Why the US fears Cuba

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 31 12:16:31 MDT 2003

The Guardian, Thursday July 31, 2003
Why the US fears Cuba
Hostility to the Castro regime doesn't stem from its failings, but from
its achievements
by Seumas Milne

Fifty years after Fidel Castro and his followers launched the Cuban
revolution with an abortive attack on the dictator Batista's Moncada
barracks, Cuba's critics are already writing its obituaries. Echoing
President Bush's dismissal of Cuban-style socialism as a "relic", the
Miami Herald pronounced the revolution "dead in the water" at the
weekend. The Telegraph called the island "the lost cause that is Cuba",
while the Independent on Sunday thought the Cuban dream "as old and
fatigued as Fidel himself" and a BBC reporter claimed that, by embracing
tourism, "the revolution has simply replaced one elite with another".

Bush is, of course, only the latest of 10 successive US presidents who
have openly sought to overthrow the Cuban government and Batista's heirs
in Florida have long plotted a triumphant return to reclaim their farms,
factories and bordellos - closed or expropriated by Castro, Che Guevara
and their supporters after they came to power in 1959. But international
hostility towards the Cuban regime has increased sharply since April,
when it launched its harshest crackdown on the US-backed opposition for
decades, handing out long jail sentences to 75 activists for accepting
money from a foreign power and executing three ferry hijackers.

The repression, which followed 18 months of heightened tension between
the US and Cuba, shocked many supporters of Cuba around the world and
left the Castro regime more isolated than it has been since the collapse
of the Soviet Union. Egged on by Britain and the rightwing governments
of Italy and Spain, the EU has now used the jailings to reverse its
policy of constructive engagement and fall in behind the US
neo-conservative line, imposing diplomatic sanctions, increasing support
for the opposition and blocking a new trade agreement.

But it's not hard to discover the origins of this dangerous standoff,
which follows a period in which Amnesty International had noted Cuba's
"more open and permissive approach" towards dissent. In the aftermath of
September 11, the Bush administration - whose election depended on the
votes of hardline Cuban exiles in Florida - singled out Cuba for
membership of a second-tier axis of evil. The Caribbean island, US
under-secretary of state John Bolton insisted menacingly, was a safe
haven for terrorists, was researching biological weapons and had
dual-use technology it could pass to other "rogue states". He was backed
by Bush, who declared that the 40-year-old US trade embargo against Cuba
would not be lifted until there were both multi-party elections and free
market reforms, while Cuba was branded a threat to US security,
overturning the Clinton administration's assessment.

full: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1009384,00.html


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