U.S Cuba Policy Rejected By All

The outcome of the recent Summit of the Americas was a total embarrassment for the United States – and not just because of the misconduct of the Secret Service detail. Our Cuba policy was roundly condemned by virtually all other governments and it was made clear that if we stick to barring Cuban attendance, there would be no more Summits, for the other governments would not participate.

And why the U.S. refusal to sit with Cuba? Because, we say, it is not a democracy. No, but it is moving in the right direction. At the urging of the Catholic Church, Cuba has freed most of its political prisoners, and also has opened up to the private cultivation of land and to more and more small private enterprises. Surely we could encourage movement in that direction more effectively by engaging and resuming dialogue, rather than by sitting on the sidelines and in effect saying that only when they have a perfect democracy will we talk to them.

Further, the Cubans note that our conditions for dialogue continue to change. For years, we assured them that if they would but give up their ties of dependency on our principal adversary, the Soviet Union, and stop their efforts to overthrow other governments in this hemisphere, then we could begin to engage and enter into a constructive dialogue. By the early-1990s, the Cold War was over, the Soviet Union had become the Russian Federation, and Cuba had officially renounced any intentions overthrowing other hemispheric governments. Rather, they said, it was their intention to live in peace with all. And so have they done.

In other words, our conditions had been met. And so did we then improve relations and begin that constructive dialogue? No, quite the contrary. The U.S. then took new measures against Cuba in the form of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, and with even greater hostility in 1996 with the Helms-Burton Act. The purpose of the latter was clear as Senator Helms vowed that with its passage we could now say “adios, Fidel.”

Well, not quite.

Worst of all, of course, was the administration of George W. Bush, whose objective, quite openly, was to bring about the end of the Castro government. But he did not succeed either. Raul Castro replaced Fidel, yes, but the Revolution remained intact.

Meanwhile, all other governments of the hemisphere did began to engage with Cuba, until it has today reached the point at which only the United States does not have diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba. Ironically, we are now the ones who are, at least in this sense, isolated- and we will remain isolated so long as we hold to this outdated and utterly sterile policy of refusing to move toward a more normal relationship with Cuba. As some have put it, “It is a self-inflicted wound.”

As indicated at the Summit, the time has long passed for the United States to move toward constructive dialogue and engagement with the Cuban people. Our policy of regime change has not worked, and, instead, is utterly counterproductive.  If we keep it up much longer, the United States may find itself in Cuba’s place as the one country isolated from the rest of the Western Hemisphere.

By Wayne Smith.

Wayne Smith’s Editorial in the Sun Sentinel 02/22/11

Case Against Luis Posada Carriles Takes Welcome Turn
by Wayne Smith, senior fellow and director of CIP’s Cuba Program

Astonishing! And just when many of us were convinced that the trial of Luis Posada Carriles was simply a farce. After all, wasn’t the U.S. government just trying this arch terrorist for perjury, for lying about the way he entered the United States (illegally of course), leaving aside his myriad terrorist activities? Continue reading

Robert E. White: Lessons from Central America

For more than thirty years, a constant flow of depressing information has dominated the news out of Central America. In the 1980s, the media documented our harmful involvement in regional revolutions and counter-revolutions. In this new century, stories and articles have recorded the violence and lawlessness that are a direct consequence of the counter-narcotic policies that the United States has forced on Central Americans.

Then, as now, the United States uses Central America as a practice arena. Yesterday, it was to test the doctrine of counter-insurgency in its various manifestations; today, Washington invests huge resources into a counter-drug program that evidence and common sense demonstrate can only make the problem worse. At the root of both problems, is faulty analysis.

Central America in the last half of the twentieth century was a place of unbroken civil strife and bloody repression. These conflicts were rooted in class warfare. A handful of the landed elite backed rightist regimes and paramilitary death squads against impoverished campesinos and laborers who, out of desperation, had begun to support left-wing guerrilla movements.

In 1981, the Reagan administration erroneously attributed revolutions in Central America to the Soviet Union and Cuba; “What we are facing in Central America,” said then Secretary of State Alexander Haig, “is a straight case of external aggression, nothing more, nothing less.”  This of course was utter nonsense. If there was one thing we were not facing in Central America, it was foreign aggression. The rebellions in the region were home-grown and authentic, popular uprisings against the heaped- up injustices of decades. There would have been uprisings in these countries whether the Soviet Union and Cuba existed or not.

Had the United States, a country born in revolution, respected the right of other nations to revolt against intractable injustice,  Central Americans would have quickly found their own political solutions, sometimes democratic, sometimes not.. At a minimum our restraint could have avoided closing off democratic alternatives that drove idealistic young people into violently anti-American revolutions movements.

Today it is the misconceived ‘War on Drugs’ that scourges Central America and corrupts every function of government, in particular those institutions charged with upholding the law. Continue reading