Cuba’s influence in American academia

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By Julio Shiling in Patria de Martí:

Cuba’s Influence in American Academia

To accurately fathom the success of the Castro-Communist regime in Cuba, as measured by its ability to fructuously withstand the pressures for democratic liberalization and persevere in power, the mobilization of a supportive, widespread intellectual elite class has been important and effectively achieved throughout the democratic world. This has been significantly the case in the United States, its most important challenge within the community of free countries. Academia has served Cuba as an indispensable tool in a dual capacity to: (1) assist in fostering radical political activism abroad (revolutionary and gradualist); (2) and facilitate internal power retention and even survival. Some of the salient displays of this relationship include:  (a) the concealment and downplaying of Cuba´s abysmal human rights record and other gross state misconducts; (b) application of the Marxian principle of the primacy of “revolutionary practice”; (c) emblematic governance for the New Left; (d) espionage (strategic, political and probably commercial); (e) multilateral movement facilitation; and (f) commercial lobbying.

While a debate may range as to the specifics of whether the current Cuban sociopolitical model should be categorized as totalitarian, post-totalitarian or even authoritarian, the general criteria which has traditionally labeled and identified totalitarian models, e. g., a prevailing ideology; a single-ruling party rhetorically committed to that ideology; and monopolistic control by the regime of the following: (1) the mass media; (2) all armed operational public forces; and (3) the general economy and its salient institutions/organizations; still accurately depicts the Cuban sociopolitical paradigm. Given the non-static nature of all ideal political regimes-types (democratic and nondemocratic) and the successful systemic adaptation of general market economic principles while safeguarding the Leninist state, cases such as China and Vietnam have demonstrated that this modern and pragmatic approach to totalitarian rule still persists.

Elite mobility on communist Cuba´s behalf, in the globe´s democracies, has been pivotal in complementing key aspects of its nonbelligerent foreign policy strategy for political durability. Multilateralism, what Robert O. Keohane identified as the coordination of international relations based on structuring principles and strategies between three or more states, has been one potent and persistent feature of Cuba´s targeted foreign relations scheme. Jorge I. Domínguez refers to multilateralism as the “weapon of the week”. Soft power, the notion coined by Joseph Nye that explains the political art of persuasion by means of cooptation and convincing, without the utilization of force or the expenditure of huge sums of money, has been the other premier, nonviolent mode of promoting its interests abroad.

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WHY AMERICAN ACADEMIA?

In terms of the overall investment, no strategy has yielded communist Cuba greater returns then its strategic penetration of American academia. This point is logical. Academia serves as a country´s nerve center. Colleges and universities render unto a free society brigades of its most influential, powerful and productive members. Influence trafficking, information manipulation, public relations damage control and image promotion are all fundamental variables which have helped keep Havana´s communist dictatorship in power. The university affords Cuba a wide range of potentially valuable assets by way of ambassadors of goodwill that will serve as courtesans on its behalf.

The open door policy, ample quantity and wide variation of American higher education, with its diverse network of public and private colleges, community colleges, universities and other places of post high school learning, establishes a broad spectrum of alternatives. It allows for a broad selection of individuals from specifically-targeted socioeconomic background and/or perceived particular ideological inclination that may fit particular profiles the Cuban regime is seeking. The fact that the United States is a free country with guaranteed liberties also alleviates the strains of penetrating academia. The inherent nature of the academic community to foster free thinking and welcome alternative and challenging criteria´s, serve as fertile ground for the recruitment, cooptation and influence of individuals and institutions that can disproportionally impact a nation.

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