CUBA 101

by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton

"It appears admirable, the naivete of talking about human rights to the dictators . . ."

The ignorance that afflicts the American public today about Cuba has grave consequences. People in positions of influence in this society, like politicians, high-ranking military, business leaders, economists, journalists, lawyers, intellectuals and artists, are somehow expected to be better informed in order to make educated judgements and comments. But unfortunately, they do not escape this prevailing ignorance. On April 26, Secretary of State Colin Powell, said of Fidel Castro, "He’s done some good things for his people." Would he dare to say the same of Hitler?

It is not that Cuba is the most important matter to study or discuss. It is that by simply ignoring facts about a close neighboring country, the U.S. has paid a heavy price and become vulnerable to political and economic blackmail. And this will continue to happen if influential people like Powell continue to make such misjudgments and other misguided people persist and succeed in the lifting of the U.S. embargo which will force the U.S. taxpayer to pay billions to subsidize Castro’s purchasing, because he does not pay his debts – business or otherwise.

The recent experiences resulting from three decades of trying to conduct dignified business with China should count for something. There is no democracy in China and human rights are continuously being violated. The influx of U.S. dollars has primarily benefited the totalitarian communists ruling the lives of the Chinese people, who are forced to work as slaves and made China into a formidable adversary of the U.S. and is financing their influence in other vulnerable areas of the world, like Panama. All while the U.S. business interests in China have made us economically dependent, almost hostages of the communist’s whims and open to their blackmail – which straight from communists’ handbook.

The recent EP-3E surveillance plane incident is a prime example of their propensity to criminal actions and violation of international standards – while spinning everything around making the U.S. look like the ogre. Also straight from the handbook. These techniques have been used by all the communists of the world so many times, you’d think someone who never lived in a communist country could start to pick up on it.

The Soviet Union perfected the handbook via constant use and refinement. The American farmers became dependent on selling them their wheat, which tied the hands of the U.S. and our moral values went down the drain while the world watched and snickered.

Now we hear from many Russians and other East European former captives of communism that it was foreign business arrangements, loans and tourism that propped up their communist regimes, which otherwise would have collapsed years earlier of their own ineptitudes. It is exactly what many pro-democracy Cubans from inside the island and abroad have been saying for over a decade to the deaf ears of the international business community.

Why are Cubans saying that? Because of their knowledge living inside the monster and understanding all too well its entrails. They know that Castro is not going to change, no matter what. They know that doing business with him will only serve to prop up his regime. The new U.S. business interests that would be created in Cuba would serve Castro as some sort of life insurance. He knows very well that the American capitalists will be interested in keeping the status quo with the objective of making money. This will be achieved by exploiting the cheap Cuban labor provided by Slave Master Castro. The U.S. business interest in Cuba today is not based on the moral ground to help the Cuban people to achieve their democratic goal but is driven by greed and profit.

The Americans supporting these engagements with Castro are doing so based on their ignorance of what Castro’s Cuba is all about and in many instances, they don’t even care – as they don’t care about the exploited Chinese workers. Castro has said many times that he and his communist system will not change (like China has not) and that after he is gone Cuba will continue as a communist nation. This is not simply his usual intolerant and hard-line rhetoric. He has made all the arrangements for the continuation of his regime. What can be clearer than that? (While I have no hope that Castro will have a change of heart after experiencing the wonderful ways of capitalism, I do have hope that after he is gone democracy will prevail.)

It is wishful thinking to expect that doing business and dialoguing with Castro is going to make the tyrant change, respect human rights and embrace a multi-party democratic government with free elections. Have Canada, Mexico, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, England, Japan, and rest of the over 150 countries that have kept doing business with Castro for decades, succeeded in bringing any kind of political and economic freedom to the Cuban people? How arrogant and preposterous to think that the Americans are going to accomplish what the rest of the world failed.

What would a continuation of communism mean to the Cuban people?

The late writer, Reinaldo Arenas, Columbia University, New York, August 30, 1980:

It appears admirable the naivete of talking about human rights to the dictators, when they exist precisely because they have suppressed all of those rights. The final goal of a totalitarian power is simply, the power. For and by that power dictatorships exist. To maintain that power, this power is capable of anything, not only, I say, the destruction of one human being (something, in reality, very fragile), of one writer, of one intellectual, of one worker, if not complete generations; of a people in general. And, if possible, of the human being in its totality.

Therefore, we cannot affirm without committing the sin of the naives, that Stalin has annihilated only 15 or 20 million human beings. The totalitarian system has annihilated, simply, all of the Russian people, just as in Cuba, the Cubans are being annihilated. All the inhabitants of all of those totalitarian systems have to resign in order to survive, precisely of their human condition, of life, put on a mask, play a role, stop being. Authenticity (not only of the intellectual, but any vital attitude) goes to the land of the clandestine. We are publicly the enemies of ourselves, so, in secret, with deftness, eventually, each time more fleetingly, becoming our shadow . . ..

For me I do not stop wondering at the fact that in the democratic countries, when a person is sentenced to die, he is not first forced to applaud and beg, screaming for such a sentence. What a privilege, for me, really incredible to put the head quietly in the guillotine, without having to improvise and oblige a speech praising the magnanimity of the cruel one, without before having to become your own cruel one.

That denial of true self, forced upon the citizens inside the totalitarian communist society is the real Cuba. It is the total lack of freedom in all aspects of your exterior and true inner self. It is the absence of hope and future, the impossibility to have a say and the lack of opportunity to participate in your own destiny and to help your own country. It is the disqualification of ownership and participation as an individual citizen in business transactions. It is to resign to keep your mouth shut at all times and go along with all the daily injustices, discrimination, apartheid, abuses and crimes. It is the impotence against the destruction of the environment and the extinction of species. It is the impossibility to leave and return to your own country in a civilized manner. All while publicly, dutifully applauding and cheering the overbearing power crushing you from all directions. It is the last humiliation.

All that and much more - like the documented deaths of 97,582 Cubans - is due to the obstinate ambition for total power and control by a single man shielded by a political system that perfected oppression and slavery in the 20th century. But the U.S. business community and other misguided souls, not quite content with the mistake done in China, want to do business with Castro who, in 1986, suspended payment on his foreign debt. All of it.

Where are the best minds of America? Is Castro right when he calls Americans "stupid"? Is this kind of stupidity what waits for us in the future? For sure, we have to improve an educational system that is engendering this irrational way of thinking placing blinders on the eyes of the population. And the U.S. media should be accountable for its part in the selective misinformation provided to the American people, making them savvy and empathetic toward the victims of Nazism but leaving them floundering in relation to what communism is all about and how to deal with it. The ignorance makes Americans totally oblivious and insensitive toward the victims of communism, that in 2001, are still crying for help.

Cuba is just 90 miles away. It is not too late to learn about what has been going on there for the last 42 years. Americans must learn once and for all that a trip to Cuba as a foreigner will not suffice to render an educated opinion about what you cannot experience with your own skin. Listen to the victims, they are the real Cuba.


ABIP 2001

Agustin Blazquez, Producer/Director of the documentaries: COVERING CUBA, COVERING CUBA 2: The Next Generation & CUBA: The Pearl of the Antilles

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