IN THE AFTERMATH OF ELIÁN
by Ricardo E. Calvo MD PhD
Thousands of articles, legal opinions and passionate conversations have been centered around the case of the child Elian but only a few have raised the point that the present administration of the U.S. must posses a well defined political agenda for the near future with respect to Cuba before its official termination in January 2001. How otherwise can they justify the high degree of attention, drastic measures and the political risk that the American government has been willing to undertake with the case of Elian?
There are very strong political and economic forces at play to end the economic embargo by part of the U.S against Cuba. These anxious forces proposing to open commercial relations with the Marxists in Havana are the same which contribute greatly to election campaign funds. Have no doubts about it. The politicians know them very well.
The working thesis that a relaxation of the embargo and the establishment of trade relations with the Cuban Marxists will expose the Cuban people to ideas of freedom and make possible political changes will be invoked again and again with the same frequency as "Elian must be returned and reunited with his father".
It could very well that the American people will accept the lifting of the embargo with the same degree of ignorance that they justified the action with respect to Elian but the question is: Will the Marxist government lift their embargo towards the real foundations of freedom: private property, individual human rights and the Rule of Law? Of course not!. Their reinstitution would represent the end of their very existence as the unique ruling power. The Marxists will continue with a well defined "selective trade" with the U.S. firms.
What goods can Cuba trade with the U.S.? Maybe some tobacco (heavily taxed and antagonized by the present U.S. administration) and some sugar (poor harvests in the last few years reaching barely 4 million tons). But wait. There is another commodity which Cuba can export in quite abundance since it receives plenty of it from overseas without any productivity efforts.
Did you guess right? Dollars -- yes, hard cash dollars. Around $ 800 millions that we Cubans send to the Marxist government due to "personal reasons" and in addition, among others, $ 20 millions from a frequently overlooked source. For every Cuban that leaves the island with one of the 20,000 "legal visas" issued by the U.S. Interest Section in Havana the Cuban government receives $ 1000 in cash ( No Pesos , please) to buy the appropriate permits and medical exams. If you were ignorant of this fact beware that Washington is not. These amounts could also easily increase several fold under "open and free commercial channels" by a wave of Cuban and American visitors to the Island.
In the event of ending the embargo, this last commodity (dollars) can be effectively be used by the Cuban government to obtain "selected goods" and "engage in limited economic trade" to safeguard the socialist system during "the special period in peace" and not to fall within the sphere of influence of the American consumerism.
Think for a moment. Has China changed politically following several years of trade with the U.S.? Has Vietnam made dramatic changes in its internal political climate after being recognized and giving access to American markets by the present democratic administration in Washington?
Therefore, it is natural and logical to ask what would happen to the American "enthusiasm" of lifting the U.S. embargo if the Cubans impose our own: Stop sending cash remittances to the island. Stop visiting relatives and friends in the island. Stop making telephone calls to the island.
What about if we could concentrate our efforts in destabilizing the Communist Party by curtailing the flux of dollars to Cuba and putting pressure on those who are willing to remit dollars to, visit and call Cuba including the business enterprises which facilitate them.
The realization of the embargo against dollars to Cuba not only will contribute to rule out another Elian case but will terminate the very existence of Marxism in our island and will show that indeed we have taken the destiny of our future in our hands and away from international and economic interests.
To encourage a work stoppage in exile due to the Elian case can make the headlines in the news for 24 hours in the U.S. media but strangling the Marxist economy and bringing the fall of communism in Cuba once and for all will be a milestone in the new millenium.
Ricardo E. Calvo MD PhD
April 25 2000