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All Change for Cuba?

Thursday, 18 December 2014

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So finally things are changing between the US and Cuba with Obama’s announcement that he intends to normalise relations with Cuba – about time most of us would say! Unfortunately Obama’s promise to ‘cut loose the shackles of the past’ doesn’t quite mean ending the 54-year-old-trade embargo (Congress needs to agree to that and, of course, at the moment the US Congress won’t agree to anything). Nor does it allow US tourism, but clearly there are lots of Americans who don’t realise they’re not allowed to visit Cuba. Or ignore that crazy law.

Predictably the really rusty Republicans are against it. Senator Marco Rubio from Florida quickly announced that these changes would allow the Castro regime to ‘perpetuate itself in power.’ Mr Rubio had clearly never thought of the alternative concept: that it’s been the ridiculous US policy which has helped keep Castro and his brother in power for so long. List the US presidents since Fidel came to power: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II. That’s 10 presidents the Castros have outlasted. My theory is the Castros would have fallen over long ago if they didn’t have the US to point to as the cause of all their problems. In my book Bad Lands I concluded the Cuba chapter with the suggestion that the country’s economic problems might be 25% due to America’s crazy embargo, but it was 75% down to Castro’s crazy economics. Once the US comes to its senses it’s going to be 100% down to the Castro dynasty and you can bet that isn’t going to make them popular.

What’s so bad about Cuba anyway? Sure it’s Communist, but so are China and Vietnam and can you imagine a US trade embargo on China! Sure it’s a military dictatorship, but when has having a nasty government ever been a bar to most favored nation status? Er, Saudi Arabia?

PS – Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is just as out of touch as Marco Rubio. Ditto for Texas Senator Ted Cruz, but then all three are Republicans.

IMG_3809 - Havana cars 55 Chevy 542PPS – I was in Cuba earlier this year, click here for my look at what’s happening with the Cuban infatuation with US cars. And here for my thoughts that Havana could be the next hot restaurant centre. And here if you want Lonely Planet’s Cuba guidebook.

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All Change for Cuba?

18 December 2014 | Living

So finally things are changing between the US and Cuba with Obama’s announcement that he intends to normalise relations with Cuba – about time most of us would say! Unfortunately Obama’s promise to ‘cut loose the shackles of the past’ doesn’t quite mean ending the...

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Fremantle, Australia II & the Batavia Shipwreck

12 December 2014 | Places

En route to Bunbury I stopped in Fremantle to look at two museums – I stopped in Fremantle again on the way back to stay with some friends. ▲ My first stop was the Maritime Museum with all sorts of interesting exhibits about Western Australia’s seagoing history inc...

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Melbourne

Making Modern Melbourne

10 December 2014 | Culture

Jenny Lee’s Making Modern Melbourne has been sitting by my bedside for far too long. I finally picked it up (seriously for a change) the other day and knocked it off in a flash. It’s a handy little history of Melbourne from its pre-European Aboriginal period, through ...

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Bunbury in Western Australia, War Zone Hotels Elsewhere

8 December 2014 | Places

▲ I was in Bunbury last month for a Sister Cities conference, Bunbury is linked up with Setagaya near Tokyo and Jiaxing near Shanghai. The Seishokai Music Group came courtesy of the Japan link but there were lots of other sister city relationships making an appearance...

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Gatecrashing Paradise

Gatecrashing Paradise: Adventures in the Real Maldives

7 December 2014 | Culture

I commented on Tom Chesshyre’s How Low Can You Go, an exploration of unknown corners of Europe, courtesy of the Low Cost Carriers who fly there, a few years ago. This time in Gatecrashing Paradise Tom sets out to explore the other Maldives, not the one where all the t...

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Flinders & King Islands

5 December 2014 | Places

They’re the two islands half way across Bass Strait, between the island state of Tasmania to the south and mainland Australia to the north. Although island residents tend to call Tasmania ‘the mainland.’ And despite living in Melbourne for many years and making many t...

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A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists

4 December 2014 | Culture

Yesterday I posted about wacky Chinese buildings, today it’s a wacky Melbourne book. Jane Rawson’s novel A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists combines a dystopian Melbourne in 2030, crippled by climate change, industrial meltdown and societal collapse, with a li...

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Wacky Chinese Buildings

3 December 2014 | Culture

Yesterday I posted about Melbourne’s (temporary) MPavilion. After I wrote that piece I went to a session at the pavilion about Chinese filmmaker Yang Fudong. There’s a current exhibition on his works at ACMI – the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. The Yang Fu...

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The MPavilion & the Serpentine Pavilion

2 December 2014 | Culture

▲ Melbourne’s Southbank Arts Precinct has a new temporary structure in the Queen Victoria Gardens, the MPavilion. Sponsored by Naomi Milgrom this year’s Sean Godsell designed temporary building will be followed by another new design each year for four years. You can r...

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Electronic Indian Visas – whoopee – for some of us …

1 December 2014 | Living

If you’ve been waiting for the new and much acclaimed Narendra Modi government in India to do something you’ll notice outside of India here it is – electronic visas. No more endless hassling at the visa issuing offices, you can now (like the USA or Turkey for me recen...

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