US Plots Cuba’s Future
From the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 to dozens of failed CIA assassination attempts and a 45-year economic blockade, ten US administrations have tried nearly everything to eliminate President Fidel Castro and destroy the Cuban Revolution.
With the Cuban leader turning 79 last August and still capable of giving long speeches a few times a week there are concerns in Washington on whether plans for a so-called “post-Castro period” might be a little precipitous.
Take the last week or so for example. On Thursday November 17 Fidel stood at the podium for five hours in a live nationally televised address. On Wednesday the 24th the Cuban leader was live on the nightly Round Table program speaking for over four hours on a number of pressing energy, economic and ethical issues facing the country. Then on Friday the 26th he made an unplanned and extensive address to an economist’s congress once again touching on the present and future of the island.
The idea of an intervention to force a post-Castro Cuba to accept US tutelage and forgo its social and economic system has its detractors even in Florida, where right wing Cuban-American organizations are based.
“This is the same thinking that has led us astray before, and now in Iraq,” the Christian Science Monitor quoted Damian Fernandez, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, as saying in an article published on Nov. 27.
“A policy that is only defined based on the personality of Fidel Castro or his brother Raul is misguided,” says Fernandez. “It blinds us to real concerns that will affect US national interests and the future of Cuba,” added Fernandez in a conversation with the Monitor.
The latest chapter in the seemingly unending US hostility against the Caribbean island nation kicked off in May 2004 when the Bush administration released a 450-page plan on how to bring an end to the Cuban Revolution and swiftly take the island under Washington’s wings. In August 2005, the White House even named a Cuba “transition coordinator” with an office at the US State Department.
The all-embracing plan includes a swift confiscation of properties and putting them in the hands of US corporate interests and the Cuban exiles of the early 1960s and their heirs, who, by way of US legislation, have filed suits against the island in US courts. European, Canadian, and Latin American investors with joint investments in Cuba would join the average Cuban as the big losers.
Another controversial portion of the plan is its focus on US intervention to keep the vice-president from taking office if the president dies. An analogy given by some analysts is: What would have happened if a foreign power had intervened after the assassination of President John Kennedy to keep Vice President Lyndon Johnson from succeeding the president as provided in the US Constitution?
The Bush plan chastises “The Castro dictatorship” for maintaining a constitutional and socialist system on the island that guarantees the continuation of the revolution and its social and economic transformations.
“US policy must be targeted at undermining this succession strategy,” adds the administration’s plan for Cuba, in order to “hasten Cuba’s transition,” to US style democracy.
Some Cuba watchers write off the tough talk in the post-Castro plan as little more than a domestic political tactics, speculates the Monitor. “They say it was aimed at shoring up President Bush's flagging support among Cuban-Americans in Miami during last year's presidential election, when the plan was unveiled.”
Daniel Erikson, a Cuba expert at Inter-American Dialogue in Washington is quoted as saying, "The reality is the United States does not know that much about how to build democracy in the developing world."
The administration’s recent rebuff at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, --where mass demonstrations greeted President Bush and his Free Trade Area of the Americas was all but buried-- are seen as the result of US imposed economic policies that have greatly increased poverty in the region.
Efforts by Cuba and Venezuela to promote an alternative development model based on mutually beneficial trade, and social and economic integration, could be at the core of the administration’s current fixation on the two countries.