By: Alberto Luzárraga

Frankly it's about time to clean the attic in the Western Hemisphere. Forty-one years of one man rule is quite enough. Consider the results. Twenty per cent of the population exiled, abject poverty, a privileged ruling class, and 17,000 documented firing squad executions. Not to mention the much larger undocumented number of Castro induced killings through wars, revolutions, attempts to escape, prison beatings, and disappeared persons. It has been estimated that all this amounts to more than 100,000 dead, by far the bloodiest tyranny in the Americas.

This tyrant excels only in one thing: Propaganda and creating the illusion that Cuba is something else.

By now even that Potemkin Village image is pretty frayed. It takes a stretch of the imagination not to accept the inevitable conclusion. Practically every body in the world has gone to visit Castro and has "suggested" reforms and ways of effecting a transition.

Results so far? More repression and a regime that has turned from socialist to fascist as it grants investors the right to exploit Cubans by paying them under market wages. And to compound insult to injury the Cuban government keeps the lions share.

Can we imagine the hue and cry if Pinochet had let companies come into Chile and hire Chileans through government "employment companies" which pay them a pittance in pesos( $15.00 US is the average monthly salary in Cuba) while collecting payment from the investor in dollars in the hundreds? And even these rates are under market, because that is the way you get investors to "cooperate".

Castro is the Enver Hoxha of the Americas. Hanging on to power and dreaming of a totalitarian comeback. Some of his old allies seem to have yearnings as well.

The New York Times in its 12/15/00 edition covers Mr. Putin's visit to Cuba. Mr. Putin and Mr. Castro are quoted as follows:

"Mr. Castro and Mr. Putin found some common language in complaining about the advent of a world dominated by the United States. Mr. Castro claimed seniority in the struggle by asking, "Who knows better than the country situated only 90 miles from the biggest superpower of the world?"

Mr. Putin, without mentioning the United States, agreed that such "unipolarity" allows one country to "monopolize international relationships and to dominate them." He said the last time this occurred, "we all know how it ended," apparently a reference to Nazi Germany and World War II. "

According to the Black Book on Communism this system has caused 100 million deaths in the twentieth century. And still one of this pair has the audacity to obliquely compare the United States to Nazi Germany!

But it does not end here. Putin wants to consolidate his grip on his Cuban outpost. The NYT continues:

"Mr. Putin also brought along his defense minister, Marshal Igor D. Sergeyev, for discussions that appeared to be related to the degraded state of the Cuban armed forces since Soviet advisers were withdrawn and spare parts for Soviet equipment left in Cuba dried up.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Castro toured the secret intelligence base that Russia inherited at Lourdes, outside Havana, where a huge array of antennas allows Russian military technicians to monitor civilian and military communications in the United States and Latin America. Russia still pays rent for the facility with oil shipments, Western officials say.

Western journalists were barred from the tour."

The intent is clear and when related to the next item in the agenda, i.e. the huge Cuban debt to the former Soviet Union the plot thickens. Putin wants to consider "debt for asset" swaps and thus consolidate juicy deals for his new coterie of KGB yuppies. His only problem is Castro and his yuppies. But they will find way to come together and yet squeeze some more blood from the suffering Cuban population. Here is what the NYT quotes from Putin:

"The Soviet Union has invested a lot in Cuba's economy. This is worth billions of dollars, and we have to understand what to do about this."

And the article continues:

"[Russian] officials said Moscow had presented to Mr. Castro several proposals for swapping Cuba's debt for Russian stakes in potentially profitable Cuban enterprises in oil refining, nickel production and other sectors.

But Cuban officials are looking for debt forgiveness"

At this point there is no more justification for congressional visits, panels, proposals, deals etc. Castro is an enemy of the United States and will always be one. His reach is extending now into Venezuela. His narco connections are well documented. The security interests of the United States require that US legislators look at this situation squarely in the face and stop pretending that it can be fixed. That path has already been tried . We should not be talking about ending the embargo but about ending Castro.

And this does not mean, as some Castro lovers will soon jump to point out a US invasion or anything of the sort. For starters the simple statement that enough is enough when expressed clearly to our trading partners and allies will have an incredible effect for change inside Cuba. Many young people in the government (there is only one employer) are desperate for a change that will allow them to live normal lives but find no outside support. Their only hope is an exit visa. But if they saw a glimmer of hope things would be different. The realization that living a better life in Cuba, without having to emigrate, is attainable in the short term, will be a potent tonic for dissent.

One cannot underestimate the power of the United States if it begins a concerted campaign to tell the world the truth about Castro in a persistent and open way. The simple quoting of Cuba's Kafkian legislation will be most revealing.

The problem right now is that the governing elite is just too comfortable. It has enjoyed too many years of sweetness and light which it used to threaten with dire consequences if it does not continue in power.

What are the consequences? Well a boat exodus of course. It's the perfect argument for continued tyranny. Let me hang on or I will create a problem. It is an insult to the honor and traditions of the United States and false argument. Given a chance the Cuban people will turn Cuba into what it was before Castro: a very prosperous country.

No other exile group has had so much success in the United States in so short a period of time. We are an entrepreneurial and active people. There are more where we came from. We have the capital and knowledge to make it work.

So what are we afraid of? Fellow Americans: Let us rise to the challenge and tell the only tyrant in the Western Hemisphere:


Let the new generation of Cubans, Cuban Americans and honorable American investors turn Cuba into what it should be. A prosperous neighbor and a reliable ally of the United States.


Alberto Luzárraga

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