United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Sunday, October 2, 2011

United States Cuba Relations - The Grand Delusion

The definition of delusion is "a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence."  Unfortunately, our current policy with Cuba is nothing more than a grand delusion.  The grand delusion, that we can force Cuba to change with such abhorrent policies like an embargo and travel restrictions when in reality it empowers the authoritarian government we complain about and hurts the Cuban and American people we claim to care about, now that is a delusion.  How can we rebuild our economies?  How can we rebuild enough confidence to improve the relationship between our two countries?

Returning to the blog from a two month hiatus, I was struck by how little progress there has been with the efforts to free Alan Gross, our American citizen convicted of violating Cuban laws, and imprisoned now serving a 15 year sentence.   The Alan Gross delusion - that we can continue to behave as we have towards Cuba and expect that Alan Gross will be released just because we say so.   There were high hopes for his release too.  But again, the atmosphere to support his release was poisoned by a series of  our own actions which sent the wrong signals of our sincerity and intention that we would want Gross released in the first place.  In early August, Gross lost his appeal to the Cuban Supreme Court.  What happened only the week before his appeal to the Cuban Supreme Court in the U.S. Congress?  Congress released the $20 million dollars in "Cuba Democracy" funds.   Senator Kerry made a bad deal when he lifted that hold.   This is the same source of public funding that Gross was compensated with and used to violate Cuban laws by operating with those funds in Cuba.  So Cuba would release Gross and the very program that provoked his incarceration continues?  What are we thinking?

Then in August just before the Congressional recess began, two measures supported by  Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (Fl), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl), and David Rivera (R-Fl) which would revert Obama travel policy for Cuban Americans back to the Bush era gained steam in two committees.  Cuban American "leaders" hurting fellow Cuban Americans who have family and friends back on the island?  What are they thinking?  These folks are among the loudest hardline voices - two who are either connected to Castro by family relation and Batista regime position (Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen) and another, an opportunistic politician who only knows the politicial contributions he can garner from the community to exploit the issue as much as he can (Rivera).   These elected Representatives have done nothing to help secure the release of Alan Gross, despite their exclamations to the contrary.

Then early last month, we saw the well intended effort of former Governor Bill Richardson to obtain Gross' release fail. Of that effort, and with my personal disclaimer that I have had the honor of working with Governor Richardson on these issues in the past, my only observation is that there was an obvious disconnect and lost opportunity between the Governor and the Cuban officials he dealt with.  It is regretful that the Governor did not go as an official envoy of our country to negotiate Gross' release much to the chagrin of certain politicians here who would have barked at President Obama if he had done so.  It is shameful that behind the scenes politics played a more important role than the humanitarian one required to win Gross' freedom.  One other unfortunate consequence of the unsuccessful mission was the loss of Richardson to further work on improving relations with Cuba.  Like the movie, Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country, a moment to create peace between two adversaries was frustrated once more by those who fear its possibility.

Now, to achieve the release of Alan Gross and all the other human beings caught in the sordid web of U.S. Cuba relations, negotiations should and must continue between both countries.  Cuba repeated once more its public clue on just how fruitful negotiations could occur between us and them.  We just refuse to pay attention.  And they have our man, Alan Gross.  Just don't ask for any help from the cadre of hardliners in Congress who while stating they want Gross' freedom, will do anything constructive to help create the environment upon which the resolution of this human crisis - those imprisoned in both Cuba and the United States, could actually occur.  Why should they when they receive campaign contributions from the pro-embargo Borg in South Florida and New Jersey?

The sad fact is if there was authentic political will on the part of the Obama Administration, I truly believe Alan Gross would be back with his family right now in Potomac, MD.   But the Administration has fallen for another delusion - that President Obama is going to get re-elected with the help of the Cuban American community in Florida.  He will not get their votes, even if they gave him and the Democratic party some of their money.  They are just covering their bets and they are long veterans of the Washington DC political game   . And the votes President Obama could still garner from the moderate Cuban American voting bloc?  Well he likely has lost many of them too.  Not for what he has done but more for what he has failed to do in keeping with his declarations as candidate Barack Obama spoke about engaging Cuba as never before.  Sadly President Obama has mirrored more of George W. Bush in this term of office than that of the Nobel Peace Prize winner he is supposed to be when it comes to Cuba.  He still has time to change the path he has us on. More on this aspect in my next posting.  

What about the oil delusion?  Cuba is poised to begin drilling for oil to explore the vast potential that is within the Gulf of Mexico in their territorial waters.  The next delusion - that we can somehow stop Cuba and its international partners from drilling with threats, hostility, and letters to the Chairman of Repsol, the Spanish oil company leading this effort.  I am sure the executive retorted with a common Spanish expression when he received it.  His staff probably researched and also noted that of the thirty four (34) signatories on that Congressional letter, most had never even traveled to Cuba and all have received campaign contributions from the pro-embargo lobby.  How could anyone in their right mind take such a communication seriously?   The fact is we should have, and could have, been involved with the oil drilling that is about to begin.   At least some communication between our oil drilling engineers and theirs has occurred to allow for the technical assistance needed in the event of a oil spill.  Hopefully, the Cubans did not consult with the parties involved with the Deepwater Horizon disaster for their oil exploration efforts.

The consequence of delusional thinking as we are told spiritually is suffering of oneself and the suffering of others.  And that is what in one word our current approach to U.S. Cuba policy represents -suffering.   Why and for what? - Tony Martinez, Editor


John R. Bomar said...

Tony has got this exactly right: Our present policies of aggression, interference, embargo and isolation actually give strength and longevity to the communist regime on the island.

While seemingly counterintuitive, for those who know the island personally, it is quite obvious; our embargo gives the regime the perfect scapegoat to avoid direct responsibility for the wide-spread misery and want (and international sympathy), our interference into Cuba's internal affairs and external aggression help the communist's justify and maintain a police-state security system, and the isolation from American citizens has aided the communists in their perpetual propaganda war.

Ironically, at the behest of the radical, hate-filled Cuban-exile community, it is as if we could not have designed programs and policies to help the communists more.