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Old 12-18-2014, 04:30 PM   #41
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It's not as if we haven't normalized relations with other communist nations a long time ago.....

It's about time, although I was starting to fear it wouldn't happen in my lifetime.

I'd love to go birding in Cuba!
http://www.factzoo.com/sites/all/img...woodpecker.jpg

Cuban ivory-billed woodpecker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I would like to see one of these!
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Old 12-18-2014, 05:01 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
It's not as if we haven't normalized relations with other communist nations a long time ago.....

It's about time, although I was starting to fear it wouldn't happen in my lifetime.

I'd love to go birding in Cuba!
Yeah, to me this ranks up there with the discovery of the Titanic and revealing the identity of Watergate's "Deep Throat." Now, if they can only find Amelia Earhart before I croak, that would be nice.
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Old 12-18-2014, 05:36 PM   #43
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Maybe Cuba would be a good place to ER?
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Old 12-18-2014, 06:17 PM   #44
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You may enjoy their YouTube video, which follows a bike tour, and gives some insight into what Cuba is like today.
Thanks for posting the video. I look forward to biking in Cuba as soon as it becomes feasible. I'm used to organizing my own trips, and I've got a couple of cycling friends who have biked there and liked it a lot, especially the lack of traffic. Cuban rules about accommodations make it a little complicated, and from what I can tell, somewhat pricy.

Years ago, when it was still communist and still one country, I biked in Czechoslovakia. It was a very strange experience, but I'm glad I did it.
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Old 12-18-2014, 06:19 PM   #45
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BIL, in addition to working in Canada and Cuba in earlier days... beginning in the mid 1990's until about 2006, also acted as an unofficial liaison between one of the Canadian agricultural organizations and some Cuban farm researchers.
One of the most difficult problems with the embargo was the availability and cost of fuel and pesticides.
I remember him telling me about the movement towards small farms and home gardens, and the ecological correctness of organic farming... (before it was a buzzword here). In poking around for more info about this, I came across this 2008 article that covered some of the actions that have led to the food self sufficiency that was attained after a period of food shortages.
cuba agriculture .com - Cuba Agriculture Information

excerpt:
Quote:
By 2002, 35,000 acres of urban gardens produced 3.4 million tons of food. In Havana, 90% of the city's fresh produce came from local urban farms and gardens, all organic. In 2003, more than 200,000 Cubans worked in the expanding urban agriculture sector.
In 2003, the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture was using less than 50% of the diesel fuel it used in 1989, less than 10% of the chemical fertilisers and less than 7% of the synthetic insecticides. A chain of 220 bio-pesticide centres provided safe alternatives for pest control.
The ongoing National Program for Soil Improvement and Preservation benefited 475,000 hectares of land in 2004, up 23,000 hectares in 2003. The annual production of 5 million tonnes of composted soil by a network of worm farms is part of this process.
Perhaps the most interesting thing that my in-laws remark on, is the low crime rate, and the basic honesty of the citizens... except... that bribery of government workers is quite common, and a more or less accepted practice.
Theft, and violent crime is almost unknown.
While Havana and some of the more urban cities often look modern, from what I've seen, most of the country appears to be stalled in the 1940's and 1950's.
Even now, in many places, electricity is not reliable, and infrastructure.... water and sewer in need of upgrade.
Che... is still celebrated as the "greatest"... venerated in statues, banners, and art on the sides of buildings.

I expect that we'll be seeing much more of the country in the news and TV "specials".
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Old 12-18-2014, 07:46 PM   #46
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I'm guessing that the reported low crime is mostly due to the culture and not the fact that most everyone is equally poor. But I'd appreciate it if those with direct experience could comment more on this.

I'm also curious about the seemingly conflicting comments about thriving urban farming and visiting Canadians who find the food boring. Perhaps the tourists were only going to "legal" restaurants or perhaps all the urban farmers grow the same staples?

I'm really thrilled that we are seeing such political progress. Good news of this ilk seems so very rare. Makes me wonder why this wasn't done 25yrs ago after the Berlin Wall came down, or even just a few years ago when Fidel stepped aside.
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Old 12-18-2014, 08:41 PM   #47
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I'm looking forward to being able to sail my boat to Cuba without wondering if the US will confiscate it upon returning to the US.

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The incident I watched the boat was sunk 20 miles out in the ocean.

Little different circumstances we came across 9 Cubans in a broken boat twenty miles off Marathon Key. We watched the Coast Gaurd rescue them but their little boat was blown up. At that time they were given a chance to stay in the US. Those folks risked their lives and almost lost.

Edit to add: I believe this is a great deal for people in both countries. Obviously what we've been doing is not helping anyone.


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Old 12-18-2014, 09:08 PM   #48
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I remember talk that crime was low in the USSR too, but they had that totalitarian state.

Crime can be bad in many places in Latin America.

Influx of money could bring drugs, which always brings crime, inequality, etc.
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Old 12-18-2014, 11:52 PM   #49
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Cuba has been moving away from a Soviet-style centrally planned economy (fueled initially by sugar subsidies from the old Soviet Union) towards a market-driven economy.

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Less than you might think.
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Old 12-18-2014, 11:58 PM   #50
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Perhaps the most interesting thing that my in-laws remark on, is the low crime rate, and the basic honesty of the citizens... except... that bribery of government workers is quite common, and a more or less accepted practice.
.
Interesting. Here in Illinois, we have the "bribery of government workers." In fact, "gratuities" are expected if you want to receive service at most public facilities.

We don't have the low crime rate or basic honesty of the citizen that you mention though......
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Old 12-19-2014, 12:31 AM   #51
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I see Cuba as a very strong contender for many many retirees from Canada and the U.S. It is cheap, stable, best medical system outside of developed economies, highly educated population, one of the safest countries in the world (even while being very poor), a stone's throw from the U.S., and many more advantages. It is definitely on my radar.

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Maybe Cuba would be a good place to ER?
If we'll be able to use US credit cards there, how long before we can receive our SS payments there also, as well as set up bank accounts?

Cuba as a retirement destination is indeed an interesting thought.
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Old 12-19-2014, 06:31 AM   #52
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Cuba still needs some infrastructure before it becomes a viable option for us ER types, but it does have potential. A ferry ride away makes it even better.
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Old 12-19-2014, 06:59 AM   #53
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Politics aside, it's about time we get along with our neighbors.
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:44 AM   #54
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From an online Time article, "Witness Cuba's Evolution in 39 Photos".

Notice anything unusual in this picture?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Cuba.JPG (66.5 KB, 44 views)
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:48 AM   #55
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Notice anything unusual in this picture?
Ricardo's wife must be in the back? Or do you have to watch what well you are drinking water from?
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:49 AM   #56
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Or perhaps they are progressive and allow gay marriage.
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:58 AM   #57
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They're bundled up as if the weather is cold? ?
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Old 12-19-2014, 08:07 AM   #58
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Politics aside, it's about time we get along with our neighbors.
There seems to be two views of the situation.

One is "lets all get along." The possibilities of new tourist or ER destinations trump anything else.

The other is that in a few years the whole purpose of the embargo may be realized and a regime that has seized millions of dollars of US privately owned property and tyrannized their people will undoubtedly be replaced when the Castros finally die. It''s like grasping defeat from the jaws of victory.

I suspect that if we did a poll we'd look a lot like the Cuban exile/fled community. The older members would be more likely to think this move as a "surrender" than the younger members who are not as emotionally tied to the original issues.

Bottom line, I expect Cuba to become another poor Caribbean nation that will look a lot like Haiti in a few decades unless the US takes over financial support. Tourism by itself won't cut it. Venezuela has been propping them up with low cost/free oil in exchange for military and medical support. They are still in a desperately poor condition. I can't see Venezuela keeping up the support without someone (China?) making them a fully owned client state. It's possible but then there's the possibility of the US dusting off the Monroe Doctrine.
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Old 12-19-2014, 08:33 AM   #59
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There seems to be two views of the situation.

One is "lets all get along." The possibilities of new tourist or ER destinations trump anything else.

The other is that in a few years the whole purpose of the embargo may be realized and a regime that has seized millions of dollars of US privately owned property and tyrannized their people will undoubtedly be replaced when the Castros finally die. It''s like grasping defeat from the jaws of victory.

I suspect that if we did a poll we'd look a lot like the Cuban exile/fled community. The older members would be more likely to think this move as a "surrender" than the younger members who are not as emotionally tied to the original issues.

Bottom line, I expect Cuba to become another poor Caribbean nation that will look a lot like Haiti in a few decades unless the US takes over financial support. Tourism by itself won't cut it. Venezuela has been propping them up with low cost/free oil in exchange for military and medical support. They are still in a desperately poor condition. I can't see Venezuela keeping up the support without someone (China?) making them a fully owned client state. It's possible but then there's the possibility of the US dusting off the Monroe Doctrine.
My understanding is that after the fall of the USSR, in the early 1990s Cuba liberalized somewhat and invited foreign businesses to come in and invest, especially in the tourism industry. Of course US companies were not among them. Many big Canadian and European companies jumped in. (Imagine the opportunities they anticipated being able to invest in a new market with zero US competition!)

If I understand the situation correctly, many of these companies withdrew their investments and/or lowered their expectations within a few years as the Cuban regime remained overly controlling and it was difficult to do business there.

It will be interesting to see if improved relations with the US will finally lead to free market reforms that attract investment, improved economic conditions, and political freedom for the Cuban people, or if this is just another ruse to prop up the communist regime even longer.

As a retirement venue, I can't imagine that the day to day conveniences that we all take for granted - Internet, banking, shopping - will be on line anytime soon, but it should be interesting to watch it all unfold.


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Old 12-19-2014, 08:48 AM   #60
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Cuba still needs some infrastructure before it becomes a viable option for us ER types, but it does have potential. A ferry ride away makes it even better.
Ferry? If Cuba hadn't taken such a sad historical wrong turn in history, we'd have nice bridge or tunnel to there already.

With a little luck there will be one in a decade or two.
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