The Biscayne Times

Dec 14th
Trump’s Miami Hustle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jack King, BT Contributor   
July 2017

A sop to the base, a slap to Cuba’s small businesses

SPix_JackKing_7-17everal months ago I got a bizarre e-mail from my intrepid BT editor: “Hey, Jack. You were supposed to write about local affairs, not Trump A-G-A-I-N.... What happened?”

Nothing more about our president? Why, I asked myself, would he not want me to write about Trump? After all, Trump’s election has been the greatest boon to newspaper writers since the election of George W. Bush. Who knew we were getting a Bush replacement so quickly?!

Months have gone by, and my columns have lacked any mention of Trump. Nobody complained, so maybe no one really cared. But I did.

Then it happened. Trump announced that he was revising the U.S. policy toward Cuba and would come to Miami to announce the changes he’d worked out with Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Sen. Marco Rubio, who got to ride on Air Force One and eat the M&Ms. According to Rubio, they are the best M&Ms in the world. Also onboard for his first ride was recently minted Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Trump’s plan for Cuba is a modification of the plan that Barak Obama put in place in December 2014 that eased travel to the island, among other things. The argument that Trump is using is that he wants to make sure the military, which purportedly runs most of the businesses in Cuba, doesn’t get the money.

Information supplied to me says the government probably does take in about 60 percent of the total tourist revenue, but the other 40 percent is spread over thousands of small businesses and is the livelihood of many Cubans. The Trump plan, oddly enough, would make it easier for the government to keep the money and hurt the small entrepreneurs. That sounds like how we do business in America!

When Air Force One landed in Miami around midday, the entourage headed off to the Manuel Artime Theater in Little Havana for the big announcement. I wondered why they had it there, as the theater is quite small, seating about 830 when everyone is jammed in. You’d think they’d have had the speech somewhere where they could seat several thousand people to listen to the president.

There was one fixed camera, and it was on the stage with some 40 people in the background. The whole thing was over in about 30 minutes.

I was also surprised at how short the event was. Let’s see: Two hours to fly to Miami from Washington, 15 minutes to the theater, 20 minutes to listen to Mario Diaz-Balart talk about a free Cuba. Little Marco Rubio spoke for about five minutes and introduced Trump. Trump talked for 15 minutes, then left. Another 15 minutes to the airport and then two hours back to Washington. Wonder how much all that cost us taxpayers?

As I was trying to take all this in and then trying to figure out how much the spectacle had cost taxpayers, something else came to mind: Where was Ileana Ros-Lehtinen? Our current representative was nowhere to be seen. Sure, she isn’t running for re-election, but shouldn’t she be there?

Turns out that she wanted no part of the dog-and-pony show. She had advised the White House that she had “family matters” to attend to and couldn’t come. Love those “family matters” excuses!

As if that weren’t enough, I also noticed that in the seating area behind the podium there was not a single black person. Not one. Cuba has always had the reputation for “benign racism,” and there it was for all to see on national television.

There wasn’t much national news of Trump’s pronouncement about Cuba that evening. The next day there was exactly zero coverage of his proclamations. I think the reality of Cuba is that most Americans north of Florida have no idea what goes on down there. They think it’s just another banana republic. Just happens to be the closest one to the U.S.

Is there some way the United States can actually help Cuba? In my lifetime everything that the U.S. has done has caused more problems than produced solutions. Fifty years of sanctions have not worked, and 50 years more also will not work.

The definition of insanity is doing something that didn’t work over and over again and expecting a different result. With the Cuban oligarchs living in the United States telling us what to do, the United States has become completely insane.

Do they care? Hell no! They’re wealthy, they have positions in government, and quite frankly, they don’t give a damn about the Cuban people who are suffering every day just to make a living.

Here’s the question: What can the United States really do to help the Cuban people? How about sending more American tourists to spend more money so they can live better?

Hey, that might work.


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