THE DEEP AND THE SHALLOW
In the middle of the controversy about the US embargo against Cuba, it is a pleasant and refreshing surprise finding in America an influential, well-informed human being voicing reason and scruples verses greed.
He is Donald J. Trump, the wealthy real-estate investor. Until I read his article "A Choice for Human Rights," published on June 25 in the Miami Herald I thought very little of him but now he has my admiration, respect and gratitude. His article must be read by all, whom, by ignorance, insensitivity or greed, plan to invest in Cuba.
The information found in his article is specific and accurate. Obviously, Mr. Trump got deeply involved to uncover and understand all those facts that normally escape the so-called "Cuba experts" in the US.
American businessmen and politicians, salivating at the prospect of making a fast buck in Cuba at the expense of the exploited and rights-deprived Cuban workers, have a lot to learn from Trump about the moral principles of business. Trump chooses human rights over profits. Currently that is a rare virtue.
Meanwhile, at the shallow end, the Clinton Administration’s saga of seeking a convenience arrangement with the Stalinist tyrant of the Caribbean, sent the US Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donahue - the anti-US embargo advocate - to talk to the intransigent dictator for six hours.
However, Cubans, as the first-hand, real experts about Castro’s Cuba, are positive that for as long as the regime is in power, they will lack human rights and democracy. Therefore, no convenience arrangement in their detriment is acceptable.
Trump accurately says in his article, "The real cause of misery of the Cuban people is Castro’s Marxist-Leninist economic system – not the US embargo. Castro’s Cuba is a brutal police state; Castro rules through terror, intimidation and brutality."
Castro has imposed an embargo against all aspects of life of the Cuban people. And this is the cause of the tragedy. Any sort of cooperation with Castro and his cronies will extend the suffering.
Trying to convert Cuba into the China of the Caribbean for the sake of exploiting the cheap labor and to make the island into a prostitution and casino heaven is highly inflammatory and insensitive to Cubans or to any decent people.
Trump says, "Under these circumstances, my investment cannot help average Cubans – it can only replace the Soviet subsidy Castro no longer receives. I would rather take a financial hit than become a financial backer of one of the world’s most-brutal dictators, a man who was once willing to aid in the destruction of my country. To me the embargo question is no question at all. Of course, we should keep the embargo in place. We should keep it until Castro is gone."
After reading the factual Trump’s article, I was shocked but not surprised by a shallow, heartless and racist article by Randall Robinson in the July issue of Essence magazine. This article is part of the anti-US embargo crusade that Robinson, president of the Washington DC-based TransAfrica – a self appointed "Cuba expert" – is waging after his three-hour meeting last January 7 with "President Fidel Castro," as he calls him. President? In what democratic election was he elected "President" of Cuba?
According to Castro’s daughter, Alina Fernandez Revuelta as well as thousands of pro-democracy advocates, Fidel Castro is a totalitarian "tyrant." As a factual historical truth: Castro violated and set aside in 1959 the 1940 Cuban Constitution and formed an illegitimate government that rules by force, institutionally violating all human rights, killing thousands and oppressing millions.
Robinson’s article is racist because he imports and imposes a made-in-US label to Cubans who happen to be black and classify them as "AfroCubans." Regardless of ancestry, Cubans born on the island consider themselves "Cubans". We do not need or want any foreign label to wedge a division or to separate us from what we are or from each other.
Prejudice exists in all societies but the reality for blacks in Cuba was very different than in the US. For example, Batista – mentioned in Robinson’s article – was a mulatto from a dirt-poor family who was democratically elected in 1940 as the constitutional president of the Republic of Cuba. Race was not the handicap it was in the US.
Batista’s term was 4 years and in 1944, Ramón Grau San Martín was elected the next president. Castro, unelected president-for-life, in charge since 1959, is afforded legitimacy by Mr. Robinson.
Historically, before Castro, black Cubans were in all levels of society from maids and chauffeurs to doctors, lawyers and politicians. To cite some important politicians from a long list: Victor Morúa Delgado who was the President of the Cuban Senate in 1906; Marcelino Garriga Garay, President of the House of Representatives in the 1940s; Manuél Capestano Abréu, Senator; Francisco Benitez, Interior Minister, Secretary of Labor and Representative; Blás Roca, Representative and Senator; Prisciliano Piedra, Representative and Senator, etc.
Under Castro, blacks are nearly absent from decision making positions in his government but are in overwhelming majority in his infamous gulag – according to internal Cuban sources estimated at 90%.
Again the repetitive mantra about the fallacy of Castro’s health care and education is used by Robinson, as well as the argument of the low infant-mortality rate in Cuba - a country that practices abortions galore. (According to Dr. Alberto Luzarraga’s calculations, based on the population, Cuba performs 1.5 times more abortions than the US).
All of the favorable statistics provided by the Castro regime and distributed throughout international organizations like the UN and the Pan American Health Organization, etc. are without verification. Only a fool can afford credibility to this propaganda.
Robinson – parroting Castro – blames Cuban’s hardship on the US embargo but omits the fact that hospitals for foreigners and Castro’s cronies are very well equipped and supplied and that the US$-only stores have the same food and appliances you can find in the US. How does the embargo fit?
Cuba was already highly developed before Castro in the areas of health care, infant mortality and education. And as for literacy, Cuba made great progress from 1902 until 1958 when the literacy rate was 80% (4th place in Latin America) and the population was free to read anything they chose. Under Castro all information is controlled and there is no choice.
Robinson reaches an outrageous level of blind fanaticism when he states that Cuba "still has a better record with respect to human rights than many Latin American governments . . .."
He could not say that in front of the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children inhumanely herded and tortured in Castro’s gulag. Nor facing the families of the 27,000 dead due to executions, extra-judicial assassinations and deaths in jails because of beatings and denial of medical care. Nor facing the families of the 60,000 dead at sea while escaping Castro’s tyranny.
In addition, since January 1999, 10 have already been executed while 8 more await the firing squad and 5 have been assassinated by Castro’s regime. Before Castro the death sentence did not exist in Cuba.
Robinson’s article and his team of "Cuba experts" unanimously agree that "the embargo is inhumane and should be lifted forthwith."
Human rights have different meanings when observed from a deep versus a shallow point of view. Trump and Robinson are far apart and their choices exemplify each.
Agustín Blázquez Agustín Blázquez, Producer/Director of the documentary COVERING CUBA
with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton ABIP 1999