For a while, I’ve been working on a post that debates the issue of hardliners; basically of how Cuban hardliners are vilified, when previous hardliners for other causes were not. But alas, someone beat me to the punch.
Today’s Herald has an editorial by Frank Calzon from the Center for a Free Cuba. In it he pretty much hits the nail on the head on some of the most important issues.
First he defines a hardliner: “
Hard-liners” are Cuban Americans who believe that the real issue is freedom and not U.S.-Cuba policy.
and addresses the negative connotation while lauded in previous causes:
Why should those Cubans be identified as hard-liners? American civil rights leaders who demanded the dismantling of all segregated facilities — drinking fountains, buses and hotels — were not. Today, neither is Burma’s courageous opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who calls on the outside world not to travel to Burma and for foreign governments to put sanctions on Rangoon’s military regime. And the label, which is sometimes used as synonymous with ”extremists,” was not applied to the South Africans who urged the world to boycott that country’s racist regime in order to achieve change in Johanesburg.
The most important thing this editorial has, is that it puts principle first and business later. Many times people here at Babalu have expressed that they would have no problems trading with Cuba or jumpstarting the relations with Cuba as long as specific conditions were met. Frank addresses this sin pelos en la lengua (emphasis mine):
If you ask me, ‘Are you for lifting the sanctions in exchange for the release of political prisoners, the relaxation of the Castro brothers’ economic decrees that prevent Cuba from achieving its economic potential, the opening of all segregated facilities to all Cubans where now only foreigners are allowed?” my answer is a resounding Yes.
But if I am asked, ”Are you in favor of lifting the embargo so that American tourists could join other foreigners in Cuba’s segregated hotels, so that the regime continues to abuse and beat not only political prisoners but their relatives, so that Cuban newspapers and radio stations continue to function under the strictest censorship?” I would have to say No.
That’s pretty much the same way I feel about the whole deal. But you know, there is always that group that keeps repeating that opening up trade would for sure bring down the regime (which of course has not worked in China); he has some words for them too – the same thing we’ve said many times –
the business as usual approach has been tried for years by Spain, Canada and others and has done nothing but help to keep the regime in place.
There are a couple other interesting points that I left out for the sake of space, which means you should go read it – in particular his definitions of moderates and appeasers.
It’s nothing new, nothing we’ve never heard before, nothing we’ve never said before. But it is said in a concise and factual manner, that maybe, just maybe, might make others listen to it.