[Marxism] Tough, Empty Cuba Policy (L.A. Times EDITORIAL)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon May 24 06:40:14 MDT 2004

(This editorial represents a sharp break with previous
Los Angeles TIMES editorials on Cuba, and appears to be
part of a general trend toward criticizing Bush policy
on Cuba. The LA TIMES has been stridently, hysterically 
hostile to Cuba in recent years. While framed like all
such commentaries in the dominant corporate media in
terms of a better way to overthrow the Cuban Revolution,
it suggests we'll see even more such criticism of Bush
as the electoral process continues in the United States.

(More and more editorialists are, as are other figures
in the US political establishment, alarmed at the harm
which Bush's unilateral adventurism is doing to the 
overall position of the United States in today's world.

(This appeared the day after our local news conference
by the Coalition in Solidarity with Cuba last week, and
two days after the same paper published an op-ed by two
US Senators on Cuba, Baucus and Enzi, which has also 
been reprinted in a number of other US newspapers.)

Tough, Empty Cuba Policy

May 21, 2004

Talking tough to Fidel Castro usually pays off with votes
in Florida, even if it doesn't move Castro or help forge a
viable U.S.-Cuba policy. Hence President Bush's latest
Cuban initiative, which amounts to little more than
election-year pandering.

Not that he is the first president to play that game. In
1992, after initially opposing it, George H.W. Bush signed
the Cuban Democracy Act, which restored the ban on trade
with Cuba, probably because he feared that his opponent,
Bill Clinton, would use the issue to help win the Florida
vote. In 1996, President Clinton signed the infamous
Helms-Burton law that imposed sanctions on foreign
investors in Cuba - and he won Florida. In the 2000
election, both candidates promised to get tough with
Castro, and the vote was so tight that the winner
ultimately had to be decided by the Supreme Court.

For 2004, the president has promised to stiffen sanctions
against Cuba's communist regime. From now on, Cuban
Americans who used to be able to travel to see their
relatives once a year can do so only every three years. The
new policy also reduces the amount of money they can spend
on the island from $164 per day to $50.

Another part of the plan deals with Radio and TV Marti, two
U.S.-government-sponsored broadcasting services that Cubans
haven't heard or seen since their inceptions in the 1980s
because Castro's operatives block the signals. U.S.
taxpayers will now spend an additional $18 million for
technology upgrades, including an airplane that supposedly
will outsmart the Cuban intelligence services.

Last but not least, the Bush administration plans to spend
$36 million more to support the anti-Castro political
opposition in Cuba.

These measures, mostly rehashed ideas, do little to hasten
political reform, instead lending a hand to a dictator who
uses such acts to strengthen his rule. Restricting travel
to force a repressive regime to open up sounds
contradictory. And does it make any sense to spend $18
million more on a project like Radio and TV Marti that has
never worked?

Offering $36 million to Cuban dissidents is tantamount to
giving them the kiss of death. They would immediately be
labeled "agents of the American imperial power" and
probably imprisoned.

Castro will be 78 in August. Come January, he will
celebrate his 46th year in power. Ten U.S. presidents have
tried to oust him and failed. This administration, strapped
for cash to keep out terrorists and conduct the war in
Iraq, ought to at least stop the bleeding of taxpayer
dollars on such low-return enterprises.

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