Friday, September 21, 2007

"No threat to your homes"

I wrote earlier about the way the Administration’s top Cuba spokesman, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, goes out of his way to distance the Administration from its own election-year positions that played well, one guesses, in Miami, but were political poison in Cuba. To wit, the 2004 Cuba commission report that envisioned Cubans being evicted from their homes by returning emigres, and that sounded to Cubans as if the U.S. government had a blueprint for governing every aspect of Cuba.

If you listen to Radio Marti newscasts, you hear a brief recorded statement from Gutierrez where he recognizes that “the future of Cuba is in the hands of the Cubans,” the United States is ready to provide food and medical assistance, and “we represent no threat to your security or your homes.”

So the approach is not to disavow the statements that did the damage, but rather to say something different and repeat it many times over.

Ask yourself this: If you’re in Cuba and you listen to the Radio Marti news every day, and a guy comes on from the U.S. government every day and tells you not to worry because he doesn’t threaten your home, how reassured would you feel?

While we’re on the subject, Armengol comments on Gutierrez’ speech in Miami this week.


Anonymous said...

Well put Phil!

In my opinion, it seems true that the vast majority of ordinary Cubans (in Cuba) are scared to death (real or imagined) of exiles coming back and "taking over". I don't say this b/c of an agenda, but b/c its the empirical truth.
From my expereince with Habarneros, Cubans are, I think, more scared of the imagined "miami mafia" than any of Castros brutish police force.

What is more, the 2004 report and tone of dialouge in places like Radio Mambi and even Marti just serves to add friction to the senario. For example, I'll never forget my mother-in-laws (cuban) reaction to radio Marti after a hurricane one day a few years back. While being anti-castro, she still just laughed at what they were saying on Radio Marti and called the "$#*#".

Additionally, the type of rethoric voiced by the 2004 report has the unintended consequence of furthering Castro's power. To be sure, one can disagree with this point, but I suspect anyone that has spent any time in Cuba with ORDINARY cubans over the past 15 years would see the unintended consequences of the jargon and analysis presented in the 2004 report.

PS: they even printed part of the 2004 report word for word in Cuban newspapers. The feeling on the street was one of indignation - toward USA policy not towards Castro. Ordinary cubans asked, "what the hell is USA doing telling us how we should run our health care, political parties and educational system".

I do not write the aforementioned details with pleasure, just stating the empirical reality on the ground in Cuba. Just b/c one "hopes it to be so" doesn't mean "it is so."

Phil Peters said...

Anon, what was said about the hurricane on Radio Marti that upset your mother-in-law?

I don't take pleasure in pointing out this stuff either. I'll note again that the late Jorge Mas Canosa was a smart enough politician -- including understanding the politics inside Cuba -- that he took the residential property issue completely off the table, saying no one would be removed from their home, period.

The saddest part is that if you go to Miami you are hard pressed to find someone who wants to take their home back. So Bush conveyed an image of the Cuban American community that isn't based in reality. It still mystifies me when I try to figure to whom he was trying to appeal.

The result is that Bush has increased fear of change among Cubans, a great favor to the Cuban government.

leftside said...

Cubans' fears about property is not just because of some stupid statements out of the White House. This is part of US Law. US citizens an corportions who were Cuban citizens and corporations at the time of supposed law-breaking have the explicit right to sue in US court. The issue also prevents one of many barriers to normalization of relations.

The fact that international law clearly makes the matter a Cuban domestic issue means nothing to those in Miami who pushed these laws and the pandering fools in Washington who passed it. Nevermind that the story of expropriation is far more complicated than a simple taking - as Cubans repeatedly offered to pay and the US State Dept lawyers advised US companies against it.