12/30/2008 9:40 AM ET
On the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, U.S. Commerce Secretary
Carlos Gutierrez blasted what he called a "staunch enemy" of the U.S.
and warned against unconditional dialogue with the communist government
of the island nation.
The overthrow of the Batista dictatorship by Fidel Castro and his band
of communist revolutionaries took place on January 1st, 1959. Since
then, U.S.-Cuban relations have rapidly deteriorated, as the tiny island
nation remains one of the few communist governments left in the 21st
century. The economic sanctions the U.S. has in place against Cuba are
total, with an embargo on the country.
However, the U.S. uses part of Cuba to house its prison facility
Guantanamo Bay, evidence of the relationship between the two countries.
In his OP-ED, Gutierrez wrote that "Cuban people have experienced the
most tyrannical regime in the modern history of the Western Hemisphere,
with the same political elite in power for the past 50 years."
He cited a list of civil liberties denied the Cuban people, including
freedom of speech.
"The question I am always asked is: 'When will the United States change
its policy towards Cuba?' The real question should be: 'When will the
Cuban government change its policy towards its people?'" he asked.
Gutierrez labeled Castro as "first and foremost anti-American." Although
in the beginning days of his dictatorship the United States government
worked with Castro, his choice to align himself and his country with the
Soviet Union rather than the U.S. created tension between the two
nations that has never been resolved.
The commerce secretary placed the blame on the poor relations on the
Cuban government, stating that since 1959 "the Cuban government has made
it close to impossible to improve relations between our two countries."
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Castro "urged the Soviet Union to
launch a preemptive nuclear strike on the United States," Gutierrez wrote.
He added that in 2008 during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike the Cuban
government refused humanitarian aid packages from the United States.
"The communist regime of Cuba has made no secret that it is a staunch
enemy of the United States," Gutierrez thundered. "The regime's disdain
for human rights is appalling, yet the United States is criticized for
its policies towards Cuba."
Concluding his argument, Gutierrez warned against unconditional dialogue
with Fidel and Raul Castro, warning that allowing such a thing would
"only signal that the conditions in Cuba are acceptable."
"If the United States does not continue to stand for the ideals of
freedom and human rights and against the many guises of tyranny and
oppression, who will?" he asked.