Around this time in 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell took it on the chin for opining, “Castro has done some good things for his people.” Last month Powell spoke about the Castro regime much more honestly, stating that the recent crackdown, sham trials and summary executions “should be an outrage to every leader in […]

Let’s Be Honest About Cuba

by | May 6, 2003 | Cuba & Castro, POLITICS

Around this time in 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell took it on the chin for opining, “Castro has done some good things for his people.”

Last month Powell spoke about the Castro regime much more honestly, stating that the recent crackdown, sham trials and summary executions “should be an outrage to every leader in this hemisphere, every leader in this world.”

And it was, although the target of said outrage has only occasionally been Cuba. So at whom is the world outraged? Why, the United States, of course.

A recent Reuters headline on Castro’s crackdown tells you everything you need to know: Rising Dissent, US Pressure Led to Cuba Repression.

For more than 40 years, through all the talk about boatlifts, embargos and, occasionally, economics and freedom, one thing has remained constant: Any discussion about Cuba can be exploited and turned against the United States.

One sees a similar manipulation in news coverage of the U.S.’s handling of post-Hussein Iraq. Were one to go only by The New York Times–and countless intelligent persons do–one would believe that Iraq is in total chaos today not because of Saddam Hussein’s three decades of brutality and irresponsibility, but because of the U.S. military’s liberation of the Iraqi people.

You see, it’s not Saddam Hussein’s fault that the Iraqis are facing hunger and poverty; Saddam only ran the place. The fault lies with U.S. foreign policy, which has enabled CNN to broadcast such stories without either the hungry Iraqi interviewee or the CNN interviewer being tortured, as was done in the past.

Returning to Cuba, the Reuters article does provide some interesting information about the reaction of Castro’s stalwart apologists:

The executions shocked European governments that have tried for years to coax Cuba toward democratic change with a policy of engagement through trade, investment and aid. The crackdown was “a terrible slap in the face” for the European Union, which had opened an embassy in Havana just three days before the arrests began, a European diplomat said. In other words, the Europeans are appalled that a communist dictator would behave like a communist dictator.

Perhaps honesty of action on Castro’s part will lead Europe and the rest of the world to honest discussion regarding U.S. policy toward Cuba. Perhaps they will realize that isolation and the embargo have done no worse than any other country’s approach.

I won’t hold my breath.

Along with the same old pack of lies and willful misunderstandings that have always accompanied debate on Cuba, there has emerged a new set that, while shifting blame for Castro’s misdeeds directly to the U.S., reveals a more disturbing trend in discussions about Cuba.

Before examining that, however, let’s retire one particularly tired and self-contradictory “argument” against U.S. policy toward Cuba: The embargo is a convenient “excuse” for the Castro regime’s failures.

At the minimal risk that a generalization like this creates, nobody who believes in (or at the very least understands) capitalism still holds that Cuba is an economic sinkhole because of U.S. foreign policy. As such, it is foolish to claim that the embargo is an “excuse” for the Castro regime’s economic failure. This argument shifts blame to the Cuban people, for their implied stupidity. No

Raul Damas is director of operations at Opiniones Latinas, a Hispanic-focused polling firm.

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