John Bomar, a sailor with a literary bent, noticed an Associated Press story out of one of his old ports, a place long subjected to a government of the Orwellian kind. The AP reported:
Cuban purchases of U.S. food will fall by at least a third this year as the island slashes imports to stabilize an ever-weak economy further hammered by the global economic crisis, a top trade official said Monday.
Igor Montero, head of the state import company Alimport, calculated that the communist government would spend less than $590 million on American food in 2009 once banking, shipping and other transaction costs are included. That's down at least 32 percent from last year's $870 million.
Montero blamed the economic crisis, but also took a swipe at Washington's 47-year-old trade embargo, even though it exempts food, arguing that America should begin buying Cuban products and allowing its citizens to visit the island as tourists. ``If we aren't given more possibility to generate revenue through Cuban exports to the United States, or an exchange of visitors, it's going to be very difficult to continue to reach the levels of trade we've grown accustomed to,'' Montero said.
Bomar recognized George Orwell’s Animal Farm, reprised in the lovely island he last visited in 1996 on a Danish schooner. He wrote:
Life on the Animal Farm Island had become even tougher for all the animals, except the pigs in charge, who had grown even fatter.
When their gaunt ribs began to protrude embarrassingly, those who pulled the heavy loads tried not to notice, prodded on by the pigs who continued to mouth meaningless slogans.
Sadly, in part because of the threat and "blockade" of the Giant Neighbor to the North, the animals were powerless to raise their voices in protest. You see, with the farm seemingly under siege, it gave even more power and control to the "controller" pigs. And they ruthlessly took advantage of the perceived "looming assault," trying to scare the others while they dragged one away for daring to raise his voice against them. For the clever porkers knew one thing for sure, the poor animals would rather die than submit once again to the outside interference and meddling of the Northern strangers, now that they had gained their independence.
So now, in the evening, when the ponderous pigs sat down to their lobster and steak dinners, cool in their air conditioned dining halls, they gave a secret prayer of thanks for the enabling policies of their neighbor to the North. Then they dug in.