A group of prominent Americans — among them several noted businessmen of Cuban origin — has written a public letter to President Obama asking him to soften the measures designed to worsen the difficult economic situation of the Castro brothers’ Communist dictatorship.
The letter is not the result of a dark maneuver by Havana, although the regime and its intelligence services view it with glee because it coincides with their interests, but the consequence of an indisputable truth: Nobody knows how to accelerate from the outside the end of a dictatorship like the one in Cuba or North Korea. The letter’s authors are convinced that the old American strategy is wrong.
It’s an old debate. Whoever drafted the letter — presumably Cuban-American businessmen — thinks that embracing the enemy and trying to strengthen the civilian society will weaken of the tyranny.
Will that letter achieve its purpose? I don’t think so. It shouldn’t, for the following reasons:
1. Inconsistency has its limits, beyond which we’d have to talk about schizophrenia. Washington has just officially declared that the Cuban government is a terrorist government, and Raúl Castro has proved Washington right by sending to North Korea war weapons camouflaged under tons of sugar. Why embrace a terrorist regime while approving sanctions against Russia or Venezuela for antidemocratic behavior?
2. At the moment when the letter was made public, Col. Alejandro Castro Espín, son of dictator Raúl Castro, was in Moscow signing a cooperation agreement with Putin’s intelligence services. Later, the chief of staff of the Chinese Army arrived in Havana, presumably to formalize a similar deal. In the past, Fidel Castro warned in Tehran that all of them together could bring the imperialist foe to its knees.
3. As Raúl Castro repeatedly affirms, and his top officials reiterate, the purpose of the economic “reforms” is to perfect the single-party communist dictatorship. Why should the United States cooperate with an old and failed tyranny that is trying to overcome its difficulties and consolidate at its worst economic and psychological moment, when the entire power structure on the island knows that Marxism-Leninism is a failure?
4. The Cuban regime is a tenacious and permanent enemy of the United States. Its leaders are convinced that everything bad that happens on the planet is Washington’s fault. They never tire of saying so. In the past, Havana made a pact with the Soviet Union and even asked for a preventive nuclear attack during the missile crisis. Today, Cuba is in cahoots with Iran, North Korea, Russia and the countries of the so-called 21st-century Socialism to harm their neighbors. Does a benevolent attitude toward such a government make any sense?
5. There is also the ethical angle. During the 20th century — and with good reason — the United States was accused of moral indifference because of its good treatment of dictatorships such those of Trujillo, the Somozas, Batista or Stroessner. Now it’s on the right side of history. In Cuba, human rights are brutally violated. Last year, the detentions of dissidents doubled. Cubans have no access to the Internet. Three hours after the debut of 14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez’s digital daily, its signal inside Cuba was blocked. The United States should not return to the moral indifference that affected its good image so adversely.
6. The electoral reason must be taken into account. The White House should listen to the Cuban-American legislators, not necessarily to the businessmen. Somehow, they express the majority sentiment of the Cubans living in the United States. Important Democratic Sen. Bob Menéndez, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Democratic Reps. Albio Sires and Joe García, and Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Díaz-Balart differ on many issues, but they agree on maintaining a policy of firmness toward the dictatorship.
7. The objective of the United States must be the installation of a pluralistic and prosperous democracy in Cuba that stops expelling its citizens toward the neighbor to the north, a democracy with which Washington can develop respectful and normal relations. Common sense indicates that this cannot be achieved by helping Raúl Castro’s tyranny in the middle of a crisis.