It does not take much effort to demonstrate what a complete and utter failure President Obama’s policy of allowing Americans to vacation in Cuba to engage in “people-to-people” contacts has been. One only needs to look at the record-setting repression that took place this past year in Cuba where dissidents were violently beaten on an almost daily basis, some were assassinated, and approximately 7,000 politically motivated arrests took place. All of this while the White House’s supposed democracy promoting policy was in full swing and hundreds of thousands of Americans vacationed in Cuba.
One of the primary reasons this policy does not and never will work is because the Castro dictatorship controls every aspect of these “people-to-people” adventures to the island, which in effect turns them into “people-to-dictatorship” contacts. In other words, American tourists “exploring” Cuba are under the constant watchful eye of the Cuban regime and are only allowed to engage in activities created, planned, and managed by the dictatorship.
Indisputable facts such as these, however, do not faze the promoters of the president’s failed policy. They continue to use the euphemism “people-to-people” contacts because they are not going to incriminate themselves by calling it by its real name.
Enter “community engagement specialist” for Alabama’s AL.com, Joey Kennedy. Kennedy is a true believer, if you will, of Obama’s Cuba policy who is quite proud of his work in Cuba and is about to embark on another “humanitarian” mission to the island. Like his previous journeys to Cuba, Kennedy will be led by the nose by officials of the Castro dictatorship to meet and speak with Cubans hand picked by the Cuban government.
It has been during these meetings and conversations that Kennedy has made the following observation in an article he has written before leaving on his trip:
As far as the “socialism thing,” not so bad in some ways. Cuba has very good medicine and education. The country exports doctors. The literacy rate is much higher than in Alabama — close to 100 percent. Life expectancy is a little longer in Cuba than in the U.S.
Despite the constant propaganda to the contrary, the reality of Cuba’s miserable and third-world health care system with its lack of doctors (Cuba exports them for hard currency), lack of medicine, and deplorably unsanitary conditions is not only well known but easily verified (see The Real Cuba). But that is what the Castro dictatorship officials have told Kennedy, complete with health and education statistics manufactured by their propaganda machine. And as far as Kennedy is concerned, that is the god-honest truth. Of course, if Kennedy actually had “people-to-people” contacts in Cuba instead of contacts with the dictatorship he would learn the truth about the island’s health care and education system.
But Kennedy did not stop at health care and education while parroting the Castro regime’s talking points, he also took the obligatory dive into the embargo issue:
Many of the economic problems can be blamed on Cuba’s high-control, little-incentive economic system; but a lot of the problems can be blamed on the failed U.S. economic embargo. Petty politics, not any real national security issue or threat, keeps Cuba on the U.S. embargo list. Where human rights are concerned, China is more extreme in many ways, yet our government adores China. And the Chinese adore Cuba, too. Because of our stubborn absence, the Chinese have filled the vacuum in Cuba with appliances, vehicles, technology, oil exploration, machinery and other hard goods.
In one short paragraph Kennedy puts much of the blame for the poverty in Cuba on U.S. economic sanctions against the island’s dictatorship and then says China has filled the void of U.S. business with appliances, cars, goods, etc. But wait, if China has taken the place of the U.S. flooding the island’s economy with goods and technology, why are the Cuban people still poor? The contradiction is stark and typical of these arguments.
Unfortunately for Kennedy, he decided to double down on his contradiction:
Many U.S. states trade with Cuba — or, at least, sell products there — including Alabama. According to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, in 2012, Alabama accounted for approximately 60 percent of the $1 billion in U.S. exports to Cuba. About one-fifth of all U.S. poultry exports go to Cuba, most of which comes from Alabama poultry producers. A lot of timber products go from Alabama to Cuba. It’s big business, and it could be a lot bigger without the embargo.
Okay, so let me get this straight: In addition to China investing billions in Cuba, the U.S. exports $1 billion worth of goods to Cuba, including one-fifth of all our poultry production, but U.S. sanctions are a main culprit for Cuba’s dismal economy and the poverty suffered by the Cuban people.
Right… that makes sense.
Kennedy’s contradictions come to a conclusion with the following statement:
Our policies toward Cuba punish only ordinary, hardworking Cubans who struggle to feed their children and themselves and obtain needed medicines. And clearly our policies haven’t forced a government change in Cuba, just as they haven’t in communist China or Vietnam.
Here is where Kennedy comes the closest to the reality of life in Castro’s Cuba: The only people being punished in Cuba are Cubans struggling to feed themselves and their children and who are in desperate need of medicine. But with the billion dollars in annual imports from the U.S. and the billions more from other countries such as China, Kennedy fails to connect the obvious dots and come to the realization that the only embargo hurting the Cuban people is the one imposed upon them by the Castro dictatorship.
It is nearly impossible to determine the true motivations behind Kennedy’s statements based solely on his grossly inaccurate assessments of Cuba policy and the situation on the island. It only provides two choices: He is either willfully ignorant or has more nefarious motivations.