Thursday, May 10, 2007

USA vs Cuba: Almost 50 Years of Success!!

Michael Moore is making headlines again. In advance of the Cannes premiere of his new documentary "Sicko", he is being investigated by the US Treasury Department. The reason? A trip he took to Cuba during filming of the documentary.

The USA is approaching a half century of dimwitted foreign policy with respect to the small communist island. This seems to be news to the troglodytes in the Bush administration, who issued a report in June of 2006 patting themselves on the back and suggesting that their plan was working. Assuming their "plan" was to wait for 50 years until the death of Fidel Castro by natural causes, then yes, I would have to concede that they are succeeding. But to any thinking observer, their muddled policy of isolation, aborted invasions, and failed attempts to assassinate or overthrow Castro has been nothing but a total disaster.

One such enlightened observer is Wayne S. Smith. A Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy, Smith has in the past served as Cuba analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Third Secretary of Political Affairs in the American Embassy in Havana, Director of Cuban Affairs in the Department of State, and Chief of the U.S. Interests Section Havana. Of the July 10 2006 report, Smith writes:

" says: "Chronic malnutrition, polluted drinking water, and untreated chronic diseases continue to affect a significant percentage of the Cuban people." And of course adds that: "Conditions will not improve as long as Fidel Castro remains in power." Never mind that UN indices consistently indicate Cuba's population to be considerably healthier than those of most neighboring states, including the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico--one reason being that they have free health care. It is interesting to note also that life expectancy for Cubans is five years longer than for African-Americans!"

Indeed a quick scan of the World Health Organization website demonstrates that Cuba has the same average life expectancy and child mortality rates as the USA. In 2004 the Bush administration put together a Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. This organization produced a 500 page report which, incredibly, was little more than a recipe book for interfering in the political affairs of a sovereign state. Says Smith:

"[It was] a 500-page action plan for the removal of the Castro government and for what sounded worryingly like the US occupation of Cuba: how to make their trains run on time, how to reorganise their schools, and so on. Shortly thereafter, it even appointed a US "transition coordinator". As Jose Miguel Insulza, the Chilean secretary general of the Organisation of American States remarked, "But there is no transition - and it isn't your country."

The administration (and scores of rabid anti-Castro Cubans living in the USA) predicted that with the end of Fidel Castro's rule, would come a "people's revolution" of sorts. Raul Castro, it was thought, would never be accepted by Cubans. As has become the habit of the Bush administration, it was wrong again.

"Seeming to follow Miami's lead, however, the Bush administration has refused to accept the transition. It refuses to deal with Raul, as it had earlier refused to deal with Fidel. This is especially unfortunate for there is considerable evidence that Raul is more pragmatic than his brother and might be open to some degree of accommodation with Washington. That was something at least worth exploring, but following its usual pattern, the Bush administration simply closed the door."

As Smith concludes, Bush's Cuba policy has been an abject failure. Contrary to its intentions, it has likely served to toughen the resolve of Cuba's government and its people to resist interference from the USA. And investigating Michael Moore's visit to Cuba has likely served only to create more publicity for his upcoming film. The ironies abound.

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