Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro gave a "valedictory speech" to the country's Communist Party congress on Tuesday, telling them he would soon die and calling for members to carry on his leftist ideals.
"[T]hey can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need": Yes, we need bread but roses too!
The Associated Press writes; “and popular dissatisfaction grows over the country's economic performance.”
AP propaganda brainwash alert ! — Stoking artificial consumer want of those too stupid to see the wide swath of hardship caused by a decades-long embargo tantrum by the biggest bully on the planet. Embargo is war. War is not the answer. Therefor, cease the embargo, leave Guantanamo and behave like a decent neighbor.
I’ve been to Cuba. People tend to be slim and healthy and can go to school anytime for free. Cubans have free health care and have a healthier old-age than their belligerent, war-like neighbors to the north.
Every now and again, in years past, Fidel would release an exodus of those prodded to insatiable want by induced desire for plastic fantastics. One more exodus to the beaches of Florida and Texas as a grand finale?
By modern weaponry Castro was referring to nuclear weapons. Only one can ruin your whole day, and I don't mean that as a joke.
Care to now compare Cuba to any of its neighbors in the Caribbean basin - including Central America?
Let's dig a little further to get more of the story....
After the Cold War, Cuba faced many of the agricultural challenges that the rest of the world is now anticipating.
The Studebakers plying up and down Havana’s boardwalk aren’t the best advertisement for dynamism and innovation. But if you want to see what tomorrow’s fossil-fuel-free, climate-change-resilient, high-tech farming looks like, there are few places on earth like the Republic of Cuba.
Unable to afford the fertilizers and pesticides that 20th-century agriculture had taken for granted, the country faced extreme weather events and a limit to the land and water it could use to grow food. The rest of the world will soon face many of the same problems: In the coming decade, according to the OECD, we’ll see higher fuel and fertilizer costs, more variable climate patterns, and limits to arable land that will drive cereal prices 20 percent higher and hike meat prices by 30 percent—and that’s just the beginning. Policymakers can find inspirational and salutary ideas about how to confront this crisis in Cuba, the reluctant laboratory for 21st-century agriculture.
Cuban officials faced the crisis clumsily. They didn’t know how to transform an economy geared toward sweetening Eastern Europe into one that could feed folk at home. Agronomists had been schooled in the virtues of large-scale industrial collective agriculture. When the “industrial” part became impossible, they insisted on yet more collectivization. The dramatic decline in crop production between 1990 and 1994, during which the average Cuban lost 20 pounds, was known as “the Special Period.” Cubans have a line in comedy as dark as their rum.
Cuban peasants proved more enterprising than the government and demanded change. First, they wanted control over land. The state had owned 79 percent of arable land, and most was run in state cooperatives. Initially the government refused to listen, but the depth of the crisis and the demands of organized farmers created some space for change. Through reform, the government decentralized farm management. The land remains in government hands, but now it is also available with “usufruct” rights to tenants, who can invest in the soil and pass the land onto their children.
But that took the farmers only so far. So some of the country’s agronomists, plant breeders, soil scientists, and hydrologists (Cuba has 2 percent of Latin America’s population but 11 percent of its scientists) found themselves being put to use by Cuban peasants in the fields. Their task: figure out how to farm without the fossil-fuel products upon which the country’s agricultural systems had become dependent.
With no fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide, and no means to import substitute chemicals, many in the scientific community landed on “agro-ecology.” To understand what agro-ecology is, it helps first to understand why today’s agriculture is called “industrial.” Modern farming turns fields into factories. Inorganic fertilizer adds nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to the soil; pesticides kill anything that crawls; herbicides nuke anything green and unwanted—all to create an assembly line that spits out a single crop. This is modern monoculture.
Agro-ecology uses nature’s far more complex systems to do the same thing more efficiently and without the chemistry set. Nitrogen-fixing beans are grown instead of inorganic fertilizer; flowers are used to attract beneficial insects to manage pests; weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a sophisticated polyculture—that is, it produces many crops simultaneously, instead of just one.
Agro-ecology is particularly valuable in years when disaster strikes the island. After Hurricane Ike flattened Cuba in 2008, a research team found that both traditional plantain monocultures and agro-ecological farms were devastated. But there were striking differences: Monocultures lost about 75 percent of tree cover, where agro-ecological farms lost 60 percent. On agro-ecological farms, tall plantains—a staple of the Caribbean diet—were often righted by the families working the land. By contrast, on conventional farms, the seasonal labor force arrived on the scene too late to save the plants. When trees were beyond salvage in the polyculture farms, crops lower down in the canopy thrived. By contrast, in the monoculture, the only things that flourished in the gaps between trees were weeds.
About four months after the storm, strongly integrated agro-ecological farms were nearly back to full production. It took conventional farms an additional two months to spring back.
Climate change has already reduced global wheat harvests by 5 percent, and food prices are predicted to double by 2030. Cuba’s example is both instructive and frustrating. Technical innovations in Cuban agriculture point to the kinds of thinking needed to address the future: moving away from monoculture and understanding the value of complex, integrated systems. The trouble is that this also means a change in the mindset of governments and scientists schooled in last century’s agriculture. If that’s a lesson the rest of the world is ready for, Cuban peasant organizing could well light the way to the future, even if their automobiles are stuck in the past.
Yes, Cuba is facing numerous challenges; some of which your post referenced. However, your post excluded the 'positive' parts of Cuba's agriculture story while focusing on the negatives. Furthermore, Cuba's agriculture program is hardly "non-productive" especially considering the 'natural' and non-natural obstacles that has been thrown in its way.
Not including the positives of the agricultural practices in Cuba that are at the forefront of sustainable agriculture reveals your agenda. I can hear all about your agenda from any capitalist-owned mainstream media outlet. I am not interested in selective, agenda-oriented information. I want the 'whole' story. I am educated enough, and care enough about the truth, to make an informed, fact-based judgement on the validity of the information on my own.
For the record, I do not support the centralized, autocratic, totalitarian form of government in Cuba.
What?!!! Aren't Cruz and Rubio quite enough?!!!
I had hoped that Fidel might make it till January 21, 2017 so he could have outlived the terms of 11 US presidents (all of whom wished him dead!), but outlasting 10 is still a great accomplishment. To quote the long since dceeased Ronald the Ray-gun's self evaluation of his two terms as he flew into retirement, "not bad, not bad at all!"
Had Fidel and Raul not imposed the rigorous discipline of a military dictatorship on the Cuban people they would have long ago succumbed to pressures of El Norte to become Miami-south. Neither Fidel nor Raul were competent administrators (nor, like Chavez, did they ever develop a competent class of government administrators) but they have managed to hold that nation together, increase life expectancy, decrease infant mortality, and resist the pressure to conform to the unceasing pressures of the US to go over to the dark side.
Sometimes even self-inflicted 'failures' can result in partial successes, as you described. Thanks for your added input!
If by your comment you mean to suggest that the Cubans are somehow deficient in the more esoteric aesthetic realm of the arts, you'd be grossly mistaken. Cuba has never ceased being the fount of some of the most influential music in the world, a music of sophisticated forms and vitality.
Cuba's international standing with regard to the visual arts is well established
As for real roses, Cuba having yet been exposed to the malignancy that is industrial-agriculture's GMO technology, the island remains one of the few locations on the planet with thriving, healthy ecosystems.
And Cuba still sends doctors across the planet in simply inspiring ways: during the Ebola crisis in Africa, Cuban medical personnel far outnumbered those from the U.S., and the Cubans were not to be flown out if they got sick themselves: they had to rely on the local facilities, just like their charges. Talk about a dedication to humble equality.
Castro already admitted that Communism in Cuba was a disaster. Check what he did for Hershey. Hershey employees had housing, medical benefits, schools for the children. When Castro took over, he took them away and the place went to ruin. That's one reason why Castro went from being called el caballo (horse) to el dinosoro (Dynosaur)
Well I have never been to Cuba, but in Honduras and Guatemala, where you have submachine gun armed guards In front of every bank, liquor store, pharmacy and all other stores, which were big enough to afford it.
The first morning after arriving in Antigua late the night before I needed local currency and headed to the nearest ATM. That ATM was guarded by two soldiers with submachine guns and a civilian supervisor, who nodded at me encouragingly.
Another time we were sitting at a candle light dinner in a Flores restaurant on the shore of Lago Peten Itza, when suddenly a group of soldiers came running through an alley, which curiously split the patio of the restaurant, splitting into two groups running in both directions along the shore, obviously chasing somebody.
Mexico is not quite as bad, but banks sport armed guards there too.
A friend, who came back from Cuba recently told me, that he had a very restful vacation in Varadero and hadn't seen anybody carrying any firearms. I sincerely hope, that we will never have enough influence there to ruin that.
Well, he ain't dead yet and is just hinting, that with his advanced age, the end may be near. I would bet, that he will esily make it to the end of Obama's tenure.
Thanks to la libreta, they can only get that much food. Kinda like a diet, except it's government imposed.
The Cuban Revolution killed off all the ones who would speak against the government in the 60s. Only the mellow ones are left. The worst they think of doing is putting together some inner tubes, a few 2x4s and try get to Miami.
I tend to think it is because the people aren't brainwashed into excess consumption by corporatists working with US government supplied tax credits and subsidies.