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Embargo

Cuba: Obsessive Target of the Bush Administration

The United States’ obsession with Cuba never ends. Condoleezza Rice has just ordered the stiffening of the economic blockade against the island while, at the same time, the US chargé d’affaires in Havana makes efforts to create a pseudo-opposition at the service of the United States. The Bush Administration hopes that the embargo makes life so difficult for the Cuban people that they overthrow the government, which would allow Bush to put his men in power.

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The cruel state of siege that the United States has imposed on Cuba since 1959 stiffens day after day. Now, they openly confess that their goal is overthrowing the government in Havana by any means while the sufferings caused to the population only have a secondary importance for the White House. [1]. The transformation of the Latin American political scene, with the consolidation of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez’s prestige and the spectacular victory garnered by Evo Morales in Bolivia, has done nothing else but to strengthen the US willingness to put an end to the Cuban “bad example”, a synonym of hope for the Latin American people who have suffered decades of ultra-liberal policies [2].

On December 19, 2005, the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, met with the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba aiming at stiffening economic sanctions against the Caribbean island. Set in 2003 by President George W. Bush, the Commission had published a first report in May 2004 with new coercive measures against the island including one that provides that Cuban-Americans can only visit their relatives in Cuba for a period of no more than 14 days every three years. [3] Not pleased with the terrible human consequences caused by this unprecedented economic strangulation, Ms. Rice has anticipated other aggressive measures for May 2006. [4].

One of Washington’s main destabilization policies is the promotion of internal subversion, organized and financed with unscrupulous elements that are attracted by the offered emoluments. The current budget earmarked for the creation of an internal opposition rises to more than $50 millions. [5].

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Michael Parmly

. The new head of the US Interests Section in Havana, Michael Parmly, who replaced Mr. James Cason on September 15, 2005, immediately got down to work by meeting with the highly influenced members of the Cuban “dissidence”. [6].

The appointment of Mr. Parmly is not coincidental and it says much about Washington’s objectives. Previously, this diplomat was in Afghanistan for three years and gained experience about societies devastated by war. [7]. “I come from some post-conflict societies involved in long periods of difficulties ”, he noted implying that his experience could be useful in the case of Cuba [8].

On December 15, 2005, Mr. Parmly summoned the “dissidents” to a meeting in his personal residence in Havana. He did not hesitate to congratulate his guests for their work in favor of the “democratic change”. “President Bush said that the United States will not impose their government style. Our goal is rather helping others find their own voice, win their own freedom and build their own path ”, he solemnly affirmed, ignoring the ruthless economic and political aggression against the small Caribbean island. Under the watchful eyes of the Ladies in White, Mr. Oswaldo Payá, Mr. Vladimiro Roca and Mrs. Marta Beatriz Roque, he said that “the Cuban government does not represent its people and has no interest in improving [their] living conditions”. Clearly, Washington’s only concern is the well-being of the Cuban people as the fierceness of its measures show it because the economic sanctions aim at “re-establishing democracy” and not at starving people into surrendering [9].

In a telephone conversation secretly recorded, Mrs. Marta Beatriz Roque, president of the Assembly for the Promotion of Civil Society, revealed how the trade with the “dissidence” works. In reference to certain people who had refused to participate in the “Congress of the Dissidence”, that she had organized in May 2005 with the public support of the United States said that “nobody is leaving from Pinar del Río [province to the west of Havana] to Miami. The Americans said they would not give them a single visa ”. Thus, to recruit new collaborators, the US Interest Section, in addition to a significant financial incentive, promises a visa for the docile and the obedient. [10].

The telephone conversation recorded by the Cuban intelligence services also showed the true face of Mrs. Beatriz Roque. “IF that costs the Cuban government a Yankee invasion, I don’t give a damn”, she said to her interlocutor. With these words, it is easy to understand why Mrs. Beatriz Roque does not cause waves of enthusiasm among the Cuban people [11].

The international media, which do not ignore these facts and the tricks used by the United States, align in a disciplined way with Washington’s point of view. Thus, they pretend to be blinded in front of the hostile reaction of the people to the demonstrations of “dissident” groups, carefully organized by the US Interest Section, and denounce the popular rejection of the “peaceful militants of the opposition”. Obviously, they do not say that it is all part of a strategy to destabilize the country.

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Marta Beatriz Roque

. Perhaps, Mrs. Beatriz Roque was hoping to receive bunches of roses after her comments were broadcast by Cuban television. As to Mr. Parmly, he described the Cubans who support their government as the “new version of the Brown Shirts or the Ku Klux Klan  [12]”.

The complicity of the European Union with the US hostile policy was confirmed when they granted the Sakharov Award to the “Ladies in White” [13], and by the declarations of the new American representative in Havana. In effect, Mr. Parmly congratulated the European Parliament members that “really showed courage and insight at choosing the Ladies in White ”. He added that the differences with Europe as to the economic sanctions were only of a “tactical” nature, as Washington and Brussels share the same view as to the “direction that Cuba should follow  [14]”.

Sometimes, Mr. Parmly is so sincere that he expresses his real impression of the Cuban people: “I take long walks and visit places frequented by Cubans […]. I stop near newsstands or restaurants and I walk along the beach where I speak to fishermen and with the youth […]. I am amazed at the creativity and the spontaneity of the Cuban people. If you talk to the people, they talk back. I don’t speak only with artists, musicians or independent [militants]. The Cuban mentality is very sharp  [15]”.

He even confesses that he was surprised by the support of the Cuban people for their government: “There are people who believe in the system. To give you an example, I met one person who expressed his scepticism about… the dissidents, as they represent a threat for the achievements of the Revolution. He told me that all that he is and what he had been able to do was thanks to the Revolution […]. I am very amazed at these conversations  [16]”.

The panorama of Cuban society described by the very representative of the United States in Havana is completely different from the collapsed society promoted, in virtue of ideological interests, by information transnational companies. The reaction of the US Interest Section chief is not surprising as it simply illustrates the short-sightedness of the White House, unable to accept Cuba’s independence. But it is a fact that it is politically embarrassing to admit that the Cubans still support their government in spite of all the means that have been used to overthrow it, including terrorism.

In this respect, the case of Mr. Luis Posada Carriles a confessed criminal, responsible for many terrorist attacks against civilians [17] continues to annoy the Bush Administration. After having arrested him on illegal entry in US territory, the government refuses to deport him to Venezuela, which has already demanded his extradition, and Washington has no intentions of judging him for his terrorist record. [18]. The reason is simple as Mr. Posada Carriles, who worked for the CIA for many years, clearly threatened to reveal state secrets if he were to face trial [19].

Nevertheless, the American law prohibits indefinite detention of foreigners in irregular situation, whose extradition has not taken place in a 90-day span. Kept in house arrest since May 17, 2005, Mr. Posada Carriles could be released as of January 24, 2006, when the immigration service is scheduled examine his situation [20]. Mr. José Pertierra, legal representative of the Venezuelan government in this matter expressed his astonishment:

That simply means that in a few weeks Posada Carriles – who masterminded the attack against a civil airplane with 73 people on board in 1976 – could be released by the federal government […]. However, that law does not protect terrorists […]. You don’t have to investigate a lot to conclude that Luis Posada Carriles is a terrorist. It would be enough to read his book Los Caminos del Guerrero (The ways of the warrior), in which he proudly gives details of some of the terrorists actions that he has organized; or to read the intelligence wires of the CIA in which he boasts, a few days before the attack against the plane, of his plans to attack a Cuban civil plane; or to read the interview he gave to the New York Times in 1998, admitting that he had organized bomb attacks that Central American mercenaries had carried out against restaurants and hotels in Havana in 1997 and that resulted in the death of an Italian tourist an several injured; or to read the ruling of the Court in Panama that condemned him for the failed attempt to use C-4 explosives to blow up the auditorium of the University of Panama with hundreds of Panamanian students during a speech of President Fidel Castro in 2000 […]. There are enough laws in the United States to keep this terrorist behind bars. What is scarce is the political will of the federal government to have justice prevail. [But] since the beginning, the Bush Administration has chosen to protect and not to accuse this terrorist [21]”.

The case of Mr. Posada Carriles is just more evidence of the double standard of the United States in their so-called “war on terror”. The International media also have responsibility in this double speech on the issue of terrorism. On the rare occasion in which the international media furtively spoke of Mr. Posada Carriles, they never called him a “criminal” or a “terrorist”, but a “dissident”, a “former terrorist” or an “anti-Castro militant”. The apparent release of the “worst terrorist of the American continent”, as the FBI had labelled him, has been completely concealed from the world public opinion.

However, in a distracting manoeuvre, the world media made an incredibly disproportionate coverage of a propaganda documentary presented by German Wilfried Huisman trying, once again, to blame Fidel Castro for the assassination of John F. Kennedy. [22]. The media frenzy reached such level that the German Deputy Foreign Relations Minister, Helmut Schaefer, described the work by Mr. Huisman as prone to fantasizing: This documentary “lacks all political logics [and] it is very unlikely ”, he said and added that a “realistic man like Castro would never take the absurd risk of provoking a military conflict with the United States  [23]”.

Washington’s concern is explained by the influence and prestige of Cuba in the South American hemisphere, particularly among some leaders, such as Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales. Cuba was the first stop of the new Bolivian president’s recent trip and he did not hide his admiration for the social and economic model of the island: “The struggle of the Cuban people, and above all that of Che, have not been in vain. They planted the seeds and they are now collecting their fruit, not only in Bolivia but in all Latin America ”, he said during his visit [24].

The Cuban and Bolivian presidents signed cooperation agreements in the fields of education, health and sports. One of the accords includes a literacy campaign by means of which all Bolivians will learn to read and write between July 2006 and December 2008. This ambitious initiative was implemented by the Cubans in Venezuela with an outstanding success as illiteracy was completely eradicated from Venezuela, the second Latin American country free from that scourge after Cuba. [25].

As to Chávez, in addition to putting the social policy of his country at the service of the poor and needy, he also decided to help the dispossessed of the world’s richest nation responding to a petition by a group of US senators. Venezuela has decided to offer oil at very low prices to low-income US citizens from New York and Massachusetts who have been abandoned for a long time by their own government, now upset by this initiative. [26].

The willingness to create an alternative economic model based not on profits but on the needs of the people, like what the Cuban government does, has created a strong wave of hope in the continent. But, the White House, already discredited in the international community due to its aggressiveness, can not admit this new affront.

Sometimes, the US hostility toward Cuba becomes irrational. For example, the US Treasury banned Cuba from participating in the first edition of the World Baseball Classic that will be held on US territory in March 2006 by using the pretext that this event would allow Cuba to obtain financial benefits and that it would violate the economic sanctions imposed on the island. After this absurd measure, more that 100 members of the US Congress asked their government to change their decision. [27]. Meanwhile, Cuba promised to donate any profits to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. However, Treasury authorities have remained inflexible. [28].

The obsession of the United States with the Cuban Revolution also reflects despair. In spite of threats of a military invasion, a nuclear conflict, a fierce sabotage and terrorist campaign, a biological war, a stiffening economic blockade, and an intense media, diplomatic and political aggression, Washington has not been able to discourage the Cuban people. [29]. Furthermore, the Cuban economy grew 11.8% in 2005. [30]. As to the increasing level of human development achieved by Cuba, it is clear that it causes confusion in its northern neighbor. We hope that despair does not turn into madness and that the US government does not launch any military adventure whose result would only be an endless conflict, from which the world’s most powerful nation would not emerge triumphant.

[1] “[Enrique Román Hernández: Cuba is ready to face an aggression but we are worried about destabilization]”, Voltaire, November 18, 2005.

[2] Christopher Toothaker, “Morales Aligns Himself With Castro, Chavez”, The Miami Herald, January 3, 2006.

[3] “Le plan Powell pour l’après-Castro” by Arthur Lepic, Voltaire, June 16, 2004. The reader will find the full text of the Powell report as an annex to the article.

[4] Condoleezza Rice, “Meeting of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba”, United States Department of State, December 19, 2005 (web site, December 21, 2005).

[5] Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, p. 22; Roger F. Noriega, “Assistant Secretary Noriega’s Statement Before the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations”, Department of State, March 3, 2005. (web site, April 9, 2005).

[6] Michael E. Parmly, “Speech by U.S. Interests Section Chief of Mission Michael Parmly Marking the 57th Anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s Adoption and Proclamation of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, United States Interest Section, December 15, 2005. (web site, December 29, 2005).

[7] United States Department of State, “Biography: Michael E. Parmly”, September 22, 2005. (web site December 21, 2005).

[8] Frances Robles, “My Interest Is the Future”, The Miami Herald, December 25, 2005.

[9] Michael E. Parmly, op.cit.

[10] Jean-Guy Allard, “Que los yanquis invadan a Cuba, me da lo mismo” (Let the Yankees invade Cuba, I do not give a damn), Granma, December 22, 2005. (web site December 23, 2005).

[11] Ibid.

[12] European Parliament, “Trois lauréats pour le Prix Sakharov 2005. Femmes courage à Cuba : un groupe de femmes manifeste contre les détentions abusives”, October 20, 2005. www.europarl.eu.int/ (web site, October 31, 2005).

[13] Agence France-Presse, “Seule une infime minorité de Cubains profiteraient de la levée de l’embargo”, December 20, 2005. “La politisation du prix Sakharov”, by Salim Lamrani, Voltaire, January 12, 2006.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Frances Robles, op.cit.

[16] Ibid. On the reasons for the people’s support of the Castro regime read “Cuba n’est pas un fragment de l’URSS oublié aux Caraïbes” by Rémy Herrera, La Pensée libre n°6, June, 2005.

[17] “Las confesiones de Luis Posada Carriles (The confessions of Luis Posada Carriles)”, Voltaire, June 14, 2005.

[18] “Appel de six personnalités pour le jugement au Venezuela de Luis Posada Carriles” by Noam Chomsky, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, José Saramago, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Salim Lamrani, Voltaire, August 29, 2005.

[19] Oscar Corral & Alfonso Chardy, “One Mysterious Voyage Links Five”, The Miami Herald, December 31, 2005.

[20] Wilfredo Cancio Isla, “United States considering granting parole to Posada Carriles”, El Nuevo Herald, January 4, 2006

[21] José Pertierra, “Posada Carriles a punto de irse a la calle” (Posada Carriles about to hit the streets), Cuba Debate, January 4, 2006.

[22] Anthony Summers, “$6,500 to Kill a President: Did Oswald Sell His Soul to Cuba?”, The Times, January 7, 2006; BBC News, “JFK Assassination ‘Was Cuba Plot’”, January 4, 2006; José Pino Valencia, “‘Castro Ordered Kennedy’s Assassination”, Deutsche Welle World, January 5, 2006; Mark Trevelyan, “Cuba Behind JFK Killing, New Film Says”, The New Zealand Herald, January 5, 2006; Kate Connolly, “Cuban Secret Service Plotted JFK’s Death, New Film Claims”, The Syndney Morning Herald, January 5, 2006; Dominican Today, “Cuba Paid Oswald to Kill Kennedy, New Film Says”, January 5, 2006; El Nuevo Herald, “Culpan a Cuba por la muerte de Kennedy”, January 5, 2006; Mark Trevelyan, “Cuba Behind JFK Killing, New Film Says”, Reuters, January 4, 2006; Matt Trevalyn, “Cuba Behind JFK Murder, Claims Film”, The Irish Examiner, January 6, 2006; David Crossland, “Filmmaker Links Island to ’63 Killing of Kennedy”, The Washington Times, January 6, 2006; Hugh Williamson, “German Film Links Cuba to Kennedy Assassination”, The Financial Times, January 6, 2006; Philippe Gélie, “L’assassinat de John F. Kennedy est de nouveau attribué à Cuba”, Le Figaro, January 7, 2006; L’Express, “Lee Harvey Oswald payé par Cuba pour assassiner John F. Kennedy ?”, January 4, 2006; Mark Trevelyan, “Lee Harvey Oswald payé par Cuba pour assassiner John F. Kennedy ?”, Libération, January 4, 2006; Hugh Williamson, “Film: Cuban Secret Service Organized JFK’s Murder”, The Miami Herald, January 7, 2006; Le Nouvel Observateur, “Un documentaire relance la thèse du complot castriste”, January 4, 2006.

[23] La Jornada, “No es responsable Cuba del asesinato de Kennedy: Berlín”, January 8, 2006.

[24] Joaquín Rivery Tur, “Suscriben Fidel y Evo Morales acuerdo de cooperación bilateral” (Fidel and Evo Morales sign bilateral cooperation agreement), Granma, December 31, 2005. (web site, January 2, 2006).

[25] Frances Robles & Pablo Bachelet, “Cuban Policy Commission Revived to Take a Fresh Look”, The Miami Herald, December 20, 2005.

[26] Justin Blum, “Chavez Pushes Petro-Diplomacy”, The Washington Post, November 22, 2005, p. A22.

[27] Frances Robles, “Lawmakers: Let Cuba Play Ball”, The Miami Herald, December 18, 2005.

[28] Anne-Marie García, “Cuba Offers to Donate Money to Hurricane Victims as Baseball Reapplies for Permit”, The Sun-Sentinel, December 23, 2005.

[29] ““Les États Unis en guerre de basse intensité contre Cuba”, by Philip Agee, and “ Un demi-siècle de terrorisme états-unien contre Cuba”, by Salim Lamrani, Voltaire, September 10, 2003 and November 29, 2005.

[30] Andrea Rodríguez, “Cuba Announces 11.8 Percent Economic Growth in 2005”, The Sun-Sentinel, December 23, 2005.

Salim Lamrani

Salim Lamrani Lecturer at the Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV and Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée Universities and specialist in Cuba-US relations. His latest published work in French: Cuba. Les médias face au défi de l’impartialité Estrella, 2013; in English: Superpower Principles: U.S. Terrorism Against Cuba (Common Courage Press, 2006).

 
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