Tags: Fidel | Business | Partner

Fidel as Business Partner

Wednesday, 20 February 2002 12:00 AM

Kenny Lay, you sorry chump. Take a lesson from the PREMIER corporate looter and hypemeister. You got nailed after only 10 years. Fidel Castro is still at it after 43.

And the very people who want you keelhauled and horsewhipped proclaim loud hosannas to Fidel's charms as a business partner.

They want you "in the pokey." Yet liberals insist in Congress, on CNN, in the New York Times that doing business with Fidel is a can't-lose proposition for any American and that moral and material blessings will shower all involved.

Here's a guy who didn't just

The Europeans (especially the French) gloated while watching Fidel loot Uncle Sam. Oh, how they loved it. Then they scooted in themselves, rubbing their hands.

"We'll reap a windfall here!" they snickered. "Money is money. We're not burdened by archaic Cold War attitudes! We're not influenced by crude McCarthyism like those yahoo Americans! We're not hag-ridden by that obnoxious Cuban-American lobby! Yippeee! Let's ROOOLLLL!"

Here's the windfall for those shrewd investors:

"Cuba stopped payment on ALL its foreign commercial and bilateral debt with non-socialist countries in 1986." (U.S. International Trade Commission Report, 2001)

"Debt talks between Cuba and the Paris Club of creditor nations are on hold. ... [O]n the table was $3.8 billion of official debt to Paris Club members, part of a much larger debt Cuba ran up through the 1980s, until it began to DEFAULT on payments and then stopped talking with creditors. ..." (Reuters, June 2001, author's emphasis)

And remember, folks, back then Cuba was getting $5 billion a year from the Soviet sugar daddy.

So what happened to

The momentum for the long-awaited opening with Cuba is mounting, my friends. And I have some advice: Hide your wallets. But that's only if you're a poor chump taxpayer. If you're an Archer Midland Daniels exec chummy with the Ex-Im Bank, brighten up.

We're hearing a lot about how business hype from Enron, from the dot.coms, blinded investors to reality. You watch – the people lining up to trade with Cuba, who blissfully shake the Maximum Leader's hand, will make Enron investors look positively clairvoyant.

The Houston Business Chronicle calls Castro's Cuba "a great new marketplace!" That's even funnier than what they were saying about Enron just a year ago.

Illinois Governor Ryan, a Republican, just led a huge delegation of farmers, businessmen and assorted capitalists over there, including ADM and Cargill officers. None forgot their knee pads. But wait! Did I say

A genuine capitalist takes risks. But because of something called the Export-Import Bank, there's no risk whatsoever in exporting to bankrupt, murderous and kleptocratic regimes. Worse, there is no incentive for the kleptocrats to clean up their act, as would happen under a

Yep, get some Ex-Im coverage and a U.S. businessman would incur more of a risk selling to Switzerland than to thrice-bankrupted Cuba!

(Full disclosure: It's obvious why I have it in for Fidel. I also have it in for the Ex-Im Bank. They were once my competition. I sold a private-sector version of what they provide. It's called "export-credit insurance." A U.S. company exporting to a foreign company buys a policy that indemnifies it if the foreign company defaults or refuses to pay.

Sadly, my employers relied on profits for operating capital. They actually evaluated the risk and charged accordingly. My competitors extorted their operating capital from U.S. citizens with the threat of jail. The skunk who sold Ex-Im policies simply followed me around, snickering, and offered another quote. It was hopeless.

All salesmen like the rough and tumble of competition, but you talk about a handicap! No matter how old the brandy, no matter how skillful and conscientious the lap dancer, I usually lost the deal. The Ex-Im charged peanuts for premiums and covered the most outrageous risks in the most kleptocratic countries.

You and I make good on the billions in claims. Their spokespersons claim that the Ex-Im doesn't compete with private insurance. Hogwash! I saw it repeatedly.)

Now, does anyone halfway sober think that Archer Daniels Midland (prominent in every delegation to Cuba in the last five years) is any less politically connected than Enron?

Enron's connections got it (among other things) an electrical plant built in a losing market in India with Ex-Im financing. That'll be pocket change compared to what ADM will get in Cuba. Mark my words. It's coming.

I read recently how ADM execs consider the current restrictions on Cuba trade "too onerous."

And what are these "restrictions" for ADM, which sells food? Forget what you hear from Fidel and his American echo chamber about an "embargo," much less a "blockade." Instead, actually study the diluted version in force today.

For companies like ADM and Cargill this embargo simply amounts to this: No Ex-Im financing of any deal with the current rulers of Cuba. In other words, no taxpayer bailout for politically connected millionaires entering into boneheaded business deals with known deadbeats and thieves.

Currently, ADM is perfectly free to sell Castro whatever it wants. But because of the nefarious machinations and subterfuges of the dreaded "Miami Mafia," the U.S. taxpayer will not be left holding the bag.

Yes, folks, getting paid by customers is now considered an "onerous" burden for a big, sophisticated and politically connected company! Boy, I must still be way "inside the box" in my business thinking. Kenny Boy and Skilling would shut me up fast. "You just don't get it!" They'd sneer.

Right. I tend to frown and ask inconvenient questions when whiz kids explain their ingenious and "outside the box" financing deals. I frown harder when I see them cozying up to flagrant burglars.

Cuba is bankrupt because of the people in charge. These vermin took over a country with a higher standard of living than Belgium and Italy in 1959, with a trade surplus, with the Cuban peso equal to the U.S. dollar, with net immigration and ... well, you know the rest.

Why on earth would these same looters and cutthroats turn it around when the system has served them so splendidly for 43 years?! Remember, Mao croaked before change came to China. Brezhnev croaked, too. But there's no Cuban version of Deng or Gorbachev in power ... yet.

What conceivable incentive would turn the current Cuban nomenklatura into capitalists overnight? Huh, Mr. Dodd?! Huh, Gov. Ryan?! Huh, ADM and Cargill executives?!

Don't answer. I know the answer. You don't give a damn about that. It's irrelevant. The way things are moving, the U.S. taxpayer will soon make good on Castro's thievery through a larcenous farce called the Ex-Im Bank.

Unlike Enron's new executives, who need new investors and customers, Cuba's executives have

Cuba is still Maoist to the core. When they were desperate, when foreign capital started drying up in the early '90s, a small crack appeared in the system, like Lenin's NEP (New Economic Policy). This allowed a few tiny businesses to open.

But as more dollars have flowed into Cuba – contrary to what Sens. Dodd and Serrano assure us – the number of private enterprises has actually shrunk.

"Recent [Cuban] government actions indicate that official attitudes toward economic reform may have soured. ... Increased obstacles to private sector activities and restrictions to foreign direct investments reveal heightened concerns about the loss of political control inherent in the economic reform process." (Moody's Investors Service, July 2001)

Fidel is no fool. In fact, he agrees with us: Private sector activity will indeed imperil his rule. He knows that better than anyone, so he will never permit it.

"But he won't be able to control it," you retort. "He'll be swept away by the invisible hand ... etc. ... etc."

Sounds great on paper, but you're forgetting something: Remember, Fidel inherited a vibrant free-market economy in 1959 (something unique among communist rulers). All the others – from Lenin to Mao to Uncle Ho to Ulbricht to Tito to Kim Il Sung – took over primitive and/or chaotic, war-ravaged economies.

Fidel had a golden goose land in his lap – and he wrung its neck. He deliberately and methodically wrecked Latin America's premier economy. There was no "mismanagement" or "bungling" involved.

Cuba's people are poor not because of "mismanagement" by the rulers. Indeed, considering these rulers' goal of total power, the Cuban economy is

Capitalism didn't sweep him away or even co-opt him. He swept

There was a definite method to his madness. He could have easily left most of Cuba's economy in place, made it obedient to his whims, and been a Peron, a Franco, a Mussolini.

He could have grabbed half and been a Tito.

He could have demanded a piece of the action from all involved and been a Marcos, a Somoza, a Mobutu, a Suharto. But this wasn't enough for him.

Castro lusted for the power of a Stalin or a Mao. And he got it – in spades. And there simply will be no loss of political control as long as he is alive. Get that through your heads. History is made not by theoretical "systems" or "historical forces" but by humans, by individuals subject to ego and greed and sadism.

Fidel didn't just murder scores of his original revolutionary chums, he gloated in the fact, like Stalin, and often insisted on watching the execution, like Hitler.

The Cuban Revolution "devoured its own children" more hideously than the French. An American named William Morgan was among the most chilling cases.

Willie was an AWOL GI with creditors and ex-wives on his tail who fled to Cuba and wound up a commandante in Castro's rebel army in 1959. He soured on the revolution when the unmistakably Red pattern emerged.

Castro heard about it through spies and clamped Morgan in prison. He visited him one day. "Kneel and beg for your life," taunted Gov. Ryan's charming cuddle bunny.

"F*** You!" Willie snarled back. " I kneel before NO man!"

An hour later Willie was bound, blindfolded and facing the firing squad, but they weren't aiming at his face and chest as usual.

"POW!" Finally a massive .45 slug to the head ended Willie Morgan's agony.

And if this sounds like just the sort of story an "embittered exile with an ax to grind" would make up, I urge you to read it for yourselves. It's in a book titled "The Losers" by Paul Bethell, former press attache in the (pro-Castro, incidentally) U.S. Embassy in 1959.

Next time Fidel's grandfatherly smile warms your cockles, next time his cute whiskers tickle your cheek, you might want to remember people like Morgan. But multiply it by 20,000. We're dealing with a serious sicko here, my friends – a sadist, psychopath, thief and megalomaniac.

Humberto Fontova is the author of "The Helldiver's Rodeo," described as "required reading" by Barry Farber, "Just what the doctor ordered for those seeking to live life to the fullest!" by Ted Nugent, and "an orgy of political incorrectness" by the New Orleans Times Picayune. Since the book's release last summer, the author has appeared on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" twice and is booked again for March 14.

E-mail Mr. Fontova at

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Kenny Lay, you sorry chump. Take a lesson from the PREMIER corporate looter and hypemeister. You got nailed after only 10 years. Fidel Castro is still at it after 43. And the very people who want you keelhauled and horsewhipped proclaim loud hosannas to Fidel's charms as...
Wednesday, 20 February 2002 12:00 AM
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