What side are you on?

Today the spokespersons for castro, inc. are preening because the United Nations has once again condemned the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Here in America, castro’s allies and a few misguided souls will point to it as some sort of vindication for their positions.
At the same time there’s a man rotting in a Cuban dungeon who will be honored next week by receiving, in absentia, the highest award the President can give. That man’s name is a Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. The regime can’t have him on the streets of Havana because he’s a perfect example of Cuba’s disaffected “New Man”. Biscet, an Afro-Cuban, was educated by the Revolution, he became part of the vaunted healthcare system. In short, “he has nothing to complain about”. The Revolution was fought and won for people like him. Except that he rejects the Revolution and its lies. And not only that he continued to reject it even after he was freed from prison. So right back into prison he went. As I said, castro, inc. can’t have a fearless critic on the loose.
And guess what? Oscar Elias Biscet favors the embargo. His Lawton Foundation for human rights is unequivocal:

Lifting of the embargo has to be conditioned to respect the human rights of the Cuban people, the freedom of all political prisoners, a multi-party system and free elections, because these principles must take precedence over business.

So who are you with, the academics, politicians and other enablers of the regime, or one of the most important and noteworthy political prisoners in Cuba?

9 thoughts on “What side are you on?”

  1. Our open letter of April 2006 states eight conditions for the lifting of the embargo:
    1. That all Cuban political prisoners and prisoners of conscience be released immediately and granted an unconditional amnesty.
    2. That all Cubans be allowed to move freely within the country.
    3. That the existing system of apartheid-like segregation be eradicated immediately, specifically that all Cubans be treated as equals to their foreign counterparts, such as “prominent scholars and artists” from abroad.
    4. That all Cubans be granted access to all sources of uncensored information, whether in broadcast, print, or Internet immediately.
    5. That all Cubans be granted the freedom to express their opinions freely without fear of repercussions.
    6. That all Cubans be allowed to travel abroad freely.
    7. That all Cubans be allowed to live, work, and seek a better life for themselves as they see fit.
    8. That all Cubans be allowed to elect their leaders through verifiable, transparent democratic elections as allowed for in Cuba’s last legitimate constitution, the Constitution of 1940
    NOBODY can argue with these… unless they are enablers of the regime and fellow travelers. Read the open letter here.

  2. I just have one issue with the embargo and that is that simply: It has no benefit. No benefit to the Cuban people, no benefit to American people, no benefit to anyone. It is not helping bring down the regime and it is not helping to change things in Cuba.

  3. “So what does somebody like Biscet know, anyhow? He’s probably just some religious crackpot, or a covert CIA agent. Forget him. It’s people like Wayne Smith who know what’s what. That’s why he keeps being quoted as a Cuba expert and is employed by a prestigious university. We can’t be paying attention to these masochistic malcontents that keep doing stupid stuff and of course wind up in jail. It’s like those idiotic pilots who got shot down a few years back. They asked for it. I mean, what’s the revolution to do, let people walk all over it? It’s only self-defense, so stop whining. You people are as bad as those Radio Marti propagandists who got fired from the Herald…”
    Sound familiar? Unfortunately, it’s not a joke or a put-on, nor is it by any means confined to official members of the Castro regime or even places like Venezuela and Iran.

  4. A perhaps naive question from a professed novice when it comes to these issues. (And i mean no sarcasm whatsoever).
    It is wonderful that the White House has decided to bestow such an honor on Dr. Biscet. It is certainly well-deserved. Yet it seems that at the highest levels of the U.S. government (White House, Congress, etc), vocal support is only (or at least most often) given to those dissidents who support current U.S. policy toward the island (Biscet, Beatriz Roque, etc). There are obviously many others who do not agree with the embargo for one reason or another – Payá, Miriam Leiva – who are waging equally important struggles for change and reform on the island.
    Whether their opinion about the embargo is right or wrong, does it not behoove the United States to voice its support for all of those struggling for democracy? To me, the kind of “pick your favorite dissident” vibe that you sometimes see is really quite undemocratic.
    Conversely, I know that for people like Payá there is a strategic reason to remain aloof from Washington policymakers – i.e. the perceived need to remain independent from the United States. Also, I suspect that at the level of the interests section, contacts with dissident groups are more wide-ranging.
    Still, public appearances matter. Does anyone know, for example, if the U.S. made any sort of public statement when either Payá or the Damas de Blanco won the Sakharov Prize?

  5. The point is not who does or does not support US policy, but who has the best position regarding what’s best for Cuba. This is not about the US. If I don’t agree with somebody’s position, it makes no difference whether or not that person agrees or disagrees with the US or any other entity–I’m still not going to support that person. Everyone needs to be judged on his or her own merits or lack thereof.
    Just as having a certain party affiliation, such as Republican, guarantees nothing, carrying a dissident label guarantees nothing. Being somehow against my enemy does not necessarily make someone desirable or “safe,” as all too many anti-Batista people found out when Castro took over. We all have to judge for ourselves and act accordingly.

  6. Canesfan,
    I see a benefit to the American people with regards to the embargo. No American bank will go crying the the Fed because Cuba has defaulted on credit extensions, as they’ve done all over Europe and please don’t tell me that banks going under do not affect the American people.
    Also tell me how lifting the embargo would benefit the Cuban peopel?

  7. Henry we dont have to side with Biscet just because he says so… Yo estoy de acuerdo con el embargo, bloqueo porque ES LO CORRECTO y es lo que dicta mi conciencia. Pero debe de ser bien implementado para que tengo efecto. No con el relajo que tienen hoy y los americanos son los culpables por no hacer cumplir sus propias leyes.

  8. Busta,
    To answer your question directly, the Bush administration did offer its congratulations when Las Damas were awarded the Sahkarov Prize. I copied the short paragraph, below, from a US government site.
    “On learning of the award bestowed on Cuba’s Damas de Blanco, the Bush administration offered its congratulations to the women’s group. In a statement issued October 27, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: “The United States congratulates the Damas de Blanco of Cuba on being awarded the 2005 Sakharav Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.”
    I cannot quote, but do recollect similar expressions of support for other dissidents, including Paya.

  9. CanesFan,
    Here’s my answer to where the benefit is. First of all it benefits the American’s whose property was expropriated in the early 60s because the policy recognizes that restitution has not been paid to them. This is no small matter. In today’s dollars the property is worth about $8 Billion. That’s the largest such confiscation in the history of the U.S. A much smaller confiscation resulted in closed door policy to Chinese business for 30 years and that door only opened when China agreed to a settlement (even though it was for pennies on the dollar, it was an acknowledgment).
    It also benefits (whether they like it or not) the people who would be swindled by castro, inc. in the future. And before anyone says it’s not the government’s role to protect us from our own decisions, then consider all of the consumer protection legislation that we have and even things as basic as seatbelt laws and required Personal Injury Protection for drivers.
    It also benefits the people in the countries that Cuba would subvert if it had extra cash on hand. Cuba’s long track record of exporting Revolution is well documented. An outlaw regime with new sources of capital does not benefit anyone.
    Lastly, it will benefit the Cuban people when someone in the hierarchy arrests power from the decrepit tyrants and actually does introduce reforms. If the embargo is a stick, then the lifting of it is a carrot, offered to those who would take it.
    That’s the point of the presiden’ts speech. As Carlos Alberto Montaner pointed out, Bush is showing the Cuban hierarchy and military that there is another way. They don’t have to sell their country to the clown from Venezuela that they all detest. The U.S. will be the first country in line to help a fledgling democracy in Cuba.
    As far as which dissidents I like or don’t like, that’s my personal opinion. I have to judge people on what they say. If I disagree with someone’s strategy or their rhetoric (as is my opinion of Paya) then I don’t have to give that person the same level of deference as I give to others whose message is more appealing to me (and unappealing to the regime and thus are imprisoned) like Biscet.
    Cuba is a totalitarian regime. And even many of the dissidents don’t have enough of a formation on the way things work in the real world to make certain judgements. It sounds awfully conceited but this is not just my opinion but also that of former dissidents that have recently arrived, that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to in person.
    That’s what make’s Biscet’s clarity of purpose and message so startling. Precious few in Cuba have it.
    So I will praise Biscet above the other dissidents. He’s earned my respect.

Comments are closed.