December 29, 2014
Wishful thinking about Cuba
By Silvio Canto, Jr
Let's say that the men and women at the NY Times are persistent when it
comes to writing about Cuba.
The past weekend's latest Cuba editorial identifies some truths about Cuba:
Under Communist Party rule, Cubans endure the austerity of living under
a stagnant, centrally planned economy.
Their access to the Internet is severely limited and censored. The
island's official press is wholly subservient to the state.
Outside the rigid mechanisms of the party, Cubans have few substantive
vehicles to challenge their leaders.
The editorial also blames the U.S. for the lack of opposition of Cuba.
They say that the embargo rallied Cubans against the U.S. Let me say
two things about that:
1) I have never heard a Cuban dissident blame the U.S. Instead, they
blame Castro and some go to jail for it; and
2) I guess that no one at the editorial board has a clue of the
repressive nature of the Castro regime. In Cuba, dissidents are not
worried about a U.S. invasion. Instead, they worry about Castro's thugs
knocking on the door at night and taking someone to jail.
Again, I've been talking to Cubans who have lived these experiences.
Apparently, the people at the NY Times are doing "hope and change."
The editorial also calls on Latin American leaders to attack the lack
of human rights in Cuba:
For decades, Latin American governments have coddled, or appeased, the
Castro regime because confronting it would be interpreted as an
endorsement of Washington's harshly punitive policy toward the island.
By changing that policy, Mr. Obama has removed that concern, which
should allow leaders from democratic nations to support the principles
Cuban activists have put forward. The leaders of Latin America's largest
economies, in particular, can be strong champions of Cuba's opposition
leaders at the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April.
Despite a traditional reluctance to meddle in other countries' internal
affairs, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and President Dilma
Rousseff of Brazil should speak up unequivocally for democratic values
that are embraced by most nations in the Americas. As a former political
prisoner, a leftist and the leader of one of Cuba's main trading allies,
Ms. Rousseff would arguably carry the most weight.
It would be nice, but this is silly and wishful thinking of the worst kind.
First, Latin American opposition to the U.S. trade embargo had nothing
to do with the U.S. or Cuba. In fact, many countries, like Mexico with
tourism and Brazil with sugar production, have actually benefited from
the embargo. For example, did any of your grandparents spend their
honeymoon in Cancún in the 1950s? The answer is no, because Cancún as a
tourism destination did not exist prior to the embargo. All of that
Mexican Caribbean tourist industry came about because Americans could
not go to Cuba. I recall speaking with a hotel manager in Cancún years
ago who admitted that lifting the U.S. embargo would hurt their business.
Second, Latin American leaders have legitimized Castro to please their
domestic leftist movements. They support Castro so that they can keep
the left happy. It has nothing to do with Cuba or the U.S.; it's all
about their domestic politics – i.e., giving "candy to the left," as a
Mexican politician told me over lunch.
Again, it would be nice if Latin American leaders would now start
calling on the Castros to move on and bring change to Cuba.
Unfortunately, I don't see it.
Let me say it again. The Obama-Castro deal was bad because it demanded
nothing from Cuba. In fact, the deal will turn into a lifeline unless
the GOP Senate and House put the brakes on lifting the embargo or
extending credit to the regime.
Source: Blog: Wishful thinking about Cuba -
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