Exactly three weeks ago Cuba's Stalinist regime held a "tourism fair" in Havana to kick-off an ambitious plan to boost the Cuban military's tourist booty. To entice and swindle foreign investors, Cuba's propaganda ministry publishes a magazine titled Opciones where Cuba's "Minister of Tourism," Manuel Marrero, boasted of a bold $170 million outlay to upgrade Cuba's tourist facilities from golf courses to yacht clubs to theme parks.
Exactly one week ago (by some peculiar coincidence) NBC's Today Show decided to broadcast from Havana amidst smiling, clapping, dancing tourists while Matt Lauer advised viewers on how to legally vacation in Cuba. No doubt Matt Lauer has studied Katie Couric's post-Today Show career with keen interest and mounting trepidation. But all who watched his performance from Havana can reassure him:
"Don't worry, Matt," we say. "Should that fickle NBC brass become disenchanted with your services, you're a shoo-in for Cuba's new Minister of Tourism. You passed the audition with flying colors, amigo. A jittery Mr. Manuel Marrero is probably already looking over his shoulder."
Raul Castro's crony generals run most of Cuba's tourist facilities so most of what tourists spend in Cuba lands in the pocket of the only people in Cuba with guns. Yet Castro regime agents (both on the payroll and off) keep insisting that a flood of rich Western tourists will magically smother Cuban Stalinism whereupon the island nation will quickly mutate into a bigger (and more historic and picturesque) Cozumel.
The logic seems to go something like this: rewarding and enriching the KGB-trained and heavily armed guardians of Cuba's Stalinist status-quo will magically convert them into instant opponents of that Stalinist status quo.
Amazingly, this line of reasoning fails to convince those with first-hand experience under Cuba's Stalinist regime. But never mind this insufferable rabble of "Miami right-wing crackpots!" and their Congressional allies.
And never mind the evidence. To wit: for each of the past 12 years almost ten times as many tourists have visited Cuba as visited in any year during the 1950's, when Cuba was labeled a "tourist playground." You will note the spectacular liberating effect this has had on Cubans, who with a few exceptions are barred by machine- wielding police from excessive interaction with these tourists.
Whatever trickle of foreign currency reaches the Stalinist regime's subjects (primarily from prostitution) is offset a thousand-fold by the millions ($2.2 billion last year, for instance) that enters the Stalinist regime's Cuban coffers. Not that all of it stays there. According to prominent military defectors, much of it quickly winds up in Spain and Switzerland.
One exchange between Andrea and Matt was particularly fascinating: "you often hear Cuban- Americans saying, `When Fidel is gone, we're heading back to Cuba." says Lauer. "We're going to reclaim our property, what was taken away from us.' And actually that is a fear of the Cuban people here."
MITCHELL: "Sure. They're afraid of it. That is quite a legitimate fear, given the rhetoric coming out of some Cuban-Americans in Miami."
Poll, after poll, after poll of Cuban-Americans makes hash of this Today Show nonsense. 80 per cent of Cuban- Americans consistently reject Andrea and Matt's contrived "revanchism." But for the sake of argument, let's go ahead and consider that other 20 per cent.
Now let's say that Andrea and Matt's Beemers were to disappear one night while parked in Georgetown or on Broadway. Now let's say the thieves were rounded up. We'd certainly look for NBC reporting how, given the hysterical rhetoric from Andrea and Matt about desiring the return of their possessions, these thieves had "a legitimate fear" that those Beemers would be "reclaimed" by the greedy Mr. Lauer and the revanchist, recalcitrant and avaricious Ms Mitchell.
Apparently eager to highlight their hypocrisy, just last month the Today Show reported on location from Cape Town, South Africa. "The one indispensable visit on a trip to Cape Town is a pilgrimage to Robben Island. (a former political prison.).Most moving, of course, is the tour through the prison, led by former inmates, where you’ll view the painfully cramped cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison."
According to Anti-Apartheid activists (none denounced as "extremists!" or "crackpots" or "hard- liners!" in the MSM, by the way) a grand total of 3000 political prisoners passed through Robben Island in roughly 30 years under the Apartheid regime. Usually about 1000 were held. These were out of a South African population of 40 million. In its day, the regime responsible for these incarcerations weathered a relentless campaign of vituperation from every political, press and academic pulpit on the face of the earth until economic sanctions by practically every nation on the face of the earth battered, crippled and finally finished it. The Today Show graphically stressed that regime's level of repression.
According to the Human Rights group, Freedom House, a grand total of 500,000 political prisoners have passed through Stalinist Cuba's various prisons and forced labor camps. At one time in 1961 300,00 Cubans were jailed for political offenses. This is out of a Cuban population in 1960 of 6.4 million. Among these were the longest suffering political prisoners in modern history including the black, Mr Eusebio Penalver, who suffered longer in Castro's prison's than Nelson Mandela suffered in South Africa's.
A calculator will easily reveal the grotesque disparity between Castroite repression compared to Apartheid repression. The regime NBC shills for and the world eagerly lavishes with trade and tourism while millions attempt to flee it (Cuba's) was roughly 20 times as repressive as the one NBC condemned and the world self- righteously blacklisted and sanctioned while blacks from neighboring nations attempted to enter it (South Africa's.)
Interestingly, according to UNICEF statistics, infant-mortality rates for South African blacks were much lower and life-expectancy rates much higher, during the Apartheid regime than afterwards. We will look for a documentary produced by Michael Moore and staring Bono extolling racial segregation as the sure-cure for Africa's health crisis. We will look for any mention of Apartheid in the world's media, academic and political circles to include: "True, South African blacks could not vote-- but the segregationist regime achieved great gains in health-care."
Cuban political prisons and political prisoners did not merit any mention during the two hour Today Show broadcast, though hundreds of political prisoners were languishing in Cuba's dungeons within miles of Andrea and Matt during the very taping. Among these were black human rights activist Dr Elias Biscet, who attempted Gandhi and Martin Luther King's tactics of non-violent civil disobedience against Cuba's very violent regime and suffers daily tortures for the effort as confirmed by Amnesty International. The Paris-based Reporters without Borders documents that 20 per cent of the world's jailed journalists (Matt and Andrea's colleagues, you might think) languish in Cuba's prisons.
You'd never know this from Matt and Andrea who were apparently delighted to be feted by these reporters' jailers and torturers and urged all viewers to visit happy-go-lucky Cuba and further enrich and entrench these jailer and torturers.
This same Andrea Mitchell -- this same noisy foe of U.S. sanctions against Cuba-- was notorious during Reagan's press conferences for her snide questions on why the Reagan administration did not IMPOSE HARSHER SANCTIONS against South Africa. "How can the United States justify dealing with a nation that does not recognize something so basic as the concept of racial equality?" she sneered during a presidential Press Conference in Dec. 7 1984. Back then, according to Ms Mitchell, a LACK of U.S. sanctions "lent credibility to the apartheid regime," you see.
Fast forward to 2007 and according to Ms Mitchell sanctions AGAINST a Stalinist (and apartheid) regime that repressed at 20 times South Africa's rate REMOVE credibility from the government IMPOSING them. Mainstream Media logic, let's call it.
It was fun watching Matt and Andrea decrying an impeccable "U.S. blockade" of Cuba during a show from Cuba where the backdrop consisted of smiling tourists from all over the world (including the U.S.) holding up signs and waving.
It was fun listening to Andrea, wife of former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman (and early Ayn Rand disciple) Alan Greenspan, explain that Communist economics had nothing to do with Cuba's crumbling buildings. Instead that "U.S. embargo" was the culprit. For the record, the U.S. is currently Cuba's number one food supplier and 4th biggest trading partner, while Cuba trades with every nation on earth. As Andrea and Matt spoke from Havana, trade delegations from 24 of the 52 United States were also in Havana attending a trade fair and signing trade deals. The only thing the so-called embargo mandates nowadays is that Cuba's Stalinists pay U.S. vendors in cash. No credit. (Cuba's credit rating, according to Dun & Bradstreet, is lower than Somalia's, by the way.)
So it was fun listening to the wife of one of the world's most famous and powerful economists imply that paint, cement and spackle are only available in the U.S. and not available with payments of cash.