Skip to comments.RFK, Jr.: We have so much to learn from Cuba (Ike's fault!)
Posted on 01/05/2015 1:56:17 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
In early December, President Barack Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than five decades of a misguided policy which my uncle, John F. Kennedy, and my father, Robert F. Kennedy, had been responsible for enforcing after the U.S. embargo against the country was first implemented in October 1960 by the Eisenhower administration.
The move has raised hopes in many quarters not only in the United States but around the world that the embargo itself is now destined to disappear.
This does not detract from the fact that Cuba is still a dictatorship. The Cuban government restricts basic freedoms like the freedoms of speech and assembly, and it owns the media.
Elections, as in most old-school Communist countries, offer limited options and, during periodic crackdowns, the Cuban government fills Cuban jails with political prisoners.
However, there are real tyrants in the world with whom the United States has become a close ally and many governments with much worse human rights records than Cuba Azerbaijan, for example, whose president Ilham Aliyev boils his opponents in oil, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, China, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and many others where torture, enforced disappearances, religious intolerance, suppression of speech and assembly, mediaeval oppression of women, sham elections and non-judicial executions are all government practices.
Despite its poverty, Cuba has managed some impressive accomplishments. Cubas government boasts the highest literacy rates for its population of any nation in the hemisphere. Cuba claims its citizens enjoy universal access to health care and more doctors per capita than any other nation in the Americas. Cubas doctors, reportedly, have high quality medical training.
Unlike other Caribbean islands where poverty means starvation, all Cubans receive a monthly food ration book that provides for their basic necessities.
Even Cuban government officials admit that the economy is smothered by the inefficiencies of Marxism, although they also argue that the principal cause of the islands economic woes is the strangling impact of the 60-year-old trade embargo and it is clear to everyone that the embargo first implemented during the Eisenhower administration in October 1960 unfairly punishes ordinary Cubans.
The embargo impedes economic development by making virtually every commodity and every species of equipment both astronomically expensive and difficult to obtain.
Worst of all, instead of punishing the regime for its human rights restrictions, the embargo has fortified the dictatorship by justifying oppression. It provides every Cuban with visible evidence of the bogeyman that every dictator requires an outside enemy to justify an authoritarian national security state.
The embargo has also given Cuban leaders a plausible monster on which to blame Cubas poverty by lending credence to their argument that the United States, not Marxism, has caused the islands economic distress.
The embargo has almost certainly helped keep the Castro brothers [Fidel and Raul] in power for the last five decades.
It has justified the Cuban governments oppressive measures against political dissent in the same way that U.S. national security concerns have been used by some U.S. politicians to justify incursions against our bill of rights, including the constitutional rights to jury trial, habeas corpus, effective counsel and freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, eavesdropping, cruel and unusual punishment, torturing of prisoners, extraordinary renditions and the freedom to travel, to name just a few.
It is almost beyond irony that the very same politicians who argued that we should punish Castro for curtailing human rights and mistreating prisoners in Cuban jails elsewhere contend that the United States is justified in mistreating our own prisoners in Cuban jails.
Imagine a U.S. president faced, as Castro was, with over 400 assassination attempts, thousands of episodes of foreign-sponsored sabotage directed at our nations people, factories and bridges, a foreign-sponsored invasion and fifty years of economic warfare that has effectively deprived our citizens of basic necessities and strangled our economy.
The Cuban leadership has pointed to the embargo with abundant justification as the reason for economic deprivation in Cuba.
The embargo allows the regime to portray the United States as a bully and itself as the personification of courage, standing up to threats, intimidation and economic warfare by historys greatest military superpower.
It perpetually reminds the proud Cuban people that our powerful nation, which has staged invasions of their island and plotted for decades to assassinate their leaders and sabotaged their industry, continues an aggressive campaign to ruin their economy.
Perhaps the best argument for lifting the embargo is that it does not work. Our 60-plus year embargo against Cuba is the longest in history and yet the Castro regime has remained in power during its entire duration.
Instead of lifting the embargo, different U.S. administrations, including the Kennedy administration, have strengthened it without result. It seems silly to pursue a U.S. foreign policy by repeating a strategy that has proved a monumental failure for six decades. The definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over expecting different results. In this sense, the embargo is insane.
The embargo clearly discredits U.S. foreign policy, not only across Latin America, but also with Europe and other regions.
For more than 20 years, the U.N. General Assembly has called for lifting the embargo. Last year the vote was 188 in favour and two against (the United States and Israel). The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (the main human rights bodies of the Americas) has also called for lifting the embargo and the African Union likewise.
One reason that it diminishes our global prestige and moral authority is that the entire embargo enterprise only emphasizes our distorted relationship with Cuba. That relationship is historically freighted with powerful ironies that make the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world.
Most recently, while we fault Cuba for jailing and mistreating political prisoners, we have simultaneously been subjecting prisoners, many of them innocent by the Pentagons own admission, to torture including water-boarding and illegal detention and imprisonment without trial in Cuban prison cells in Guantanamo Bay.
While we blame Cuba for not allowing its citizens to travel freely to the United States, we restrict our own citizens from traveling freely to Cuba. In that sense, the embargo seems particularly anti-American. Why does my passport say that I cant visit Cuba? Why cant I go where I want to go?
I have been a fortunate American. I have been able to visit Cuba and that was a wonderful education because it gave me the opportunity to see Communism with all its warts and faults up close. Why doesnt our government trust Americans to see for themselves the ravages of dictatorship?
Had President Kennedy survived to a second administration, the embargo would have been lifted half a century ago.
President Kennedy told Castro, through intermediaries, that the United States would end the embargo when Cuba stopped exporting violent revolutionists to Latin Americas Alliance for Progress nations a policy that mainly ended with Che Guevaras death in 1967 and when Castro stopped allowing the Soviets to use the island as a base for the expansion of Soviet power in the hemisphere.
Well, the Soviets have been gone since 1991 more than 20 years ago but the U.S.-led embargo continues to choke Cubas economy. If the objective of our foreign policy in Cuba is to promote freedom for its subdued citizens, we should be opening ourselves up to them, not shutting them out.
We have so much to learn from Cuba from its successes in some areas and failures in others.
As I walked through the streets of Havana, Model-Ts chugged by, Ches soaring effigy hung in wrought iron above the street, and a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln stood in a garden on a tree-lined avenue.
I could feel the weight of sixty years of Cuban history, a history so deeply intertwined with that of my own country.
It’s hard to believe that this pompous little drug addict is still running around thinking he is important.
The only thing that Cuba does that I think we need to learn is how to make some really good cigars.
He’s right. Autopsies are often quite informative.
One alternative is to flood them with capitalism/commercialism. Put a McDonalds and Starbucks on every corner. Put up a few Wal-Marts. Give the people a little taste of how the rest of the world lives, and they will reject communism.
If given a choice, most people will reject communism. Unfortunately, communism never gives people a choice.
He’s back on the drugs again. If he was ever off of them.
How long do you think it will be before those Cuban doctors are running medicaide and medicare?
It does, indeed.
Spoiled rich children.
They don’t already?
The embargo impedes economic development by making virtually every commodity and every species of equipment both astronomically expensive and difficult to obtain
Actually the Cuban govt impedes economic development.
These blame America first Lefties make me sick with their stupid reasoning.
Western countries have been trading with Cuba in spite of the US embargo. Ofcourse its only the US fault that Cuba is suffering economically!!!///s
The Cuban people can’t afford Walmart/McDonalds cause the govt takes 94% of the pittance income they make.
Proof Drugs and large quantities of liquor are not a good for you...
The embargo, yes the embargo.
A list of the countries that embargoed Cuba...
They could and did trade freely with the rest of the world, yet we are to blame.
Despite the existence of the embargo, the United States is the fifth largest exporter to Cuba (6.6% of Cuba’s imports are from the US). However, Cuba must pay cash for all imports, as credit is not allowed.
As far as the wonderful JFK, if he hadn’t chickensh..ted out and stopped any support for the Bay of Pigs invasion we likely wouldn’t have had to deal with Castro all these years.
A lot to learn? Sure, like how to keep 60 year old cars running.
I hear how bad the American embargo was on Cuba. Yet the rest of the world supported tourism in export of cigars that would be contraband in America.
If sanctions are so bad, why is Obama applying them to North Korea over something an ex-Sony employee may have done?
He ought to be apologizing to the Venezuelan people, who now have no soap or toilet paper, for participating in the Chavez PR scam of “free heating oil for America’s poor.”
Recently heard someone discuss her recent trip to Cuba (through some “cultural exchange” group). The whole thing sounded like a Communist propaganda tool.
The people on the tour (a handful really, the woman said she crossed paths with some tour group of over 20 people and that she normally isn’t a tour person) were prohibited from wandering away from the group on their own (day or night).
They were extremely controlled as to what sort of persons they could interact with and they could only bring back Cuban art or music or photos (which may or may not have been reviewed).
The people in the conversation were of the mind that travel will be more relaxed now that Obama has issued an executive order. Not if Cuba doesn’t want the complaints of the locals broadcast to the world (or possibly aid groups subverting the dictatorship’s “system”).
That is what makes the whole lifting-the-embargo-will-be-good-for-the-Cuban-people argument ridiculous. They have little or no money to buy expensive (for them) articles from the U.S.
As has been stated, Cuba has been trading with every other country in the world. Then why are average Cubans so poor? It's their rotten, commie, economic system not our embargo.
I couldn’t get past the 1st sentence.
If I were JFK or RFK, I would have burned the will.
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