Sunday, September 29, 2002

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - An amazing story about free trade's arrival to Cuba in the New York Times this past Saturday. It appears that US Agribusiness is cracking into the Cuban market - albeit in a very limited way. And agribusiness interests, to whom the Bush Administration has pandered in oh-so-many surprising ways, is chomping at the bit to burst through the restraints of the anachronistic embargo. I was equally astounded to hear Castro speaking timidly and hopefully of "fair trade" with capitalists in the US as opposed to simply railing against such capitalists with the equally anachronistic Marxist rhetoric and bombast that one usually expects him to spew forth. While the trade fair was very restricted, it's foolish to think that its impact won't be felt and recognized by the Cuban people. I am a firm believer that cracking into the Cuban market will do much more to chip at the Castro dictatorship and bring democracy to Cuba than will the embargo. But that old argument is for another post. What simply floored me in this article was a comment attributed to Otto Reich, Bush's controversial pick to coordinate the administration's Latin American policy. According to the article, Reich, a member of the Cuban exile community whose single-minded antipathy towards any policy of accommodation with Cuba, warned Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who was in Cuba participating in the trade exposition, to "steer clear of the island's 'sexual tourism.'" What the hell kind of a comment is this!?!?!? Is Reich not cognizant of the fact that "sexual tourism" also exists in the US? This comment is insulting to the American politicians and agribusiness representatives in attendance (in that it paints them as lecherous sex-hunters), as well as to the decency of the Cuban people. No question that prostitution is a problem in Cuba. I think every time Reich passes through Las Vegas or even Miami, we ought to "warn" (insult?) him likewise. But for Otto Reich to hurl such barbs just indicates all the more what an infantile idiot he is - as well as are all those who supported Reich's nomination and hailed him as the best candidate for the job.

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