Back From Cuba, With Nada
A U.S. congressional delegation just went to Cuba, got absolutely no concessions from the Castro communist dictatorship, and still they had the gall to come back and tell us that the next move is up to Washington.
Excuse me? Why?
Did the Cubans promise to hold elections, release political prisoners, consent to a free press, let the Cuban people express themselves freely, allow dissidents to protest without being harassed and physically abused? Did they promise to be a little less evil or a bit more democratic?
The answer is no, zilch — nada.
So why is the next move up to Washington?
Is it because this group is made up of bleeding-heart liberals who see civil and human rights violations only when they are committed by right-wing dictators? Or is it because the group consists of Republicans who have traded their party's historic posture against communism for their capitalist greed?
Their answer is yes, both.
Headed by Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., the 10-member bipartisan delegation that went to Havana last week is composed of people who obviously care very little about the suffering Cuban people. If they did, they would not be throwing a lifeline to a regime that is about to finally collapse.
We have been waiting for almost 48 years for Castro to cease to exist. And now that he is reportedly near death, now that he is about to go meet Hitler and Pol Pot in hell, some Congress members are trying to keep his bankrupt ideology on a respirator. They were in Havana for three days of talks with some high-ranking government officials, but they were snubbed by Raul Castro, who has been the acting dictator since his brother Fidel took ill in late July.
Raul, who is obviously trying to consolidate his authority in an effort to sustain Cuba's one-party, authoritarian system, had recently indicated that he would be open to negotiations with the United States. And so, these naive fools went running to kiss up to the new dictator.
But when Raul refused to meet with them, the delegation had to come back empty-handed. In fact, they said the other Cuban officials insisted that there is no change of policy in Cuba.
And although at least one delegation member observed that the Cuban ministers he met were "markedly uninterested in human rights, a free press and free elections," some are still insisting on holding hearings of legislation to begin dismantling the U.S.
The Bush administration has rightfully said there will be no dialogue with Cuba until the regime frees political prisoners and holds free elections. In fact, the administration has intensified the embargo in order to promote a transition to democracy by squeezing the Cuban economy and leadership.
But now that there is a light at the end of Castro's dungeon, some lawmakers want to reverse those restrictions by allowing Cuban-Americans to visit the island more often and to remit more dollars that would help sustain the Castro regime.
This congressional delegation may be bipartisan, but it is definitely anti-embargo — at any cost — even if it means making concessions to Cuba without getting any in return. They didn't even meet with Cuban dissidents in Havana — never mind the suffering endured by 11 million people some 90 miles away from our shores.
Instead of waiting to see what happens after Castro dies, especially when there is a strong chance of a power struggle in which many of Castro's henchmen will eliminate one another, these Congress members are in a hurry to turn Cuba into another China. Instead of waiting to see if the power struggle leads to democracy and freedom for the Cuban people, these lawmakers want to cut a deal that will allow Cuba to maintain its system of repression — just as long as American tourists are free to vacation there and American businesses are free to trade with the communist island. For the Democrats, the motivation is simply the naive belief that lifting the embargo would somehow turn Cuba into a free society. Trade with China has not made the Chinese people any freer, but that's their illogical logic.
For the Republicans, it's all about the all mighty dollar — pure, unabated American greed. U.S. farmers need to sell more food and our pharmaceutical companies need to sell more drugs, and their strong lobby in Washington has convinced even the traditionally anti-communist Republicans that they should put their principles up for sale.
These Republicans see big bucks for American businesses if they are allowed to export their goods to Havana. Never mind that Cuba has no money to pay for those goods and no plans to stop violating human rights. American taxpayers can always subsidize loans — never to be repaid — for the Cuban government to buy U.S. products and keep repressing its people.
To find out more about Miguel Perez, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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