Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Fixing U.S. Intervention Capabilities in Cuba


What people think seemingly has little effect on ending what Cubans say is the longest and cruelest economic blockade in human history.  Polls show overall U.S. disapproval, Cuban-Americans included. The UN General Assembly has repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected the blockade. The prestigious Atlantic Council NGO recently disapproved. Former high-profile blockade defenders in Florida, notably gubernatorial candidate Charley Crist and Cuban-American sugar baron Alfonso Fajul, changed their thinking.  U.S. food producers, Illinois corn producers most recently, have called for new regulatory arrangements allowing exports to expand.

Even President Obama, fundraising in Miami in November 2013, lectured Cuba’s enemies. “[T]he notion that the same policies that we put in place in 1961 would somehow still be as effective as they are today …  doesn’t make sense.”   Yet those in charge don’t budge.

Nevertheless, Josefina Vidal, head of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s U.S. department, was in Washington on May 16 to discuss unspecified topics with Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. AFP news noted that previous bi-national contacts, technically oriented, “are not comparable to Vidal’s visit to Washington, which constitutes high-level diplomatic dialogue.”

Then a real breakthrough seemed to materialize. According to a report, “44 former high U.S. government officials on May 19 … sent an open letter to President Barack Obama asking for an improvement in Washington’s relations with Cuba.” They included John Negroponte, former Director of National Intelligence, Deputy Secretary of State, and veteran ambassador, including at the United Nations.

Joining him were five former deputy or assistant secretaries of state, two former heads of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, a former NATO supreme commander who once headed the U.S. Southern Command, an ex – U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, three former cabinet members, several former ambassadors, and David Rockefeller. Financiers, businesspersons, and NGO heads signed on.

In fact, the letter conveyed interventionist recommendations as to new ways to make the blockade effective. “Now more than ever,” it claimed, “the United States can help the Cuban people determine their own destiny by building on the U.S. policy reforms that have already been started” by the Obama administration. The United States should “deepen contacts between the U.S. and Cuban society [and] help Cubans increase their self-reliance and independence.” “[T]his window of opportunity may not remain open indefinitely,” the letter cautioned. Now “public opinion on Cuba policy has shifted toward greater engagement with the Cuban people.” And, “the U.S. is finding itself increasingly isolated internationally in its Cuba policy.”

Rather than engage with Cubans through ending the blockade, or bow to international opinion, the signatories remain faithful to old U.S. purposes. They urged the President to take executive actions, because “In the current political climate little can be done legislatively.” The 1996 Helms Burton Law did leave the fate of the blockade up to Congress.

The President is urged to “Expand and safeguard travel to Cuba for all Americans,“ specifically “licensed travel to include exchanges by professional organizations including those specializing in law, real estate and land titling, [also] financial services and credit.” “NGOs and academic institutions” having gained “expanded travel” could “open Cuban bank accounts with funds to support their educational programs in Cuba.” Travel suggestions are lacking for other Americans.

Obama should, “Allow unlimited remittances to non-family members for the purpose of supporting independent activity in Cuba,” also grant “new licenses for the provision of professional services to independent Cuban entrepreneurs.”

The long list of recommendations includes: U.S. loans “directly to small farmers, cooperatives, self-employed individuals, and micro-enterprises in Cuba,” sales of “telecommunications hardware,” and scholarships for “exceptional Cuban students.”

The President should authorize “the import and export of certain goods and services between the U.S. private sector and independent Cuban entrepreneurs.”  Presidential discretion would be used for implementing this far-reaching proposal which presumably would exempt it from congressional authority.

Miami-area Congressperson Joe Garcia, former head of the counter-revolutionary Cuban American National Foundation, commented. “The president’s policy of allowing more travel and remittances to Cuba,” he said, “has produced more change in Cuba in the last five years than the previous 50 years.“  He thus articulated the establishment notion evident in this letter that a dependent Cuban people aren’t capable of shaping their own destiny, and shouldn’t have tried.

Former high officials of the national government fashioned the letter. They were reacting, one assumes, to the threat of a near-by social revolution, one reverberating through the centers of U.S. power for half a century. The list of names below the letter documents where parties primarily responsible for U.S. counter-revolutionary policies may be found. That would be in and around Washington, not in southern Florida where Cuban exiles, who supplied the proxy warriors, often take most of the heat for the blockade’s long duration.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.  





W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future