Dissident’s View of U.S/Cuba Policy

In light of the CAFC report last week, the reaction by many Cuban-Americans has been mostly of skepticism. Which makes me wonder, what’s the reaction from the dissidents in Cuba?

Yesterday, the Miami Herald published one such reaction from the founder of the Ladies in White, Mirian Leiva.

Her words are stingingly critical of U.S. policy towards Cuba.

The present cannot be postponed, not now when we hoe the road of change, transition and democracy. Certainly, we must prepare for the moment whose groundwork we lay today. To that end, it would be extraordinarily helpful to lift the restrictive U.S. measures adopted in 2004, which haven’t produced positive results.

What better way to help our current endeavor than to enable contact between the peoples? Millions of U.S. tourists could bring their ideas, and both our peoples would better know each other. American students, professionals and scientists would help divulge advances that are unknown here and describe the fair wages received for one’s labor elsewhere. Cuban Americans would have an opportunity to exchange experiences and financially help relatives and friends who lack the most basic necessities.

The borders would open before the Cuban people so that we may find out that this is not ”the best of all possible worlds” and that the land beyond the Straits of Florida is not “the worst of all possible worlds.”

I have never understood how a country that has accumulated so much wisdom and has been so flexible with former enemies has applied such counterproductive policies to Cuba for 47 years. Unquestionably, the sagacity of the Cuban Patriarch has steered an ”enemy” that he has studied and knows well. His provocative barbs and the agents he has sent to infiltrate the U.S. government (remember the Pentagon employee) and Florida’s Cuban-American community elicit the response he expects.

I was initally surprised by that reaction. Upon further reflection, however, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at all. She’s not the first dissident to be against many aspects of U.S/Cuba policy. There’s differing views from within the Cuban dissident community, which is likely one of the reasons why the movement hasn’t been able to gain significant steam in Cuba.

We here at Babalu have been extremely critical of groups such as ENCASA who have been critical of U.S. policy towards Cuba. So then, why should we pay attention to Leiva?

Well, for starters, she is a dissident. Her anti-castro credentials are solid. The same can’t be said about several high-profile members of ENCASA. We can question ENCASA’s motives. Leiva, however, can’t be questioned. She’s fighting the good fight from within Cuba, and as such knows the realities of the situation first hand.

I’m not saying we should blindingly agree with her opinions. There are many dissidents who disagree with her. But if real progress is to made within Cuba to foster real change, then views such as Leiva’s need to be heard and given thought to.

Here’s the entire column. Let us know what you think.

13 thoughts on “Dissident’s View of U.S/Cuba Policy”

  1. First of all, you are correct. Her credentials are impeccable. The fight is hers in ways that even the most fervent person here in the U.S. cannot understand.

    Secondly, her skepticism is entirely understandable, considering the stop-and-go nature of U.S. policy over the years. Hopefully, her comments will be heard and remembered in Washington.

  2. Well the truth hurts. Sra. Leiva caused me to do some real soul searching into her points. The validity of all her points brought me to a question that applies to all of us who are Cuban. I have always held faithful to the embargo in the name of finding a way to keep castro from profiting. Knowing good and well that the embargo has done absolutely nothing to change the course of Cuba’s future. This is what has generated the question. Do we hate castro more than we love freedom? Could she indeed be correct in the idea that dropping the embargo would open opportunities to infiltrate Cuba? One might argue that castro would then have a moral victory and win the battle. But would the winning of the battle cost him the war? Are we more committed to doing castro in than freeing Cubans? I for one realized that I have been focused on his demise (something I still hope for) more than on what will actually do some good in freeing the people of Cuba. We have been in exodus for 47 years with no sign of change. Yes, perhaps the bearded one may meet satan in the near future if he hasn’t done so already, but another castro waits in the wings. What makes us think that a changing of the guard will do anything. Do we wait for another leader and wait him out another 47 years? I must agree with Sra. Leiva. Cubans are quite capable of producing their own transition. If the Cubans don’t eventually overthrow castro they will need the accomplishment of a government transition to win back some of that dignity that has been stripped from them. Yes, solidarity as she said is appreciated.But they need to do it themselves. The US would actually take away castro’s greatest tool and that is the embargo. After all the embargo is a laughing stock as the US is Cuba’s largest supplier of food and medicine. Corporate America will keep profiting while Cubans keep rotting. I was sharing this truth with someone today and their response was ” so what good does the embargo do?” regrettably my answer was “nothing”. I agree with Mrs. Leiva that CAFC II will do more harm than good. The perception that the dissidents are hirelings of the US rather than the true patriots that they are will score more points for castro than he even hoped for. I know that all won’t agree, but I am just sharing my insight. Do we hate castro more than we love freedom? Ask yourself the question.

  3. While I agree that there is merit to the argument that the embargo we have in place does nothing to thwart Castro, we should all (those for and those against sanctions) keep in mind that the emabrgo in place right now is not the one that Cuban exiles have been talking about all this time.

    Even with the embargo in place, US dollars still put America pretty high up there on the list of Cuba’s leading trade partners (food, meds, tourists going through third countries, etc).

    So yes, the embargo we have in place is ineffective (I don’t know that I would go as far as to agree it is counterproductive). And yes, free trade MIGHT be better than the setup as it exists now. These are things worth thinking about.

    But if we actually aim for the lesser of two evils, I’m willing to bet we’ll end up setting for something that is a complete blunder.

    Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that these sanctions are not in place purely for matters of principle. They’re not JUST there to help the Cuban people. They’re there to protect American consumers. Cuba sanctions, in my view, do not strip American consumers of their rights any more than laws that keep us from buying domestic cars, homes, services and food from people the government does not feel are dependable and trustworthy.

    In short – there is much more in play here than Castro’s bank account balance. And while Leiva is very much in touch with what’s going on in Cuba, she might be (through no fault of her own) as out of touch with US motivations as so many other people in so many other countries with information blockades.

  4. well..some discidents take the “smart position” of critizicing USA,and that allows the castro regime to “treat” them or their families in jail a little bit kindly,or sometimes those discidents that make declarations against USA has been broken by the castro gestapo,or blackmailed,etc..etc..and of course,the other position is that some of those discidents dont agree with the USA policies for cuba…wich one is this one?..i have no idea..but is one of those that i mentioned..

  5. Leiva doesn’t know what she is speaking about. The poor Cubans on the island have been so mentally and spiritually sodomized by Castro all these years that their thought processes are all irrational and upside down. They say pretty wacky stuff. The only dissident that I know who doesn’t say stupid things is Biscet.

    All those “tourists” and religious groups students and what have you are not going to go to Cuba to spread “democracy”.

    Levia states:

    “American students, professionals and scientists”

    Well from my experience, all the “American students, professionals and scientists” and teachers, musicians, religious, stars, that have gone to Cuba have been left wing moonbats.

    Besides it is a very dangerous thing to send American ignoramuses to Cuba in hope of spreading democracy – they will be only met at the airport, hospitals, and universities with Castro dictatorship stooges and yes men who will give them propaganda that has been designed for one purpose – to bring them over to the Castro side. Americans – lets face it – are stupid when it comes to Cuba and the world in general – most of them can’t even understand why we need to fight the Islamo fascists – and the cultural elites are the worse – and the propaganda masters in Havana know very well how to talk the talk and walk the walk – they are masters at BS and demonizing exile Cubans to foreign visitors.

    And what about all these other tourists that go to Cuba in the millions from other western democratic nations? Why haven’t they spread democracy and freedom ideas to the island? Because they don’t give a shit about helping Cuba – because to the Canadians, Spaniards, Germans, Italians, and Brits, Cuba is their personal little whore house and weekend experiment in “socialism”.

    Can you imagine a contingent of under educated dumbed down typical American college students going to Cuba? Remember the boat loads of hundred of students that went to Cuba from the University of Pittsburgh a few years ago? The tall ship they were in – it was called a semester at sea or something stupid like that – well the ship docked in Havana and Castro personally invited all the students, teachers and parents to have a private lunch with him. I read the articles on this – it was disgusting – like if in 1939 American college students would have met Hitler -and by the end of the day Castro (satan) worked the whole crowd over with his charm and it was even commented on in the media that all the 19 year cute blonde girls where sitting on his lap and taking pictures with him!!!!!! they even commented that a “sweet” and “grandfatherly” type of guy like Castro could not do any harm!!!!!

    These students are either idiots who can’t locate Cuba on a map or worse yet they are a bunch of 19 and 21 year old leftist “know it alls” from Columbia or Princeton or Brandeis who want to go to Cuba in solidarity, to do the “Buena Vista” thang or to pay respects to their master el Che. Americans are very gullible and it is only the truly enlightened that will understand the terrible reality of Cuba under Castro. There won’t be anyone to give them a second opinion or another story on the situation in Cuba. The second they land at the airport they will be met by handlers from the Castro dictatorship – it is going to be very hard for them to meet dissidents and to tell regular Cubans about democratic ideas.

    So all this anti American talk from “dissidents” in Cuba is hogwash and God knows the real reason why they are speaking this way. Castro is very good at getting to people and threatening their families and friends – blackmail and intimidation it is called.

  6. And not to sound bigoted, but the type of Cuban that left in 1959 and the 60s is very diffrent from the Cubans on the island now. Cubans who come from the island now – although they hate Castro, are sometimes a little soft, a little vulgar, less educated, less cultured, a little bit indifferent, and have been infected – not by their choice – with a lot of anti Americanism. One has to becareful sometimes with them in what you say or do. I have met recently arrived Cubans in Miami that I have to wonder why they left in the first place because all they do is complain about Miami and the USA. The Miami exiles of the 60s where good hardline no holds barred anti communists who took no crap and no did not believe in dialog or going back on trips to give money to their relatives back on the island. This is not to say that there arn’t any good Cubans leaving now, but one has to realize that 47 years of communism has worked horrors on the once proud Cuban soul.

  7. speaking as a “60’s” Cuban, I am hard-line against communists, but I also have seen a generation of my family die prematurely due to so-called living conditions on the Island. One is not soft when one admits that the current policy doesn’t work nor is one anti-AMERICAN. I have only a couple of living relatives (by Cuban standards) left and to offer up more Cubans on the altar of a failed policy is not worth it.

  8. As for tourists coming to Cuba they will never be there to help the Cubans but to help themselves to Cuba and Cubans. But when they hear the truth from Cubans that will have an impact. Its time to investigate alternatives. I wish I had the answer, but one thing I know is the what we have in place is no answer.

  9. Mandingo,

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. You pretty much covered all the main points. Like Pototo, I’m a 1960 Cuban EXILE, hard line anti-communist, but I’m also PRO-EMBARGO. Many will argue that it is a failed policy, but I don’t agree. Castro owes billions of dollars to Western banks and to almost every country on the planet. If he wants to buy food and medicine from the U.S. “lo que importa es el CASH” no credit for fidel. Removing the embargo will OPEN UP a nice BIG line of CREDIT for Castro that U.S. taxpayers will have to SUBSIDIZE when as usual he doesn’t pay up. As for the tourists, everyone knows that there is an APARTHEID in Cuba. “El Cubano de A Pie” will never have the opportunity to see much less speak with one of them because the government keeps them isolated. Furthermore, tourists visiting the nice fancy hotels will be attended by non-Cubans working at the hotels.

    Besides, Castro never gave a rats ass for the embargo during all the years he was being subsidized by Russia, nor does he give a rats ass about the embargo now that he has Venezuela.

    The embargo is not a failed policy, what has failed is the lack of decency from the rest of the world.

  10. I wonder if Leiva was coerced into writing this? Isn’t her husband in jail? As Tony44 said:

    “well..some discidents take the “smart position” of critizicing USA,and that allows the castro regime to “treat” them or their families in jail a little bit kindly,or sometimes those discidents that make declarations against USA has been broken by the castro gestapo,or blackmailed,etc..etc..”

    Perhaps she feels that her ladies in white will receive a modicum of respect when they dress in white and walk down the streets as a result of these comments? Maybe Castro will hold back his pitbulls and not attack them as he has done in the past? Or perhaps she really believes what she has written? I’m not going to discard that she really believes her own words. However, it’s hard for me to believe that anyone thinks that tens of thousands of American tourists going for weekend visits to Varadero will have an impact on the Cuban masses. Are Americans somehow mysteriously the panacea to democracy? What about the Canadians and Europeans? Why haven’t they brought about this change? What makes Americans different? I always use myself as an example, I’ve traveled a bit around the world and the last thought on my mind when I go to another country is to discuss democracy with the citizens of those countries that I meet. And mind you, I’m more informed than most Americans owing to the fact that I’m a Cuban American and I know what totalitarianism is.

    And about the embargo, it hasn’t worked not because embargoes don’t work, it hasn’t worked because there is NO intention to make it work. The Bush Administration like the previous Clinton Administration simply does not have a commitment to help free Cuba. If they did they would have enforced title III and IV of Helms-Burton and not caved into the cajoling of corrupt and powerful lobbying corporate groups like Archer Daniel Midlands.

  11. Traveling to Cuba is all about acceptance and legitimacy. It’s a moral choice one makes, no matter how painful, to either accept fidel castro’s government by traveling to the island and thus become part and parcel of the apartheid, or not accepting and legitimizing castro’s government or its system of apartheid simply by not going.

    It’s quite simple, if you go to fidel castro’s Cuba, what you are telling the people of Cuba and world is that you have no problem with the cuban government.

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