It is without a doubt one of the most pernicious obstacles to communicating the reality of Cuba that human rights activists face: the devaluing of human life of those who live in Cuba. In my years of advocacy for freedom and liberty in Cuba, I have run across too many people whose view of that country is completely devoid of the human element. To them, Cuba is not an island of 11-million enslaved and oppressed fellow humans, but an island with beautiful beaches, great cigars, and natural beauty. Instead of seeing an island filled with people suffering and in misery, they see a deserted tropical isle populated only by a subhuman species, wild animals who are kept in check by a handful of zoo keepers, if you will.
It is that narrow-minded view that leads organizations such as the Brookings Institution to conclude that Cubans like to be second-class humans, they like to be slaves. After all, it is not like they are real humans.
Brookings Claims Cubans Like Being Second-Class Citizens
We already know that for the Brookings Institution, human rights for the Cuban people are optional.
Now Brookings wants you to believe that Cubans are happy being second-class citizens.
No reasonable observer has been able to argue that Cuba’s “new” foreign investment law is anything but a farce.
Other than a few menial tax breaks for foreign companies, the “new” foreign investment law contains the same provisions as the 1995 version, violates international labor law and reinforces the state’s exclusive control over foreign trade and investment.
In other words, it continues to treat the Cuban people as second-class citizens, with absolutely no rights to own a business, receive foreign investment or even be directly hired by a non-state company. Meanwhile, those few Cubans “obedient” enough to be hired by the regime to work at a foreign company will continue to have the overwhelming majority of their salary kept by the state.
However, according to Brookings‘ Richard Feinberg, this is absolutely fine with Cubans. He writes:
“From my informal conversations in Havana, Cubans on the street seem to accept with enthusiasm the government’s dual message: that the new guidelines will not compromise Cuban sovereignty – a key gain of the 1959 revolution – but will encourage badly needed inflows of foreign capital and technology.“
That’s right — Feinberg claims Cubans told him that they are perfectly fine with the Castro brothers continuing to enrich themselves at their cost.
It’s interesting, for every other observer has written that Cubans were appalled by their continued relegation.
For example, CNN‘s Havana correspondent, Patrick Oppmann, tweeted:
“Hearing from Cubans who are indignant that new law allows exiles who left #Cuba right to invest but not those who stayed.”
Of course, Brookings doesn’t want you to hear that because they have been lobbying to allow its three Cuban-American patrons (Carlos Saladrigas, Paul Cejas and Alfie Fanjul) to invest in Castro’s foreign trade monopolies and play the role of “barbarians at the gate.”
That’ll really win the Cuban people over.
Meanwhile, Cuban blogger Miriam Celaya wrote:
“An informal survey I conducted in recent days in Central Havana after the March 29th extraordinary session of parliament shows rejection of the new Law on Foreign Investment, almost as unanimous as the “approval” that occurred in the plenary: of a total of 50 individuals polled, 49 were critical of the law and only one was indifferent.
In fact, the issue has been present with relative frequency in many cliques not directly surveyed–uncommon in a population usually apathetic about laws — in which the dominant tendency was to criticize various aspects of the law.”
So who are the Cubans that Feinberg is talking to?
The answer is pretty clear.