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| | |-+  Washington turns the anti-Cuba lash on Jamaica
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Author Topic: Washington turns the anti-Cuba lash on Jamaica  (Read 8322 times)
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« on: June 02, 2004, 11:34:55 AM »


Washington turns the anti-Cuba lash on Jamaica

Keeble McFarlane
Saturday, May 29, 2004

Keeble McFarlane
Like the Energizer bunny of the television commercial, the United States government just never quits when it decides on certain courses of action. Every new step it takes seems to reinforce the previous step, as well as the rightness of what it is doing, even if this is demonstrably outdated, ill-advised, shopworn or downright stupid.

The most egregious example of this fixity of mind is its relations with its close neighbour, Cuba. Since the middle of the 19th century, the United States has had an interest in Cuba far different from its relationship with any other country.
It encompasses the usual focus of a place to do business, a place to play in, and a place to own, both economically and politically. That relationship came to a wrenching end 45 years ago when Fidel Castro and his cohorts reclaimed the island as their own, with their own take on what they wanted to do with themselves, and their own ways of doing things. The 10 men who have occupied the White House in that period, along with the hundreds who have served in the two chambers of the US Congress have, for the most part, refused to forgive Castro.

Soon after taking over, Castro nationalised all the important property owned by foreigners - properties which covered the most important parts of the Cuban economy - the sugar industry, tobacco, the refining and distribution of petroleum products, food and consumer goods, and infrastructure enterprises such as railways, hotels and power companies.
The other foreign companies whose properties - nowhere near as extensive as those owned by Americans - had been taken over were able pretty quickly to settle questions of compensation with the newly-minted revolutionary government. But the US refused to negotiate with Castro right from the beginning, unless he agreed to cave in completely to their demands; in effect regarding the revolution as illegitimate and therefore not to be treated with any sort of respect or dignity.

Now, starting very early, Castro and his comrades did make life as miserable as they could for the US in Latin America and elsewhere. They encouraged - both through endless sharp-tongued rhetoric and assistance to radical groups in other countries to overthrow their government and install radical, leftist government similar to Castro's.

None of these efforts succeeded, and one of them actually ended disastrously for Fidel's old comrade-in-arms, Ché Guevara, and his rag tag band of rebels in Bolivia. But as the years went by and things became economically tighter and tighter for Cuba, they abandoned that crusade and concentrated on their immediate problems: feeding, caring for and educating the people, keeping the lights on and making sure production kept going.

But the Americans continued on their single-minded quest to get rid of Castro and maintained a relentless regime of pressure on Cuba. They actually organised and mounted a military assault, using willing Cuban exiles. Interestingly, Cuba invited just recently several hundred of those exiles who had actually invaded Cuba and presented several of them with passports, reinstating the citizenship it had revoked 40-odd years ago.

When blowing Cuban airliners out of the sky didn't shake the regime's resolve, the US tried silly tricks like trying to put powder on Fidel's bootlaces to make his beard fall out, or with explosive cigars to blow up in his face. A favourite tool is legislation. Over the years, there was the Mack amendment, the Torricelli bill, and most hateful of all, the Helms/Burton law, instigated by a most hateful man, a racist, arch-conservative bigot from North Carolina called Jesse Helms, who once remarked that Castro should leave Cuba "in a vertical or horizontal position". This law reads not at all like a legal document so much as a hysterical political tract. And they all seek to extend American legal jurisdiction beyond the country's borders and apply to nationals of other countries.

Shortly before Messrs Helms and Burton put their legislation together, a Canadian company called Sherritt International took over a nickel mine and refinery at Moa, at the eastern tip of Cuba. There are significant deposits of nickel and related metals at that site, and an American company called Freeport McMoran had operated a complex there before the revolution. It was one of the properties the Cubans expropriated. Interestingly, in the early days of the revolution, the people who made parts for the plant would sabotage the replacements ordered through third parties, putting an extra burden on the fledgling revolution.

The law seeks to punish anyone who "traffics" in expropriated property, which is a dubious legal concept at best, as many experts in the United States have argued. Seven of Sherritt's senior executives, directors, and their families, were advised on July 11, 1996
that they cannot travel to the US.

Now, the Issas of the SuperClubs hotel chain are facing the same proscription. They operate five hotels in Cuba on management contracts with the state enterprises which own them. They also train Cuban hotel staff. The same applies to Butch Stewart's Sandals chain, which operates a couple of hotels built long after the Americans left. The US claims that one of the hotels that SuperClubs is running used to belong to an American company, and therefore the Issas are "trafficking" the property.

Naturally, this is riling many Jamaicans, but it has annoyed Canadian governments going back to the Diefenbaker regime in the 1960s. They have always complained loudly about what they term "extra-territoriality" in the application of laws, and have themselves enacted laws forbidding companies which are subsidiaries of American organisations but which are legally Canadian corporations, to obey any American laws as relating to trading with Cuba.

The Issas say they are talking to the Americans to try to settle the dispute, but lots of luck to them. They'll either have to do what a Mexican phone company and some Spanish investors did when the law first came in: forgo their involvement in Cuban business, or go ahead and forget about ever going to the United States. Or they can do what the head of Sherritt, Ian Delaney, and his people have done - since Helms/Burton came into effect, they have actually increased their operations in Cuba, branching out from nickel and cobalt into oil and gas, power generation, soybeans, a cellphone enterprise and even a small stake in some hotels.
It doesn't seem to bother them that they can't visit Disney World, not all that far from the hotel strip in Varadero.


Forward to a united Africa!
Posts: 1531

« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2004, 12:19:30 PM »

This is a good article.

The anti-Cuba drive is also about getting the Cuban-American votes. It was also an attempt to distract from the Iraq quagmire.

However, the typical American strategy when dealing with governments they cannot manipulate to serve their narrow interest, is to make it difficult for others to deal with them. When they do the ‘U. S. democratic thing’ in the country (stage a coup), then the US government’s preferred companies (campaign financers) get first pick of the best contracts and mining rights in the country. Well of course I cannot feel sorry for Canada and the business operators in Jamaica who find themselves trapped in this. They are not seeking our interest anyhow.
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