Let the Cuban regime change first
Posted on Saturday, 02.15.14
Let the Cuban regime change first
BY HELEN AGUIRRE FERRÉ
I do not have any radical friends, although I do have friends with
radically different ideas as to how to deal with Cuba. Much of the
debate focuses on the embargo and how it affects making positive change
in the communist country.
A new push-poll by the Atlantic Council of the Adrienne Arsht Latin
America Center shows that 56 percent of Americans nationwide, and 63
percent in Florida, agree with “normalizing relations or engaging
directly” with the Cuban government. Yet when the question referenced
Castro’s human-rights abuses, the support for increased engagement fell
dramatically, particularly in Florida, to 43 percent.
Our relationship with Cuba is complex and constantly tested. Nearly all
running for political office must define their position on the embargo,
and the ones who win are usually the ones who say they support the
embargo. At the same time, people-to-people diplomacy continues to grow.
Can more be done to bring change to a country where the Castro family
has controlled virtually all daily life since 1959?
There is no easy answer.
Since its inception, the Castro revolution has been ruthless and bloody.
From the beginning, political detentions and murder were
institutionalized. Thousands of opposition leaders, young and old, were
held without trial and summarily executed at the infamous paredón.
Families were divided when the government ordered young girls and boys
to leave their homes and work in the fields; freedom of speech, press
and worship was revoked, and then came the tragedy of the Bay of Pigs,
followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis during the height of the Cold War,
which helped cement the Castro regime.
Everyone had to surrender to the revolution or face imprisonment, death
or, if lucky, expulsion. Foreigners faced the same as all properties and
corporations were surreptitiously confiscated. The romantic rebel, as
The New York Times depicted Fidel at the time, was a myth, and he was
The Castro brothers changed their tactics with dissenters, harassing and
torturing them, but not executing as before. Those who wanted to leave
were allowed, especially the younger members of the middle class who
could someday become a real political threat to Castro from within. Back
then, they were in their 20s. Today they are the ones who mostly
populate what is known as the traditional exile community, the ones who
remember life in Cuba before 1959. To this day, this group is feared and
loathed by Castro’s mafia, and many support the embargo.
Enacted in February 1962, the embargo was a response to Cuba’s illegal
confiscations of U.S. businesses and properties without compensation and
Castro’s conversion of Cuba into a military base for the Soviets, edging
the world closer to a nuclear war.
For decades Fidel has threatened U.S. national security, destabilizing
governments in Latin America and fighting wars in Africa. It is still
categorized as a sponsor of state terrorism because it actively supports
terrorists. Although many in the United States might not take Cuba’s
government seriously, Fidel Castro does take the United States
seriously, cultivating spies, including Ana Belen Montes, a former
senior analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency. Intelligence experts
believe her to be one of the most damaging spies in recent history.
Has Cuban policy changed enough for the United States to reconsider
drawing the Cuban government closer? We could ask American contractor
Alan Gross, who is being held hostage because the United States will not
trade convicted Cuban spies for him or the Damas de Blanco, who are
badgered and beaten as they practice civil disobedience on the way to
church. This is, after all, the same Cuban leadership that ordered the
shootdown of unarmed civilian planes in 1996 in international water,
murdering three Americans and one legal resident. It is impossible to
respect a government that does not respect its own people, let alone
unarmed civilians. That does not mean that we ignore the Cuban people —
on this we all agree.
There are real and meaningful programs that are going on today that help
the people on the island without directly enriching the dictatorship.
Prematurely lifting the embargo, however, will enrich the Cuban
government with much needed revenue and access to international credits
that will benefit the economy that is run by the military. The Cuban
government has always been in control of the relationship with the
United States. But before anything else can change, the regime must
first change its relationship with its own people. It is the right thing
Source: Let the Cuban regime change first – Other Views –