The pro Castro lobby against the embargo on Cuba and the reasons behind. By Eva Belfrage.
The pro Castro lobby against the embargo on Cuba and the reasons behind
By Eva Belfrage
November 26, 2012
Raul Castro: With the changes we can save "our" robolution ( robo= theft ) - Fidel Castro: "Yes we can".
The international campaigns by the Castro brothers for support against the US embargo on Cuba, have been intense and breathlessly exagerated. They go on day after day and never seem to end. They leave an impression of despair, of a government praying for mercy at the feet of the US government and begging for international help.
While this is ongoing Raúl Castro has the impudence to continue offending the US government , taking as a hostage an innocent American aid worker and put him in jail for 15 years.
A contradictory policy approach it seems, but the tradition of the Castro brothers is the show of arrogance and strength.
There is however no doubt that Raúl Castro is desperate to get American tourists to ‘his’ shores and dollars from the so despised diaspora in Miami to ‘his’ coffers, to save himself and his government from economic ruin. Other trade than the one already ongoing on advance payment basis (the US is one of Cuba’s main partners, mostly for import of food and medicine ) may hardly be realistic as Cuba has nothing to export, the Castro coffers are empty and they are reputed for not paying credits.
The desperation of the Castro regime for US dollars, is a golden opportunity for President Barack Obama, not only to maintain the embargo but to put further pressure on the Castro regime. In this situation it would be stupid to do the contrary, to loosen the embargo and not require anything from the Castro regime, at least some improvements with respect to human rights and transition to democracy.
When googling on news on Cuba, it is astonishing to see how much space American media dedicate to the support of an ending of the trade embargo, but how little is reported on the atrocities committed against democrats in Cuba. It is also sad to note how American media fails to report on the situation in Cuba, where people live under constant fear of being arrested and in a hopeless struggle for the daily bread.
Here are some reflections around these Why’s :
The ideologically convinced collaborators
During the days of the cold war Cuba had a special role within the socialist block and that was to recruit and involve supporters and agents in the West for the block. Cuba gained a lot of western support because of its engagement in the liberation wars in Africa, and was therefore considered to represent a more sympathetic communism than the other countries in the socialist block. It was always said among leftists, at least in Sweden, that Cuba was more open with regards to culture and that the people could not be terribly repressed, as the Cubans on the Island seemed to be happy and friendly and not that stiff and serious as in the USSR or GDR. For this and some other reasons as the tropical climate, the exotic tourism and the music, it was always attractive in the leftist movements in the West to sympathize with and have connections with Cuba. The Nordic brigades to Cuba were and are still very popular. In the US something similar should have developed within the leftist movements.
During the cold war the neutral Sweden was considered to be an important recruitment base for supporters and agents for the socialist block and the Swedish connections with Cuba, specially after the visit of Olof Palme to Havana, constituted an important link in this network. After the cold war many of the same people are still around particularly among academics, cultural and media workers. In Sweden it is even today very difficult, sometimes even impossible to pronounce criticism against the Castro regime in certain circles and in media. Swedes may admit that it is not quite alright with human rights in Cuba, but they always say that the free health and education system (and they refuse to accept that they are not functioning any longer) outweigh the atrocities.
For sure many of the journalists, cultural workers and politicians both in Sweden and in the US belong to the category of ideologically convinced and some may after recruitment have become established supporters of the Cuban regime. Most of them are probably supporting the dictatorship by conviction, but some may also have been bought with favours and others been forced to collaborate through blackmail or other types of pressure. The embargo issue is not a hot issue in Sweden. But in the US it is more than exagerated and it would not be surprising if some of these anti-embargo journalists, have travelled extensively to Cuba and are well known figures to the CIA.
The ideologically convinced journalist and collaborators with the Cuban regime, argue for the lifting of the embargo in accordance with the tone of the media they work for and the target groups intended. The Castro government provides all necessary facts and figures home fabricated for this never ending campaign.
The ‘useful idiots’
Among the journalists and cultural workers, there are a lot of so called ‘useful idiots’ who have been convinced by the anti-embargo lobby, that the human rights situation in Cuba would improve if the trade embargo was lifted. The most common argument by these people is that the 50 years’ embargo has not helped to improve the situation in Cuba and it is therefore time for a lifting. They also say that the cold war is over and they think that the Cuban economy would improve with friendly connections and trade between Cuba and the US and that this would automatically or hopefully lead to democracy and respect for human rights. This they presume although historic evidences show that dictators don’t fall when and because the economy improves.
The US Democrats
The anti embargo arguments mentioned above seem to be the usual also among Democrats in the US, who several times have loosened on the trade embargo, but always received a negative answer from the Castro regime with hardening repression or serious actions of offenses against the US, like the shooting down of the Brothers to the Rescue planes and the detention with a 15 years sentence of the American citizen and aid worker Alan Gross.
Such actions leave the impression that the Castro regime in fact doesn’t want a loosening of the embargo and that the lobbying against it, is only a show to spread negative propaganda against the US. The evil actions directed against the US have normally hardened the Democrats, but not so with Barack Obama. He has instead continued to further loosen the embargo, but would probably go further if Alan Gross were released.
The almost sympathetic approach by the Democrats to a brutal dictatorship of this kind, so close to its borders and so openly hostile to the US, is astonishing to a Swedish and European observer, as this is the policy of a party, which only by its name should stand for and defend democratic values.
The existance of a strong pro-Castro lobby within the Democratic party is evident, as no reasons would exist for the Castro brothers to leave US politicians to themselves when it comes to the issue of Cuba.
The Castro regime has also managed to seduce parts of the American business sector for an ending of the embargo. In times when American entrepreneurs are desperately lookiing for new markets and cheep labour, Cuba looks attractive, being geographically close and in desperate need of everything. Those who have joined the anti-embargo lobby are mostly from the the tourist and food sectors. Some business people are also hoping that there will be an opening in Cuba for small investments, but these hopes were arrogantly dismissed the other day by Cuba’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, who said that they are only interested in very big investments, in large infrastructure, ports and the like.
The International lobby
An international government lobby in support of the Castro regime and on the issue of lifting of the embargo has been established with intense and long diplomatic work by the Cuban regime. This was essentially attained through the exchange of Cuban doctors and votes on issues of interest. This international government lobby always votes in the UN in support of the Castro regime and they are also obliged by their agreements with Cuba, to raise the issue of the embargo (and the demand for release of the five Cuban spies in US prisons) in every possible international occasion. This lobby has managed to get more and more support and this year an overwhelming majority in the UN voted in favour of the Cuban dictatorship and against the US embargo.
Any one would wonder if the same could have been possible with North Korea or Burma?
The Cubans at home and abroad
When you ask a Cuban abroad what he thinks of the regime in Cuba, the answer is often that he/she is “not interested in politics”. That is normally a person who wants to have connections with Cuba and be able to return and visit the family. Cubans abroad are also controlled and monitored to a certain extent and if they speak out against the government, they may be refused to visit Cuba or their family members be refused to leave Cuba. Many families have been destroyed and seperated in this way. Although Cubans say that they are not interested in politics, these same people often don’t hesitate to express an anti-embargo view.
The great part of the Cuban exile lives in the US. Many of those who send help to their families and who return for visits are often for a loosening or ending of the embargo, as this would support their individual and family interests.
The Cubans in the US who are politically conscious or more involved in the Cuban cause, Cubans who are not allowed to return to Cuba, political refugees with a background of resistance or dissent to the Castro regime, are normally for a continuation of the embargo and they mostly vote with the Republicans, as they think that the Democrats have betrayed their cause by striving for improved relations with the dictatorship.
What the people in Cuba think about the embargo is not verifyable. But the population has been indoctrinated during fifty years that the embargo is the great evil and all the economic failures, the poverty, lack of housing and infrastructure, even illnesses are caused by the US embargo. So the majority of Cubans probably think that if the embargo is lifted everything will improve.
There are many illegal groups of dissidents in Cuba, individual bloggers who are not alligned to any group, there are different party groups and human rights or democracy group, there are active civil resistance groups, there are workers and womens groups, cultural groups etc. We don’t know what their stands are on the issue of the embargo. Only a few have expressed openly what they think.
The dissidents who have openly expressed their support for a lifting of the embargo, use to argue that it doesn’t help to maintain a pressure on the Castro regime and it is cruel to let the Cubans suffer economically. Those dissidents seem to believe, what the US Democrats and others described above, believe, i e that a lifting of the embargo would improve the general economic situation in the country and also for the poor. Most of these dissidents are however not convinced that an improved economy automatically would lead to democracy.
Many of those who for a long time have been in the peaceful struggle for democracy and perhaps also passed years in prison, think that any US relaxation of relations with the Castro government would mean a triumph for the tyrants, and would not in any way improve the prospects for a transition to democracy , not even an economic improvement for the poor. These dissidents are well aware of how the Castro government functions. They have been able to see the society from all angles and how and for what the social socialist structures together with the repressive structures are set up. They have no illusions that this regime will ever improve or give up the mental and economic influences it has over its main source of income, namely the poor cubans and their slave labour.
Be they pro or against the US embargo, most dissidents agree that the US embargo is not the most important. The worst embargo is the embargo that the Castro government maintains against its own people, with its tyrannic prohibitions, restrictions and limitations on all basic physical and spiritual necessities in life. A cruel component of the Castro embargo is the punitive system used by the regime to uphold the embargo, which is meant to opress and control every Cuban citizen, even when they have left the Island.