Here’s a little reality you can spread on that fantasy sandwich you’re preparing

Earlier this week, Dr. Jaime Suchlicki of the University of Miami published an excellent analysis of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent comments on Cuba and the Castro dictatorship.

Here it is in its entirety:

Secretary of State on Cuba

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently stated that the Castro brothers are against normalizing relations with the U.S. because the U.S. embargo serves as an excuse for the failures of the Cuban government.

So far so good. Yet the question that follows this statement is how many Cubans really believe that the shortages of bananas, potatoes and beans in Cuba are the result of U.S. policy? Very few. The Cubans understand well that the reason for economic distress in the island is the same as in Eastern Europe during the Communist era: a failed centrally planned economic system that doesn’t produce and stifles individual initiative.

Furthermore, food is not part of the U.S. embargo. For the past several years Cuba has been purchasing food and agricultural products from the U.S. The U.S. has become the largest exporter of food and agricultural products to Cuba.

Yet, there are other reasons why General Raul Castro doesn’t want to normalize relations with the U.S. It would mean a rejection of one of Fidel Castro’s main legacies: anti-Americanism. For the past half century, opposition to the U.S. and support of anti-American revolutionary and terrorist groups has been the main foreign policy cornerstone of the Cuban revolution. Moving toward the United States would require the weakening of Cuba’s anti-American alliance with radical regimes and groups in Latin America, as well as Iran and Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

From the Castro brothers’ point of view, the U.S. has little to offer: American tourists which Raul doesn’t need (2 million tourists visit Cuba yearly); American investments which he fears may subvert his highly centralized and controlled economy; and products such as medicines and heavy equipment that he can buy cheaper from other countries. The U.S. does not have, furthermore, the ability to provide Cuba with the petroleum Venezuela is sending with little or no payment.

Emboldened by Venezuela’s continuous largesse and recent large credits from China, Iran, Russia and Brazil, General Castro feels confident that Cubans can be pacified with growing imports of foods and consumer goods, more economic concessions and continuous control and repression.

Foreign aid from these countries, furthermore, comes without conditions. None of these countries are concerned with Cuba’s political system, human rights or a return to democracy.

Why would Raul Castro offer concessions to the U.S. while he enjoys the fruits of a close relationship with the above countries? Even at the height of uncertainty, following the collapse of Communism, the Castro brothers insisted they would offer no concessions or change Cuba’s system. Raul repeated this recently. They prefer to sacrifice the economic well-being of the Cubans rather than cave in to demands for a free Cuba politically and economically. Neither economic incentives nor punishment have worked with the Castros in the past. They are not likely to work in the future.

Which brings us to the obvious conclusion that not all differences and problems in international affairs can be solved through negotiations, or can be solved at all. This reality vitiates an assumption that has permeated American foreign policy for decades. There are international disputes that are not negotiable and can be resolved only through the use of force or through prolonged patience until the leadership disappears or situations change. While some differences naturally can be solved through negotiations, others are irreconcilable. Cuba seems to fall in this last category.

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* Jaime Suchlicki is Emilio Bacardi Moreau Distinguished Professor and Director, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. He is the author of Cuba: From Columbus to Castro, now in its fifth edition; Mexico: From Montezuma to NAFTA, now in its second edition and the recently published Breve Historia de Cuba.

In my opinion, Dr. Suchlicki’s final assessment boils down the entire Cuba situation to this indisputable reality:

“There are international disputes that are not negotiable and can be resolved only through the use of force or through prolonged patience until the leadership disappears or situations change. While some differences naturally can be solved through negotiations, others are irreconcilable. Cuba seems to fall in this last category.”

To assume we can negotiate with despotic dictators whose only concern is self-preservation, and somehow convince them that committing personal and political suicide is their best option, is to ignore the reality that has been documented for the past half-century.

12 thoughts on “Here’s a little reality you can spread on that fantasy sandwich you’re preparing”

  1. “To assume we can negotiate with despotic dictators whose only concern is self-preservation, and somehow convince them that committing personal and political suicide is their best option…”

    BRILLIANT.

  2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Castros do not want an end to the embargo, regardless of what their admirers or propaganda outlets say.

  3. spygirl,

    What the Castro brothers want is to find a way for the USA to extend them all unlimited credit they want (that they don’t have the slightest intention of ever repaying) to fund their tyranny and oppression on the Cuban people while continuing to export the Revolution overseas.

    You’ll be surprised how many in Congress and the current administration (including POTUS) would love to find a way to please the Castro brothers in that regard. The good thing now is that America is in so much red ink that makes this possibility totally unfeasible.

    Plus the abuses perpetrated on the Ladies in White and the death of Zapata Tamayo have exposed once again the brutal and cruel nature of the Castro brothers and their minions and taken much credibility away from all those who want to unconditionally normalize relations with Havana.

  4. Depends What Your Definition of “Kidnapped” Is: Bill Clinton Considered Elian Gonzalez ‘Kidnapped’

    http://tinyurl.com/y8y65rf

    Perhaps we can ask the Estefans if they agree?

    Maybe we can ask Elian’s mother … Oh, that’s right, she sacrificed her own life getting him here.

  5. Maggie,

    Read today Miami-Herald’s article where Bill Clinton states that he doesn’t regret sending Elian back to Cuba.

    It is incredible to make such a statement after all that is has happened ever since Elian’s return to Cuba and how the Castro brothers have used him as a propaganda tool.

    All I can say what a despicable character our former President is. No wonder I despise him so much.

  6. Hopefully, Hillary finally gets it as regards the Castro Regime. Were it recognition and credits, the regime could have had it in 1978. President Carter’s Administration was in the first stages of normalization and US Network TV crews were on the island, I especially remember ABC. All the regime had to do was leave well enough alone and Fidel would have been having lunch at the White House by 1979. That was NOT to be – the regime instituted another crackdown, right in front of Newsmen who then were not quite as “in the tank” as they are today. The next time we heard news about Cuba was the “Mariel Boatlift.” -S-

  7. “FF” Cuba –

    I remember well the pictures of Elian Gonzalez being “liberated” from his Miami Relatives. When a friend of mine asked me what I thought about it, my reply was what I would consider “prophetic” in a Nostrdamus kind of way. It was, If the 2000 Presidential Election comes down to the Florida results, George W. Bush is the next President of the US. Did President Clinton p-ss away what should have been an easy victory for the Democrats in 2000 by sending Elian back to Cuba? “You Betcha!” -S-

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