In a brazen move to solidify his electoral support among Cuban-Americans in Florida, George W. Bush is gunning for another “regime change.” Last week, Bush announced the formation of a commission to “plan” for a Cuban change in government.
No country has the right to change the regime of another. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty ratified by the United States and thus part of the supreme law of the land under our Constitution, recognizes self-determination as a human right and guarantees all peoples the right to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
One need only look at the mess Bush has created in Iraq to understand the wisdom of this principle. Iraq is completely destabilized, the infrastructure has been demolished, thousands are without work, water, electricity and medical care. Many say they were better off under the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein. That choice was up to the Iraqis, not the United States.
What if Sweden decided that the United States needed a regime change, because of the high number of people living below the poverty level, without jobs or health care, the police brutality on our streets and in our prisons, the execution of innocent people, and the indefinite detention and inhumane treatment of 600 people in Guantanamo for nearly two years? Would Sweden have the right to impose “regime change” on the United States?
Since Fidel Castro’s socialist revolution in 1959, every U.S. President from Dwight D. Eisenhower through George W. Bush has maintained a cruel economic embargo–now a blockade–against Cuba. The embargo began as a means to foment unrest among Cubans in the hopes they would overthrow the Castro government. More recently, it has been maintained as a vehicle to pander to the anti-Castro Cuban-Americans in Florida who wield tremendous political clout in the U.S. electoral system.
The Association for World Health found that the embargo had “caused a significant rise in suffering–and even deaths in Cuba.” The Cuban people are denied access to half the new medicines on the world market, and are unable to buy some life-saving medical supplies because the U.S. punishes countries which trade with Cuba. Fatal heart attacks have increased because the U.S. pacemaker monopoly refuses to sell to Cuba.
In spite of the punishing blockade against it, Cuba has the highest literacy rate in the Americas and one of the highest in the world. The life expectancy in Cuba is the longest in Latin America and one of the longest in the world. Cuba’s universal health care system puts ours to shame.
To further its political agenda, our government is in denial about the advances Cuba has made in rates of literacy, health care, and low infant mortality.
Cuba is not a threat to the United States. Yet, Bush is opportunistically setting the stage for a regime change in Cuba. The people of Cuba have the right to determine their own system of government, free from the “plans” of George W. Bush.
MARJORIE COHN, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, is executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org