[Marxism] On Cuba policy

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Fri Apr 10 18:44:42 MDT 2009

I've been surprised --pleasantly so-- by the amount of speculation and
discussion around Cuba that has emerged in connection with Obama becoming

We should remember that what Obama actually PROMISED in the campaign was
ONLY to reverse a Bush policy restricting family visits to Cuba to only once
every three years without even any exceptions for family crisis, mortal
illnesses and so on. It was unpopular among most in the Cuban community in
Miami, and is the result of the bourgeois Batistiano leadership of the
gusano mafia in Miami.

Those people, who came out of Cuba in the first years of the revolution, and
their descendants, as a general rule have very few or no relatives left on
the island. That is why the CANF was lukewarm, at best, on family
reunification visits and remittances. So when Bush wanted to punish Fidel
for I forget which transgression a few years ago, these additional
restrictions were the upshot. 

However speculation and pressure seems to be mounting for more to be done.
And it looks like the form could well be congressional enactments, which
Obama won't oppose but won't present as "his," lifting the travel ban
generally. And I believe actually any significant loosening of Cuba policy
has to be done by Congress, thanks to the Carter-era Helms-Burton law.

There are, clearly, some very specific domestic U.S. interests involved. The
farm and manufacturing sectors generally are for trade with Cuba for the
obvious reasons of self-interest, as are probably also the oil, tourism and
airline industries, though these latter three have not come out in a very
public way. Wall Street could care less, but Wall Street's take on all
issues has become somewhat devalued of late.

But Wall Street's attitude was one of the reasons why Cuba policy was
allowed to become a right-wing electoralist toy. Another was that the
foreign policy and military establishments were basically for the anti-Cuba

As imperialist strategists saw it, punishing Cuba was good because Cuba had
been very bad. And anyways, Fidel was going to croak one of these days and
there would be a huge political crisis. The US could use recognition,
lifting the blockade and so on as leverage to try to influence the outcome
of the crisis. And it was good, too, to show all these uppity Latin
Americans how *impotent* they were and how they had NO CHOICE but to play
along with the United States, given geopolitical realities. 

The much-hoped-for political crisis did not materialize with Fidel's
withdrawal from the presidency and there is no indication that it is coming
any time soon. At the same time, with the emergence of a left in Latin
America on the level of governments, which the United States hasn't been
able to do much about, there isn't much of a point to "punishing" Cuba as a
lesson to others because the others have appeared and the U.S. hasn't been
able to do to them what they've done to Cuba (or what they did to Allende,
Arbenz, etc.). 

>From the point of view of the strategic interests of the United States in
Latin America, the anti-Cuba policy is starting to turn into its opposite.
The administration is under pressure from Latin America, where official US
acceptance of Cuba is now seen as some sort of gesture or guarantee from the
U.S. that it recognizes at least SOME limits to its right to dictate what
goes on in the hemisphere. 

And the summit of the Americas, where Cuba has once again been excluded, is
almost surely going to be an embarrassment for Obama on Cuba. The
*exclusion* of Cuba has turned it into one of the major issues of the summit
and one where pretty much every last Latin American country is, officially
and in theory, at least, opposed to the United States. And right before the
overall summit there's going to be, in essence, a caucus/summit of the left
in Venezuela where Cuba will participate and can be expected to once again
put the focus on the Cuba exclusion as the summit of the Americas open.

Obama hooked his wagon to "change" and it seems for many, that also means a
change in direction on Cuba policy.


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