Friday, April 17, 2009

Cuba

At this time who knows if the reported "Fidel sightings' are in fact "the man" or if they are simply a 'double'. If he's gone sooner or later, the Cuban government will have to own up, lest they be 'exposed" to the world on You Tube or Twitter. The "Cuba libre' South Florida constituency is dying off......their children, and especially grandchildren, are all comfortably assimilated into American society; if they even know Spanish, they have learned it as a second language.

Now there are reports that President Obama, after having relaxed both currency and travel controls imposed by the Bush administration, clearly wants to open doors with Cuban government - that they are "Communist' is notwithstanding. After all, Rush, Glenn, Sean, and now again Sarah, all need something about which to rant.

Prediction; if Obama is re-elected to a second term, there will be normal trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba before he leaves office.

If one wants an excellently prepared, well photographed, article on contemporary Cuban railroading, be sure to dig out your copy of Volume 66 Number 3 NRHS National Railway Bulletin issued during 2003. The author went on a then-legal rail study tour. With a 700 mile line haul from Havana to Santiago and a paucity of other transportation available, such represents likely the only place in the Western Hemisphere in which Long Distance rail travel provides a meaningful transportation resource. To say the least a rail travel experience there sounds 'gritty', but to the adventuresome, I'm sure a "bumper to bumper' journey in hand me down French or Mexican Coaches (no Sleepers or Diners anymore; too bourgeois) would be quite "sport'. Local services, according to the article, are provided in Coaches made from scrapped bus bodies mounted atop Flat Cars.

However, when US investment again is made in the Cuban economy, what will happen to the railroads? Will a dictum of no passenger trains be handed down such as was by the KCS and UP in Mexico, or will there be a "Cubatrak', in recognition that it will be many, many years before domestic air transport is available to the average Cuban.

When would a system of controlled access highways (Interstates) be built? Possibly never, as someone in the Central Government, freely elected or otherwise, may look at the emerging Eastern European and Asian economies and say "we don't need this".

Maybe, just maybe, I'll set foot on Cuban soil in this lifetime.

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