Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

President Obama attends a wreath-laying ceremony in Havana, March 21, 2016. (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Viva Cuba Libre!

Eric Margolis

 by Eric Margolis

Long ago in Havana, my mother and father would take me to the famed “Floridita” bar to join a burly, white-bearded man and drink daiquiris.

He gave me his book, “A Farewell to Arms,” autographed to “Eric, from his friend Ernest Hemingway. Havana, 1953”

Those were the old days in Cuba, even before Fidel Castro. That’s how far back I go on this lovely island on the Spanish Main.

I’ve twice been in battle in the west African state of Angola against Cuban troops that had been sent by Fidel Castro to fight white South African forces.

After visiting Cuba many times over the years and recently shooting a documentary there, I’ve acquired much affection for the peppery Cubans and their beautiful island. Havana is a century older than my native New York City.

So I was truly delighted to see President Obama travel to Havana this past week, rub shoulders with leader Raul Castro, and proclaim an end to Cold War hostility between the two neighbors.

Obama told Cubans, “you do not need to fear a threat from the United States.”

If Obama would make the same pledge to North Korea the dangerous crisis in North Asia might well be ended.

After half century, the American president renounced the use of force to overthrow Cuba’s Marxist government. Whether a new Republican president and Congress honors this pledge remains to be seen.

At the heart of bitter US-Cuban relations was the Castro brother’s adamantine refusal to take instruction from Washington. Before Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, Cuba had been an obedient semi-colony of the US. This was the era when Big Brother in Washington told Latin America what to do and allowed US business to exploit the region.

The US seized Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay during the 1898 Spanish-American War as a naval coaling station. Cuba was forced to grant the US a perpetual lease. The Panama Canal was acquired in a similar imperial manner.

Over half the lush island’s agricultural land was owned by US corporate interests; many hotels came under control of American mobsters, including the once glorious ‘‘Nacional’’ hotel where I always stay.

Fidel Castro seized US property soon after taking power. The angry Americans imposed a punishing blockade on Cuba in 1960 that persists to this day, strongly backed by the Republican Party. Exiled Cubans and US corporations want their property back. Havana says no.

On my last visit to Cuba, I stood in awe in front of an old, crude-looking Soviet, 1960’s era SS-4 intercontinental missiles that had once been armed with nuclear warheads. They had been aimed at the US East Coast during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. As a student at Washington’s Georgetown University in that crisis year, I had been smack in the middle of ground zero.

1962 was a terribly close call for mankind, a nuclear game of blind man’s bluff. Thank god that John Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev backed down. Both proclaimed victory. Interestingly, during a Moscow conference during the 1980’s, a senior KGB officer claimed that Fidel Castro had begged Moscow to fire its missiles at the United States – perhaps because CIA had tried to murder Castro more than a dozen times?

Cubans suffered terribly and ate grass for decades but refused to bow to US demands. They had to become beholden to Moscow to stave off the USA.

Now, at the end of Fidel Castro’s life, tiny, proud Cuba has won its struggle for independence. Obama’s visit capped Cuba’s pyrrhic victory. US tourist will soon inundate the island, eradicate its seedy 1950’s charm, and see Cuba returned to American tutelage.

Ironically, when Castro revolted against Washington, Cuba was the vanguard of Latin America. Today, half a century later, most of Latin America has become democratic and relatively prosperous while Cuba lingers in dire poverty and authoritarian rule. But at least it was a clean authoritarian rule that genuinely cared for its people, providing high grade medical care and education that in some ways put the US to shame.

Republicans insist the US should not deal with authoritarian Cuba. What flaming hypocrisy. Washington gives billions to the uber ugly Egyptian dictatorship of ‘Field Marshall’ al-Sisi that tortures and guns down its people. The US supports repressive Morocco, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and, biggest malefactor of all, China.

President Obama did the right thing. Viva Barack!

© 2021 Eric Margolis
Eric Margolis

Eric Margolis

Eric Margolis is a columnist, author and a veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East. Margolis was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is "American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World."

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Humanity 'Way Off Track': WMO Says Atmospheric Carbon at Level Unseen in 3 Million Years

The new report has "a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP 26," said the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Andrea Germanos ·

Any Lawmaker Involved in Planning Jan. 6 Insurrection 'Must Be Expelled,' Says AOC

Organizers of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol say that several congressional Republicans and White House officials helped plan former President Donald Trump's coup attempt.

Kenny Stancil ·

Profits Before People: 'The Facebook Papers' Expose Tech Giant Greed

"This industry is rotten at its core," said one critic, "and the clearest proof of that is what it's doing to our children."

Jon Queally ·

New York Taxi Workers Stage Hunger Strike to Demand Medallion Debt Relief

"They are an essential industry here in New York City," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, "and we need to make sure we're doing right by them."

Julia Conley ·

'It's Not Coming Out': Bernie Sanders Stands Firm on Medicare Expansion

"It's what the American people want and, after waiting over 50 years, what they are going to get."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo