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HavanaJournal.com: Cuban Americans

Jaime Suchlicki’s distorted view of Cuba in transition

Posted September 18, 2006 by publisher in Cuban Americans.
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By Jaime Suchlicki | Jaime Suchlicki is Emilio Bacardi Moreau Distinguished Professor and Director, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. He is the author of Cuba: From Columbus to Castro, now in its fifth edition.

Publisher note: Original title: Transition Si, Succession No in Cuba

The recent statement by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez at the Miami Herald’s Americas Conference launched an important U. S. government initiative. It challenges the Raul Castro regime to hold a yes or no referendum, supervised by the Organization of American States, on whether the Cuban people want democracy. It’s modeled on the successful plebiscite that ended the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile two decades ago. It is consistent with President Bush’s statements about the Cubans determining their own future.

The purpose of this tactical initiative is varied. First, it puts a Raul regime on the defensive and tests its willingness to provide an opening toward democracy in Cuba. Second, it could increase discussion among several Cuban government elites, particularly the military, in finding an honorable solution to exit from forty-seven years of dictatorship. Third, it provides a rallying point for the international community to pressure the current or next regime into opening the political process, and finally it creates a further justification within the U. S. and throughout the world for other, tougher administration measures if Raul Castro, as is likely expected, refuses, or ignores the U. S. challenge.

If Raul Castro were to accept a referendum, it would turn Cuba upside down. Voting would be preceded by months of discussion and preparations; it would necessitate that opponents would have access to Cuba’s controlled media; it would require visits to the island and participation of thousands of outside observers. All of that would make it extremely difficult for Cuba to return to the totalitarian ways of the past.

The dynastic succession from Fidel to his brother unfortunately is currently proceeding smoothly. The inevitable transition that we all want toward a democratic, open society will be difficult and lengthy. It will require, in addition to maintaining current U. S. policy, a major effort in several areas: public diplomacy and communication; diplomatic initiatives; support for the dissidents and human rights activists as well as for a civil society in the island; and a variety of covert operations to weaken the successor regimes.

The U. S. and the Cuban-American community need to develop policies and actions that undermine the Cuban regime, put it on the defensive and accelerate its end. A message of hope and prosperity instead of the suffering and misery provided by the current Communist regime is necessary to mobilize and embolden the Cuban people. A message to the Cuban military that other armed forces have prospered after transitions in Eastern Europe and Chile is key to encouraging Cuba’s military to begin to play a role in the vanguard of change, not against it. A message from the Cuban- American community that it does not seek revenge or profit in Cuba and that it stands ready to help rebuild the impoverished country is critical in tendering bridges to people on the island.

The road ahead is treacherous as a minefield. No one has a monopoly on how to accelerate transition to democracy. The lessons of Eastern Europe and elsewhere provide some guidelines on what could be done. Yet, it took decades of communist leadership changes, economic decay and internal corruption and significant help from the West and its institutions to end communism in Europe. Let’s muster all of these resources, as well as our resolve, to bring Cuba to the community of free nations. Let there be no mistake, the unswerving goal of the Bush administration, and my own, is for full democracy and freedom in Cuba.

Member Comments

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On September 18, 2006, publisher wrote:

Mr. Suchlicki’s thought process is so full of holes and tainted with 45+ years of Cuban-American Castro hating propaganda.

Let’s start from the top:

1. He starts by talking about the Bush Adminstration encouraging Raul to take a yes or no vote on democracy in Cuba. What if the Cuban people say no??? Well then, they would be stupid, brainwashed people that would need to have their country invaded and run by the more intelligent Cuban American exiles.

2. He says that this initiative will “First, it puts a Raul regime on the defensive”. Do you really think that Raul Castro is on the defensive because of yet another US Administration request that the Castro brothers just go away?

3. He says “Second, it could increase discussion among several Cuban government elites, particularly the military,...” Yeah, I don’t think they want to take advice from the US either.

4. He says “...in finding an honorable solution to exit from forty-seven years of dictatorship.” Does Mr. Suchlicki really think that Raul is looking for an “honorable” exit? Maybe Raul should suggest that President Bush resign as an honorable solution to three + years of a war that has nothing to do with terrorism? How well would that be recieved? Same thing Mr. Bush.

5. He says “Third, it provides a rallying point for the international community to pressure the current or next regime into opening the political process.” Hello! The UN voted something like 100+ to 3 against the US Embargo against Cuba. President Bush might be surprised by this but the “World” might be more on the side of Cuba than on the side of the US. Think about it. Every enemy that the US makes is another friend of Cuba. And, I don’t think the Bush Administration is making too many friends in recent years.

6. He says “If Raul Castro were to accept a referendum…it would require visits to the island and participation of thousands of outside observers.” Ah hah! I suppose you would be one of those people? And I suppose there would be JUST a few CIA opertives that just might (by accident of course) kill Raul Castro.

7. He talks about the transition: a. “It will require, in addition to maintaining current U. S. policyMaintaining current US policy? Are you serious? It hasn’t worked for 45 years so your advice is to continue it? What an idiot.

7b. “a major effort in several areas: public diplomacy and communication; diplomatic initiatives” NONE currently offered by the US.

7c. “a variety of covert operations to weaken the successor regimes.” And the world will be on the side of the US? Listen to yourself man. As far as Fidel is on the left you are far out in left field. I think you have lost all rational sense.

8. “A message of hope and prosperity instead of the suffering and misery provided by the current Communist regime is necessary to mobilize and embolden the Cuban people.” Can I just change this last part? Please replace the words “Communist regime” with “US Embargo”

9. “No one has a monopoly on how to accelerate transition to democracy” Except you of course Mr. Suchlicki. You seem to really understand the Cuban people…NOT!

What a useless life. You have had NO POSITIVE EFFECT on Cuba and have failed for decades to bring change in Cuba. Don’t get me wrong, of course I am in favor of democracy in Cuba but if you fail to accomplish your goals for decade after decade and REFUSE to change from your failed Plan A Embargo, how about Plan B. No, you don’t like that because secretly you WANT the Embargo to continue so your groups continue to get USAID, the President’s ear and the ear of all the Presidential candidates ears every four years.

Admit it. Your worst fear is that Cuba actually does become a democracy and all your government money and power (in the US only) evaporates.

C’mon Mr. Suchlicki, you can say it…Viva Fidel. C’mon, I know you think it secretly. Viva Fidel. Viva Fidel.

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On September 18, 2006, Gregory Biniowsky wrote:

Suchliki states that the “unswerving goal of the Bush Administration…is for full democracy and freedom in Cuba”. I would have thought that an assumably intelligent and erudite academic like Suchliki would have a more sophisticated view of U.S. foreign policy, both as it applies to Cuba and the rest of the world. Only the most blind neocons really believe that the priorities of the Bush Administration is freedom and democracy, in Cuba or anywhere else for that matter. If the Bush & Co really had these concepts as motivating factors in their foreign policy formulation, they would be pushing the same issue with China, Saudi Arabia, etc. Suchliki, you are too close to Miami to realize that US foreign policy is driven by political lobbying and campaign funding, not lofty ideals. Moreover, it is interesting how Suchliki promotes covert actions to destabilize the succesor regimes in Cuba. I wonder how he (or the Bush Administration) would react if Venezuela or Cuba proposed similar destabilization for a pro-U.S. country (ie. Colombia). Finally, I really wonder when was the last time Suchliki was in Cuba….I get the sense it has been a very long time, which explains why he is so out of touch with the dynamics on the island.

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On September 18, 2006, publisher wrote:

Gregory,

Well said my friend. Someone high up in the US should listen to you.

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On September 19, 2006, J. Perez wrote:

Of course Gregory is correct in his analysis of Mr. Suchliki’s proposals. The hipocresy of U. S. policy with Cuba is so transparent and its record of achieving change so non-existent, that only a “blind neocon” would propose to continue with it. It is the same mindless rhetoric we hear about Iraq, “stay the course”.

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On September 19, 2006, run abh wrote:

I wonder if there is any support at all for the proposed OAS referendum.  Since Cuba was kicked out of this organization, it seems pretty obvious to me that the OAS has no say over Cuba’s affairs.  Maybe countries like Costa Rica are supporting it…if anybody has any info on that I’d like to hear it.

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On September 21, 2006, run abh wrote:

Just what I thought.  The OAS isn’t planning anything, as there has to be an official proposal before any action is taken.


OAS withholds position on Cuba referendum proposed by U.S.
By Pablo Bachelet

McClatchy Newspapers

(MCT)

UNITED NATIONS - The Organization of American States will not take up the Cuba issue until an official proposal is presented by the United States or another member state, OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza said Wednesday.

Last week, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez proposed that Cuba hold an OAS-sanctioned referendum on its future leadership.

“There is no proposal that we can officially evaluate,” Insulza told The Miami Herald.

The OAS, he noted, can only monitor elections when member states ask for the service. Cuba was suspended from the organization in 1962.

Insulza reiterated that the OASshould get involved at a future date and that it was concerned about human rights, freedom of expression and political pluralism in Cuba. “It would be a good thing that these things be discussed,” he said, “but the time is not ripe for that just now.”

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© 2006, The Miami Herald.