The Road to Restoring Cuba

Go Lean Commentary

CU Blog - The Road to Restoring Cuba - Photo 3In a visit to Jamaica and CariCom leaders in April 2015,  US President Barack Obama concluded that 55 years of indifference towards Cuba was long-enough and that as of December 17, 2014 he had “set the machinery in motion” to normalize relations with Cuba. This descriptor paints the picture of a journey, a marathon and not just a “100-yard dash”.

What is the status of that journey now?

Where are we in the process? How are the issues being addressed?

It turns out this is a weighty task (heavy-lifting), and while many of the issues are minor (i.e. Postal Mail), some are life-and-death (i.e. Human Trafficking).

Firstly, the current restoration of Cuban and American relations is strictly an act of Executive Orders – directives by the US President (currently of the Democratic Party) and not supported by his Republican legislature, the Congress. There is a definitive divide among these Democrats and Republicans in this regard. Here are some updates of those Executive Orders, since the December 2014 baseline:

People watch a friendly match between the La Habana juvenile baseball team and the Matanzas team in Havana

People watch a friendly match between the La Habana juvenile baseball team and the Matanzas team in Havana

Cuba needs to have the American Trade Embargo officially lifted! This is a Congressional action and cannot be accomplished by Executive Orders alone.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean was designed with the intent of the eventual integration of Cuba in a Caribbean Single Market. This would allow for technocratic stewardship and oversight of the region’s economic, security and governing engines for all 30 Caribbean member-states. The book therefore serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU).

There is no minimizing of the risks and responsibility of Cuba in the Go Lean book. It is clearly recognized that integrating and restoring Cuba is a BIG deal; with heavy-lifting; and other reconciliation descriptors used to depict this monumental effort. See the relevant statement here from the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12):

xiii. Whereas the legacy of dissensions in many member-states (for example: Haiti and Cuba) will require a concerted effort to integrate the exile community’s repatriation, the Federation must arrange for Reconciliation Commissions to satiate a demand for justice.

Though World War II was not directly waged in the Caribbean, the Go Lean/CU roadmap still prescribes a Marshall Plan strategy – a reference to the post-WWII European Rebuilding Plan – for re-building Cuba (and Haiti).

In truth, Cuba is the biggest market in the Caribbean. This one island has the largest landmass among the islands; (notwithstanding the landmasses of South America-situated CU member-states of Guyana and Suriname). They also have the largest population of 11,236,444 people (circa 2010) and the most agricultural output. Cuba needs the Caribbean; and the Caribbean needs Cuba. The entire region needs to act in unison as the challenges the region face are too big for any one country to tackle alone.

All in all, the book and accompanying blogs declare despite an absence of trade embargo in the other Caribbean member-states, that these countries have still failed to deliver to their citizens the standards assumed in any Social Contract. Some member-states are even flirting with Failed-State statuses. People in each Caribbean country are prone to flee the region, at every opportunity. The people of the region deserve better!

There is the need to re-boot … the entire region. This re-boot roadmap commences with the recognition that all the Caribbean is in crisis, and in the “same boat” despite the colonial heritage or language. All 30 geographical member-states need to confederate, collaborate, and convene for solutions. This is the purpose of the Go Lean/CU roadmap, as featured in this declaration of the Go Lean/CU prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

Consider the start of the ill-fated Cuban-Communism Revolution in 1959, Cuba has lost 57 years in its maturation process. The Go Lean book’s opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 11) also included this pronouncement that it is beyond time now for Caribbean success stories, rather than the continued Caribbean Failed-State stories:

While our rights to exercise good governance and promote a more perfect society are the natural assumptions among the powers of the earth, no one other than ourselves can be held accountable for our failure to succeed if we do not try to promote the opportunities that a democratic society fosters.

The Go Lean book therefore details the series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to facilitate a re-boot in the region and to final manifest a quality delivery of a regional Social Contract:

Anecdote – Caribbean Single Market & Economy Page 15
Community Ethos – new Economic Principles Page 21
Community Ethos – new Security Principles Page 22
Community Ethos – new Governing Principles Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Manage Reconciliations – TRC Cuba Page 34
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategic – Vision – Integrated Region in a Single Market Page 45
Strategic – Vision – Core Competence – Specialty Agriculture Page 58
Tactical – Confederating a Non-sovereign Union Page 63
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – CU Member-States   Facts & Figures Page 66
Tactical – Growing to $800 Billion Regional Economy – Marshall Plan Models Page 67
Tactical – Separation of Powers Page 71
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Foreign Policy Initiatives at Start-up Page 102
Implementation – Security Initiatives at Start-up Page 103
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Reasons to Repatriate Page 118
Planning – Big Ideas for the Caribbean Region – Marshall Plan for Cuba Page 127
Planning – Reasons Why the CU Will Succeed – Lessons from Unifying Germany Page 132
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices Page 134
Planning – Lessons from East Germany – Post-Communism Integration Page 139
Planning – Ways to Model the EU – Immediate Integration after WWII Crisis Page 130
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 176
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Cuba Page 236

The issue of Cuba’s eventual integration into the Caribbean brotherhood has previously been addressed in the following Go Lean commentary-blog entries: Cuba to Expand Internet Access Colorism in Cuba … and Beyond Restoration of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba CariCom Chairman calls for an end to US Embargo on Cuba ‘Raul Castro reforms not enough’, Cuba’s bishops say Cuba mulls economy in Parliament session Cuban cancer medication registered in 28 countries Cuba Approves New “Law on Foreign Investment”

For a long time people have hoped for a restored Cuba. This hope was shared by Cuban people on the island and in the Diaspora abroad. The hope is also shared by neighbors, tourists, trading-partners, and international stakeholders, alike. Maybe, just maybe with President Barack Obama’s Executive Orders, the journey down this road to restoration will be irreversible. (A new President of the US will be sworn-in on January 20, 2017; this one can reverse Obama’s Executive Orders).

The Go Lean roadmap for the CU strives to put the Command-and-Control of Caribbean affairs in the hands of Caribbean people. The book and accompanying blogs declare the desire for the Caribbean to no longer be a parasite of the US, but rather a protégé. This parasite status stems all the way back to the year 1898 – to the start of the Spanish – American War for Cuban Independence.

Enough already! Surely we have grown since 1898 or even since 1959.

The Go Lean…Caribbean movement turns the corner, and instead of an American dependence, or a nationalistic independence, it leads the region in a new direction: neighborly interdependence. The Go Lean…Caribbean book is a turn-by-turn guide (370 pages) for the region to dive deeper in an integrated Single Market.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people – residents and Diaspora – and governing institutions, to lean-in for this Caribbean and Cuban re-boot. Now is the time to make this region – all 30 countries – a better place to live, work and play.  🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix A VIDEO – US-Cuba direct mail services to resume –

Posted Dec 12, 2015 – Cuba and the United States are to resume direct postal services after half a century of having to send mail via a third country. Paul Chapman reports.


Appendix B – News Article: As MLB seeks legal entry to Cuba, Obama considers playing ball

By: Daniel Trotta, Reuters

HAVANA (Reuters) – Major League Baseball is asking the U.S. government for special permission to sign players in Cuba, handing the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama the opportunity to try some baseball diplomacy while dealing a setback to human traffickers.

The U.S. trade embargo generally bars MLB from any agreement directing money to the Cuban government, but the White House says baseball is one area where it can advance U.S. goals and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has authority to allow a deal.

MLB and Cuba are closer than at any time since the 1959 revolution, as evidenced by a goodwill tour last week in which big leaguers, including Cuban defectors, gave clinics to Cuban youth.

“Indeed, baseball has a unique cultural significance to both the United States and Cuba. It is therefore an area where we can further our goals of charting a new course in our relations with Cuba and further engaging and empowering the Cuban people,” a senior administration official told Reuters.

Since Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro broke with Cold War history and announced detente a year ago, Obama has asked Congress to repeal the embargo, but the Republican majority has resisted. Instead the administration has used other means to promote exchanges.

If MLB were able to sign players in Cuba, where baseball is the most popular sport, it could end a wave of defections in which Cuban ballplayers put themselves in the hands of human traffickers and risk their lives on illegal journeys at sea.

Some 130 ballplayers have defected this past year, according to Cuban journalists.

But the best players on the island remain off limits, and the Cuban government stops them from leaving without permission, leading those with big-league dreams to turn to smugglers. In some cases, organized crime rackets force players to sign over huge cuts of future earnings, threatening players and their families.

“It’s not an uncommon story,” said Paul Minoff, a lawyer who represents Leonys Martin, an outfielder now with the Seattle Mariners who earned $15.5 million over the past five seasons with the Texas Rangers.

After defecting, Martin was held by armed men in Mexico for months, and under duress agreed to pay his captors 35 percent of his salary, Minoff said. When Martin reached America, he fought back. The smugglers sued Martin but the suit was dismissed after U.S. prosecutors brought criminal charges against them.

Cuban players have mostly stuck to a code of silence about their defections, but some details emerge through court cases.

When Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers left Cuba in 2012, he soon found himself entangled with Mexico’s notorious Zetas crime organization, which threatened to chop off his arm if it failed to receive a promised $250,000 fee.

While Puig signed a $42 million contract, others are abandoned in foreign countries, never to hit paydirt.


To normalize the transfer of players, Major League Baseball has asked the Treasury’s OFAC for a specific license. The office has wide latitude to grant such licenses and can issue regulations to approve activity otherwise proscribed by the embargo.

OFAC Acting Director John E. Smith said he could not comment on the baseball case, but in general his office “acts in consultation with the State Department and other relevant U.S. government agencies in determining whether (authorizing transactions) would be consistent with current policy.”

MLB applied for its OFAC license in early June, MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem told Reuters. Halem declined to detail the request except to say it included signing players in Cuba, stressing that baseball’s priority was to provide a safe and legal path for Cuban players.

“There’s a willingness on the part of our government to end the trafficking. The White House has been very sympathetic to helping us end some of the abusive practices,” Halem said.

Legally, experts say, there is no impediment to granting MLB’s request. Politically, it may be tricky to explain a deal that provides revenue for the Cuban government while favoring MLB, a $10 billion industry. The administration’s stated preference is to support Cuba’s private sector.


Cuba made a significant gesture when it permitted once-shunned defectors to return for the goodwill tour, including Puig and Jose Abreu, who has a $68 million contract with the Chicago White Sox.

When they left Cuba, Puig and Abreu had little hope of returning soon. The trip allowed Abreu to reunite with his 5-year-old son and Puig with a half-brother.

“This demonstrates that Cuba is open to the world, that we are not closed, not even with our players who are playing in MLB,” Higinio Velez, president of the Cuban Baseball Federation, told Reuters.

Attempting to slow the defections, Cuba has increased pay and allowed more players to sign in Japan, Mexico and elsewhere. Those leagues pay Cuba a fee equivalent to 10 percent of the player’s salary, but Cuba is believed to want more from MLB.

“This is a vulnerable time. It’s a reality that the exodus has harmed the level of our baseball,” Heriberto Suarez, Cuba’s National Baseball Commissioner, told Reuters.

With an MLB deal, Cuba could regulate the egress of players and protect its professional league, the country’s greatest sporting attraction. Sixteen teams are the pride of each province, the games infused with a conga beat celebration.

Should legally emigrated stars begin playing in the United States, they would pay taxes to Cuba, which is also likely to seek compensation for player rights. Both measures would require OFAC permission and help preserve the Cuban league.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington)
Source:–mlb.html; posted December 23, 2015; retrieved February 4, 2016.

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