February 26, 2006

The Cuban-Democracy Years

The following facts and figures come from Cuba’s experience with Democracy prior to 1959.

In the 83-year period between 1869 and 1952:

- Cuba had 20 years of Spanish rule in between 13 years of wars.

- There were 2 military occupations by the U.S. that lasted 7 years, leaving 56 total years with Cuban presidents (including the 13 years of war against Spain).

- In the 56 years with Cuban presidents:

o There were 29 terms of office.

o The average term was 1.93 years.

In the 13-year period during the Ten-Year War (1868-1878) and the final War for Independence from Spain (1895-1898):

- 9 men served as president of Cuba

- The average term of office was 1.44 years.

- 1 man (Salvador Cisneros Betancourt) served as president during both wars.

- 1 man (Carlos Manuel de Céspedes) died in battle (after being replaced by the conservative wing of the Cuban rebels, who didn’t want to end slavery so quickly.)

In the 50 year period between 1902 and 1952:

- Cuba had 3 years of U.S. military occupation, and

- 47 years with Cuban presidents.

- 17 men served as president of Cuba.

- The average term was 2.76 years.

- 3 presidents (Estrada Palma, Gerardo Machado and Mario Menocal) were elected to 2nd terms.

- 1 president (Estrada Palma) served only a few months of his 2nd term, which ended in the 2nd U.S. military occupation.

o In the September 1905 election in which Estrada Palma supposedly won his 2nd term of office, liberals were not allowed to vote in the primaries, and some counties had more votes turned in than registered voters.

- 1 president (again, Estrada Palma) was a U.S. citizen at the time of his Cuban presidency.

- Between the first months of 1933 and the last months of 1936, Cuba had 9 presidents:

o One term lasted 3 days (Carlos Hevia y de los Reyes: January 15 – January 18 1934).

o Another term lasted a few hours (Carlos Manuel Marquez Sterling: January 18 – January 18 1934).

- One man served twice (Ramón Grau San Martin) the first term lasted four months (Sept 1933 – Jan. 1934) and the second term lasted four years (October 1944 – October 1948).

- A number of elections, especially during the early part of the 20th century, seem to unintentionally resemble the 2000 Florida presidential election.

- Some elections were conducted under U.S. supervision, as politicos, especially those seeking a 2nd term, were slightly less than honest with the electoral process.

- The longest term of office was held by Gerardo Machado, who managed to “take” an extra 6 months for himself (Of course, if we include Batista’s 2nd term, which began with his famed coup d'état of March 10 1952 and lasted 7 years, he would win this category with 11 years as president (4 elected and 7 self-inflicted, which does not take into account the years of Strong-Arm influence when he was not in office. And if we go as far as today, the longest term of office prize goes to Fidel Castro, who has held office for over 45 years.)


February 21, 2006

How To NOT Make Contact

Cuba will not negotiate with the U.S. until Guantánamo Bay is returned to the island.

The U.S. will not end the embargo until Castro brothers (Fidel and Raul) is no longer part of the Cuban government.

During the Cuban wars for separation from Spain, the Spanish empire would not enter into negotiations with the Rebel Government until the rebels laid down their arms. Of course, the rebels would’ve been foolish to lay down their arms based on the empire’s promise of “dialogue.”

There’s always a condition for doing the right thing, and many “reasons” and “good excuses” for keeping things the way they are.

Over the years, the reasons for ending the economic embargo against Cuba have changed with the wind, and there’s no point in expecting that humanitarian issues will ever become the center of US-Cuba relations.

In 1976, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger asserted that there could be no U.S. relations with Cuba while Cuban troops are in Africa.

Today it seems that the World Baseball Classic is the best we can hope for.


February 06, 2006

Ok to Play, but No Pay

Cubans who play at the upcoming World Baseball Classic tournament (March 3-20, in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan) will not receive a dime. Not even if they win the 16-nation tournament.

On January 20th the U.S. Treasury Department changed its previous ruling and decided that Cuba could play in the games. This change of mind came after Cuba offered to donate all the proceeds to Katrina Hurricane victims… after the International Baseball Federation threatened to cancel the games… after Puerto Rico threatened to withdraw from the games if Cuba was not allowed to play… and after numerous players, such as all-time U.S. home run leader Hank Aaron, and Japanese home-run leader Sadaharu Oh, spoke against isolating the Cuban team.

Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy set his sites somewhere beyond current politics. “Cuba is an important baseball nation,” he said. “It’s important to have them.”

“They deserve to compete,” said Hank Aaron in a Yahoo! News article.

So there we have it. Perhaps the best amateur team in the world, winner of 3 of the 4 Olympic Gold medals in baseball, will play in the 16-nation tournament, as the world’s foremost superpower sets aside an ideology of fundamentalist isolationism. Cuba’s first game is March 8 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, against the national team from Panama.

Surprisingly, none of the great Cuban-born players now in the majors are on the roster for the U.S. team.

I’m glad the Cubans will play at the tournament in March, but it seems wrong to change the rules this way.

It’s been suggested that the International Olympic Committee may reconsider staging future Olympic games in the U.S. (such as, possibly, Chicago for the 2016 Summer Games). Just imagine: no gold medals for countries that don’t practice Our Brand democracy, even if they win.