Since fidel made his LBJ-like announcement that he would not seek or accept Cuba’s presidency, perhaps hoping for a negative public outcry that never materialized, Cuba has been a hot news item.
Because of this, the Washington Post, who has since embarked on an anti embargo jihad, hosted an online question and answer session with Julia E. Sweig, Director for Latin America Studies, Council on Foreign Relations. She’s one of castro’s apologists and a Babalu “favorite.”
Here’s the link to the discussion. It’s a painful read.
One of the “questions”, more like a statement, really, is from a “white American male married into a large Cuban ex-patriate family for the past eight years”. Expatriate. Interesting choice of words. You know, I’m ust saying…
I would say my family is equally hurt by the hardcore Bush policies toward Cuba in the past seven years as by the Castro dictatorship. What little their Cuban relatives enjoyed was because of what their families were allowed to bring in from the U.S., and Bush stopped that. It seems to have created a vacuum that Chavez has exploited. It seems the prudent thing to do would be to relieve the restrictions on our end and hope the Cuban government responds in kind. What do you think, based on your travels to Cuba?
Julia E. Sweig: I fully agree with you. But don’t mistake Chavez’ economic assistance for political weight within Cuba. You know that Cubans are deeply nationalistic and do not like the idea– though they tolerate it– of anyone, whether the Spanish, the America, the Soviets, or now the Venezuelans, having any special role calling the shots domestically. Where Chavez has definitely filled the vacuum is on the economic front: we cut off remittances, he primes the pump. We could undo the former in a stroke of a pen, and hopefully will very soon. But not just to balance Chavez: we should do it because its the right thing to do. This is an unnatural arrangement for Cuban and their families abroad and unnatural for our two countries.
So there you have it. Chavez wants to annex Cuba because Bush won’t let you visit tia Cuca in Guanabacoa with a wallet full of Yankee dollars every six months, not because he’s a Marxist who is as infatuated with fidel as George Clooney is with Obama and dreams of making Caracas the new Moscow.
The remittance and travel restrictions to Cuba issue hits a nerve with the regime and its defenders on the left. Sweig admits that the restrictions HAVE had an economic impact on the regime. Usually the left claims that the restrictions only hurt Cuban families. If these restrictions were not cutting into the castro nostra’s profits, they wouldn’t care as they have never cared about how much the Cuban people suffer. On the contrary, the more suffering they inflict, the better.
Rescinding the Bush restrictions has a few advantages to the regime. One, of course, is hard currency. They get 20% off the top-the vig. They also make a profit from whatever is bought with the dollars since they are the only suppliers and sellers, excluding the black market. If the restrictions are dropped, it is an incremental step in dropping the rest of the embargo. It’s difficult for our allies in congress to ask Americans not to travel to and spend money in Cuba when Cuban Americans are doing it-some a few times a year.
The regime also gets the added bonus of using the issue to divide the Cuban-American community in South Florida. That’s why the likes of Aruca are supporting the candidacy of Joe Garcia. Garcia has figured out that the Bush restrictions can be used to divide the Cuban American vote. He’s using a Clintonian triangulation technique that Dick Morris came up with to try to get himself and a handful of Democrats elected to congress.
Garcia’s strategy is to have the Democratic opposition be more pro Cuban than the incumbent Republicans. He can do this by claiming that the travel and remittance restrictions only hurt the Cuban families and that by being for the embargo but against the Bush restrictions, the Democrats really care more about Cubans than the Republicans thus taking the Cuba issue away from the Republican imcumbents. Slick, but that’s his job. He’s a Democrat. It’s all about getting more seats in Congress. If it helps the castro regime, that’s collateral damage.
It’s ugly and it’s dirty. It’s politics. It’s Democracy. And in the end, nobody gets beaten up or thrown in jail because we’re free.
Too bad Cubans can’t practice triangulation or vote on wedge issues or rag on an opportunistic, slick candidate they don’t like. Maybe soon, God willing.