An opinion letter appeared today in The Miami Herald, the local English language diary. It’s signed by Frank Gonzalez. It’s neither my letter nor my opinion. When I write, I sign my full name: Francisco Gonzalez-Soldevilla.
For those curious to learn my own thoughts on this matter, let me be clear: As a whole, I hold the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association in the utmost respect and admiration. They’re the generation before mine who were old enough to fight directly with the Castro dictatorship, risking their life over the cause of liberty in Cuba only to find themselves betrayed, left without resources after landing on Cuban beaches when JFK and RFK withdrew the military support and logistics they had promised these valiant patriots at their recruitment and during their training at CIA-sponsored camps in Central America.
I admire Yoany Sanchez for her sincere and honest attempt to bring down the Castro dictatorship, diligently reporting and blogging in the midst of the horrors that surround her, but I do not share her desire to lift the embargo at this time. While The Embargo has proven an utmost failure for the destabilization of the dictatorship since its onset, first the USSR and next Hugo Chavez circumvented its purpose by providing the regime with the cash to finance the repression in Cuba over the last 54+ years. Now the dictatorship finds itself without the assurance of Hugo Chavez’s petro-dollars and his drug-derived, money-laundered cash to quell its opposition.
This pressing financial uncertainty forces Castro’s emissaries to appeal from every possible stage across the globe for the lifting of the here-to-now failed embargo. This is not because the higher echelons of power in Cuba would do without their basic necessities as ostensibly some assume, but because without the assurance of a cash-rich external assistance, the government dictatorship would lose control of the rank and file in the military and of the regime’s political infrastructure, the mercenaries responsible for the intolerable repression the people there suffer. The elimination of bribes to buy loyalty would bring a gradual unwinding of the system, eventually causing it to lose control and tumble.
Until now, these apparatchiks bartered their loyalty for more favorable treatment from the dictatorship. They were given rewards supplying them with food, clothing, transportation, access to privileged education for their children, and trips abroad. Without the external massive flow of cash to bribe their allegiance to the dictatorship, these repressive dogs will find themselves equally as miserable as the other 11+ million victims on the island, scavenging to survive day to day, hand to mouth.
On the other hand, the lifting of the Cuban embargo would carry open lines of credit. These new credit lines would ensure a retention of the leverage the government requires to subdue any overt revolt against the Castro regime. Sadly for all who sympathize with the plight of the Cuban people, a lifting of the embargo and open lines of credit would guarantee the status quo in Cuba—not that the politically powerful in the US today would not tacitly rejoice over this stalemate.
Historically, any turmoil in the island has triggered waves of refugees to our coast. Today would not be an exception. However, today an influx of refugees would wreak havoc on our frail economy and already vastly over-burdened social structure. There are many negative implications to such an outcome when this area in particular and the nation as a whole continue to face economic difficulties. New masses of refugees fleeing hunger and misery, seeking to find milk and honey among us would stir controversy across the full spectrum of our political and social strata.
It’s what tilts the balance in favor of the oppressors and against those who like me oppose the lifting of the embargo. A massive flight from the island is something Washington is unwilling to risk at this juncture, unlike LBJ, who pushed for The Embargo and the Cuban Adjustment Act during his tenure as president to enable freedom-seekers to reach our shores by any means. Those were different times in the US, as we waged the Cold War.
Our ethical values shifted along the years together with our visceral understanding as a people of the value of liberty. We no longer acknowledge as a nation that if among us even a single individual is not free, by extension none of us is truly free. We see the results of this change every day more in the halls of Congress. We understand clearly when we read the USA PATRIOT ACT and find how its enactment destroyed the Constitution and our rights under the guise of protecting the people, allowing the government to gain dictatorial controls over our lives.
As always, your comments and contributions are encouraged and appreciated.