Texas rice producers want to fill all those rice cookers fidel is selling at bargain rates. The Los Angeles Times reports on the opposition to the latest trade restrictions imposed by the Bush Administration - restrictions that require fidel to pay for his food before its unloaded at the dock.
"Will someone please explain this policy to me?" Dwight A. Roberts, the Texan president of the U.S. Rice Producers Association, asked a recent news conference in Havana after describing financial losses to thousands of rice growers when U.S. restrictions were tightened.
U.S. food and agricultural products can be sold to Cuba on a cash-only basis under an exception to the embargo created in 2000. But a new U.S. rule adopted this year makes Cuba pay for goods in full before the cargo leaves U.S. ports, forcing the island to seek other markets and harming American business, Roberts said.
I'll explain it, Mr. Roberts - its very simple. Since 1959, fidel has a history of taking without paying for what he's taken. After all, he's taken an entire country and the lives of the people there. What makes you think he won't take your rice and not pay for it?
Is your need to sell so great that you're willing to take such a financial risk? Are your farmers producing more than the marketplace will buy? I suspect that you are simply a marketing person with his eye solely on short-term marketing. The concept of getting paid is one step beyond where you usually look, if you're like the some of the marketing people I've worked with.
But what will happen if you get your way and the policy is changed? fidel will stop paying, but will make a lot of promises. Your group will believe the promises and keep shipping. Finally, millions of dollars later, you'll realize you've been had. Then what will you do? You'll go back to Congress whining like a puppy on the way to the vet and expect the taxpayers to bail you out for being a fool.
Then we have Kirby Jones, president of the US-Cuba Trade Association talking about the embargo. Read this - it has to be the worst case of mixed-metaphor I've every seen - and the reporter goes right along with it.
Kirby Jones, the trade association's president, likened the embargo, dating to the early 1960s, to a weighty, out-of-commission ship on a field.
"It's like a tanker that has been sitting there for 40 years," Jones said. "And you've got farmers pushing it, but it won't budge. It's entrenched."
A ship in a field with farmers pushing it. It's priceless and is a great example of the fuzzy thinking obviously going on in the organization.
Then there's Pamela Ann Martin who bills herself as a trade consultant from Pennsylvania. She points out that, gasp, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives are the nephews of fidel's first wife.
"This is a family feud that's been taken to a very personal level," said Pamela Ann Martin, a Pennsylvania-based trade consultant specializing in Cuba.
A family feud. 46-years of terror for millions of people reduced to the level of a family feud by a trade consultant.
Who is Pamela Ann Martin? Well, my research assistant Mr. Google tells me she's the president of something called Molimar Export Consultants, which was one of the supporters of the legislation Congress voted down last week. The changes in the law would have allowed businesses to sell to Cuba on credit. The organization is also part of the US-Cuba Trade Association. It appears she's not only interested in having folks sell stuff to fidel, but in allowing more open travel, too. She and her organization are members of something called Emergency Coalition to Defend Educational Travel. I suppose this organization vigorously works to allow Cubans to travel outside the country, too? I suspect not.
How would I get in touch with Ms. Martin? Interestingly, none of the online directories have a listing for a Molimar Export Consultants, nor does the company appear to have a web site. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Corporate Records website shows no record for Molimar. Most interesting.
In the meantime, how are folks going to cook all of this rice the fidelitos want to sell? Even Granma is admitting the severe power shortages across the country. The slithering through excuses is amusing to read.
Yadira Garcia, minister of basic industry, affirmed on the TV Informative Roundtable program that it has been necessary to maneuver in very difficult conditions, almost an emergency situation, due to units in the Nuevitas thermoelectric plant in northern Camaguey and the Antonio Guiteras in Matanzas having to be taken out of service, in the midst of the planned maintenance of various generating blocs.
That situation provoked a major deficit of electricity by coinciding with maintenance work aimed at assuring greater efficiency in the electricity system throughout the summer, the months in which thousands of workers and students on vacation increase the domestic electricity demand.
Let's see if we understand - there's almost an emergency situation because two electric plants were taken out of service during planned maintenance. What kind of planning is that?
Update - The Conductor has an excellent post on Cuba's present day economy at Cuban American Pundits.