“Today we reaffirm our ironclad solidarity with the Cuban people and our eternal conviction that freedom will prevail over the sinister forces of communism and evil in many different forms. Today we declare America’s unwavering commitment to a free Cuba.” — Donald J. Trump, September 2020
There are a few things wrong with this statement.
Any government the US forces Cuba to adopt will almost surely not be democratic or independent. There are a large number of reasons to believe this rhetoric is completely misleading.
The “solidarity with the Cuban people” Trump talks about is something quite different in reality. Trump is allied with wealthy and politically powerful Cuban exiles in Florida who have never had the interests of the average Cuban citizen at heart but the re-establishment of their exceptional perquisites in a thoroughly biased environment. Had the United States been looking out for the average Cuban, they would have dropped the embargo decades ago.
The U.S. government’s track record consists of installing kings and dictators rather than democracies. The political power of wealthy Cubans and Americans living in Florida with economic interests or claims in Cuba make this political stand within the United State politically advantageous while the real interests and sympathies of the anti-Castro elite are anything but democratic or in the interests of the average Cuban citizen.
We’ve been boycotting Cuba since 1959 and it has only hardened the average Cuban’s heart against us and hardened and given legitimacy to the dictatorship. We disallowed cultural and economic interaction, not on principle, but because having thriving socialism so close to our borders and accessible to the average voter would reveal the lies that have been spread within our own voting population. Interaction might demonstrate that socialist governments aren’t necessarily evil or pernicious and “freedom” when it’s the freedom to exploit others rather than work in the best interests of all isn’t freedom at all but tyranny.
The chief difference between Fidel Castro (now deceased) and his predecessor, Fulgencio Battista (also long gone) wasn’t democracy, wasn’t evil or good, but was a dedication to restoring the rights of native Americans who were dispossessed and disenfranchised 500 years ago by a series of armed European invasions and occupations and a dedication to ameliorating the ongoing injustices these intrusions started.
Castro instituted elite universal medical care and universal education and training for any and all Cubans who wanted to learn. Castro closed the Brothels and gambling parlors that sold the dignity of his country and its people for a few pieces of silver. I’m not saying that Fidel Castro didn’t have a bad side; I’m saying that he was better for the average citizen than any of the many leaders we’ve installed and manipulated throughout the Third World and that we oppose democracy whenever it goes against the excessive and unfair privileges of the wealthy here or in the countries we try to manipulate militarily and/or economically (see Iran/Contra).
The Cold War ended — with a whimper rather than a bang. Both Russia and China, our two boogeymen morphed almost instantaneously into capitalism. And hardly anything changed except the secession of several Eastern European countries from the Soviet Empire. The conversion of Russia to capitalism happened not because we opposed them but because we befriended them while their government mismanaged the wheat harvest in the Ukraine, backed a bogus government in Afghanistan and lied to its people during the Chernobyl crisis.
The “evil” Trump talks about certainly didn’t end with abandoning the facade of communist rhetoric and the adoption of our economic system. If we’re rational, we have to understand that these labels have been used and abused by both sides and were not key factors in any of our many disagreements with each other.
Free trade and the designation of China as a preferred trading partner worked miracles while the Cold War merely allowed both sides to lie about their mistreatment of the Third World.
Another problem with Trump’s declaration is that you do NOT create a democracy with a foreign army except under the rarest of conditions. Democracies are almost always compromises. Ours certainly was. Thomas Jefferson owned a huge amount of land that, at the time, needed slave labor to turn a profit and fund his family and their lifestyle. So Thomas Jefferson owned or inherited 600 people. He tried to get them humane treatment but he wasn’t always successful. And freeing them was economic suicide and might actually have made the freed slaves’ lives worse, not better except the few he trained and educated who were also his own children. And a slave counting as 3/5 of a person for representation in the US Congress was another compromise with the more industrial states as well as the principle of equality they enunciated on 4 July 1776.
Democracies aren’t always really democratic. Ours has always had a huge thumb of wealth and power on the scales of justice. The legal system has never been fair or completely ethical. Laws are often written by specialists hired by a consortium of interested corporations such as the National Rifle Association rather than by the legislators who sponsor them. The loopholes are carefully designed for profit, not effectiveness. Then a consortium like the NRA targets supporters and opponents of their bill who have to be re-elected every two years or every six years. Because elections are about perception rather than reality, advertising, not idealism, is the critical component in getting re-elected and the key component in advertising is campaign funds.
I would like to raise the possibility of ACTUALLY being in “ironclad solidarity with the Cuban people.” I submit that such a position would require free trade. I submit that such a position might allow both sides to improve policies and procedures of capitalism and socialism in a synergy and compromise that could benefit the vast majority of BOTH sides of this gigantic fence (like the Berlin Wall) we’ve erected between our two populations.
And I wonder how using the word “evil” could ever benefit any of us in the long run.
©David Ney Dodson, Phoenix, AZ, September 2020