Protests in Cuba. How will the US respond?

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, kicking off your week. A little Quick Take. Thought I would talk about Cuba, not a country we talk about all that often. Communist state, Raúl Castro just stepped down, and the biggest demonstrations across the entire country in decades. Talking about absence of vaccines, problems in healthcare, but also anger at the poverty, the economic mismanagement, the reality of the lack of liberty of living in a communist regime.

The Trump administration had put pretty significant sanctions back on after Obama tried to loosen up. I expect that this is going to make Cuba a bigger issue for lots of folks in the United States that would like to see the back of this Cuban regime. The question is, how does the United States try to address it? Does it shut the Cubans down even harder, make the country pay economically for the fact that they are treating their people so badly or does it use this as an opportunity to open up? I'll tell you.


I've actually done a fair bit of work on issues of sanctions and countries around the world, because there are two types of political stability. You have countries that are stable because they're open like Canada or Germany or Japan, or even the United States. And then you have countries that are stable because they're closed like Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Or like Gaddafi's Libya, or like Kim Jong-un's North Korea. And of course, Raúl Castro's Cuba. And if you are a country that is stable because you're closed, you generally want to stay closed. And the reason for that is because if suddenly you get lots of capital and movement of people and ideas and trade between your closed country and open countries around the world, the people inside your country want more liberty. It is harder to maintain political control in that environment.

We see that going on in Belarus with President Lukashenko. We've seen it going on in Cuba. It's why when the United States tries to move towards openness with Cuba, the Cuban government itself, they want the money, but they resist the idea of lots of foreign direct investment coming into Cuba because the United States is so much bigger. This is the advantage that the Americans have. It's not like the United States versus China, where you bring the Chinese into the WTO, but they're so large they still have the ability to maintain significant controls over what their people see and do and experience. And increasingly with technological controls surveilling the entire population, they can consolidate communist control even though there is a level of state capitalism and private engagement in China.

In the case of Cuba, opening up the borders would mean a massive amount of trade overwhelming what the Cuban government could have influence over a massive amount of tourism and the engagement with the average Cuban citizen would be much greater. I would argue that the reason why the communist regime has persisted for 62 years has precisely because they've been allowed to maintain isolation supported by the United States because of that sanctions regime. Lots of reasons for it, lots of Cuban emigres that were so angry at the Castro regime that would not tolerate any level of opening up of those sanctions, but those people are largely gone now.

There's a lot of private sector folks in the United States that would love to have access purely not because they're interested in liberty, but just because they want to make money in Cuba. I would argue that if you were able to take advantage of the size and scale of the American economy, its investment capacity, its trade capacity, its demand for things like Cuban medical expertise and the doctors and nurses that could serve the American market, I mean even the old Cuban vintage cars that would all be repaired and suddenly sold in the American market. The impact that would have for the Cuban political system would be immense. And I would suspect that you'd have a much quicker move towards regime change from the grassroots of the Cuban people, as opposed to the failed efforts by the CIA and others historically that never seemed to go all that well for the United States.

Anyway, something to think about. Certainly, a debate we're going to have in a more direct way in the United States because thousands of Cuban citizens are taking their lives in their hands by demonstrating across the country this weekend. Hope everyone's doing well, and I'll talk to you all real soon.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the EU's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

More Show less

ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

More Show less

149: The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record-high 413.2 parts per million in 2020, 149 percent above pre-industrial levels. A new report by the UN weather agency released ahead of the COP26 climate summit found that last year's lower emissions due to COVID-related lockdowns had no impact on the overall amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming.

More Show less

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Why should all eyes be on the Virginia suburbs?

I'm here in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia, where the state will be having a gubernatorial election on November 2nd. The Virginia governor election is held in the year after the US presidential election typically, and is generally seen as a bellwether for how popular the incumbent president of the United States is. In 2009, the Republican candidate won by a commanding 16 points despite the fact that Virginia has been trending more and more Democratic in recent years due to the population growth here in the suburbs, which tend to be more blue than rural areas of the state.

More Show less

Can Big Government still rein in Big Tech or has it already lost control? Never before have just a few companies exerted such an outsized influence on humanity. Today's digital space, where we live so much of our daily lives, has increasingly become an area that national governments are unable to control. It may be time to start thinking of these corporations as nation-states in their own rights. On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer speaks with Nicholas Thompson, CEO of the Atlantic and former WIRED editor-in-chief, about how to police the digital world.

16: Rich countries have secured 16 times more COVID vaccine supplies than developing nations that rely on the struggling COVAX facility, according to analysis by the Financial Times. COVAX is steadily losing bargaining power to buy vaccines at low prices due to the combined effects of booster shots being doled out in developed countries, as well as low-income countries deciding to buy jabs on their own.

More Show less

Listen: Can Big Government still rein in Big Tech or has it already lost control? Never before have just a few companies exerted such an outsized influence on humanity. Today's digital space, where we live so much of our daily lives, has increasingly become an area that national governments are unable to control. It may be time to start thinking of these corporations as nation-states in their own rights. Ian Bremmer speaks with Nicholas Thompson, CEO of the Atlantic and former WIRED editor-in-chief, about how to police the digital world.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal