Gil Cisneros insults Cuban-Americans
Gil Cisneros, head of the Chamber of Americas in an op-ed on the Chambers upcoming cultural mission to Cuba, led by "Cuba Expert" Arturo Lopez-Levy, repeats Havana's cannon insults against Cuban-Americans. Mr. Cisneros wants an end to "The Emotional Embargo Against Cuba" by certain Cuban-American obsolete holdouts from the Cold War that serve no purpose or logic, save as an outlet for the frustration and bitterness of a small and previously potent political interest.
You see, facts be damned, there's no reason for the Embargo other than those intransigents who just won't give up their personal feud with Fidel:
The Chamber of the Americas' upcoming cultural mission to Cuba is generating substantial interest but also some scorn. The outrage comes from the stereotypical suspects – the aging and politically potent but attenuated Cuban-American émigrés engaged in an interminable feud with Fidel Castro that's more psychological than political or practical. The Cuban-American political cachet has diminished – but not their fury.
Engaged in activism that isn't altogether altruistic, their ongoing mission resembles a personal vendetta rather than suffrage or liberation. The most visible (and sensational) example of intransigence erupted in the Elian Gonzalez saga 13 years ago, in a made-for-television drama with characters and scenes spilling into prime time. It spotlighted the enduring and erupting tension between Havana and Little Havana.
As a 37-year old American of Cuban descent, what I find the most troubling about your column is the lack of any facts to substantiate your thesis. Instead, you spend all of your energy insulting and disparaging the Cuban-American community. Perhaps this is a direct consequence of your organization outsourcing its entire Cuba policy to an obtuse graduate student and "former" Castro regime official.
Here are some facts you may want to consider regarding "trade with Cuba":
-- According to the Castro regime's Constitution, the Cuban people are prohibited from engaging in foreign trade. Foreign investors in Cuba are prohibited from doing business with private citizens. Investors can only do business through minority joint ventures with the Castro regime.
-- In 2000, there were 400 foreign companies operating in Cuba through minority joint ventures with the Castro regime, which is sadly the only permissible legal vehicle for foreign companies to invest in Cuba. Today, there are only 190 left.
-- According to Reuters, "The Communist-run nation failed to make some debt payments on schedule beginning in 2008, then froze up to $1 billion in the accounts of foreign suppliers by the start of 2009."
-- Moreover, during this time, the CEOs of various foreign companies with extensive business dealings with the Cuban government have been arrested. Some of these are still sitting in jail -- years later -- without charges. (One of them wrote a letter published in The Economist yesterday, see here).
-- According to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual guide published by The Wall Street Journal: Cuba ranks 176th out of 177 countries, one notch ahead of North Korea, the worst. Cuba is the least-free economy in the Western Hemisphere and internationally, it ranks worse than some pretty unattractive investment environments, including Iran, Syria and Zimbabwe.
If you would like more facts regarding Cuba and Cuba policy, please take some time to read this recent presentation to the Puerto Rican Manufacturers Association.
Your upcoming trip might represent a short-term fundraising benefit for your organization, but it lacks long-term vision. U.S. policy toward Cuba -- as codified in law -- will not change until the Cuban people are free to exercise the fundamental rights that you and the rest of the citizens of the Western Hemisphere enjoy.
Moreover, our organization, and its supporters, which include former Cabinet members, Fortune 100 executives and successful entrepreneurs will continue to stand steadfastly for the principles of democracy, the free market and the rule of law. That is the American way.
If you ever choose to have a civilized, factual debate regarding Cuba and U.S. policy, please let us know. Unlike you, we promise not to engage in any personal attacks or insults.