United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Saturday, February 19, 2011

United States Cuba Relations - Terror List Games

CAs the popular gameshow Jeopardy is played by answering to the clue in the form of a question:

This nation is the only country on the U.S. State Sponsors of Terror List that is held to a singular standard that is not applied to any other?   Answer:  What is Cuba!  Ding Ding Ding... Correct

Yesterday in response to Governor Richardson's bold recommendation at Brookings to take Cuba off the terror list, Foreign Policy published an article "It's not time to remove Cuba from the Terror List" http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/18/its_not_time_to_remove_cuba_from_the_terror_list written by Jose R. Cardenas.  We believe that it is important that an open and public debate be held on this issue as it is important that some objective criteria be applied regarding the Terror List designation.  And most importantly that the standard be applied to every nation.  Isn't that the American way of fairness?

It is interesting that Mr. Cardenas begins his article with a subtle and disrespectful attack on the credibility of Governor Richardson.  Far from being a “self-styled” diplomatic troubleshooter,  the historical record of Governor Richardson’s public and diplomatic service (Congressman, Energy  Secretary, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations)  makes him a diplomatic troubleshooter in fact and deed and credible in his recommendations.  This is part of the tactics of the pro-embargo intransigence that exists.

The political agenda of the pro-embargo lobby is to make sure that Cuba stays on the Terror List and Mr. Cardenas' article here is consistent with that end.  It is a clearly stated goal on one of their websites! Why?  For as long as Cuba is on the Terror List, another law, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act applies depriving nations on that list sovereign immunity in our courts.  This spawned the Cuba litigation cottage industry in South Florida where private plaintiffs sue Cuba and obtain multi-million default judgments which those parties seek to collect on any Cuban assets in the U.S.  This is part reason why it costs so much to make a long distance call to Cuba averaging around $1.00 per minute and routed through third countries.  It is also why President Obama’s telecom initiatives for Cuba have not yielded any positive results.

Mr. Cardenas uses historical data to make his case.  Very old historical data.  Logically and rationally, the Terror List is supposed to accurately reflect whether a nation on that list ultimately poses a threat to Americans’ safety and interests by virtue of that nation’s current activities.  Despite the reprehensive political system and repression that exists there, Cuba does not export terror now.   Americans who visit there are generally safe and free from kidnapping, murder, or attacks on their persons that frequently occur now in Mexico and the Middle East. If Cuba does deserve the designation, then make the case in public now based upon current factual and verifiable information. Present the evidence and let us hold every other nation in the world to the same standard.  If we do that the list will include many more nations.  Embargo and block travel to those countries too. 

The tyranny Mr. Cardenas refers and we  also object to can only be removed by the Cuban people who live on the island, not the U.S government or even the Cuban American community here.  And we cannot object to such tyranny in one place in the world and yet tolerate it in so many other places.  The nations of the world laugh at our hypocrisy.  We are deluded believing that it does not go unnoticed. It is our responsibility to empower democracy and freedom by example and by influence.  That does not happen with an embargo, travel restrictions, or the misguided political application of the terror list designation.

-Tony Martinez


Anonymous said...

Mr. Martínez, I am one of those anglo-saxons who has been working for the liberty of the Cuban people for more than 35 years now. It has been a long, frustrating struggle. Many have died. Innumerable more have suffered terribly. Don't worry: my "work" is non-violent and consists of routing information and translations between parties of interest.

Cuba has additional attributes that should keep it on this list, and there is just one simple condition which will cause its removal: the House of Castro must abandon the island. King Fidel I told everyone he was a communist; but he lied -- he is a despotic monarch, in whose belief the fallacy of Marxism, not God, backs the Divine Right of Kings. The good news is that King Raul I has no heir, and the Castro dynasty must fall. Soon.

Face it; whatever was expropriated from American citizens and businesses over 50 years ago has been either destroyed, replaced, or allowed to depreciate to the point where salvage value is a joke. No deja nada.

And as to whether or not individual Americans are safe from kidnapping on the Cuban island, I refer you to the person of Alan Gross and would ask you -- if he could give you an answer -- what he would make of your claim of "general safety".

The only reason Cuba does not export terror is that she cannot any longer do so; she hasn't the money to accomplish it. She used the last of her fuel shooting civilian aircraft out of the sky in international airspace in 1996. If Cuba weren't constrained by scarcity, she'd continue to be active in the execution and exportation of terror; of that assertion I have zero doubt.

Due to economic scarcity, the Government of Cuba treats most of its non-inner circle very harshly. The word "terror" has a certain connotation that can only be colored in when you face starvation at a slave's wage. I would imagine we could argue about which person receives more humane treatment: the US slave in what was to become the Confederacy in 1850; versus the Cubano de pie in 2010. Sadly, there is enough evidence on both sides to support a debate.

No, I say "keep them there". Until the Castros die or are strung up by their heels, as they so well deserve. Until that time, we entrepeneurs will need to wait to tap that market. It's the least we can do for a people who are suffering. I would much prefer to feed them and house them decently on an emergency basis; but to so do would only add to the popular -- almost divine -- Castro legend: when impossibility faces the Cuban people, Fidel steps in and brings a miracle to provide relief. Carajo. No más. The Cuban people need to see the Castros for what they are, and giving the Cuban Government any advantage whatsoever is to do the opposite.

I believe in an open and public debate, too. But it will not be a long one. The world needs to be reminded that the world's singularly most cruel and isolated dictatorship is headquartered just 90 miles south of Key West. We have become so accustomed to its outrageous behavior and even its existence that we make ridiculous proposals such as the present one. Go ahead, extend your hand to Fidel or Raul; but don't come complaining to me when your hand is bleeding from the bite.

Cuba cannot be treated like every other nation in the world. Nor should it be. She should not be welcomed in the circle of civilized nations until she becomes one. The modern world grants that privilege far too easily; we need to remember to exercise caution -- the lives of millions of people depend upon it.

Al Godar said...

We have two improve to things:
1-Cuba-USA relationships.
2-Living standards in Cuba.
If we try to solve both at the same time we won't solve either.
If we succeed in separating them, we might achieve both.
Thank you for keeping the discussion alive.

Al Godar