One of the most common mistaken notions among Americans is that an economic blockade is an effective way to punish miscreant nations without requiring costly or risky military action. Even worse is the notion that a blockade works! Unless it is undertaken by all nations as was the case with South Africa many years ago, it can't work as opportunists from third countries are always willing to buy it for you and ship around the blockade for a small fee.
Now that Fidel has been forced by the collapse of his Russian patron, he has been slowly building bridges with tourists and has allowed some evidences of individual initiative, albeit it with the kicker that Fidel gets to rack off foreign investment money that was intended for the workers of Cuba! He sets the wages that the foreign investor will pay, but Fidel is the paymaster!
If you want to learn about the next step- courtesy of Jimmy Carter, the humanitarian president who is always willing to go and try to get Castro to release some innocent victims, will go and he will succeed! Why? Because Castro wants him to bring back news of how nice Castro can be and how much his people need us to lift the scandalous, and mean blockade.
The story is set with help from a recent article in the Orlando Sentinel that was also run in the San Juan Star in April of 2002.
The San Juan Star
End to embargo of Cuba is inevitable
by Myriam Marquez
The Orlando Sentinel
Former President Jimmy Carter will go to Cuba, and the sky will not fall. The heavens will not part, either.
For all the commotion in some quarters of the Cuban exile community about Carter being a willing dupe in Fidel Castro's communist game of playing Mr. Nice Guy to get the U.S. trade embargo lifted, nothing Carter can do or say will really matter. If he brings up human rights and a few political prisoners are freed, that's wonderful but it's nothing new. It's a tactic the Castro regime has used for decades. The regime's oppressive laws will remain as they have despite open trade with Canada, Europe and Latin America.
The White House isn't going to budge- either for moral reasons or convenient political ones to ensure Jeb Bush's re-election in Florida. Besides,by law it's Congress that must make those changes, and the Cuban regime has been doing a fine job of courting anti- embargo supporters. The most President Bush can do is hold out a veto until Congress can overturn it.
Most Democrats long ago called it quits on the embargo, and Republicans in Congress whose states have a vested interest in selling wheat, soy beans, rice and other commodities to Cuba are clamoring for a change anyway. Carter's visit to Havana, likely in May won't change any minds.
An end to the embargo is inevitable, if not all of it then most of it. Congress already has been trying to chip away at its effects, trying to lift the travel ban, pushing for more sales of food and grains to Havana. I can list all the moral reasons we should uphold the embargo against a regime that quashes the human spirit, but I also can list all the practical reasons the embargo has been a convenient weapon for Castro to use to build up nationalistic pride. I'm not talking about the regime's billboards. The irony isn't lost on visitors who see a decaying building with a billboard in front of it stating: Revolution means construction!
In the almost three weeks I was in Cuba, people from all walks of life, races and ages bad-mouthed the regime. In my very unscientific poll, maybe 10 or 15 of 200-plus people I talked to, from taxi drivers to shop clerks, hotel workers, churchgoers, scientists, physicians, people who run home restaurants or rent rooms in their homes ten backed the status quo. And of those 10, five were government officials.
The vast majority yearned to be treated as individuals, not puppets, with inherent rights to speak up without fear of reprisals. They want to start businesses and earn salaries on a competitive wage scale, to save up and spend a weekend in a nice hotel.
"It's our country. We're the most educated, the most enterprising people in the world, one clerk in Havana told me. So why does our revolutionary government bar us from staying at a nice hotel if we feel like it and can pay? Why are we paid so little for work that if done in another country would pay so much more? I've sacrificed for this~ revolution all my life. What has it gotten me? High-priced food at a few open markets!
Another man whose family runs a restaurant said, "I don't want to be a millionaire. I don't want to take away from others. I think the revolution has done some very good things. Everyone should expect a free education and medical care and even a house. I just want to earn the money I work hard to make. I don't mind paying taxes, but don't tax me out of my livelihood. Every time we take a step forward, there's a new law to push all our hard work back"
One old woman who has no children wondered, "Why can't I leave my house to whomever I want when I die? Why does it go to the government unless I have direct family who can stay here? This was my grandfather's house. He worked hard for it"
Lifting the embargo won?t change any of those things. Keeping the embargo hasn?t changed any of those things. The truth hurts."
Myriam Marquez is an editorial page columnist for the Orlando Sentinel and her story generated this response from Richard R. Tryon:
Dear Myriam Marquez,
Thank you for your report on your visit to Cuba that delineates very well what the people there are thinking about the 'regime' of their democratically elected (nobody else dares run) Fidel Castro.
But, I write to critique what you did not say and do not seem to understand.
1. Aside from all of the reasons you can list to demean the Castro failures, you pay no attention to the main reason for the embargo- Castro is the only man in the world who was willing to trigger WWIII with nuclear missiles from Cuba to hit NYC and Washington...and maybe even Orlando? That was avoided because Nikita Kruschev would not let Castro do it. This alone, is the reason to have an effective embargo on trade with Cuba. Effective? Not in that it makes it any harder for Castro to buy whatever he wants via a third party, but because he should have a social stigma about him. A sign that says- this man wanted to use terror of the greatest sort. It would have made 9-11 look like child's play! Yet, so many are willing to jump to the wrong conclusion that this embargo is hurting the common man of Cuba. That is not so. What is hurting him is what you have reported, but not explained.
2. The reason that a man can't work in Cuba and enjoy the fruits of his labor is that Castro can't allow it. Why not? Because it flies in the face of the very words you ascribed to one of your contacts who said, "I don?t want to be a millionaire. I don't want to take away from others." It is the most fundamental of communist ideas to claim that the world has only a finite amount of goods and services. It follows that if a man secures sufficient personal property to be labeled as a millionaire that he must be holding property taken from others! It is not possible with communism to imagine that a millionaire actually uses his wealth to make or create property that otherwise does not exist and keeps a small part of it while others get most of it! The man you interviewed has no way to know this- it was not taught to him and his brain is so well washed that it can't even think that way. Still, his human psyche is one that knows that he is willing to work hard and to try to create, but the system can't tolerate it and it will not as long as Castro and his kind are in power.
3. The idea of leaving one's house to relatives is so profound that the state has not yet found it worthwhile to try to take it away- except from those that have nobody with a family claim. Even the idea of selling it for charity or the church is probably not possible. Only the state, in the name of the people, can claim such property. Of course, it might sell it and use the money to buy something for the leadership- it must be well fed and housed to keep it in line.
Yes, I conclude that the embargo does mean something. However, many Americans are joining with others in this world who fail to see why we should not reward Castro by removing his sign of guilt. His regime may be impotent, but it is part of the axis of evil that is the cause of our current War on Terror. It would not be a mistake to liberate Cuba as William D. Pawley tried to do in 1960, not 1961 when the State Department communists managed to convert it into the disaster known as the "Bay of Pigs" campaign. Had it gone on time to Trinity Beach 60 miles to the East, and if it had the agreed support of the U.S. Navy, it would have worked. Of course, the State Department was certain that if it had, WWIII would have been started by the Russians. So Kennedy announced a $10 billion Alliance for Peace instead. Wonder what that did? Ask Angolans or even Grenadians, who like the folks in Nicaragua benefited from Castro's revolutionaries. Or those in Bogotá who first fought Castro with Pawley's help in 1948.
The same man who uttered the words above about a millionaire and property, is also captive to the idea that every person is entitled to free housing, education and health care! Free? They only get for free what they can tax or steal from others to redistribute. Remember, there is only a finite amount of resource and the billboard talk about "Revolution means Construction" is a sham. You can steal and demolish ten buildings and take the debris and make a new and larger one. To find ways to create wealth you need to allow freedom for the individuals to have an incentive free from intervention to do it. That can't be done in any socialistic community in Cuba or in Puerto Rico unless a patron from the old Soviet Union or the U.S. is willing to contribute an artificial way of making it look like the system works. It lasted 70 years in Russia. How much longer in Cuba?
It would be nice to read your next article in the Orlando Sentinel on this subject.
The next chapter will tell more about the Bay of Pigs effort of William D. Pawley.
|Previous Chapter||Next Chapter|