U.S. Embargo only strengthens Castro’s hold on Cuba
John Bomar, Independent
Recent Bush administration actions to strengthen the embargo and travel restrictions to Cuba sound reasonable…. to those who have never been to Cuba. For those of us who have, the reasonings fall a bit short.
The most elemental concept in foreign policy is to do nothing that supports or strengthens your adversary. And this, of course, is the reasoning of those who support the embargo and travel ban.
But after my six weeks in Cuba, I would argue that our embargo, right now, today, is having exactly the opposite effect of our intentions. Our embargo does little harm to the Cuban state, but in reality it gives great power to the iron-fisted communist rulers on the island. It does so by first and foremost giving Castro and the communists a public scapegoat for the multi-layered failings of a truly miserable economic and social system. Everyone who has seen Cuba first-hand should have observed this fact.
When the people have only a little rice for supper, and no medicine for their sick children, not even aspirin, the communist leaders in Cuba are able to pass on the blame—-to us. When the people have no soap for daily cold-showers or their meager laundry—- they think of our embargo. When they walk by “Dollar Stores”, filled with all the necessities of life their pesos cannot even buy, they think first of the effect of the U.S. embargo. Right or wrong, this daily fact of life is what gives strength and power to Castro and the communist’s in Cuba.
With its implied malevolence and external threat, our embargo also gives extra power to Cuban state security forces; ammunition to the dead-in-the-face KGB gangs who inhabit every third street corner, ferreting out our feeble attempts to destabilize their rule, and keeping an eye on everyone else. Cuba is now a genuine police state.
As we have recently learned, when the castle is under siege, individual liberties are compromised and repressive state power is gained: Big Brother grows. It has been the same for Cuba. Our clever and cunning attempts at assasination and overthrow in the past, and Mr. Bush’s overt hostility today only strengthen the hand of Castro and his henchmen on the island.
The courageous Cuban dissidents, the ones recently imprisoned, argue these same points, and almost universally oppose our continued embargo and travel restrictions. If these freedom fighters, now languishing in Cuba’s hell-hole prisons, oppose our continued embargo and travel restrictions, should we not reckon how come?
While I am no advocate of extending credit to Cuba, because the communists have proven themselves unworthy of credit to the whole world, I am an advocate of allowing them to purchase anything they like from us on a cash basis. A Presidential statement to this effect, more than anything else, would undermine the communist’s hold on the people of Cuba, and take away the paper tiger these “revolutionaries” now hide behind. It would knock out the props holding up the rusty, creaky dinosaur that is the Cuban State today.
The U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba, to me, are blatently unconstitutional. By what right does the government tell a free people where they can and cannot go once they leave these shores? Of such presumption tyranny is born.
Historically, it has certainly been the ploy of tyrants to try and restrict their citizen’s travel abroad. And we have roundly condemned other nations for such policies. Our cleverness here is to forbid the spending of an American dollar in Cuba, rather than try and directly impose an unconstitutional restriction on travel—- a thin veil indeed. Mr. Bush’s new restrictions now go even further in disregard of the constitution.
Doesn’t each American visiting Cuba become an ambassador for freedom and liberty, and capitalism, just like it did in Soviet Russia and her communist satellites? My personal motto, spoken often to the few Cubans defending “Revolutionary Socialism”, was “Dame libertadad o dame nada”, give me liberty or don’t give me anything.
No one dislikes the communist’s in Cuba more than I. I have seen first hand the suffering, frustrations and discouragement of my Cuban friends trying to survive the “Animal Farm” of Castro’s Cuba. I have seen first hand how the pigs have risen to the top, the ones “more equal” than the others, the same pigs who would stifle all dissent.
But in a truly ironic twist, our continued econimic embargo and travel restrictions only help feed these same pigs, and keep them in power.
Cuban communism does not work except for those at the top, and these days nothing in Cuba rings more sadly hollow than an old revolutionary song. Inside Cuba these “little emperors” are wearing no clothes. Yet, largely because of our embargo, the wind in the trees is the only one that can say so.
Therefore, I am an advocate of a new Cuban policy: End the restrictions on sales to Cuba, and the unconstitutional travel ban, and with such a policy change count on the inevitability of fate for “Jaque mate en dos jugadas”, check-mate in two moves.
Dr. Bomar is an ocean sailor who unexpectedly found himself in Cuba after signing on as crew to a Danish schooner in Curasao in 1996.
Permission to copy or publish granted. JRB