BlogCuba – Zombyboy

The most excellent zombyboy of resurrectionsong gives us this most excellent entry for BlogCuba. Look out Fidel, look out Dixie Chicks, zomby’s here and he ain’t partial to your tune:

Turning Our Eyes to Cuba

For most Americans, Cuba is an afterthought.

Unless it’s in reference to Ricky Ricardo, Cuban cigars, presidential elections, or an occasionally interesting refugee story, Cuba is our unnoticed neighbor. After these decades of our embargo, and after the collapse of communism through most of the developed world, Cuba remainsstubbornly under the heel of a dictator still committed to faith in afailed political philosophy. Our policies have yet to bring about thepolitical changes that we might have hoped for, but the continuation ofsocialist policies have utterly failed Cuba’s citizens. While America
prospers, Cuba slowly fails.

Our embargo has always been a porous one. For those Americans intent on visiting Cuba, a quick stop in Mexico and a short flight will bring them to a country that welcomes their money. Customs agents will even be kind enough to not stamp passports to maintain the polite illusion of the travel ban. Since other nations refuse to recognize the embargo, Cuban trade, as such exists, still flows through other Central and South American nations.

So, for Americans, Cuba is a merely what we learn from former-President Carter’s visit or from a fawning Hollywood star who proclaims Castro to be the kindest or most intelligent or most empathic leader.

For those Cubans who yearn for freedom, though, there is only the seemingly unending struggle for what Americans hold dear. It’s common to the point of being a clich? to hear how Americans don’t even realize the value of the freedoms that we have-common, but simply true.

While the Dixie Chicks act the part of martyrs, and decry how they’ve been silenced and pilloried by everyone from country music fans to the current presidential administration, they still sell hundreds of thousands of albums and sell out stadiums and concert halls around the world. All the time, they still speak their mind, still grace the covers of magazines, still release comments to the press about their amazing disagreements with the administration, and still enjoy unlimited movement and freedom through their own nation. For a group so terribly put upon, their lives sound remarkably good.

Ask a Cuban dissident, still living in the land of their birth, how they feel about the poorly treated Dixie Chicks, and I’d imagine the response would not be one of sympathy but of indignant confusion. Where dissidents-poets, writers, musicians, and anyone else who disagrees with the official government policies-are labeled US insurgents and jailed as political prisoners, the freedom to publicly speak in dissent is unknown.

In fact, the official Cuban party line seems to be that there are no dissidents in Cuba. Apparently, the entire nation is utterly happy with the policies that have been forced on them and the weak economy that has enslaved all but those at the very top of the political food chain. Of course, this line of thought isn’t supported by independent, third party verification.

In Tracey Eaton’s July 4, 2003 article in The Dallas Morning News, the real situation is described a little differently.

Cuban officials reject claims that there are prisoners of conscience on
the island. They say dissidents are actually U.S.-paid “mercenaries” who
are trying to help Washington topple the socialist government.

The opposition members were convicted of conspiring to undermine the
socialist government and other charges. They were sentenced to prison
terms ranging from six to 28 years.

Amnesty International studied more than two-thirds of the cases and
concluded that the accused were merely trying to exercise such basic
rights as freedom of expression.

“The evidence in itself is not indicative of any obvious criminal activity
and cannot justify the authorities’ repressive reaction,” the group said
in a 91-page report in June.

While Hollywood liberals and certain national-level politicians like to describe the wonders of Cuba-focusing on how the people are all taken care of by the socialist health care system and education system, for example-those Cubans who are being oppressed are left mostly ignored by mass media outlets. While an amazing amount of time has been spent talking about the American-held prisoners at Guantanamo, very little ink has been spared the political prisoners being held at places like Cuba’s “Happy Camp.”

A Cuban political prisoner can expect to be held in a tiny room with no running water. There is likely little or no health care. There is barely food enough for subsistence-described in the same article as being “soy meal, roasted corn meal and sugar water, and a white paste made from wheat flour and “other, unrecognizable substances.”

And while America continues to treat Cuba as if it were the international equivalent of that slightly embarrassing, quirky uncle who espouses weird political theories at all the family dinners, the fa?ade of a harmless little socialist paradise is beginning to crumble. Theresa Bond’s essay in the September 2003Ocotober 2003 essay in Foreign Affairs, shows that even those traditional areas of Castro’s traditional PR strength are showing signs of weakening.

Cuba’s disastrous economic situation has grown so dire, in fact, that
merely acquiring enough food to eat has become a full-time preoccupation.
The creeping dollarization of consumer goods has made survival on a salary
paid in local currency mathematically impossible; American dollars were
made legal in 1993 and today are simply indispensable. As for the regime’s
traditional counterargument — that health and education are still free
and excellent — it no longer carries much weight. Hospitals are decrepit,
basic medicines are unavailable (except in foreigners-only pharmacies),
schools indoctrinate instead of teaching, and, as Cubans say, “One is not
always either sick or learning.” In Havana, using public transportation is
a time-consuming ordeal, public phones work sporadically, and water and
power fail on a daily basis. Outside the capital, the situation is even
worse. Of course tourists, whisked around the country in air-conditioned
buses on mojitosalsa-cigar holidays, remain immune from (and oblivious to)
the privations.

As Americans, it is time to recognize that Cuba is slowly arriving to a point where it will likely be unable to sustain itself. This is not the time to lift an embargo-it’s a time to continue to find ways to tighten the embargo and to look for ways to educate and reach out to Cuban citizens. Castro will not survive forever-and, more importantly, neither will the political systems that his revolution put in place.

When those systems fail, we need to be prepared to reach out and help our neighbors who have long been kept from the benefits of liberty. In our war on terror, President Bush has made a strong statement: this is a war not on Islam but on terror and those militant Muslims who have perverted the teachings of Islam. In our continued political dialogue with Cubans, it is just as important to stress that our argument is not with Cubans, but with a political system that shackles the potential of the nation. We need to show them, just as much, that the United States will be their friend and ally when their political fortunes change.

Now is the time for Americans to turn their attention to Cuba. Someday-hopefully soon-those Cubans who have remained hopeful and strong in the face of Castro’s policies will be rewarded. What’s important is that we stop treating Cuba as innocuous and slightly humorous, and recognize the nature of the political system. What we as Americans do until then will help define how that day takes to arrive and how our neighbors feel about us when it does.

4 thoughts on “BlogCuba – Zombyboy”

  1. You have stated what I have thought for a very long time. But you have done it so much better than I ever could have. I suggest you submit this to The Washington Post or The New York times, surely one of them will publish.
    We may agree on nothing else but we very much agree on this.

  2. Very well written!
    I applaud the attention you are bringing to the plight of Cubans, and especially the hypocrisy and self-delusion of the Hollywood left who adore this “socialist paradise.”

    It saddens me to think what hell my cousins over there must be experiencing every day.


    I always support anyone who speaks out against the Castro regime. I am critical of such assinine people as Rep. Sam Farr, who goes to Cuba and returns singing the praises of Fidel Castro, unable to fathom the man’s true intent in treating him so cordially (U.S. dollars, of course).

    But, again, it is long past time for patience; it is time for anger, time for strong words, time to DEMAND that the U.N. take notice, and that the world condemn this man for his atrocities. It is time to actively go after La Grande Cucaracha and send him packing (in a crate).

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