SHOULD THE INTERESTS OF THE CUBAN PEOPLE TAKE PRECEDENCE?
By Rogelio Madrazo Serra
The United States is in the midst of a global war against the forces of evil. Eight (used to be nine) Democrats are campaigning for their party nomination to run for President, and naturally, all are proclaiming that the present administration is incompetent and evil. What is the state of our Union? Our economy is struggling to come out of the doldrums caused by the Democrats and September 11. The Senate is blocking judicial nominees. Our borders continue to be a sieve through which enemies are likely filtering in. Moral standards are sliding to accommodate the latest fad. The budget deficit is a serious menace to our economic well being. Trade deficits are staggering. Unemployment is higher than it should be. The education of our youth continues to flounder. Every day, another pension fund is found to be insolvent. The cost of medicines continues to climb. And then there is Cuba…
Cuba-a very poor fourth-world nation-is today the focus of attention for many politicians at the state and federal levels, and is covered by the press with a frequency that is disproportionate to its importance to the world.
The purpose of the attention and coverage Cuba receives is not to illustrate how we made Cuba a pawn in the Cold War, how we used immigration policies as a weapon to destabilize the Soviet-sponsored tyrant, or how the Kennedy administration betrayed the resistance movement in Cuba and those who landed in the Bay of Pigs. The purpose of the attention is not the defense of the Cuban people's rights, to expose the abusive sentences imposed on peaceful dissidents, or to address the predicament of Cubans in our jails.
These representatives of the people, and the merchants do not seem to be offended by the spying activities of the Castro government against us. They travel to the Island Prison and without remorse embrace those who have their hands stained with blood of Cubans and Americans alike. Why?
The atrocities that Castro commits today get a note on page five of the Metro section of newspapers while excursions to Cuba by politicians, intellectuals, and Hollywood trash are covered on the front page because of their ostensibly altruistic purpose of improving the lives of the Cuban people. What lives? The life of a man who has no medicine for his children, whose sister sells her body to the tourists who have made Cuba second only to Thailand in the sex-for-pay industry? The life of a doctor who must drive a taxi to collect dollars because with only pesos his family will starve? In a place where hospitals have no running water, doctors are exported, and to maintain an illusion, foreigners are treated with (dubious) medical procedures and foreign nationals are trained in well-kept schools.
Why do we keep saying that American tourism will put pressure on the tyrant when Canadians, Mexicans, and Europeans have not changed in ten years Cuba's apartheid policies? Will our tourists bring a magic powder that infuses in tyrants the desire to liberate their people?
Why do we hide from the public the fact that opening tourism will provide the tyrant with dollars to make cash purchases in the US, and if the so-called embargo is lifted, we will then be financing the purchases that the tyrant makes and will be a debtor nation with no hope of collecting (as most of the nations that have extended credit to the tyrant have found out)?
The tyrant has demonstrated over the course of 44 years a total disregard for the welfare of the Cuban people. He has killed, and through crazy centralized economic decisions and international adventures, has immersed what used to be a prosperous nation into an economic abyss beyond the comprehension of learned scholars. There is absolutely no indication from the past to indicate that the dual windfall of tourism and commercial transactions guaranteed by our government will do anything but strengthen the yoke under which the people suffer.
The travel agents, the Arkansas rice grower, the Florida citrus industry, the cattlemen from Minnesota all have pecuniary interests in the Cuban tragedy and wield political power through elected officials. I propose that the Cuban people deserve our respect, and the martyrs that Cuba and we have contributed to the cause of Cuban independence will come out of their graves and yell treason if we allow our desire for pleasure and a few silver coins to supersede the legitimate rights of the people of Cuba to be free.
Let's not add another infamous episode to those written in April of 1961, October of 1962, and the subsequent years at the mercy of the longest and most brutal tenure of a tyrant in the Americas.