Monday, December 3, 2012

Joe Garcia (part 1)

Interview with Joe Garcia, politician and former director of the Cuban American National Foundation. See video.

I think they are engage in some type of reform, is it what I want? is it what most people who wants, democracy or liberty or to see change in Cuba?, what they want of course is not, but what is certainly is that Cuba today is very different than the Cuba of just a few month ago, and there is a general word that what they are doing insides over society and that is having an impact, an impact which they are trying to control, undoubtedly you know that their final goal is not to have a type of pluralistic capitalist society like is ninety miles away. They have another goal, one is to remain in power, in control, but at the same time create enough wealth in generally, so they can sustain the regime, something that they are in a very difficult source to do. That´s is, you have to recognize that there is something going on in Cuba, and I think we have to be in favor of those changes, obviously we want to see more of them, but we can ignore the fact that things are changing in Cuba.

Well I think, interesting it has not by design, but by simply inertia, by the concept that your family comes first, and I think they are having a huge impact, first, just on normal human level, it is right now probably Cuba’s mayor source of incomes, if you luck at the derivatives of Cuban – American remittances and shipments of goods, it is probably the largest sector in the economy, it is the greater multiplier, it is the one that floats the most the economy, because for the example, when the Europeans travel to Cuba the buy hotel packages in Europe, a huge percentage of that cash goes straight in the government coffers, and doesn´t circulate in the Cuban economy however when Cuban Americans travel to Cuba, send remittances in, that money takes on a live inside of Cuba and multiply itself many times, and so they are having the impact that they are growing the private sector of the Cuban economy or the black market sector, although the Cuban government is trying to get control of that, at least losing its control so they can get a better handling of it , and I think that is the first impact.
Secondly is simply support, the ability that the measures in place right now, I can send 500 dollars to Yoanis Sanchez in Cuba, just FedEx, Western Union, that´s money tour, and that is going on, and it´s going on in a huge scale, both, by individual supporters of human rights activists and by organizations which are engage, I think in a very noble cause, which is to try to help civil society in Cuba go, and I think that´s a very commendable, a very different world than the world the exile community, say, 40 years ago they were engage in an arm struggle, tremendously ineffective. I think right now what you are looking at is a broad realization that the actors to give us future, the main, the leaders are going to come from Cuba, not from Miami, and I think that´s good.
Absolutely, the money of the U. S. government… I´m supportive and I help to create these programs, so there will be especially dark dingy place in hell reserved for me for the impact that it had, because I think in many respect it over shadow what is truly going on, groups that have been very effectives and efficient in helping certain dissidents on the island to get through, but that’s it, one shouldn’t simply give up on the program, and I think the Obama Administration is trying to reform it, I think they are having some success and I think that the classic example they are having effect now not only is the Cuban regime against it, the right wing in Miami is against it, so you know that the truth most, is been served in the middle of them.
Yeah, well, because the Obama Administration is restructuring the programs, and basically has made them more efficient, made them more goal orientated that supposed to some type of a ephemeral political easing of the right wing in Miami. This programs now have a sort of directed purpose at spending over society, not anything beyond that, I mind, high point of the absurdity is in one point the U.S. Interest Sections had an election in Cuba for who will be the best president to Unite States, only Fidel Castro could have thought of something more absurd and more to his point of what American assistance it is for, I mind Cuba has some kind of independency, but that it is because the debate on this programs were more to the Miami centric fashion, that they became a huge waste of money to some degree. Obviously Alan Gross is in jail because the Cubans put in it, but the fact that Alan Gross was involved in this programs was a reaction to the Bush Administration´s …all the money that was being misspent by the Cuban – American groups in Miami, and of course, the Cubans picked Allan Gross because they can ignore Alan Gross, you know if they would catch Joe Garcia distributing computers in Cuba… your know they would say you know is a Cuban who knew what he is doing. In Miami I would had my detractors and in Cuba they would say he is associated with the Cuban American National Foundation, that give me a thousand years, but it wouldn´t created the tension that Cuban gets with Alan Gross. What they look for in Alan Gross is exactly what they got, a point of argument with the United State, which is what they need, it is where they wonderful act, David versus Goliath, there is no one that’s play that better since David himself
Question: USAID recently awarded a $ 3.4 million Cuba grant to the Cuban – American National Foundation´s human rights organization. U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Ballard called that political favoritism. Garcia’s opinion?
The problem is that they have it their wave for a long time; tens of millions of dollars were spent on these programs just like radio and TV Martí which became ineffective and ineffectual and I think the Administration is resetting up, so is an information group, as suppose to some kind of resonance box for discussions that are going on in Miami, and I think that make sense, you know, when radio and TV Marti had a larger par row in the Cuban American community, in particularly journalist was exposed, what you got was a repetition of the Administration position, not only in Miami, but of course in Cuba, and I think that´s truly unfortunate.
The way that they gave up these founds, I think they were looking to do change, to have something more effective, and they put it in hands of professionals. I can´t speak for the Foundation grant, because I didn´t help eider, but I do know that the Foundation has been engage in this since 1992, when I was at the Foundation, and one of the precepts that we began at the Foundation, because of all our missteps, at least when I grant, the Foundation was… we wouldn´t peak winners, because we would been burned, we had done it. There was one time when we created an umbrella organization for human rights groups, and then they had an election among them self, and then they elected this guy which we thought, you know, was Mas Canosa from the Malecon, I mean, he literally was sending back what we sent him, and it turn out that this guy´s name was Hector Castañeda, he was a Lieutenant colonel of security force, and of course he arrested the entire dissident set up. And I smile when I say, because it was so obvious when you took step back. He´s speeches where to Miami, not in Cuba, and I think that total valuable. I say look whether I agree with Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz or whether I agree with Oswaldo Payá or whether I agree with Martha Beatriz Roque, what we gona do across the border is be helpful and is gona be helpful in simply giving information, letting them know what is occurring, opening up a dialog with them, but the circumstances and the debate that they are engaged in is about them.
Question: Could Cuba see a political uprising like those seen in the Middle East?
Look, I mean, one imagine that’s very possible, one also imagine that the circumstances of the Cuban regimen are very different, this is very centrally controlled economy, the resources that the Cuban government manages are very, very précised. I remember once meeting an East Germany you know, they took our system and they did it one better. It was an old political prisoner used to say that your take 2000 years of oriental totalitarianism (is in the Russian and Chinese model) and then you add 500 years of “caudillismo” and you get this very special system were by the dictator there is not only a cult of personality, but is personal and familiar, so Stalinism is a fictitious name, that means steel, you know and is removed from you. Fidel is a guy sitting next to you at the table, his first person, person and so when Cuban speaks of this, really the impact is not only complete, but is familiar, and so it makes it very difficult, and secondly is an island, so, if you miss that, there is no way to get ahead of it, you are stuck, so it require a tremendous amount of courage, and then finally, when you put it on into that context, because of it familiar nature it´s also a pride that way, so Joe Garcia and his sister will get a nice job in the Foreign Ministry and suddenly gets laid off. So and the very act of western courage which is very typical to the European and is very typical to United States, you know one get up and say I gona fight with my boss …simply because it is terrible … you gona laid of from the Foreign Ministry … tell me how you gona eat from now, that´s it. We saw regimes that were very total and very brutal see changes, I think that is possible, obviously what we don´t want is violence, what we don´t want is people hurt. And I think is all possible, obviously we want change; clearly what we want is things are continue to change regardless.
Cuban revolution was exedently violent when it came to power, and there was a lot of blood, but also that would happen in Miami. In Miami there have been exiles coming for 50 past years. The great perpetrators according to the Cuban government, the Venturas, the Martin Perez. They die here in hospitals, no security guards, nobody took …. If Cubans were Italians I would say you, you know... but even then, I just think, I hope that there won´t be violence, now, the people talk about violence? Yes, but you know as a general rule, Cubans are laud boosters, because they want avoid the actual confrontation, that´s not saying that when Cubans confront they can be brutal. The Cuban army is the probably one of the best military instruments in Latin America, they pulled off with two Empires, the Soviet Union and the United States had troubled to do it, Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet Union, and Viet Nam almost killed as did Afghanistan and Iraq. Cuba went to Africa twice, won two wars and returned home victorious, and this is small Caribbean country. I´m not saying that they are not capable of violence, which you hope is that humanity of these relationships, the expansion of civil society, the realization of when Tracy can go to Cuba to see his wife´s family, the guy who is head of the block committee, he gets some of the goods that Tracy brings off, simply because he is part of the community that take care of his family. That reality which is by the way almost always has been part of the Cuban history I think hopefully is gona have impact, but you also know that a lot with the violence has to do with the impotence. I always say that if you listen to the Cuban American politics the rhetoric is like somebody watching sport, you know it´s almost violent. The sportscaster: We gona kill the manager, this pitcher we have to let this guy go, we got to cut him off, you know very aggressive, because we are sitting in the stage, we actually are actors to this game and I thing that have been true for almost half a century, I think what also happen, that you witnessed it, is that when people go to Cuba they also come to realization of just how difficult things are, how much its people suffer. Tour of the guy who still walks around with his plaints and claims and he not only wants back his farm with the bird he left tied on the tree, and of course, there is no farm, there is no bird and if we gave it to him he would not know what to do with it to begin, because he is 90. And I think that reality… I sometimes try to say this to people when they are not high … I say imagine you are here in Versalles and you are having a coffee and you look over and there is an old man with a walker trying to get a coffee, and you look at … shit is Fidel Castro. The question is: Do you bit up an 84 or 85 years old guy who´s got a walker? Do you take a stick to? Or Do you say, the next coffee give me extra sugar … maybe a diabetic coma will take him, but you not gona bit up an 85 year old man. It sort of like Pol Pot a some of a lump of human, but not necessarily the perpetrator of one of the world worst genocides, and I think that reality is something that hasn’t said in here or there, because Castro has been a total figure. In Miami it isn´t this way, but in Cuba he literally … the history … he invented the country, he has been the arbiter of every major argument, has inserted himself in everything he can, but the reality is he is an old man, and this is over and he is part of the past, we gona have to deal with that at some point. To some this may be the Cuban bail of a thousand years from now, I hope not. To others, as someone said to me …this is a guy who was president of Cuba at the time the Van Van created some of the greatest music. Because I have a tendency to believe that Cuba will be remembered for its music and not it politics.
You got to put that in a perspective, but if you did, still it’s that something horrible that´s happens 90 miles from you, we are obviously wants something better to happens to those folks, but the whole set up where we are … I think a new generation is taking stuck of things there and here linked intrinsically because one of the difficulties and benefits is that U.S. immigration laws been apply today the way it was created a century ago which is immigration is husband, wife, minor children. Well the problem is they haven´t built any new house in Cuba in 40 years, and so when you get married, you move your wife into your house, and then you have a child and your sister in low lives in on and so you create the sort of a family that’s massive and so, a lot of people work and live sending assistance and aid to people in Cuba and I think its creating a much more rational relationship as a supposed an ideological relationship.

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