Babalú reports that Cubans sent $240 million in remittances last year to their countrymen on the island. This, of course, does not take into account the monies sent there by mulas (carriers) or through third-countries in order to avoid paying Castro's 20% "tax" on remittances, not to mention what the exile themselves bring to the island on their visits there. If all sources of assistance were combined the total would exceed $1 billion annually. Since "only" the $240 million is taxed, however, Castro's total haul last year was $48 million (not counting the profits he makes at the usurious company store). Not an inconsiderable sum but less than he gets from long-distance calls to Cuba. Exiles must pay a $1 per minute to call the island when calls to China cost 2 cents per minute. (Fortunately, the Bush administration has not implemented restrictions on calls to the island -- yet).
Let's suppose that if present restrictions on remittances were suspended for the proposed 90-day period that exiles would send the same $240 million to their relatives not over a year but in the course of those three months. That would mean an additional $48 million off the top for Castro. Again this is not chump change, but for the vampire to continue to suck even when his victim is in extremis, will not exactly cast him in the best light (excuse the pun). The MSM might then expect of Castro some of the compassion for his own people that it demands of the United States. Or perhaps not. Castro has enjoyed 50 years of exemptions from decent human conduct from The New York Times and his other media camp followers.
What is certain, however, is that those additional $48 million will have an inconsequential impact on the regime's ability to inflict misery on its people. The Castros and their henchmen have had 50 years to enrich themselves at the expense and the sacrifice of the Cuban people. In addition to stealing everything of value in the country, they have saddled Cubans with $36 billion in foreign debt, much of which was diverted into their own bank accounts. They have managed to become the richest plutocrats in Latin America without the advantage of siphoning revenues from oil production (as in Mexico and Venezuela) or exploiting any other national resource besides the blood and sweat of the Cuban people. They have abandoned sugar production, Cuba's traditional source of wealth, which was only lucrative for them when the Soviet Union was paying them ten times the market price. Castro Inc.'s principal economic activity now is the selling of the Cuban people -- to tourists as "exotics" and to other other countries as indentured servants. In the struggle to give Cubans some measure of control over their own lives, remittances are essential. Without them the Cuban people are literally at Castro's mercy and hence completely without hope.
Although they are still as greedy as robber barons, and will certainly capitalize on any opportunity to exploit the suffering of their countrymen, the money sent as remittances to their victims will not benefit the Castros as much as it will benefit the Cuban people, who have nothing. The $48 million which the regime gleans from remittances is not going to be used to consolidate its position in Cuba because not one cent is spent there. It is part of the family's pecunia, which is kept as far from the island as possible. So, yes, the $48 million will make Castro's clan wealthier but they are already among the world's wealthiest. The other $192 million will allow the Cuban people to "resolver," that is, to survive. This is not an ideal situation, but ideal situations are not possible when you are forced to deal with hostage takers whose contempt for human life is infinite but whose patience is not. It may even be a pact with the devil (the kind of pact that saved the Jews of Rome). But the life of even one Cuban child is worth $48 million.