FREEDOM OF SPEECH—U.S. vs. CUBAN STYLE
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend an hour and a half with Doris Matsui (D-California) my local member of Congress. I sat next to her at a meeting of twelve business owners that was organized by the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. During the meeting we tried to answer the question that the Congresswoman presented: what can government do to make it easier for small businesses to create jobs and help the nation’s economy recover.
When it was my turn to speak, I told her that there were three things on my mind. As a lawyer, I have seen countless people lose their homes to foreclosure because they owed more on their house than it was worth. They had mortgages with interest rates more than twice the current rates of interest on mortgages and the banks refused to renegotiate. The current voluntarily HAMP program is cumbersome, bureaucratic and non-responsive to borrowers’ needs. I told her that the bankruptcy code needs to be revised to give judges the power to modify the terms of the first mortgages on peoples’ homes. The courts already have the power to modify or strip off second mortgages, but as of now, nothing can be forced down the lenders’ throats in terms of first mortgage modifications.I also told her that with the government anxious to stimulate exports, I did not understand why the economic embargo of Cuba continued. Particularly since the United States appears to be the only country that is observing the embargo. Spain and other European countries actively trade with Cuba. Mexico and Canada are also active in developing commercial ties with Cuba. All other countries’ citizens can travel freely to Cuba.
Finally, I told her that the Congress should enact the bill sponsored by Barney Frank of Massachusetts that would legalize and tax Internet gambling. Somehow the UK seems to get along just fine with such legalization. The government is starved for income, but ignores a significant source of revenue by pretending that outlawing Internet gambling will somehow prevent people from gambling. Anyone visiting Indian, Nevada, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania casinos will find that the places are not exactly empty.
The Congresswoman agreed with my first two points and ignored the last one and did not comment on it. Two out of three was not bad.
Today, it was interesting to note the Twitter storm that is going on involving Dictator Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela, and the cyberspace world of Twitter. Mariela is known as the sexologist in chief of Havana. She has made recent visits to Amsterdam’s red light district and has determined that Havana has to class-up its brothels. Here are three pictures of a new one, the Malecon de Amsterdam:
Mariela is new to Twitter. In addition to promoting prostitution, she has stood up for the rights of homosexuals and transgenders. Yoani Sanchez, writer of my previous blog, tweeted, asking Mariela when it would be legal for others to come out of their closets and speak freely. Mariela shot back a tweet asking if Sanchez and other tweeters who were critical of the Cuban government were being paid by their employers in the US to mount a cyber campaign to topple the Castro government. Mariela wrote, "Despicable parasites. Did you get orders from your employers to reply to me as one, and with the same pre-set script? Be creative."
I suppose, she is not used to criticism.
I note that the readership of this blog is increasing with over 5300 page views since it started. What is particularly interesting to me is that many of the readers are from Germany. I have not received any e-mails or posted comments from there, so I wonder who are you? Are you German readers originally from Cuba, or are you just interested in Cuban matters in general? If you have a moment, I’d love to hear from you. Similarly, there are quite a number of page views taking place from computers in the UK. I’d love to hear from you, too.