Carlos Gutierrez defends the Cuban embargo

Well I’ve been missing in action for quite some time thanks to final exams and graduation and I apologize for that. I received my diploma on Friday, June 6. It was an unforgettable and inspiring experience. I am also fairly certain that I am the first person to receive a diploma from MIT while wearing a Cambio bracelet 🙂

But alas, the press still keeps churning out odious and poorly researched articles regarding the current situation in Cuba. Following Cuba Solidarity Day, the Washington Post published another embargo-bashing op-ed. This particular one, by Eugene Robinson, refers to the embargo as an act of lunacy and insanity. Robinson claims that the embargo has only served to provide the [c]astros with “a convenient antagonist to help whip up nationalist fervor on the island.” Robinson and most other liberals ignore the true purpose of the embargo, as Vicente Echerri puts it:

“That kind of global response, unique in the world with regard to Cuba (it doesn’t matter how ineffectual it has been in producing significant changes in that country) has been useful to articulate in its essence a fundamental principle: the lack of legitimacy of Castro’s regime, duly proportional to the lack of human rights and freedoms of the Cuban people.

Another odios op-ed. Nothing new here. Upon encountering these, most of us take one of three stances: 1) ignore it, 2) hound the comments page and embark on another embargo debate, 3) blog about it, or 4) write a letter to the editor or directly to the author. I usually choose stances 1, 3 or 4.

Well, Carlos Gutierrez, the United States Secretary of Commerce, came across this article and chose option #4, delivering a message quite similar to Echerri’s. The Washington Post published his Letter to the Editor yesterday:

I respectfully disagree with Eugene Robinson. U.S. policy on Cuba, supported by presidents from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, has worked by denying resources to a regime that systematically brutalizes its people and funds anti-American terrorist activities around the world. The Castro brothers have used resources from foreign investors and tourists only to maintain their privilege and power.

Ironically, while some criticize the embargo, it is the American people who are the largest providers of Cuba’s food and medicine, and U.S. remittances are the largest source of direct support to the Cuban people. Recent “reforms” by the Cuban regime serve only to highlight the depth of oppression and control under which the Cuban people have lived.

Why do some express outrage against Sudan and Burma yet turn a blind eye to Cuba’s half a century of human rights atrocities? Until political prisoners are freed and fundamental human rights are granted, we will not fuel the fires of oppression. We will support real change in Cuba by standing with the Cuban people rather than legitimizing the Castro gulag.

The Cuban government is far from legitimate. No leader of our great country should lift the embargo or hold discussions with this illegitimate, destructive and oppressive regime until it begins to legitimize itself by holding free, fair and internationally monitored elections, releasing political prisoners and allowing citizens to speak or write whatever they like.