Posted August 12, 2003 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
By Gary Aldrich | AmericanDaily.com
In 1995, Bill Clinton changed the United State’s policy related to Cuban migration. The old policy allowed Cuban boaters, or “rafters” as they have been dubbed, to float to U.S. shores and gain sanctuary. The policy also allowed other boaters who found them to assist them unmolested by U.S. Coast Guard cutters or state marine patrols.
Clinton was entitled to make changes to suit the times and his world-view, which most understood to be friendly toward the Left. For a period of time Clinton tried to normalize relations with the man who once had his finger on the button of a nuclear-tipped missile he intended to fire at South Florida. If the Soviets had agreed during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel Castro would have reduced much of Miami to a smoking radioactive ruin. Castro has also spent a lifetime fermenting trouble in Central and South America, supporting leftist rebels’ efforts to bring Communism to those countries.
Castro squelched normalization efforts when he sent Soviet MIGs to shoot down unarmed Piper Cubs carrying humanitarians, but Clinton fairly ignored the fact that U.S. Citizens were shot down on a mercy mission over international waters. A cynic would say that the Cuban refuges who died that day would probably vote Republican anyway, so why should Clinton make a big deal about it? Castro has been known as an international terrorist for many years – and yet Clinton saw no real opportunity to overthrow him after he launched a military attack against U.S. Citizens calling South Florida their home.
But then, why should anybody expect Clinton to retaliate against Castro when many of Clinton’s supporters hacked sugarcane in Cuban fields to show their support for Castro’s Communist experiment in the Western Hemisphere?
Cuban refugees didn’t like Clinton’s new Cuban boater/rafter policy, but he installed it anyway; Clinton knew they would vote for Dole regardless. The new policy required Cubans to step foot upon U.S. shore to receive sanctuary, not just enter U.S. waters. In fact, they were usually “captured” before they had a chance to reach the shore. Instead, these would-be refugees were given free passage back to Cuba and prosecuted by Castro for trying to escape their island prison camp. Often they were sentenced to long terms in a prison within a prison. You couldn’t get a worse environment than that, unless you were once imprisoned in Iraq.
Why is it that Communists are so worried about their own citizens leaving the country?
When you consider the high-tech advantage the U.S. has over poor boaters or rafters, it’s amazing that any make it through. Of course, Clinton was banking on that when he signed the new agreement with his old friend, Fidel Castro.
Some say Clinton’s policies toward Cuba and Castro, along with his ham-fisted treatment of Elian Gonzales, cost Gore the presidency in 2000. After all, Cuban refugees are very vocal in their hatred of Castro, and for good reason. Castro is a murderous thug – a terrorist, really. Even the UN thinks so!
Castro took over the island and stole citizen’s property as well as their liberties. Those who did not care for the harsh, autocratic Batista regime may now regret his departure. Batista may have been corrupt, but at least Cubans were free to travel and resettle in other countries if they wanted to, and many did.
An old joke in South Florida had one Cuban asking another if they were born in Cuba. He answers, “Yes, I was born in Tampa.” Travel between the U.S. and Cuba was so common that many Cubans made the U.S. their second home and managed businesses on U.S. soil. U.S. citizens had homes and businesses in Cuba, as well, and commuted back and forth much like people now travel between Washington D.C. and New York.
Now George W. Bush is president, and times have changed. Before Clinton we treated Cuba as the Communist dictatorship that it is, and encouraged Cuban citizens to flee if they could manage. That’s because as a nation we were mostly united in our hatred of Communism.
Over the course of time we’ve softened our views, and now the anti-anti-Communists seem to be calling the shots. For reasons of commerce and an unproven theory that Capitalism on the Cuban island will eventually cause the politics to swing to Democracy, business lobbyists’ mouths are watering on both sides of the aisle. Meanwhile, Conservatives can do little else but shake their heads at the notion that anybody wants to do business with a murderer.
But, not so fast! Castro may be a murderous Communist thug who some see as tomorrow’s capitalistic butterfly, soon to emerge – but he’s still an international terrorist who harbors, trains and encourages international terrorists. That status alone would allow President Bush to revisit Clinton’s ill-considered policy toward human beings who seek liberty and freedom from murderous terrorists.
Funny, isn’t it, that you can simply walk across a border hundreds of miles long and look forward to a U.S. citizen’s status because you’re poor and want to improve your financial situation by providing cheap labor, quite often “off the books.”
However, offering a helping hand to those who would try to escape a terrorist nation and risk everything to get here by boarding a flimsy boat or raft is seen as somehow illegitimate. The current policy makes no sense and is based on a former president’s political world-view. President Bush can, and should, consider changing the U.S. policy on Cuban refugees.
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