The Cuban Embargo
February 23, 2007. Political and academic soothsayers insist that
change (for the better) looms in Cuba. With Fidel Castro's
incapacitation, and his "pragmatic" brother, Raul, at the helm the
process is ratcheting forward inexorably, we're told.
But for relentless hen-pecking by those insufferable right-wing
Cuban-Americans, unconscionable blackmail by their slick politicians,
and cowardly kow-towing to these uppity immigrant ingrates by the Bush
team, the U.S. would "open" to Cuba, the process of liberalization would
snowball, and Cuba would quickly blossom into Hong Kong in the Caribbean.
Common sense, commercial savvy, U.S. self interest, simple decency and,
especially, the Cuban people's welfare, all scream to high heavens for
a thorough overhaul of the archaic, counterproductive and vindictive
U.S. "embargo" of Cuba.
(Note: The U.S.currently ranks as Cuba's biggest food supplier and 5th
largest import partner. I have searched high and low, near and far,
hither and yon, for a dictionary definition of embargo that allows for
such a state of affairs and failed completely. Hence the quotation marks
around the term embargo throughout this article.)
"It's time for a change (on Cuba)!" recently gushed Congressman Jeff
Flake, rogue (on Cuba) Republican from Arizona. Among the media/academia
axis the above mantra has risen greatly in both volume and repetition
lately. Even the Wall Street Journal, National Review and The Washington
Times have clambered aboard the bandwagon. In light of the exciting and
unprecedented "opening" in Cuba, bills have been recently introduced by
Representative Flake, by Mark Delahunt (D-Mass), by Jose Serrano (D-NY),
by Jackie Moran (R-Kansas), all aimed at easing the Cuban "embargo" at
this opportune time.
In fact, Raul Castro recently took Cuba's version of Lavrenti Beria out
of mothballs and assigned him one of the regime's most powerful
positions: minister of Communications and Technology–Cuba's Joseph
Goebbels. Ramiro Valdez is the gentleman's name, and he served for
decades as head of Cuba's KGB and STASI trained secret police. Everyone
conversant with Cuban history knows him as the most repressive and
sadistic figure on the island, except for Raul Castro himself.
'There's a new dynamic now!" gushes Jeff Flake.
In fact, those who read the samizdats smuggled out of Cuba by her
courageous underground reporter Carlos Serpa knows that since the
succession in August, forty of Cuba's human Rights activists and
reporters (including Serpa himself) have been jailed or severely beaten
by mobs of the regime's plainclothes hoodlums and sadists, Raul Castro's
version of Hitler's early S.A. More significantly, more such mobs are
being trained and deployed throughout Cuba as I write.
Cuba is as essentially totalitarian today as ever–in fact it's more
totalitarian today than in the mid 90's when sanctions had some teeth.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, Cuban-born and privy to the
above developments in Cuba, begs to differ with the cocksure Congressman
Flake and his sagacious colleagues. "Now isn't the time to ease the
restrictions," he stressed this week. "There is nothing in his (Raul
Castro's) past to suggest that he is a reformer." The Bush team is not
In August of 1960, Time magazine crowned Raul Castro "the fist" of the
Cuban Revolution. (Fidel was "the heart" and Che "the brains.")
The Flake/Delahunt/Rangel song is an old tune actually. The Pope's visit
to Cuba in 1998 started a similar craze. "SEE?!-SEE?!" gushed the media
and the Think-Tanks. "Cuba is opening up! Who can deny it now?!"
Only those "crackpot" Cuban-Americans, that's who. Which is to say,
those with the most experience with the regime. And again they emerged
from the hoopla, along with their Republican allies, as the only party
without egg on its face.
The Pope's Cuba visit also gave birth to an outfit called Americans for
Humanitarian Trade with Cuba. "Ordinary Cubans are paying a severe price
for the ban on U.S. food and the most severe restrictions on the sale of
U.S. medical products," mourned the AHTC manifesto. "Forty years of the
strongest embargo in our history has resulted in increased misery for
the people of Cuba …. We can no longer support a policy carried out in
our name which causes suffering of the most vulnerable — women,
children and the elderly."
On the Board of this AHTC sat David Rockefeller of the Council on
Foreign Relations, Wayne Andreas of Archer Daniels Midland and Frank
Carlucci, at the time chairman of The Carlyle Group, the world's biggest
private investment corporation, which is headquartered on Washington
DC's Pennsylvania avenue itself. Carlyle Group is widely regarded as the
most politically-connected corporation in the world. George Soros was
among its founders and major investors.
A few years later something called the U.S.-Cuban Trade and Economic
Council burst upon the scene. Lo and behold, Dwayne Andreas sat as
Chairman. Follow the money trail and most of these names keep popping up
on practically everything associated with easing the Cuban "embargo."
Somebody sees dollar signs, and it's not the U.S. taxpayer.
When it comes to political influence, liberals denounce Cuban-American
lobbyists as singularly unscrupulous, diabolically clever, and awash in
ill-gotten lucre–unlike those babes-in-the-woods Dwayne Andreas, David
Rockefeller and George Soros.
The anti-"embargo" reasoning seems to go something like this: The
Carlyle Group, Archer Daniels Midland and The Council on Foreign
Relations, along with Congressmen representing the most heavily taxpayer
subsidized sector of the U.S. economy, spend most of their waking hours
agonizing over the welfare of the Cuban people and yearning to succor
them. The Cuban peoples' cousins, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters
in Miami, however, want only to starve and torture their relatives.
Never mind that these Cuban-Americans risked life, limb and treasure in
a mad scramble to rescue their relatives and countrymen during the
Mariel boatlift. Never mind that earlier many of them put their lives on
the line attempting a wholesale rescue of their countrymen at the Bay of
Pigs. Never mind their near-suicidal, armed attacks against Soviet arms
in subsequent years, all launched to free their countrymen.
Never mind all that. Cuban-Americans are malicious and pig-headed
scoundrels who simply cannot be made to see reason. They hate their
relatives and want them starved.
Furthermore, after a couple of junkets to Cuba, executives of the above
mentioned Corporations and their crony Congressmen and lobbyists become
endowed with an uncanny clairvoyance. This enables them to divine the
whims and motives of Cuba's Communist officials much more accurately
than those who lived for years under Cuba's communist system, and often
within the system. These latter often had daily contact with Cuba's
current Communist officials.
But never mind. They know nothing. They cannot be trusted. Jeff Flake
and Charles Rangel are much shrewder judges of Raul Castro's psyche than
Alcibiades Hidalgo, Raul Castro's adjutant and Chief of staff for over a
decade who defected to the U.S. in 2002 and flatl
y stated: "ending the
travel ban would be a gift to the Castros," meaning it would further
enrich and, thus, entrench the totalitarian regime.
Amazingly, a recent AP poll on Cuba revealed that 48% of Americans favor
the embargo vs 40% against it, with 12% not sure. I say amazing because
in spite of the lopsided nature of anti-"embargo" reporting and
commentary, more Americans favor the embargo than oppose it.
Cuban-American blogger Henry Gomez (BabaluBlog.com) who works in this
field looked at the figures more analytically and revealed something
even more astonishing. Of those with an opinion on the issue, which is
to say, those who studied the writing and commentary, a solid majority
of 54.5 want to continue the embargo vs. 45.5. against it.
Again, considering that the anti-"embargo" propaganda juggernaut
involves everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times,
from The Brookings Institute to the CATO Institute, and from CNN to ABC,
you have to wonder just how often the average American reads or hears
anything in actual favor of the embargo? So the figures blow you away.
Or maybe not. Row upon row upon row of graves from Normandy to North
Africa and from the Yalu to the Elbe attest to Americans' abhorrence of
tyranny. Why should those fallen heroes' children and grandchildren
favor subsidizing a tyranny 90 miles from their borders?
Maybe—just maybe—Messieurs Flake, Delahunt, Rangel, Andreas,
Rockefeller, etc, that embargo owes less to sleazy Cuban-American
lobbying and more to the instincts of a generous and liberty-loving people.
*Humberto Fontova is the author of Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant, a
Conservative Book Club "Main Selection."