Thursday, September 30, 2010

How can you get your worst enemy to refinance your country’s failing economy?

Impossible, you say.

Not so, says Fidel Castro, one of the most durable and shrewd statesmen/autocrats the West has ever seen.

To his people’s great consternation he admits that his Cuban economic model is not working. Then he tries to recant, claiming

that his remarks were misinterpreted. Too late. His brother, Raul, is forced to announce that the government is planning to lay off up to one million civil servants because the State can no longer afford the expense of their salaries.

This negates the recantation and creates great uncertainty because the soon-to-be-laid-off workers realize they will not find future employment anywhere in Cuba. They have no choice but to start planning to establish small, privately-held businesses that can, according to Cuban law, employ up to four people in addition to the owner. But where would the would-be owner find the capital necessary to start his business? The State cannot lend it to him because the State is broke.

No problem. Most of the to-be-affected workers have relatives in the US whom they will ask to finance their budding enterprises and who will not refuse to help them because the concept of ‘family’ is sacred to Cubans!

The result?

The Cuban economy will flourish, stimulated by the creation of many initially small enterprises that are bound to expand with time – and the economic model will slowly cease to be centrally controlled, its conversion financed indirectly by Uncle Sam.

Bravo Fidel. Pure genius.

Pero ojo – watch out! People with money don’t like to be told what they can and cannot do.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I've been very busy during these last three weeks:

> First I was a guest in Montreal for an hour on CJAD's Suburban Week-end radio show during which my host, Beryl Wajsman, kept reading erotic
passages from Havana Harvest to prove that Montrealers know how to write about lust and passion because our city provides a vey sensuous environment to its inhabitants.

Yes, that's me in the studio, smiling, although feeling somewhat embarrassed.

> Then came the launch of Havana Harvest at Books & Books 's Coral Gables store. The event received wide media coverage that yielded an exciting bonus: I met the gutsy Cuban-American Journalist, Olga Connor, who writes for the New Miami Herald's Spanish Language Digital Edition. She and I hit it off right from the getgo: our views about what was happening in Cuba coincided to a T.

> After that I flew to George Town, capital of the Cayman Islands, where I did a book signing at the Book Nook. According to the staff on duty, over a thousand people visited the store on the day I was there of whom over two-thirds were paying customers. I sold out the entire Havana Harvest store inventory by the end of the day.

> Wendy Lauer, an old friend who lives in the Caymans, held a modest reception at her friend Pam Donough's house in my honour. The cocktail party, called for 6:30 pm, was expected to last for an hour and a half. It ended when the last guest left at midnight.

> When I got back to Montreal I completed a virtual interview with Kathleen Jones, a British Book Blogger who has recently visited Cuba and who wanted to find out more about me, my book and my connection with the Castro Regime. You can find her blog at