Saturday, May 23, 2015

So Many Lists Having Nothing to Do With Obama

So Many Lists Having Nothing to Do With Obama / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on May 23, 2015

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 27 April 2015 — A few days back, a
commentator on Cuban state television found it "interesting" that
Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinan, speaking on behalf of her
party, said there would be no opposition in the U.S. Congress to
removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terror.

This time, the Cuban-American Congresswoman was not disparaged as a
"wild wolf," as the official media christened her back in the days of
the campaign for the return of the little boy rafter Elián González to
Cuba. If everything goes according to plan, on May 30th, after the 45
days required for the U.S. Congress to ratify the President's
recommendation, Cuba's name will be erased from the list.

According to an explanation given by Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba's
vice-president, in an interview on April 19th, the significance of Cuba
no longer appearing on the list is that from then on the country will be
able to qualify for bank loans, as well as undertake other financial
activities hitherto denied to it.

Still, will this signal an end to the commercial problems that cripple
our imports and trade with the rest of the world?

The removal of Cuba from this list does not automatically mean that it
definitely will be included among the countries taken seriously into
account when it comes to negotiations, investments, partnerships, and
qualifying for loans. Additionally, it does not mean that Cuba would
immediately join the ranks of nations attractive to investors and
international financial entities. Cuba's name appears on other negative
assessments from which it would be very difficult to erase its name in
the short or medium-term.

In the repertoire of nations representing a high risk for investors,
Cuba sadly occupies a distinguished spot. It is listed together with
countries where it is least recommended to do business. Whether or not
Cuba remains on these lists does not depend on Obama's goodwill. It
depends on Cuba complying with specific requirements established by
financial entities whose assessments are universally accepted.

Additionally, among countries that tend not to pay their bills, Cuba has
earned a notorious standing after decades of not meeting its financial
obligations and owing large sums of money to member states of The Paris
Club as well as to several others. At the end of the 1980's, Cuba led
the Latin American movement in support of not repaying foreign debts,
thus endearing it to the worldwide left, but also earning the country a
very negative reputation among those who invest or lend their money.

Cuba's bad reputation regarding private property has also landed it on
several other lists that frighten businesspeople and discourage foreign
firms. This is due especially to the official Cuban discourse, which for
over half a century has shown contempt towards private ownership of the
means of production.

The memories of the massive confiscation of companies, newspapers, sugar
mills, and small businesses are still very fresh in the sharp minds of
businessmen who do not want to risk their investments, as happened
during the Revolutionary Offensive of 1968.*

Additionally, how can Cuba be removed from the list of countries that do
not allow independent trade unions, nor freedom of association and
expression? Would it be possible, as if by magic, for Cuba to be removed
from the list of countries that do not duly protect property owners nor
shield them ideological whims without a real reform of its penal code?

Seeing we are no longer on the list of sponsors of terrorism, the Cuban
government now seems to be hoping that investments and loans offers will
be forthcoming overnight. No matter how paradoxical it may sound, these
illusions rest on the government's presumption that those who may be
interested in doing business with the Island are cynics lacking any
corporate ethics.

The Cuban authorities will then welcome unscrupulous sweatshops owners,
the most heartless of loan sharks, and others who exploit workers who do
not have the right to protest and cannot find a decent place to call home.

On what list will Cuba end up then?

*Translators note: In a speech delivered on March 13, 1968, Fidel Castro
launched a "revolutionary offensive that would do away with the urban
petite bourgeoisie." By the end of the year the government had
confiscated 55,636 small businesses (mostly family-owned and with no
more than two employees, ranging from grocery stores to shoe shining
stalls) that had survived the first waves of confiscations of the early
years of the régime. This move marked the end of private enterprise in Cuba.

Translated by José Badué

Source: So Many Lists Having Nothing to Do With Obama / 14ymedio,
Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba -

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