Apparently not everyone at CANF has drunk the Obamunist Kool-Aid. Writing for the CANF blog Axel Lapica also deconstructs Obama’s Friday speech and comes away with some of the same conclusions that I did:
· His policy will be based on “libertad”. Check. Love it. Who can argue with a policy based on freedom?
· When crafting the super-details of his Cuba policy, he will consult the Cuban-American community to get our input. Check again. Makes sense to consult the folks who obsess about the topic on a daily basis.
· He will maintain the embargo. Check yet again…
He notes that the strategy is basically the same as the current policy with two notable exceptions:
He will reverse Bush’s restrictions on travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans. This is more complicated. The “old-guard” is opposed to this since it certainly provides support to the regime. The “newer-guard” is in favor since a) many still have family in Cuba and b) conditions in Cuba are tough. For folks who don’t know, here’s what currently happens to a dollar sent to Cuba. First, you can use the US dollar to transact in the black market to buy whatever you can find, e.g., gas for your car, cement to fix your roof, or a haircut. (it is currently legal to hold dollars, though this has changed before) – these are things by the way, the State is supposed to guarantee. If you can’t find what you need, or are in need of basic staples (i.e, food) you need to convert the dollar to a third currency, commonly referred to as “chavito”. The government happily does the exchange, for a ~20% tax. Then you can use your 80 cents to buy products at state stores which charge an abomination for the product. So, you are cheated three times: scrounge for what the state is supposed to provide, if you don’t find it, pay an exorbitant fee, and then succumb to gouging. Nonetheless, the family receiving the dollar gets a little help. Back to Obama – rather than just lifting the policy, why not ask for something in return? Say, stop charging the freaking 20% fee!!
In the above excerpt Lapica accurately explains how castro, inc. uses its enemies (Cuban exiles) to fund its ongoing operations. It’s a scam, plain and simple. Removing the 2004 restrictions has the effect of legitimizing and perpetuating that scam.
And then Lapica delves into the most controversial aspect of Obama’s plan, dialogue and diplomacy at the presidential level.
He will engage with the Island. Ok, this is the biggest potential roadblock. What does that mean? What’s the worst case scenario? Obama meets with Raul to have a chat and tells him that it would be good if Cubans had a few more freedoms. This would be disastrous. What business does a US President have talking to a man who has personally executed God knows how many people, and ordered the execution of God knows how many more? Who, for 49 years, has made it his sole purpose to trample on every freedom that Americans hold dear? This is more so if it’s just a conversation so they can “exchange ideas”. Mr. Obama, you’re not going to learn much. Ok, so what would be good engagement? Send a mid-level State Department official to Cuba to reiterate that Cuba’s oppressive regime is unacceptable, and that change must happen. That’s keeping with the past. However, he should make a few changes:
o Publicly specify that the US has no interest in invading Cuba.
o Acknowledge that the death of Fidel (hopefully soon) is a historic moment, one primed for a transition to normalcy (i.e., democracy and capitalism).
o Confirm that the US is willing to be a partner in this transition, so long as Cuba acts in good faith.
o Present a holistic framework on tit-for-tat exchanges: reforms on the island for improved relations with the US (i.e., partial lifting of the embargo, etc.).
o Mr. Obama, the day Raul moves to free and fair elections, hey, have all the tea you’d like with him.
I can’t say that agree with his sentiment, especially the part about the President of the United States having tea with this executioner:
The reason Obama’s diplomacy won’t work with Cuba is because the regime will never make concessions that put its own existence in jeopardy. Duh, they don’t call it a dictatorship for nothing. Free elections, by their nature are not compatible with dictatorship. I should take the opportunity to republish Charles Krauthammer’s brilliant analysis of the situation:
Most of the time you don’t negotiate with enemy leaders because there is nothing to negotiate. Does Obama imagine that North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela are insufficiently informed about American requirements for improved relations?
Bottom line is that increased remittances and travel may make some people on this side of the straits feel good and it may alleviate some suffering for some Cubans (a great number of Cubans don’t have relatives on the outside that can or will send them money) but it will not bring “libertad” to Cuba and diplomacy would require two willing participants, we know Obama is one but the castro brothers have never shown any capacity to negotiate on good faith. Obama is asking you to make a leap of faith, one that isn’t justified in my opinion based on the past actions of Democratic presidents.
As for Lapica, I wonder how long he’ll be blogging for CANF.