At first I didn’t believe it when a friend told me that Cuba was holding maneuvers to forestall any possible American invasion. Coincidentally, I’d just been reading the latest issue of In These Times , which has a feature on Cuba written by half a dozen Cubans living on the island. All the contributors agree that the biggest problem is getting enough food, and there seems to be a disconnect between salaries, the value of the convertible peso, and the cost of basic items such as shoes or transportation.
Under these circumstances, and with a new American president who seems inclined to mend fences with the regime in Havana, I wonder why Cuba would spend money and resources to carry out military maneuvers which, we are told, had been planned in 2004, when Bush was President and there was no end in sight to the standoff.
I turn on the television and hear a ranking Republican senator declare that given the need to send about 35,000 more troops to Afghanistan to prop up a blatantly corrupt government, we should suspend the heroics on health care.
It is unlikely that the administration will cave to this recommendation. But sending troops to Afghanistan – or “finishing the job”, an ugly expression that Obama has taken over from Bush with his war – may do more to alleviate the American jobless rate than the dire fate of Afghan women. Similarly, Raul’s maneuvers are intended to show Barack that he should not try to roll back the leftward movement in Latin America, even if that means continuing hard times for Cubans.
Every government does what it has to do to stay in power, whether it be a fifty-year old regime in dire need of renewal, or looming mid-term elections threatened by hawks.