CUBA: What Next for US Policy?
US must maintain pressure on Havana and Castro to fuel Cuba's revolution from within
RECENT articles advocating detente between the United States and Cuba show the writers' sympathy for the plight of the Cuban people. They also demonstrate naivete concerning Cuban politics and historical events leading to the problems besetting President Fidel Castro Ruz.
Cubans who elected to remain in Cuba and support the revolution have helped keep this hemisphere's most oppressive political system alive for more than three decades. There are those who too early forget the extreme hardships and injustices imposed by Mr. Castro on his people. Those who idolized him and entrusted their fate to his hands are indeed victims, even though they may have believed they were struggling for a just cause. However, also victimized are nearly one million Cubans who fled their homeland.
It has been said the US has no moral right to continue a hard line toward Cuba. But what about the hard line Castro has taken toward his Latin neighbors, the US, and Cuban exiles betrayed by a popular revolution turned communist that they originally supported? Should not Castro's morality for obliging his people to relinquish nearly all semblances of democracy and freedom, and to live in fear and deprivation, be called to question? Is Castro not morally responsible for this?
Are the post-revolution summary executions of hundreds of Fulgencio Batista supporters to be forgotten? There were and are thousands imprisoned whose only crime was disagreement with Castro. Scores of Cubans died trying to escape.
Embrace Havana? The voice of Cuban victims demands that Castro be brought down, not kept afloat. These victims are not just unfortunate statistics and nameless faces, but fathers and mothers and sons and daughters who have had their lives torn asunder.
Castro must be brought down by Cubans from within. The US must keep hands off, based on a 1962 agreement between President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khrushchev. What better way to ensure Castro's downfall than to make sure his followers are so disillusioned as to force change? Rushing to aid Cuba and support Castro sends the wrong message.
For years, revolutionary Cubans were instructed to look upon departing family and friends as traitors and ``gusanos'' (worms). Now, after more than 30 years, Castro declares that exiles are no longer traitors. Apparently former ``gusanos'' are a potential resource. Thousands of Cubans in the US are receiving requests from friends and family to send dollars. Castro has decreed that loyal followers may now renew severed relationships. What hypocrisy! ``Gusanos'' are being invited back ``home'' for visits; American tourists are encouraged to defy a US ban on travel to Cuba. Why? To get desperately needed dollars. Castro believes that these measures will salvage his government and pressure the US to ease economic restrictions.
While Castro appears to be a rather sympathetic person, his record shows him to be a ruthless master of deceit and manipulation. He has always insulated himself from the dirty work by making his brother, Raul, his hatchet-man. Those who know his background remember that he was a radical Marxist law student. From the beginning he intended to embrace the USSR. The Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961 gave him the excuse. Even prior to '61, Cuba had begun to confiscate property, businesses, farms, industry, and banks.
US policy did not push Castro into the communist camp. One only need look at advisers like Che Guevara and other early leaders to realize they were nearly all dedicated communists. Castro clearly planned to gradually turn what began as a popular movement, supported by nearly everyone, into a model socialist state.
Later, with massive support from the Soviet Union, Castro planned to subvert the governments of Latin neighbors. Yet Cuba's failure to export revolution has still not convinced all Cubans that communism does not work. To keep a revolutionary spirit alive, Castro keeps speaking of the danger 90 miles to the north. ``Cuba si, yanqui no!'' ``Patria o muerte, venceremos!'' (``Cuba yes, yankee no!'' ``Fatherland or death, we will win!'') are old slogans used to keep revolutionary fervor alive. What must Castro's followers think when everything is falling apart? They appear fed up and ripe for change.
When Cubans realize that communism is actually dead, and that Castro's promises will never be fulfilled, they will be ready to decide their own fate. Propping up a failed system and an avowed enemy of the US would be a mistake. We must keep the lid on Cuba, and let the pot boil. The Opinion/Essay Page welcomes manuscripts. Authors of articles will be notified by telephone. Authors of articles not accepted will be notified by postcard. Send manuscripts by mail to Opinions/Essays, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617 -450-2317, or by Internet E-mail to OPED@RACHELCSPS.COM.