Why the new Cuba policy misses the mark
Embargo notwithstanding, dealings with the Cuban people is a naive idea
President Donald Trump announced his Cuba policy in Miami last week. I commend him for many of his efforts. He unveiled a replacement policy for the disastrous Cuba policy President Obama put into place. The highlight of Mr. Obama’s policy was lifting an economic embargo that was placed after the Communist revolution of Fidel Castro brought the world to the brink of nuclear war with the Missile Crisis in 1962.
Ten U.S. presidents were faced with John F. Kennedy’s embargo on Cuba. Five Democrats and five Republicans had upheld the embargo. By the end of the fifth Democratic presidency, Mr. Obama decided to break with tradition. He did this without any concessions or reforms by Communist Cuba. Mr. Obama gave away everything and threw the Cuban people under the bus. The policy ensured no guarantees on human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to assemble or have free and fair elections. The Cuban people received nothing in return for this new U.S. policy. Nada.
Now we have a “new” policy endorsed by Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, and Sen. Marco Rubio, both Cuban Americans. The policy states that the United States will no longer deal with the Cuban military or government; now we will deal with the Cuban people directly.
The new policy emphasizes that we will bypass the military and communist government of Cuba. This is a farce. I was shocked when I heard this misguided, naive idea that the “Cuban people” are free to do business and be entrepreneurs inside Cuba and deal with the United States and U.S. companies directly. Do we remember anything about communism during the many years spent under the Cold War?
I traveled to communist occupied countries under the Soviet Union. I visited Belgrade, Yugoslavia. I was traveling with Vice President George H.W. Bush in the early 1980s. The secret police followed us everywhere prior to his arrival. Total control of the citizens there was blatant. They had no freedoms at all. Could we have dealt directly with them? I also traveled to Moscow in 1983 for Chairman Brezhnev’s funeral. I witnessed people living under the constant fear of being taken away and disappearing to Siberia or worse for any reason. Cuba is no different today.
My family fled Cuba just after Castro and his communist misfits came down from the Sierra Maestra with the Argentinean killer Che Guevara in tow. They violently went through the countryside killing everyone in their paths that they felt were not supportive of the revolution. They completely took control of the people to secure their obedience and conformity with the new revolution. This is unimaginable to us living in freedom. They suspended the Cuban Constitution of 1940, very similar to the U.S. Constitution. They replaced it with a Soviet style manifesto. They suspended habeas corpus and all rights of the individual putting in its place mandatory allegiance to the Communist Revolution.
This has not changed. It’s worse under the Obama policy. People have been taken and imprisoned or disappeared permanently if the government thought they would be a threat to the status quo. Tourism flourished after Mr. Obama’s policy enriching the military and the Communist Party. Nothing is to be kept or owned by the people. If relatives in the U.S. send dollars to their loved ones in Cuba, the government officials take a cut. Food and water is rationed. If you are found with an abundance of food or possessions you risk going to prison for dealing in the black market. Obtaining things needed to feed and sustain your family becomes a crime.
The Cuban people are not free. They can’t even visit the beautiful beaches that bring so many Canadians and Europeans to Cuba, a breathtaking island that Christopher Columbus called “The Pearl of the Antilles.” Now even U.S. citizens are spending money that never reaches the average Cuban.
I disagree with this notion that we can bypass the Cuban military and government and deal directly with the Cuban people to better their lives. This only exists in the minds of people that have no comprehension of the control and the total domination that has enslaved and imprisoned the Cuban people for so long. This is unrealistic. Could we deal directly with the North Korean people and set up businesses and enterprises without the government and military being involved?
Let’s bring real change to Cuba by forcing this brutal Communist regime to its knees. Some say this will only hurt the Cuban people. The Cuban people are in extreme pain now. The only ones not hurting in Cuba are the Communist Party leaders. Let’s bring real freedoms and human rights to the Cuban people. Demand the release of dissidents’ imprisoned without trials. Dealing directly with the people of Cuba is impossible with the system that exists now. They will not relinquish control. I wonder who will ever get the Cuban solution right. We need to finally help bring real reforms and freedom that has eluded Cubans on that island only 90 miles from our shore.