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an Open Letter to Bush on Cuba
CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.
Dear President Bush,
A lot of people on the right have expressed support for your tough policy on Cuba. Liberals and leftists, on the other hand, have opposed it. This might lead you to think that perhaps every person who sympathizes with the government headed by Fidel Castro rejects your policy. Well, that is incorrect. In fact, I think I speak for many in Cuba, the United States and throughout Latin America. We support and like the policy of having a Cuban embargo (as you call it, for us is called a blockade).
Now, you might think that I am trying to confuse you and that I am engaged in doubletalk. That’s not the case. However, I have decided to write this letter for the historical record; so it would show that some of us know on what side we are on while your side does not.
Let me reiterate:
The policy on Cuba of not having normal relations should be kept. The archconservative exiles who have advised you on Cuba have done the revolutionary cause a great service.
We know that the objective of your policy, and of every past US administration, is to overthrow the Cuban government and to impose on the island what you think is best for U.S. interests.
But after more than 41 years of blockade the Cuban revolutionary regime is still there.
There might be all kinds of reasons for that outcome, but since US policy is so overwhelmingly influential on such little island–it must be contributing in some fashion to keeping the system in place.
I am not sure whether you ever learned about un-intended consequences; but let me tell you that US opposition to the Cuban revolution is a wonderful political capital that radical revolutionaries can constantly exploit and do so. In fact such political capital does not go away, moreover those of you in Washington DC are always providing more of it; which is great. You have given the Cuban revolution a political tool–that is, the need to defend self-determination and anti-imperialism–allowing the Cubans to do a lot of “consciousness raising.”
Nationalism is a wonderful tool to unite people against a foreign threat, and you continue to provide the foreign threat. You should know that, you are experiencing and benefiting from it. It will be naive of you to think that such policy works only in the US and not in Cuba. The permanent threat from your side, brings unity into the ranks of the revolutionaries while convincing Cuban citizens not to be too critical of things on the island. Well you and your Attorney General know THAT! It is easy to shut people up on the grounds of battling imperialism just 90 miles away. The short distance between our two countries has worked for revolutionaries and not for you, and the Cubans are really thankful–so I have decided to let you know.
Your own propagandists tell the U.S. public that the Cuban government can get every item the island needs from Mexico, Canada or any other country and that consequently the embargo only denies Cubans American products. That is true. The economic blockade does not stop Cuba from buying things anywhere. And the Cuban government is certainly glad that although you realize that you continue the policy of denying Cuba access to your products. It is silly and every revolutionary loves it when you persist.
Granted, goods and transportation increase prices for Cuba, but it is a good trade off.
The Cuban government will stress to the world that Cubans want to buy things from you (in that way Cubans are the victims and also the “good guys.).
Moreover, it shows you as having a policy that is totally inconsistent–you preach free trade and then embargo Cuba. Inconsistency is a wonderful policy, keep it up.
Cubans certainly use such contradiction in your policies all the time–at every international conference, when people visit the islands, and they don’t fail to tell our own people about it. Your policy of denying Cuba economic access and trade, wins the revolutionary regime a lot of friends. Also, it permits the Cuban government to blame you for any economic mishap there. You know that as well, and even say it to the world; but you keep steadfast to the policy. That is very considerate and it is appreciated, even if it is not stated openly.
Now your demands that Cuba should have the kind of political system that you want, and that elections be supervised, etc, is also something that you should continue to repeat.
First, it allows Cubans to stress that you want to boss the people there, as it was done before 1959. In fact every time anyone in DC makes such a statement, the media in Cuba broadcast it over all radio and television stations. Radio Marti also helps spread the word that you, an outsider, wants to control the Cubans. You think you are fostering your political interests when in fact you prove and ratify the arguments used by the revolutionaries there.
It is rather moving when you declare to the world, and openly, that you will finance an opposition within Cuba. Not even those in Cuba who identify with the US want you to do that.
When in the past you sent money to the opposition and did so covertly it was a bit more difficult for the Cuban government to point a finger at you; now, you do it overtly. Please continue that policy. It makes it easier to undermine Cuba’s adversaries; besides, indirectly, the Cuban government ends up with the money too.
I certainly like the restrictions you have imposed on travel to Cuba. You cannot help it, you continue thinking like a capitalist and believe that the Cubans are only driven by the desire to have profits; so you conclude that Fidel et al want zillions of Americans landing on the island. No way! That would be a terrible headache, too difficult to manage. It is better if thousands rather than millions went to Cuba, that way they do not have to deal with so many unruly Americans who would create havoc in that society. Besides the Cuban government does not want to be accused of curtailing the number of people who could enter Cuba; it is better if you do that for them. Thus, the Cubans can be portrayed as defenders of the freedom to travel. Heck, they have become defenders of the U.S. Constitution!.
Finally, it is certainly a wonderful idea the open arms policy–giving any Cuban the opportunity to leave the island and stay in the US. Providing preferential treatment and entry to the Cubans upsets everyone else in the world, in Cuba they like that. Moreover, it gets rid of potential domestic opponents.
Think of it, you try to provide economic and political pressure and then you also proffer a escape valve.
At times all over the island people wonder if you are really trying to help Fidel. It looks that way.
Again, let me remind you. Your policy has not achieved your objectives, but it has been rather helpful in keeping the Cuban revolutionary government in power. Thus, if it does not work, do not fix it!
And thank you for assisting the revolutionary cause.
Nelson Vald?s is a professor of sociology specializing in Latin America at the University of New Mexico. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org