Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two Republicans on Cuba

In Miami last weekend, Senator McCain reiterated his position on Cuba. From El Nuevo Herald (my translation): “Raul Castro wants our aid, but there will be none until there are elections, they free political prisoners and allow human rights organizations to work effectively.”

Meanwhile, a friend sent this item from the Charlie Rose Show – former Secretary of State George Shultz, from the Reagan Administration, on Cuba: “I think our policy of sanctions against Cuba is ridiculous. During the cold war it made sense because it was a Russian base. And they used it for flying spying missions, and so on, but that’s over. And all we do by our sanctions is allow Castro, and now maybe his brother, to blame the problems of Cuba on us. And at the same time I think particularly now that there’s some transitioning of some kind probably coming about, we’re much more likely to get a constructive outcome if there’s a lot of interaction. And to try to prevent interaction under these circumstances, I don’t think is sensible.” You can see it here, on the April 24 program, around the 30-minute mark.


theCardinal said...

Nothing new on Schultz. Just over 12 years ago I saw Sen McCain at a Republican party function in Miami. I made it a point to congratulate him on his courageous stand to end sanctions against Vietnam. I have a profound amount of respect for the Senator and will probably vote for him but this position of his is completely based on political considerations. If he was willing to forgive Vietnam he can somehow do the same for Cuba. As someone who is advocate for human rights and democracy there can be no one better than McCain to call for a change in US policy and still hold the regime's feet to the fire. Unfortunately he has taken the easy road.

Anonymous said...

I've always been conflicted regarding certain elements of the embargo.

That said, I think it's important to realize that the vast majority of folks on the island who I've had lengthy conversations with don't tend to blame their problems on the embargo. Going further, I've had people laugh at the notion - one fellow in particular remarking - "your George Bush and his policies are like a baby in diapers compared to what we have down here [Fidel].

Granted, the embargo has some influence on the Cuban economy but, the island is free to trade with whatever other countries it wishes to. Folks in Cuba shouldn't be underestimated - they aren't so obtuse as to think that their problems stem from the embargo. So, when Mr. Schultz remarks that "And all we do by our sanctions is allow Castro, and now maybe his brother, to blame the problems of Cuba on us" - it doesn't really reflect the reality of what your average joe on the streets of Havana thinks.

Just my two cents - in reality - I'm neither endorsing or condemning the embargo, just speaking as to certain realities as I've experienced them. Do with it what you will.


Anatasio Blanco

theCardinal said...

Anastasio - good points. I know that my opposition for the embargo stems from two concerns. First it is contrary to the national interest of the US and secondly it is overrated by both proponents and opponents. We have become so fixated on the embargo that it suffocates all issues of vital concern to Cuba.

The lifting the embargo will not cure what ails the Cuban economy. But with that issue out of the way perhaps we can focus on the bread and butter and human rights issues on the island. The embargo is a distraction that needs to be disposed.

Anonymous said...

" I think it's important to realize that the vast majority of folks on the island who I've had lengthy conversations with tend to be AGAINGST the embargo and pro-tourist....

This is not consistent with the fabricated view given by the miami folk. Average cubans want more tourists NOT less.

They tend to respect countries like Spain and Canada,and do not see these countries as "exploiting cuban people" as mIami says.. in fact, average cubans think the opposite

this is to be expected , since the talking heads in miami haven't been to cuban for long while and most don't even know a REAL cuban.
on the embargo.

theCardinal said...

I can see why some people view them as exploited. I have had plenty of conversations with Canadians that have gone to Cuba and they talk about the people they see as artifacts or museum pieces. They see the suffering and all they think about is how quaint it appears. It disgusts me to hear them speak this way about people just trying to get by.

Unfortunately, even though it is overly hyped in Miami, I do know of people who did go for the "sex tourism." Again, among the many people I know that have gone they make up no more than 5% of the visitors but it once again bothered me that these people objectified Cubans. Whether the women are "sex workers" by choice or by coercion in the end they would probably prefer to do some other kind of work to make ends meet.

Anonymous said...

good points cardinal , but the same could be said for any developing nation.

Costa Rica, the relatively rich peaceful democracy in CAmerica, is full of sex tourist - much more than Cuba.

Look also at Thailand, Peru, DR, India, China, or any developing country.
Sex tourism is much more of a problem since the fall of the Wall, than pre-1989.

Or look at large Sex tourism segment in Amsterdam - a thriving, democracy in western europe.

Tourists always "objectify" their subjects. That is what tourism does, whether it be in Thailand, or Peru. or cuba.

So, your arguments sound really like you don't like the implications of tourism (especially 'third world' tourism), nothing to do with Cuba.

By the way , i would like to see you convince a Costa Rican or DR prostitute that they are different than cubanas b/c they are 'free' and at least have a 'choice'. They would promptly laugh in your face.

Anonymous said...

Mc Cain is nothing but "Bush Lite" He will continue the same failed policies of his predecessor. Sounds almost like Cuba except Raul seems to be doing something different.

When the old communist leaders in Slovakia tried to pass themselves off as born again democrats, the people came up with a slogan : "New wind from old arces" I think that aptly describes the current republican candidate for the presidency.

theCardinal said...

Jose - I want to stress that I don't think that Sex Tourism is a huge problem but honestly after reading your comments now I'm thinking freeing up travel may make things worse. My issue with the sex tourism is that I don't like it, obviously. Whether it is worse in other places (and it is) does not make me feel any better. I am proud to be an American but I do feel a kinship with the people on the island and the situation annoys me.

In the end though, despite my concerns, I still think that the embargo should be lifted. I was just trying to point out why some in Miami would legitimately feel that Cubans on the island are being exploited. Granted for some it is just a knee-jerk response but others do mean it.

Anonymous said...

To Embargo or not to embargo, that is the question? I don't think so. Obviously, the embargo has made it harder for the regime to get credit and investments from the world bank. in any event, the benefit to the Cuban people I think would be minimal since all salaries are negotiated through the state.

More importantly, when will the U.S. Coast Guard and Air Force stop protecting the regime. It's time that Cubans take action into their own hands and launch "la lucha armada". Both the Republican and Democrat Party give a rat's ass about the liberation of Cuba. They do not want another Mariel. They want the regime to die a natural death. I believe that it is our right to take up arms and launch attacks against the regime. Especially now when it is at its weakest point in history.

theCardinal said...

You are right the US doesn't want another Mariel or flotilla, but it also doesn't want an unstable situation 90 miles from its shores. What we want is a stable regime that opens up economically and politically to its citizens... for no other reason than it would provide more stability.

Taking up arms would be idiotic from a Cuban perspective - no one would have any chance against the two headed monster of the CDR and Cuban Military. Mass civil disobedience would be prfoundly more effective...speaking as someone of Cuban descent, however, I know that non-violence goes contrary to our character.

One final quibble. The Castro Regime was much, much weaker economically, politically and perhaps even militarily during the special period.