[Marxism] Let's bomb Havana with Big Macs

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Jul 25 08:44:25 MDT 2004

For decades, some right-wingers have said that the best
way to overthrow the Cuban Revolution is to end the US
blockade. The Bush administration's further escalation
of US hostility toward Cuba is meeting a good deal of
resistance from a growing chorus of other right-wingers
who observe the failure of the blockade to subdue Cuba.

What we have here might be summarized in the phrase:
"Right policy prescription, wrong motivations for them."

This article by two influential Republicans gives us
more evidence of the disarray in which US policy toward
Cuba currently finds itself. Consider just a few points:

It's really quite a sign of the times when two US top
policy-makers feel they have to prepare the people of the
United States, IN ADVANCE, for Fidel Castro's July 26th
speeche! Like many before them, from Jeff Flake through
William F. Buckley, Jr, they feel the best way to defeat
the Cuban Revolution is to end the blockade..

Without any doubt an end to the blockade would cause
considerable disruption on the island, where pent-up demand
for consumer goods has got more than a few Cubans to
fantasize about the realities of life in the United States.

George Bush's anti-Cuba policies have, as these writers see,
thrown the island's opposition elements into disarray, and
has them, for a change, attacking Washington instead of 
their more familiar target, the Cuban government.

It's also notable that they have no comment about the
growing economic ties between the US and Cuba, as shown in
the cancer vaccine joint venture, nor have they any comment
on Cuba's possible oil strike, both of which are counter to
direction of the Bush administration's policies against
Cuba. And no comment on the release, after less than two
years, of Cubans convicted and sentenced to very long 

It's been the political strategy, or is it hope? or is it
fantasy? for all these years of the small ultra-right-wing
minority of Cuban exile militants to provoke a US military
invasion of the island since on their own have no hopes of
overthrowing the Revolution with their own few remaining
followers still residing on the island.

(BTW, let's recall that no dissidents were executed last year, 
though three armed and violent hijackers WERE executed.)


Let's bomb Havana with Big Macs 
The administration's tough new policy 
may impose a new equality of poverty 
- William Ratliff, Roger Fontaine
Sunday, July 25, 2004 

Tomorrow Fidel Castro will remind the Cuban people how 51
years ago he launched the revolution that made him
unchallenged Maximum Leader in Cuba for the past 46-plus
turbulent years.

In power, Castro's huge ego and Flintstone-quality economic
thought have created a mere survival economy on a rich
island. His big socialist experiment, once a great hope for
many worldwide, is now discounted by almost everyone except
Cubans and American political candidates.

November elections and its convictions have driven the Bush
administration to develop an increasingly assertive U.S.
policy toward the island, one that Castro warns may end in
a military invasion. Castro could be right, whether Bush
intends it or not.

The State Department says the objectives of U.S. policy are
"clear": to end a "ruthless dictatorship" and assist Cuba
in a transition to democracy and free markets. Bush's
recently founded Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba
has developed what it calls a new "proactive, integrated
and disciplined approach" to bring this about.

Implementation began this month. Among other key changes,
it is now much harder for Cuban Americans (and more so for
other Americans) to visit the island or send money or
supplies to people living there.

Acting with understandable humanitarianism, Cuban Americans
have long been delivering unlimited parcels and about $1
billion annually to Cuba. This has made it much easier for
the half of the Cuban people with relatives abroad to
survive many years of economic hardship.

Cubans with no family abroad, mainly blacks, have received
few remittances and have to scramble for dollars from
tourists, now a diminishing resource, or survive on their
tiny peso incomes.

President Bush recently slammed sex tourism in Cuba, but
this government- supported sub-rosa business will not
suffer as much from fewer open visitors as will vibrant,
already harassed above-board small businesses like paladar

Castro is making propaganda hay by charging this new U.S.
policy again proves Washington wants to tear Cuban families
apart, as during the Elian Gonzalez incident in 2000. Even
in Miami, the squeeze has been unevenly received and may
lose the president votes in November.

To its credit, the new policy is more honest than previous
policies because it recognizes that the main group
violating the spirit (and sometimes law) of the embargo has
long been the main group that "supports" the sanctions.

The Free Cuba commission argues that "dollars and donated
goods, although provided with good intentions by U.S.
persons (that is, Cuban Americans), are effectively helping
keep the regime afloat." That is true, but before the
dollars wind up in government hands, they help millions of
individual Cubans to stay "afloat" in a devastated economy
under a leader who shows no sign of reforming or leaving.

Of course, a really honest policy in administration logic
would impose total sanctions, blocking all remittances and
parcels to all Cubans equally. Presumably this would
further speed up the demise of the dictatorship. But would
it, and at what cost? And does all this encourage the
"peaceful transition" Washington says it wants? Well, last
year's milder but more "proactive" policy precipitated
dozens of imprisonments that decapitated the island's
dissident movement. Not a promising start.

The new policy seems most likely to impose equality of
greater poverty on millions more Cubans. But it could go
further and provoke protests or uprisings, particularly if
total sanctions are implemented. This would undoubtedly set
in motion a chain of violent confrontations Cubans
themselves have tried for decades to avoid.

Any open challenge to Castro will immediately activate
Cuba's tough repressive apparatus. In a post-Castro
showdown, it would also probably try to crush protests,
although with Castro gone the likelihood of a split in
loyalties would be greater, perhaps increasing the

The moment repression begins in Cuba, pressure will be
enormous for the U. S. to intervene militarily to save the
dissidents from extermination. While Miami polls show that
a majority of Cuban Americans openly support U.S. military
intervention, as do some politicians and analysts (more
quietly) in Washington, all American military officers we
have talked to over the years, and most other Americans,
oppose it.

(A sub-theme in some analyses is that denying Castro
dollars will reduce his anti-American activities abroad.
Perhaps. But it would not shorten his tenure and the
prolonged impoverishment of millions of Cubans for that
purpose seems more an act of hostility toward them than

American politicians have a responsibility to act in the
interests of Americans (and Cubans, if possible) as a
whole. For domestic political reasons (votes!) it is still
unrealistic to expect either party in Congress to lift the
embargo altogether, though most Americans and the vast
majority of Cuban dissidents we claim to support want us to
do so.

So at the very least, members of Congress should rally the
support needed to reverse recent changes. Let's "bomb
Havana with Big Macs," so to speak, by opening up travel to
all Americans and making it easier to deliver remittances
and parcels to as many Cubans as seek support from outside
Castro's domain.

William Ratliff is a research fellow at Stanford
University's Hoover Institution. He was in Cuba during last
year's arrests, trials and executions of dissidents. Roger
Fontaine was the senior staff member for Latin America on
the National Security Council during the first Reagan


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