounces and undermines and blames.
“In fact, it’s Castro’s dirty secret: The U.S. is Cuba’s food lifeline. The U.S. sells $340 million in food a year to Cuba just so its ration books can be worth the paper they’re printed on.
“The U.S. is Cuba’s top trade partner, but Cuba ranks only 32nd on the U.S. list.”
In the first seven months of this 2015, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba totaled $122 million, and like everything else in Cuba, you have to go through the Communist regime’s machinations (emphasis added),
All U.S. agricultural goods must be sold to one state-owned company, Alimport, and many Cuba observers generally believe the Castro regime uses it as a political lever. During much of the 2000s, Alimport purchased U.S. agricultural products from dozens of states with the hope of garnering support from the states’ respective lawmakers to repeal the embargo.
The purpose of this lobbying initiative pressuring Congress to end what remains of the embargo? To guarantee the survival of the Communist dictatorship.
“Cuba’s Surge in Tourism” is not what “Keeps Food Off Residents’ Plates;” what’s keeping food off residents’ plates is Communism.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.