The gentleman second from the right in the picture below, Gerry Pasciucco, heads the AIG Financial Products unit. "We learned over the weekend," reads a letter dated March 17 from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to Rep. Barney Frank, that AIG had, last Friday, distributed more than $160 million in retention payments (bonuses) to members of its Financial Products Subsidiary, the unit of AIG that was principally responsible for the firm's meltdown." This picture will surprise only those who take their Che Guevara cues from the MSM and Hollywood. On the other hand this comes from P. 24 of a certain right-wing crackpot book
"After a hard day at the office signing execution warrants, Che Guevara repaired to his new domicile in Tarara, 15 miles outside Havana on the pristine beachfront (today reserved exclusively for tourists and Communist party members, by the way). The "austere idealist," Che, hadn't done too badly for himself in this real estate transaction, known in non-revolutionary societies as theft.
"The house was among the most luxurious in Cuba," writes Cuban journalist Antonio Llano Montes. ''Until a few weeks prior, it had belonged to Cuba's most successful building contractor. The mansion had a boat dock, a huge swimming pool, seven bathrooms, a sauna, a massage salon and several television sets. One TV had been specially designed in the U.S. and had a screen ten feet wide and was operated by remote control (remember, this was 1959.) This was thought to be the only TV of its kind in Latin America. The mansion's garden had a veritable jungle of imported plants, a pool with waterfall, ponds filled with exotic tropical fish and several bird houses filled with parrots and other exotic birds. The habitation was something out of A Thousand and One Nights."
Alas, Cuba's commies outdid AIG execs by taking their "bonuses" in advance. In 1960 Castro appointed the argentine Che as Cuba's "Minister of Economics." Within months the Cuban peso, a currency historically equal to the U.S. dollar and fully backed by Cuba's gold reserves, was practically worthless. The following year Castro appointed Che as Cuba's "Minister of Industries." Within a year a nation that previously had higher per capita income than Austria and Japan, a huge influx of immigrants and the 3rd highest protein consumption in the hemisphere was rationing food, closing factories, and hemorraghing hundreds of thousands of its most productive citizens from every sector of its society, all who were grateful to leave with only the clothes on their back.
The Soviets sent the equivalent in economic subsidies of eight Marshall Plans to Cuba, which was not a war-ravaged continent of 300 million people but an island of 6 million people who shortly before had enjoyed a higher-per-capita income than half of Europe. These Cuban citizens had owned more TVs' per capita than any European country, had enjoyed the services (some free, most extremely cheap) of more doctors and dentists per capita then citizens in the U.S. or Britain and had never emigrated from their homeland. Instead, in the 40's and 50's when Cubans could get U.S. visas for the asking and Cubans were perfectly free to emigrate with all their property and family, fewer Cubans lived in the U.S. than Americans in Cuba. At the time Cuban laborers earned the 8th highest wages - not in Latin America-- but in the world.
By a process that defies not only the laws of economics, but seemingly the very laws of physics , 40 years later Castroite Cuba emerged from this Soviet largesse with among the lowest per-capita incomes in the Hemisphere, a lower credit rating than Somalia, fewer phones per capita than Papua New Guinea, fewer internet connections than Uganda, and 20 per cent of her population gone - all at total cost of their property and many at extreme cost to life and limb
Che's partner in "liberation" has not done too badly for himself either, bonus-wise. When Forbes magazine named him among the world's richest heads of state in 2005 a furious Fidel Castro denounced it as "infamy!" "Do they think I'm some kind of Mobutu!" he raged. At the time Forbes estimated his fortune at $550 million
Two years ago Forbes raised Fidel Castro's ranking to the world's 7th richest head of state, with an estimated fortune of $900 million. "Repugnant slander!" Castro thundered on Cuban television (all fifteen of them) after the disclosure.
Actually, Castro has a point. He has no business being lumped in with measly millionaire chumps like Mobutu Sese Seko and Queen Elizabeth. Forbes admits that its estimate of Castro's wealth is "more art than science," and is based on his partial ownership of state enterprises, among them the Havana Convention Center, the Cimex retail conglomerate and Medicuba. But as Cuban-American scholar Eugenio Yanez asks: why not include many other, and much larger, Cuban state enterprises like Cubatabaco, Artex, Cubacatricos, Cubatecnica, Gaviota, Acemex, Cubatur, Antex, Caribat, Cubatur, and many more? The list is much longer than those singled out by Forbes.
Another method used by Forbes was calculating that Castro owns roughly ten per cent of the Cuban GDP. Why only ten per cent?
All enterprises in Cuba are state enterprises, including so-called "joint-ventures" with foreign investors, as shown by a Miami Herald headline from June of 2006: "Many Foreign Investors Being Booted Out of Cuba" it read.
"It's outrageous!" the Herald quoted a Spanish businessmen leaving Cuba. ''I've gone through endless meetings for more than a year with no result in terms of recovering our investment!"' he whimpered.
"What I can't accept," wailed another European businessman, " is simply being booted out of here with no solid guarantee I will ever get my money back!''
Our hearts bleed for these unfortunate gentlemen. Also notice: the investors were being booted out of Cuba. But the investments remained, as did those of the 5,911 businesses valued at close to $2 billion stolen at gunpoint from U.S. owners and investors in 1960.
Stay tuned (and hold on to your wallets) as Obama "opens up" to Cuba.
Humberto Fontova is the author of 4 books including Fidel;Hollywoods' Favorite Tyrant and Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who idolize Him.