Obama and the Caribbean

The breaking of the race barrier is very welcome. That point has been made. In fact, it comes 200 years late. But will Obama deliver in other respects? Here is hope and doubt. After Obama won the nomination he veered heavily to the center. That was necessary to be elected. But the question is: what kind of center? It is clear from his rhetoric that he is not (yet) interested in economic justice. He believes in redistribution of income, not in the diffusion of capital ownership.

So Obama’s center is mildly ‘socialist’, i.e. his policy will be to tax the rich to give to the poor. This is, of course, a far cry from real socialism, which confiscates everything from the rich to give to the State (like Cuba). Nevertheless, Obama’s economic policy will be essentially socialist (or ‘social-democrat’, if you will). Such a policy does alleviate the suffering of the poor, but does not solve the problem of poverty. In fact, it perpetuates poverty, in the same way as alms-giving does. The fact that he does not (yet) see this, is where the doubt comes in.

So where’s the hope?

The hope is that Obama will end the hopeless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that he will gradually move from the military option to the socio-economic option. Cuba sends doctors and teachers to other countries. The US sends soldiers and warplanes. Which of the two policies succeeds in winning the hearts and minds of the people? The answer is so obvious that it is embarrassing to pose the question. Nevertheless, the US wonders why real socialism is on the rise again in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The hope is that Obama will understand that the people want jobs, doctors and schools, not soldiers, bombs and barracks. The hope is that he will understand that jobs, doctors and teachers are cheaper and more effective than soldiers, bombs and barracks. This is a truism, of course, but clearly beyond the comprehension of the Bush administration. Incredible how we have stumbled along from blunder to blunder during these past eight years.


Obama has promised Cuban Americans that they will be allowed to freely travel to Cuba to visit their relatives and send remittances to them. However, the embargo will remain until the Cuban government turns around. This is not the moment to discuss the wisdom of this policy. But it is certainly a change. In our daily video Obama explains his policy intentions vis-à-vis Cuba.

For those interested we have posted Obama’s Victory speech on our website in our collection of ‘outstanding videos’.

Barack Obama on Cuba