I've Been Saying It For Years
[Yes, I'm repeating the cartoon I used on 'Toon Tuesday because it goes perfectly with the subject of this post.]
According to this article by Andres Oppenheimer and numerous news reports, Fidel Castro has pretty much contradicted his brother Raul who is supposed to be the new President, Commander-in-Chief, Galactic Overlord, Chief Cook and Bottle washer, etc.
Apparently Raul recently said something along the lines that
Cuban leaders would be willing to sit down with their U.S. counterparts and discuss "everything, everything, everything," including human rights, freedom of the press and expression, and political prisoners.
That's awesome, right? President Obama has already eased restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba and it has been speculated that this would eventually lead to at least some easing of the 47 year-old US embargo against Cuba. There would have to be negotiations with and concessions from the Cuban government of course.
So now Fidel has said:
that Obama had ''misinterpreted'' Raúl's remarks about Cuba's willingness to discuss human rights issues. According to Fidel, Raúl meant to say that Cuba would free political prisoners if the United States frees five Cubans convicted in the U.S. of spying for Cuba.
I, and many others much better versed on the subject, have maintained for decades now that Fidel Castro does not want the US embargo to be lifted. The embargo has served as Castro's perennial bogeyman, the cause of all of Cuba's problems - most importantly it has served as his excuse for the regime's failed economic policies.
Cuban propaganda espouses that the embargo has kept medicines and food from the Cuban people, but there has been humanitarian aid from charity agencies into Cuba for years. the problem is that the government misused and misdirected much of it to suit their purposes such as what is known as "medical tourism". Often medicines and medical equipment from the United States was funneled to hospitals specifically devoted to medical tourism because it generated revenue for the government. Meanwhile, the people of Cuba were having to endure abysmal conditions in "the people's hospitals".
So of course, the last thing the old guard of the revolutionary government wants is the lifting of the embargo. Once that happens anything and everything will be available for *purchase* - but, wait - there's no money! The jig will be up...everyone will see the emperor indeed has no clothes.
As Norberto Fuentes, biographer and former friend of Fidel Castro, told Oppenheimer:
Fidel has sabotaged every U.S. effort to improve ties with Cuba over the past 50 years and he needs confrontation with Washington to justify his regime's absolute hold on power.
I think Fidel is trying to sabotage this as well. Will he succeed yet again? Only if we let him.
Let US citizens and residents travel to Cuba whether or not they have family there. Let us go with our books and our movies and our music. Let us flood the island with dollars and ideas. Let the people of Cuba finally learn the truth about their half century of suffering and need.
Don't let Fidel Castro continue to dictate (pun intended) our failed 50 year policy towards Cuba.