Español When you’re the lone openly libertarian organization in a nation famous for censorship, as is the case for Cuba’s Anarcho-capitalist Club (CAC), just remaining in existence for a year is an achievement.
To celebrate the occasion on Saturday, March 14, the group’s dozen or so core members launched a campaign to teach Cuban citizens and small entrepreneurs about bitcoin.
“The idea is that tourists can use bitcoin to pay Cuban entrepreneurs and thus keep profits out of reach of Castro,” Joisy García, the club’s founder, told the PanAm Post.
A month ago, the CAC became the first organization in Cuba to start accepting donations in bitcoin. With the help of supporters abroad, they opened a bitcoin wallet to raise funds for the club, since the majority of the members cannot find employment on account of their open opposition to the regime.
García said the plans for 2015 will involve more “fight and enthusiasm.” They’re currently seeking to secure international scholarships in economics for young Cubans, to “show them another ideology, another vision.”
For García, now working from Miami, the club’s biggest achievement has been “to have broken the taboo about discussing other doctrines besides communism or socialism.” He highlighted the importance of creating intellectual ammunition in the opposition’s battle against General Raúl Castro.
With one year of online presence under their belts, they have garnered an unprecedented following of 3,000 virtual supporters inside and outside Cuba who follow the club’s daily “Libertarian Revolution,” according to García.
The CAC’s genesis came from videos that García and Nelso Rodríguez received from abroad: presentations by Jesús Huerta de Soto on anarcho-capitalism. After three months of digesting them, they decided to found the club and become a thorn in the side of Cuba’s communist rulers.
García explains that the group’s essence is, simply put, the desire for freedom, economic progress, and happiness. Beyond human rights, they battle for liberalism.
Not without Resistance
It hasn’t been easy for the Cuban anarcho-capitalists. Although the club was only founded a year ago, members have been receiving threats dating back much further for expressing their unwillingness to accept the Soviet-style structure of the island.
“The personal threats started in 2000,” García explains. “After that I was fired from my job and cannot find work in Cuba. In 2002 I signed onto Project Varela, carried out by the Christian Liberation Movement headed by Oswaldo Payá, a project that asked to change the Cuban Constitution.”
The members of the CAC, labeled opposition activists, have been banned from employment on the island and face ostracism from neighbors who are fearful of being associated with their activities.
In October 2014, García received a citation from the National Revolutionary Police for providing an interview with the PanAm Post about the hostility the club faces from the Cuban government.
Observing US-Cuba Discussions
With respect to the position of the CAC in relation to the renewed talks between the United States and Cuba, García sees the club as “observers.” They are hopeful that “the old abandoned wooden wheel will start to move,” in reference to the stagnant situation that has come to define Cuba for the past half century.
“Many think that the reopening of relations has the potential to provide the Cuban government with money for repression, but they are not lacking it,” he says. “The money they invest is not in hospitals, in the streets, or in the Cuban people.”
“We believe that it is necessary to maximize the amount of money on the island in order to benefit the country. We know that the Castro government wants to institute state capitalism so that the only ones to benefit are from that group, but this is the start of something.”
Translated by Daniel Duarte and Michael Pelzer. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.
EspañolBrazil's Mais Médicos (More Doctors) program has had a hidden agenda that goes beyond recruiting Cuban doctors to provide medical care in underdeveloped regions of the South American nation. This according to Jornal Da Band, a Brazilian online media outlet, which obtained access to a recording of a meeting in Brasilia's presidential palace in June 2013, shortly after huge demonstrations broke out across the country against the government of President Dilma Rousseff. The audio suggests that her government hid the true objectives of the medical program. The meeting was between six ministerial advisors and María Alice Barbosa Fortunato, current director of the More Doctors initiative under the aegis of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Barbosa is heard to voice her concern for the Rousseff administration's preference for Cuban doctors, and decides to also deploy medical staff from Mercosur member states. Nevertheless, she admits that only 0.13 percent of the first year's budget will go towards non-Cuban personnel. "I can put aside R$2 million (US$620,000) to pay for [doctors from] Mercosur and Unasur … this, in relation to R$1.6 billion (US$498 million) … will this create problems for us with the judiciary?" Barbosa is heard to ask. Another point of discussion was the form of payment for the Cuban doctors, as well as the role to be played by 50 Cuban "political commissars" that were to prevent potential desertions by the Caribbean medics from their posts in Brazil. "I'm not going to put 9,000 doctors and 50 advisors in my deal, I'm going to put 9,050 doctors, because the advisors aren't part of the program, and it's the program I want to defend," Barbosa said at one point in the meeting. The issue of salary was resolved by Marco Aurelio García, an advisor to Rousseff who has also taken the lead in talks between the governing Workers' Party (PT) and Venezuela. García finally decided that 60 percent of the payment should go to the Cuban government, while the other 40 percent should end up in the pockets of the individual doctors. The decision was questioned by the Brazilian Court of Audit, which after studying the program documents stipulated that paying foreign personnel more than Brazilian doctors violated World Health Organization (WHO) recruitment codes. It also noted that both PAHO and the WHO have raised concerns about the failure of the Brazilian government to provide documents about the presence of Cuban doctors in the South American country. There are approximately 11,000 Cuban doctors in Brazil, with local media reports suggesting this week that Havana is pressuring many to return their families to the island. According to national daily Folha de Sao Paulo, the government of Raúl Castro fears that having their families in Brazil may encourage doctors to go off the radar and not to return to Cuba. More Doctors is ostensibly designed to send medics to regions of the 8.5 million square kilometer country that are less attractive to Brazilian doctors. However, political columnist Felipe Voura took to Veja.com to argue that the PT's true objectives were "to finance the Cuban dictatorship, giving the greater part of the doctors' salaries to the dictatorship of the Castro brothers." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe03u2SY_KA&t=25 The Venezuelan Experience Havana's preoccupation over the reliability of its health workers in Brazil follows a similar experience in Venezuela. After 11 years of the Barrio Adentro program, over 1,400 doctors have fled to the United States in the last four years alone, with the figure rising to over 8,000 since 2004. Barrio Adentro involves the greater part of the 44,000 Cubans present in official capacities in Venezuela. The exact number of medics is unknown, as is the exact number of those who have escaped to US territory via Colombia. The program's capacity meanwhile no longer reportedly reaches even 30 percent of its initial reach. Of the US$1,500 that Cuba receives for each doctor (costing Venezuela $13.5 billion over 11 years), the medic himself earns less than $100 a month. The remaining quantity has effectively constituted a subsidy by the government of former President Hugo Chávez, and his successor Nicolás Maduro, to the Caribbean island's governing regime. Translated by Laurie Blair. Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.