Imagine doing something for more than 50 years straight -- day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade -- and constantly hoping that somehow you would get a different result. Our Cuban policy is the perfect definition of insanity -- doing the same thing time after time but somehow expecting different results.
What is it about Cuba that makes it impossible for us to make decent decisions? It’s a swing vote in a swing state (Florida), so we make decisions we know are wrong, simply for political reasons.
For instance, wasn't the talk that Gitmo was going to be closed? Now, we're building a sports academy there.
Instead of the closing this administration talked about we are actually expanding the prison, and recently it was announced that a $750,000 soccer pitch was built for the inmates. Are Messi and Ronaldo also going to be paid to do a clinic?
There are only a portion of the 171 inmates who are eligible for the soccer academy program anyway, so the cost per soccer player is quite high.
Meanwhile, February 6 marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban embargo. A brief history and the week the embargo started reveals a soft foundation from the start.
Pierre Salinger (an aide to President JFK) recounts, in many different interviews, one of the best insider trading cases ever -- this one coming out of “Camelot”. On February 2, 1962, Salinger was summoned by President John F Kennedy to his office and instructed to buy 1,000 Petit Upmanns, a very good machine-rolled Cuban cigar, by the next morning.
The next morning, Salinger informed the president of buying 1,200 Cuban cigars, and with that, according to Salinger, the President pulled the embargo document out of his desk and signed it, making the buying of the cigars illegal. Insider trading at its finest. And so was set into motion a pathetic embargo that has not worked in more than five decades, but one we continue to keep.
Since the JFK embargo, we have done nothing except impoverish a nation with a ridiculously hard-line stance by not talking to the Cuban regime, despite talking to every other dictatorship in existence.
Then along comes another ill-devised plan of Guantanamo Bay prison.
It cost $800,000 per year to house an inmate at Gitmo, about 30 times the average it costs to house an inmate in the U.S. It costs 17 times more to feed an inmate in Gitmo than it costs to feed one in Florida’s penal system. We pay our soldiers combat pay for being in Cuba. We have a school in Cuba for our military personnel’s children --331 in 2010.
What exactly does a naval base in Cuba provide, protection from a Jamaican invasion?
Don’t forget the golf course, scuba diving and movie theatre, all perks our military should have. But do we have to build them there and not in the U.S., where others can use them and local economies can benefit?
Let’s not forget the flat screen TVs and the “Enrich your Life” course that is being taught to the 171 inmates, of which 120 are housed near the new soccer academy.
The economic boost of a prison and naval base such as this in the U.S. to a region that is suffering would be profound. I would open up bidding for the maximum security prison and some cash strapped city or state would gladly take the jobs it would create and the economic boost it would provide.
Costs of the base are hard to calculate, as are most military expenses buried deep in budgets, but fuel is imported at a cost of $100,000 a day for electricity.
It is still unknown if the TSL Terrorists Soccer League (credit to Texas Rep. Ted Poe for the name) will have a tiki hut or sports bar attached to the grounds, and a cheerleading squad has not been mentioned. I have a few other ideas:
1. Move Gitmo to the U.S. and spend money in the U.S. not on overpriced military contractors and overseas companies but in local communities. Open bidding for the prison and some cash-strapped community will want it.
2. Move the naval base to Key West. The schools and tax base could use it, as could Sloppy Joe’s on Duval street.
3. End the embargo, period.
4. Stop building a sports academy for enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay Prison.
John Layfield, formerly known as JBL, was the longest reigning WWE Champion in Smackdown television history, retiring after 17 years of pro wrestling. John, a former collegiate All-American and pro football player, is a lifelong entrepreneur who has worked as an investment banker, is series 7 and 24 qualified, and is currently an active private investor. His Internet radio show can be heard at www.JohnLayfieldShow.com.