US-Cuba Rapprochement

I write in anger. America smells blood, or rather New Investment, corporate swallowing of the total economy, a market for dumping surplus production, all with the added advantage—at the heart of its hatred for Cuba—of destroying an Alternative mode of society, culture, values, production, which, if allowed to exist, represents a moral-political-economic refutation of US global aggression, widening class differences of wealth and power, an ethos of self-indulgence and selfish individualism, all wrapped in stifling righteousness. The python is America, deadly in its embrace—its proto-fascistic groundswell in Miami, its Congress largely the whores of the business-financial system, its president, seemingly in quest of peace when simultaneously straining toward the return to unilateral global hegemony by whatever means, from drone assassination to regime change to massive military spending to brinkmanship in a political-ideological confrontation with Russia and China.

To Cubans I ask, do you want this mammoth python slithering through your house? For more than a half-century we have seen Captive-Nations propaganda applied to Cuba, people starving, people in chains—what utter falsehood! Deprivation, yes, thanks to US strangulation—yet not enough to cripple the medical system, and more basic, not enough to destroy the spirit of a free people. My own visit a decade ago—no minders present—showed remarkable strides in education and quality-of-life issues I value: simple honesty, pleasure in family and nature, spirited argumentation, quiet chess-playing in the park. Cuba was everything America was not, hence the hatred on the US’s part. For Cuba to be allowed to live was like a subconscious explosive under the skin for Americans with our crazed materialism, our braggadocio, our deep-lying fear of difference. Cuban multiracialism alone undercuts America’s vested interest in translating race into a power-relationship. The 1950s cars, still running fine thank you, a reminder of the silly covetousness in feeling naked (alas conspicuous consumption) without the latest model changes. The Cuba I saw stood for harmony, not frenetic movement in besting one another. So, what does the rapprochement come down to? I fear the shattering of a nation’s identity.


But hopefully Cuba is too internally strong to become another American colony. Extensive Spanish capital in developing Veradero Beach has not resulted in spoliation, but Spain is not the US in wanting the merciless grab of natural resources. Venezuela’s barter-framework with Cuba, Cuba providing medical education in training doctors for that country, the other supplying needed oil and other products in exchange, is also non-exploitative. The US is different. You can’t kill in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at the same time bestow kisses on Cuba. Soon if not already, the test of Cuba’s deserving America’s friendship will be acceptance of IMF and World Bank intrusions in its economy and society, else—the Rubio, Cruz, Bush, Menendez brigade (for we must be bipartisan)—let the dirty commies rot, and even then, let them rot. Not that much has changed; the embargo remains. Tourists are not included in removing travel restrictions. The propaganda offensive has not abated. Oh those vile Castro brothers!

Essentially, like Vietnam, the US has lost the battle. When Obama speaks of “an outdated approach that for decades has FAILED TO ADVANCE OUR INTERESTS” (my caps.), he is not criticizing the approach, e.g., the Bay of Pigs invasion of another country, continuous CIA schemes toward assassination and regime change, using Cuba as the poster-child for keeping up a rigid anticommunism particularly pernicious in US dealings in Latin America, but also handy with respect to Russia, China, and North Korea, but only that it did not work. As with every major policy decision, the US is not in the business of good Samaritan but, for once the unalloyed truth, he avows the advancement of American interests. Even the Chamber of Commerce is on board, not noted for selfless humanitarianism. The snakes will descend on the Island as though carried by a Plague. Meanwhile, Miami Cubans will do more than grouse—a volatile core of aggressors right up there with Ukraine’s Right Sector—a lumpen force ready in waiting to take over.

The New York Times editorial, “Mr. Obama’s Historic Move on Cuba,” (Dec. 18), perfectly illustrates the inner core of animus and destruction at the heart of so-called enlightenment. With friends like the US and The Times, the Cuban people hardly need enemies. The Times praises Obama’s “bold move [Dec. 17] that ends one of the most misguided chapters in American foreign policy.” Why misguided, save for losing out? The editorial lists a number of steps toward normalization (e.g., removing Cuba from “the State Department’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism”), which it claims “is a change in direction that has been strongly supported by this page.” Emphatically, not—see my NYT Comment below. In its magnanimity, the administration “is ushering in a transformational era for millions of Cubans who have suffered as a result of more than 50 years of hostility between the two nations.” I pause here to explain, it is not The Times that is important, but its typicality of authoritative subtle reasoning to damn the Cuban government and exonerate the American, for a half-century of unnecessary and cruel deprivation of the people—the millions who have suffered, no indication as to blame and accountability for this. No embargo, no blockade, no invasion, no attempt at international ostracism, nothing but the 50 years of hostility presumably to be laid at Fidel Castro’s feet. Obama “has courageously gone as far as he can,” in light of Helms-Burton’s 1996 sanctions regime—more punishing than that applied to Iran, at least until his latest tightening (mine).

Still, NYT persists in its indictment, even in the context of praising Raul Castro for beginning in 2008 “a process of economic reforms,” when it declares that “Cuba remains a repressive police state with a failed economy.” I beg to disagree on both counts, however severe the hardships faced by the people due to economic sanctions, because the first charge, “a repressive police state,” mouthed ad nauseam in American political and media circles, in addition to finding more suitable application among America’s “friends and allies,” is contradicted by the responsiveness of social and political institutions to the people’s needs. I saw police in khaki, unarmed, integrated as part of the community. I saw clinics in operation. I saw no begging, social tension, fear. The editorial doesn’t miss a dig. Raul also “lifted travel restrictions the government cruelly imposed on its citizens.” (As the shamus at the synagogue told me, visas were freely given to anyone wishing to go to Israel.)

Let’s get down to brass tacks. What do Obama, The Times, influential segments of the American business community like about rapprochement? Contrast what Raul Castro is saying, “’We must learn the art of coexisting with our differences in a civilized manner,’” with the editorial’s positive gushing in moving in for the kill: “The changes the Obama administration announced have the potential to empower Cuba’s growing entrepreneurial class by permitting commercial and financial transactions with the United States. The White House also intends to make it easier for American technology companies to upgrade the island’s primitive Internet systems, a step that could go a long way toward strengthening civil society.” Liberation, here we come. And for greater effectiveness in making over Cuba, the US will now have greater success “because other governments in the Western Hemisphere will no longer be able to treat Cuba as a victim of the United States’ pointlessly harsh policy.” At least the last point, unless drolly put, was allowed to slip out.

My New York Times Comment on the editorial, same date, follows:

The Times has a short editorial memory. Its correspondent at the time of the Revolution, Ruby Phillips, wrote from her luxury hotel room the most scurrilous attacks on Fidel Castro and praised the real dictator Batista. This bias persisted over decades. Now in this editorial more gratuitous slurs about dictatorship, repression etc. Pour venom on a people the US used every trick to destroy (invasion, embargo, blockade, sanctions).

No, Cubans do not live in oppression. Their medical system and medical education are superb. My visit to a synagogue was most instructive, to a country school, likewise. You demonize Fidel just as you demonize Putin, as though the Left (which may not even apply to Russia) is the work of the Devil.

And now? Obama has done what he always does: open the country to financial-commercial imperialism, send in the NGOs to destroy the political fabric of society, NYT chanting “liberalization” in the background. Hosannas to capitalism. Find a new Batista and shove him down the throats of the Cuban people.

I wish Cuba would reject US offers of “friendship” for what they are, the push, as with Latin American policy in general, to economic penetration and subjugation. Alternatives to the American Way are deemed INTOLERABLE. We destroyed Chile’s democracy, the same CIA so skilled in torture. We installed the Generals in Brazil. We despised Hugo and sought to undermine his leadership.
NYT never learns. Oppression of others is too sweet.

Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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