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May 7, 2009

The Middle East Goes To Cuba: Qatar To Build Luxury Hotel In Cuba

cuba 

Well, if America wants to be a major player in the redevelopment of Cuba then we better start talking with Cuba in a meaningful way real soon before the rest of the industrial world beats us to it.  Do American businesses want to do business with Cuba?  Of course they do, they don’t want to miss out on all the opportunities to bring Cuba into the 21st century and all the money to be made doing so.

Here in America we have been conditioned to believe that Castro’s Cuba is all bad and that Cuba is automatically our enemy without knowing why Castro’s Cuba look at America as a fiend – it’s not just about communism.

Before the Cuban Revolution that led to the overthrow of U.S. backed Dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Havana was the original Sin City.  Havana was Las Vegas, before there was a Las Vegas.

Because gambling, liquor, prostitution, etc were all illegal in the United States, rich and famous Americans were looking for a place where they could revel and paint the town red without going to jail. They discovered Havana and since it is a tropical paradise and only 90 miles from Florida it became wealthy Americans’ winter destination and airlines and cruise lines offered grand tour packages to Havana.

American mob bosses benefited from Cuba’s President Fulgencio Batista’s corrupt regime and bribed them and created a glamorous playground for the rich. They created a prohibition haven, a place of safety from prosecution overflowing with dazzling nightclubs and mojitos flowing all day, outrageous cabarets, dancing girls, all-night bars, backstreet brothels, fancy hotels and resorts, gambling, music, drugs, sex and scandal.  Affluent Americans and movie stars did not disappoint the mob investors; they went to Havana in droves to whoop it up!

Many Cubans were outraged by the reveling and debauchery and Castro who was a young revolutionist became popular and his philosophy became widely accepted. When Castro overthrew Batista he had a new vision for Cuba and Americans were banned from travel to his tropical paradise.

Relations between the U.S. and Cuba quickly deteriorated when Castro nationalized many of the U.S. owned industries in Cuba. Each time the Cuban government nationalized American properties, the American government took countermeasures, resulting in the prohibition of all exports to Cuba on October 19, 1960.

In March 1960 President Eisenhower had quietly authorized the CIA to organize, train, and equip Cuban refugees as a guerrilla force to overthrow Castro. Consequently, Cuba began to consolidate trade relations with the communist Soviet Union which lead to the United States breaking off all remaining official diplomatic relations.

On January 3, 1961 the US withdrew diplomatic recognition of the Cuban government and closed our embassy in Havana.

So here we are 48 years later and Cuba and Qatar have signed an agreement to build a $75 million, 450-room resort on a cay south of the island.

Cuba and Qatar will spend 14 months negotiating financing details for the five-star “Gran Paraiso” or “Great Paradise,” said Ghanim Bin Saad al-Saad, president of state-owned Qatar Diar Real Estate Investment Company, construction will take another year and a half with a goal to open in 2015.

The resort is planned for Cayo Largo Sur, a strip of white sand, coral reefs and warm, calm waters 105 miles south of Havana that is already home to a cluster of high-rise hotels. The Gran Paraiso will also include 60 retreat villas that could be expanded in the future.

Tourism is Cuba’s second-largest moneymaker behind nickel exports.

A record 2.35 million foreigners visited last year, mostly from Canada and Europe. That was a 9.3 percent increase over 2007.  Foreign arrivals are up another 2 percent so far this year despite the global economic slowdown.

America should not continue to snub Cuba.  Even though we’ve not been friendly neighbors, Cuba really hasn’t done anything harmful to America. Cuba is very close to us geographically and we should have a respectable relationship with them. Sending the CIA to Cuba to overthrow Castro was not an endearing thing to do. 

If we continue our relationship with Cuba as is, out of necessity Cuba might befriend nations that are adversarial towards America.  We don’t have to be their BFF but we should be cordial and reopen trade with them.  Why not?

Will America come out and play with Cuba?

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June 11, 2008

Economy: America’s For Sale!

Because of George W. Bush and his economic non-strategies, America is for sale – again. 

I distinctly remember in the late 1980s when the Japanese started to purchase significant amounts of American real estate in Hawaii.  The yen had improved and the US economy was struggling and Hawaii saw a substantial increase of Japanese tourists and subsequently Japanese investors.  It got to the point where local home buyers and investors in Hawaii were competing for the limited supply of real estate with investors from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Canada.  Once the Japanese investors bought up Honolulu and The Big Island, they set their eyes on the “The Big Kahuna”.  They came to Manhattan and purchased Rockefeller Center.  New Yorkers were up in arms!  Shocked!  Livid!

It was a matter of pride with New Yorkers and most Americans. The very idea that the center of journalistic and architectural modernity, Rockefeller Center, should belong to another country was beyond comprehension.  Things were THAT bad in America.

Rockefeller Center was named after John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who leased the space from Columbia University in 1928 and developed it from 1930.  It was the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times. Construction of the 14 buildings in the Art Deco style began on May 17, 1930 and was completed on November 1, 1939 when he drove in the final (silver) rivet into 10 Rockefeller Plaza. Rockefeller Center is a magnificent complicated beauty.  Radio City Music Hall is a part of it. It’s the home of NBC and it’s where Saturday Night Live broadcasts from.  It is the home of the iconic Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink which we see in the background of so many movies.  It is where thousands gather each December to watch the lighting of “The Christmas Tree”.

In the late 80s, sadly, the Japanese purchased a major slice of America’s apple pie.

Here we are in 2008, 20 years later and the Chrysler Building is for sale; the world’s tallest brick building is now owned by the United Arab Emirates.   Another beautiful Art Deco building being purchased by a foreign country, this time the super-rich Abu Dhabi Investment Council is negotiating an $800 million deal for a 75 percent stake in the Art Deco treasure that has defined the Midtown skyline since 1930. (more…)

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