And with good reason …. Part 2
In my last column, I confessed of being one of those radical Cuban exiles who strongly oppose the resumption of trade with the repressive regime that has enslaved my native land for well over half a century. Those well-meaning people who continue to chant the left-wing mantra that “the embargo has not worked” are the same ones who continue to be laughed at by the Castro brothers and their minions, in Roadrunner “Beep-beep” fashion.
The proliferation of pious piffle spread by the "lift the embargo" crowd gets thicker by the day. So, please, listen up, my fellow Americans: This "embargo" was enacted, not as a means to topple Castro, but because Castro stole (that's S-T-O-L-E, as in T-H-E-F-T) $1.8 billion in U.S. property.
Say a business owner gets stiffed by a customer. He cuts him off, right? The deadbeat customer then looks around for other saps and stiffs them. Does that mean that the first business owner's "embargo" of the thief has "failed"?
After our "embargo," Castro stuck it to the Soviets for about $50 billion. He stuck it to the European Union for another $4 billion. Japan, the Philippines, Argentina and Uruguay – they're all holding the bag. Only the USA escaped more crooking. Looks to me like this embargo has worked like a charm! Another "Beep-Beep!" by Fidel Roadrunner.
"All politics are local,” quipped the late Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neil. Lifting the travel ban is a perfect example. As always in politics, let's follow the money trail. Castro needs U.S. dollars to pay for the farm goods produced by constituents of many senators and representatives from farming states. U.S. tourists will provide these dollars, and, in the process, consolidate the rule of both Castro and his military successors. The latter run Cuba's tourist "industry."
What has bothered me for years is how the "lift the embargo" gang claims the moral high ground on this issue. Could anything be more preposterous? They claim, with reams of pious nonsense, that "engagement" by U.S. businessmen, and especially tourists, will help topple Castro by the shrewd and relentless working of free trade's invisible hand. American tourists, we're told, will show Cuba's poor huddled masses what capitalism provides, what they're being denied, blah, blah.
Stop insulting those poor people, please! Don't you think they know perfectly well that they're poor and oppressed? Thousands of them talk and visit with their U.S. relatives weekly! Do you think the thousands who brave storms and tiger sharks on floating chunks of styrofoam do it for the thrill of it?
Tens of thousands of Cubans have been ripped apart by sharks in the attempt. They might have been reckless. They were certainly desperate. But must you also imply that they're imbeciles?
According to the "lift the embargo" gang, it seems that Cubans will recognize their piteous condition only after Joe Cool shows off his Rolex at the Tropicana and Barney Frank models his Speedo at Varadero Beach.
Many tourists from free countries visited Cuba last year. Perhaps tens of thousands have been visiting for decades. Has it made a dime's bit of difference in any Castroite policy? Has it improved the lot of ordinary Cubans?
A legitimate question some of us ask is: "Where's the evidence for the Castrophiles and free-traders' prognostications?” Nowhere, I dare say. All evidence shows that Western "engagement" actually prolonged East Europe's agony in the 70s and 80s.
Like the European and Canadian tourists (and like the roughly 200,000 U.S. tourists last year), any new flood of tourists from the free world will rarely hobnob with ordinary Cubans. They'll stay at the fancy hotels, dine in the fancy restaurants and frolic along beaches barricaded by the agents of the glorious revolution to keep out the ordinary Cuban citizen. Worse, every dollar or euro they spend will be with a business owned and run by Castro's military.
One can't shout it often enough or loudly enough: Castro's Cold War is not over! "The much bigger war against America is my destiny." Castro wrote that in 1958, right before his "rebels" kidnapped 50 U.S. military personnel from Guantanamo.
Less than 10 years ago, the UPI reported on Castro's star pupil and current lifeline, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, providing funds and false passports to al-Qaeda operatives. Shortly thereafter, Fox News quoted North Korea's highest-ranking defector on the massive purchase and shipment of North Korean weapons to Cuba.
And we Cuban exiles are the shortsighted ones? And we are the ones with our heads in the sand? It's the embargo reformers who need to poke your heads out of the sand, out of the clouds and out of your …
“Enlightened” (left-wing) opinion accuses we Americans of Cuban birth of being "blinded by emotion," of being "unable to see reason" with regard to Castro. Again, these people have it exactly backward. Ours is the empirical approach. We have first-hand experience with the “Lider Maximo.”
Our posture is the empirical one – the one based on experience and evidence. Yours is the emotional one – based on wishful thinking (and perfidy). In '57-'58 we warned (in vain) that he was a violent Communist. In 1961, we warned (in vain) of Soviet rockets being installed. A bit later we warned (in vain) of his training and arming of guerrillas throughout the hemisphere.
So, why listen to us? Hey! The embargo-hating crowd seems to say, “I read a book by Adam Smith, another by David Ricardo, two by Von Mises! Surely I know a lot more about Cuban history and Castro's mental habits than those tacky, hotheaded Cuban-Americans!”
Well, now we've got The Wall Street Journal itself coming out against the "embargo." The late William F. Buckley, too. "The one thing Cuba cannot resist is capitalist intervention," wrote Mr. Buckley in one of his National Review columns. This from the founder of a magazine that for many years carried a "Capitalist Rope Department," where all who transacted with any Communist country were strongly criticized. “A capitalist is one who will sell you the rope to hang him with,” said Castro’s idol Nicolai Lenin.
Castroite Cuba has been "resisting capitalist intervention" by many capitalist countries for almost four decades now – and quite successfully. Different monitoring groups reported recently that Cuba has the highest incarceration rate and the lowest press and economic freedom indexes on Earth. It's right alongside North Korea. And I repeat, that's after four decades of capitalist intervention by country after country.
"Private trade, self-employment, private industry or anything like it will have no future in this country!" That's Castro himself shrieking into the microphones 30 years ago. "We will not change Cuba's political system or Cuba's economic system! We will accept no conditions for trade with the United States!" Recent pronouncement by Fidel Castro.
Recent U.S. administrations have taken several steps to engage the repressive Cuban regime, including opening up travel for Cuban-Americans to visit family, and more academic and cultural exchanges.
So far, this strategy of engagement has gone one way only; each time the USA advances an engagement strategy, Fidel and Raul do a Roadrunner “Beep-beep!” at us, while the Wile E. Coyote free world sits there, burning up and smoking. The Castro brothers have done nothing to show that it’s open to hear its citizens’ cries for freedoms we Americans take for granted.