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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Appeasing the Castro’s will backfire - keep the Embargo - Calzon

Posted October 03, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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By FRANK CALZON | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Center for a Free Cuba

The ‘‘Stockholm syndrome’’ describes the phenomenon of hostages who identify, cooperate with and, finally, defend their kidnappers. The longer they are held, the more victims are likely to be affected by the syndrome, because they are totally dependent on their abusers. The control over every aspect of life convinces the victim that he or she is alone, there will be no help from others; resistance is useless and only makes things worse.

That’s the kind of control Fidel Castro, and now his brother Raúl, exercise in Cuba.

There, everything comes from Castro and his government. The regime wants the Cuban people to believe they have no other friends. And, alas, even foreign diplomats and their dependents stationed in Havana begin after time to feel this intimidating dependency and to become reluctant to protest outrages directed at them because ``it only results in more abuse.’‘

Castro’s abuse—his ability to order windows smashed or call out street demonstrations—becomes ‘‘revenge’’ for inviting unapproved Cuban guests to the embassy, for reaching out to engage ordinary Cubans in ways not preapproved by Castro’s government.

Foreign observers in Cuba seem to have great difficulty imagining what the regime will do next. One reason why is that they keep looking for logical reasons to explain the regime’s actions. Yet the reality is that much of what has happened in Cuba over the last 50 years cannot be explained, except as the whim of a man whose only goal is to be in control of everything Cuban. Castro has a lot in common with Stalin.

The Castro regime simply deems any independent action—however small—to be a challenge to its totalitarian control. Thus, inviting Cuba’s political dissidents to an embassy event is ‘‘a hostile act.’’ To give a short-wave radio to a Cuban national is, curiously enough, ‘‘a violation of human rights.’’ Any Cuban daring to voice support for change in Cuba is ‘‘a paid agent’’ of the United States.

What to do in a situation such as this? The principle that should guide foreign governments is that they should show Cubans that they have friends on the outside.

Foreign governments can start by, at the very least, always insisting on reciprocity in the freedom allowed Castro’s diplomats and embassies to operate in their capitals. This is not what happened. Foreign missions—America’s among them—accede to Castro’s restrictions on how their diplomats and embassies function in Cuba.

Cuba’s diplomats take full advantage of their freedoms in the U.S. capital. They attend congressional hearings, have access to the American media, develop relationships with businessmen and ‘‘progressive’’ activists, host student groups, speak at universities and enjoy tax-exempt status. Yet U.S. diplomats in Cuba have no similar privileges in Havana. They are subject to petty harassments. The Cuban government goes so far as to detain shipping containers of supplies sent to the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba and has broken into the U.S. diplomatic pouch.

Attempting to appease Cuba’s kidnappers will backfire, as it always has. It is instructive that the refugee crises in 1980 and 1994, which involved 125,000 and 30,000 Cubans respectively, and the 1996 murder of Brothers to the Rescue crews over the Florida Straits occurred at times when Washington actually was trying to improve relations.

Eventually, Cuba’s long nightmare will end. If governments around the world would also shake free of ‘‘the Havana Syndrome,’’ they might hasten Cuba’s democratic awakening.

Fidel and Raúl Castro will attempt to turn their day of reckoning into a negotiation with Washington—a negotiation excluding dissidents and exiles. Yet it is Cubans who must decide the fate of Cuba. All evidence indicates that President Bush will remain firm. If the Department of State does not flinch, Cuba’s interim president and new leaders will have to talk with and listen to their political opponents. That is what democracy means and that is what the world community should boldly support today.

Frank Calzon is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington, D.C.

Member Comments

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On October 03, 2007, publisher wrote:

Yawn. Most of this article could have been written 30 years ago.

I do agree with the “Stockholm syndrome” concept but Frank falls back on his same old support for the failed Plan A Embargo in the end.

And, this part of the article “...a negotiation excluding dissidents and exiles. Yet it is Cubans who must decide the fate of Cuba”.

Yes, Frank. Cubans who live on the island. NOT Cuban Americans. Why should Cuban Americans have any more right than any other American in how Cuba governs itself.

Sure, you can be pissed off and force the Embargo on all Americans in that name of good and you can try to have influence on Cuba going forward but you or any other American citizen has the right to build the next Cuban government.

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On October 03, 2007, cubanpete wrote:

The U.S.A. is a sovereign nation.  As such, it can determine who it wants to trade with and who it does not want to trade with.  Such determinations can be modified or repealed at any time.  The U.S.A. used to impose sanctions on South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). In view of current events, the U.S.A. may decide to impose sanctions on Burma.  Sanctions send a message that it’s not “business as usual”.  Had La Revolucion matured and evolved in the past half century to the Swedish model of socialism, Cuba could possibly have had most favoured nation status now in terms of trade.

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On October 03, 2007, Cuban Dan wrote:

“Yes, Frank. Cubans who live on the island. NOT Cuban Americans. Why should Cuban Americans have any more right than any other American in how Cuba governs itself. ” - Publisher

Mr. Publisher, I agree with you 100% that Cubans who currently live in Cuba should have say over what there future holds, and we should not have any control over that, however, I do think that we should be able to give our advice and our 2 cents because this regime has changed our lives completely.  For you to say that we have no more right than any other American citizen is rediculous.  I am not going to start some emotional tirade about how much I lost in Cuba, or what my family lost, or the family members I never saw again because they were jailed for being “counter-revolutionary”..... but come on, you seriously can’t believe what you just said.  We have a MUCHgreater right to propose suggestions on how Cuba should govern itself than Americans should.  We lived the horror…. you didn’t.

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On October 03, 2007, Cuban Dan wrote:

Like we have argued a million times before, we both agree to disagree on our view of the embargo.  However, like I mentioned in a previous post, why should we do what they ask if they won’t even do the simple task of releasing political prisoners?
You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

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On October 03, 2007, publisher wrote:

Cuba can demand to have the Embargo lifted but I agree that they should reach out to us. The US isn’t going to ask Cuba to the negotiating table any time soon I know that.

But, what would happen and the travel Embargo was lifted and several hundred boats set sail from Florida to Cuba tomorrow. Would Raul see that as an act of war or getting what he wished for?

That would shake up the Cuban government and get some sort of discussion going.

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On October 03, 2007, publisher wrote:

Dan,

I understand that it’s your home land and I would be pissed off too but after all these years, why do you have more rights than any other American?

You have may the right to sue for damages for your losses but the Cuban American community has no rights to be part of any new Cuban government unless you are invited by a new Cuban government.

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On October 03, 2007, Cuban Dan wrote:

Publisher,

I didn’t say that I have right to be part of the government.  If that is what my comments lead you to believe then I apologize.  All I meant is that our opinion and advice has more weight than an Americans.  I don’t want to sue for damages, what I have here in America is fine, and I don’t want to move back.  Believe me I would love to be able to travel to Cuba freely, but I don’t want that when I know what I am going to see.  I don’t want to travel there and see unsanitary conditions, oppresion, extreme poverty, and then here I am sitting in a nice hotel on the beach sipping a mojito… its just not right.  My family left for fear of being jailed or executed.  One thing you got to understand is when you leave something you love SO much, and you leave it because you are forced to leave or face death/jail time.  That longing to see that place you once left in the same beautiful condition it was the way you remember it will never go away.  You can’t forget something like that, it stays with you forever.  You can’t blame exiles for being passionate about this topic, each one has a story they will never forget, and for many it involves losing a father, son, mother, daughter, cousin to either jail time or firing squad… you don’t forget that, and its very hard to forgive.

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On October 03, 2007, publisher wrote:

Fair enough. Thanks for sharing that with me.

If Embargo supporters were to stop sending ANY money to the island and repeal the wet foot dry foot policy then MAYBE the Embargo would have a better chance of working.

Right now, it has no teeth so the Castros just live with it and use it as an excuse for their failures.

In the mean time you can’t go there and make a difference. Imagine if you and thousands of other Americans could protest. Sure the Cuban government would break it up but that would be an international incident that would get US attention then people would cry out for change.

Since you and I can’t, no one in the US cares enough about change in Cuba so it’s just another day in Cuba.

The idea of the Embargo just doesn’t work and hasn’t worked in over 45 years. It’s not going to work tomorrow.

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On October 03, 2007, Cuban Dan wrote:

You know what you’re right, the embargo hasn’t worked… but at this point what will?  I agree that if we completely cut off all ties and didn’t even send money to our families that it might be a bit more effective, however, what kind of heartless people would we be if we let our families live in horrible poverty all the while knowing we can change that.

I wish Americans would go there and protest, but the unfortunate truth is that Americans in general (not all) seem to be brainwashed by Castro’s propaganda, they find him intriguing and countless Americans wear his right hand man and lead executioner’s (che) face on there T-shirt’s as a symbol of freedom?  How ironic is that?  What Cuba needs is the mainstream media to take a cold hard look at the lies of the regime and depict it for what it really is…. then people will start to pay attention

until then everybody will continue to call us crazy exiles who don’t know what we are talking about

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On October 03, 2007, anders wrote:

cubanpete,

As pleased as my light chauvinist tendencies may be with you calling Sweden mature and evolved I still must deny my beloved homecountry is socialist. Only a handful of oddball swedes so far to the right they border illegality would say that here. We are thoroughly democratic though which americans from time to time confuse with socialism. And we believe in radical social equality and fre medicare.

However, I think I get your point. All the scandinavian countries have clearly proven active governmental action, large state/comunal ownership, high taxation and strong public participation in politics and administration can co-exist with market economy and predominantly privately owned businesses.
Social equality can be maintained even when some make the profits and others only recieve salaries. These difficulties are the prime worry of the cubans.

I believe Cuba needs to head in our direction for simple economic reasons. They started slowly 15 years ago and have increased foreign investments since. There are lots of articles in cuban media on such issues and we can see they are beginning to invest in infrastructure and other economic activities, raising salaries a s f.
When the municipal elections are over in a few weeks I believe there will be elections for the National Assembly some months later. When the political institutions are settled for a new mandate we will see what conclusions they have drawn. I predict things will happen !

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On October 09, 2007, Juan Gonzalez-Piloto wrote:

Rob, why do you keep going on about the trade sanctions imposed by the Eisenhower administration and maintained and toughen by every administration since except for the Carter and ‘initial’ Clinton administrations?  Both Carter and Clinton were rewarded by refugee exoduses when they even started talking about easing the sanctions.  GET THIS NOW AND REMEMBER that the Cuban monarchy DOES NOT want any easing of the sanctions or tensions between the government of the United States.  The US government could tomorrow unilaterally forgive the largest theft of American owned property in the history of this nation and lift all travel and trade restrictions and the monarchy in Cuba would respond with another boatlift,  a “mistakenly-fired” “biological warfare” missile at the US, or a “inadvertent” shootdown or sinking of an American vessel just to keep the sanctions and even to make them tougher.  The monarchy in Cuba uses the sanctions as justification for it’s actions and to maintain power.  The monarchy could not be maintained if the sanctions were lifted.  The US should completely break off ALL trade, travel and business with the monarchy and abolish the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.  That’s would end the monarchy right now.

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On October 10, 2007, publisher wrote:

I agree that the Castro’s do not want the Embargo lifted.

The Embargo is broken.

Either lift the failed Plan A Embargo and let American’s travel there for themselves to discover the failures of communism and maybe they’ll demand changes.

OR

tighten the Embargo meaning ZERO dollars sent from Miami to Cuba and NO wet foot dry foot policy and NO food sales to Cuba.