Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A brief interview - Tomas Estrada Palma

I have met some interesting people I think you would like to know a little bit more of them.
One of them is Tomas Estrada-Palma.

This introduction posted in his blog is self-explanatory: "I am the great grandson of Don Tomas Estrada-Palma, the first President of Cuba (1902-1906)"

I´ve asked some questions to Tomás and he kindly answered me.
Here´s the Q&A:

"Hello Luis:
Thank you so very much for allowing me to answer your questions and reach your readers. I will be happy to answer these questions you have for me today and any questions that you or any of your readers ask of me in the future. I switched answer 1 and 2 so it would run more smoothly.
1) How long have you been to the US?
Too long! No really what I mean is I like traveling and meeting new people. I haven't been out of the country in about ten years. The U.S. has its own ways of thinking backwards but it's still a pretty nice place to live. I've been here 51 years not counting the womb time.

2) What is your history, Tomas?
I was born in Miami, Florida November 18, 1954 to Tomas Douglas Estrada-Palma (Don Tomas' grandson from the first president's second son Tomas Andres) and Alyce Mae Carroll (Mom's maiden name) from Washington, DC. Hence, the origins of two of my four children's red hair can be traced to my mother's Irish genes as well as those of my British wife Denise (but call her Deni as she has always been called that). As a toddler my parents moved us to Washington, DC, which at that point included my infant brother Patrick (he had blond hair but what's left now is mostly gray like mine). Soon my sister Candita was born and several years later rounding out the pack was my sister Kathleen. I went to school and grew up in Maryland though we moved many times within that region. I've done many jobs through the years. As a teenager I was a movie theatre usher and motorcycle messenger as proven by my collarbone being broken in three places. I ran a mail collating machine in the mailroom of GEICO the insurance company. I blew art glass, ran emergency service in a tow truck for AAA, sold cars, managed a translation company then became sales director but I finally settled in at the Washington Post as a proofreader, print advertising creator and digital pagination specialist (which is a fancy way of saying pasting up the newspaper but doing so on a computer rather than using glue and paste-up board like in the olden days. I like working at the Post because they are smart business people who treat their employees great. Today, I live in Annapolis, Maryland (the state capital), Deni is in the final year of Nursing school, my 19 year-old daughter Tiree Roxana is in her second year of college and working a couple jobs, 17 year-old Alexander Tomas has been hired by Safeway foods (two working – two more to go) 15 year-old Mathew David is adept at playing the base guitar and has a little band and 12 year-old Andres Ramon is still regularly giving me his philosophy on life instead of doing his school work. But for me life is good. Deni and I have been married 20 years this past July, we are all healthy and happy. Plus now I have very high hopes for Cuba which consumes my every waking hour and much of my dream time.
3) What do you think about Cuba's "revolution", Fidel Castro and Che?

As a social concept communism is not very revolutionary. In fact it has been tried before in many various forms under many different names but these were all based on one flawed fundamental concept – that individuals must sacrifice their liberty for the promise of security for the group. But Benjamin Franklin correctly stated that, "Those who would sacrifice precious liberty
for a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety…" The flaw in capitalism, which even Karl Marx noted, was the monopoly of land. But even so he advocated communism based on banning capital and central planning of the economy. Had Castro or Che had even the slightest amount of formal training in economics then history would not have had to be called upon yet again to demonstrate the folly of this approach. Communists tried to correct the land monopoly flaw in the capitalist system, which does cause a certain amount of poverty in quasi free market economies like the U.S., by central planning which always leads to repression. But the solution to the nagging poverty that plagues capitalist economies was first noted by Henry George during the 19th Century and described aptly and convincingly in his masterpiece, "Progress and Poverty." Your readers can get the whole text right here:
I will bet anyone here that if they read this text they too will become an advocate for this economic reform. This single "tweaking" of the capitalist system lets capital do what capital does best but also lets labor keep the bread it has earned. Thomas Jefferson once defined as the sum of good government as, "- a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned." To get an overview of this economic reform go to my blog at and if you are Cuban please take the straw poll on the land reform question. I'm trying to get Cubans on the island to take the poll as well but so far no takers. Could be voter apathy I suppose?
4) Do you know how little the knowledge about Cuba is in South America? They think Cuba only exists after Castro.

Lack of knowledge is a global problem. Either you must work so much just to survive or you have so much that you are preoccupied with the modern day techno bread and circus that you make no time for knowledge. But as one who has been stung in the past by a bee called ignorance I see the value of keeping up with things. Cuba is a sad story that goes back to colonial times of the Spanish empire. Its history is deeply connected to the land. With the signing of the Treaty of Paris ending the hostilities with Spain and the US, part of the agreement was whoever held title to the land got to keep it. The trouble is during the revolution for independence from Spain, all of the Cuban patriots had their land seized by Spain and sold off for pennies on the dollar to Spanish aristocrats who monopolized the land for profit. This creates no new wealth but merely charges for access to the land which diminishes the wages of the laborer. This same sort of thing happened to the Irish in Ireland.

5) Which are your feelings on the future of the Cuba. What could be the after-Castro horizon for Cuba and Cubans.

I am so hopeful for Cuba I can't get to sleep at nights for thinking about the possibilities. Raul and his Havana playboys have seen the wisdom of capital investment for them but not for the regular people of Cuba who are forced to eek out a living under this backwards collectivist system that never even generates enough wealth to support this meager existence. They have to go with their hat in their hand to the Soviet Unions and the Chavez's of the world groveling for a handout. But they are now butting heads with the information age where people find out the truth much faster. Their days in power are very limited and they know it. They are putting together their nest eggs outside the country so they can live out their lives in comfort.
But for the Cuban people it is time to look forward and not into the past. If I am very lucky and certainly bless by God, I will find a way to convince the Cuban people to adopt the economic plan which I advocate. I know for a fact that if they did then before 5 and 10 years after the start the average Cuban would be richer than the average American. And every year thereafter they would become richer than that. America and soon the rest of the world would have to adopt the Cuban social/economic model or face falling farther and farther behind the Cubans. Doesn't that sound exciting? Yes I'm excited about this possibility! Certainly!

6) A message for South America and Brazilians.
First of all never change your personalities. The people from this part of the world are always a joy to be with. You are kind, warm and very generous so it is difficult not to love you all like kin. Second I would remind everyone that we all want the same things in life for the most part. We want peace and prosperity. We want to see our children into happy, productive adult lives and have grandkids. We were put on this earth to enjoy its bounty and enjoy ourselves. But as a species we have not found a way to share the earth which is a pity. The earth is so enormous with so many resources. If every human had his own little piece of the rock we call earth so he could store enough wealth to survive comfortably in a free market environment think about how nice it would be. With everyone being productive and earning wealth for their families there would be less time for crime and decadence. For the first time in history none would be a slave to industry or government. Everyone would be in pursuit of enlightenment and improvement.

7) Do you know what is the "Sao Paulo Forum?"

I don't know too much about the Sao Paulo Forum other than it is a collection of leftist who plot together to spread their ideology. This ideology demands central control of the economy initially but always ends with controls on personal freedom. That occurs because when you remove the economic incentive to work, which happens when profiting is banned, the government then must coerce individuals to be productive and responsible. In the U.S. the main flow of leftist ideology into the minds of Americans is the public school. A majority of teachers in this country are socialist and preach this historically flawed political/economic concept. This is why we homeschool our children. I believe parents who send their kids to public school are guilty of child abuse. I call for a permanent Constitutional separation between school and the state. It is interesting that all of the countries who were formerly communist are moving away from it at lightning speed while some countries in the West like Venezuela are moving towards communism. I am a classical liberal or in other words, a Jeffersonian. I believe the individual has sovereignty over his time, body and money. It is a simple question that most don't bother asking. Who decides, the individual or the state? Take this test and find out how you believe.

8) The way Cuba is influent to the leftist governments in Latin America, Do you think Fidel's friends (Evo, Chávez, Lula) would let Cubans really choose freedom - in a scenario without Fidel?

I have found leftist to also be elitists who have contempt for the individual. Leftists see no wrong in making the individual suffer for what the leadership feels is good for the masses. So the short answer is "no." The socialist rulers get to makes choices for everybody else. This replaces decision making that is practical for the individual with decisions that are based on politics.

9) What do you know about Brazilian president Lula?

I don't know if Lulu is motivated by thirst for power and wealth or if like most of the world's leaders he is just plain old dumb as a rock. Actually saying that is not fair to a great many rocks. But giving him the benefit of the doubt and believing him to be merely ignorant of a better way, he is trying to correct the only flaw in the capitalist system - land monopoly - by taking control of decision making for all the individuals in Brazil. Why even God is not that smart or at least God is smart enough to give humans free will to choose for themself whether a choice is a good one or a bad one. If you make a mistake with your life then life punishes you and that feedback normally causes you to choose differently. But when the government makes a bad choice FOR you they feel no pain - but you still feel the pain. There is a name for this - Cuba. As long as it going to be my thumb that gets smashed let me be the one who swings the hammer in my life. In Venezuela Chavez is approaching land reform in the wrong way. He has appointed himself as the czar of land and takes land away from some to give to others. This is the wrong way to go about land reform. The trouble with land monopoly is it allows land, especially urban land to be used to extract the wages of labor by charging for access to the land. This doesn't create any wealth but merely causes it to change hands from the poor to the rich. The solution is not to take land away. The answer is to charge only one tax in society to pay for government. The is the land location value tax. This simple reform prevents land owners from keeping land vacant until the future when the selling price of the land is high enough. Especially urban land would have to be put to productive use earning wealth from human labor working that land because it would be too expensive to just hold it fallow. Labor and capital should be untaxed. Under my proposal humans would all be working and keeping all the fruits of their labor and capital investment. Naturally this would cause most people to not depend on government for any handout removing the need for most government services. The collectivists are against this because they enjoy being in charge of things. But they can't possibly know what is good for everyone. This is why they are so against elections. The communist is bound to anger and alienate a growing number of citizens so they have to ban elections as the only way they can stay in power and continue making bad decisions. How can the elite in the capitals of the world know what is best for all the individuals of their countries? But I think it is important to note that both communists and neo-capitalist favor land monopoly. Neo-capitalists favor the land being owned by the economic elite while the communist believes that the government should own all the land - which really means the top junta leaders. Either way it is the poorest in society who suffer.

Here´s a final photo:

"May 20th Independence Day celebration: Sitting on my right is my friend Guillermo, (..) and my son Matt on my left"


Tomas said...

Thanks again Luis for permitting me to contact your bloggers. I would be very happy if they came away realizing that God didn't just put anybody in charge. God put everybody in charge. Freedom works!


Tomas said...

My blog was hacked. It is now located at:


Tomas Estrada-Palma

Anonymous said...

This is my uncle Tommy!!!! Uncle Tommy this is Kelly! Oh my gosh that is so weird that I found you on here. I was looking for a picture of Greatx2 Abuelo, Tomas Estrada-Palma! and it showed you and I was like no way. CRAZY! Ps... are we ever going to go to Cuba together or what??!?!!? Talk to you later I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Candita Margaret Estrada-Palma is my mother!!! I am her daughter Kelly C. Bryant. This is so exciting to be reading right now!