The Bush Administration’s "Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba," co-chaired by our Secretaries of State and Commerce, has presented a new report to our President this week. It’s a lengthy and comprehensive plan, detailing the steps which US government and other "vital actors" will be taking to bring Cuba back into the family of overt US colonies, which now include some of the Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, Kabul, and the Green Zone in Baghdad.
The Administration was roundly criticized for not having such a plan for Iraq after its conquests there. Some even claimed it was the reason for the failure of the occupation. One of the purposes of this Plan may be to forestall such criticism in Cuba’s case.
Nevertheless this Plan is much the same as the one for Iraq (which was not publicly articulated beforehand.) By privatizing what used to be done publicly, it will bring Cuba into the modern, civilized world by creating a capitalist utopia where private entrepreneurs from the "international community" (mostly US corporations) and the "Cuban community abroad" (mostly US citizens), unencumbered by societal restraint, will unleash their full creative powers to save the long-suffering Cuban people from continuing poverty and tyranny, while incidentally benefiting themselves.
The recommendation for Cuba destabilization activities going on now is to continue or increase everything, especially the radio-TV projects illegally being forced on Cubans by US airplanes, denying hard currency to Cuba by tightening the blockade, i.e., fining foreign banks which deal in Cuba transactions, punishing and rewarding foreign governments which increase or decrease Cuba trade, and tightening and increasing punishment for the travel restrictions, the cost of which already triples what we spend trying to trace Al Qaeda funds.
The funding for this will be a new US slush fund of $80 million increased by $20 million per year, plus all the dirty destabilization money (unknown multimillions per year) now being funneled through AID, NED, the so-called NGO’s in Florida, and the US Interests Section in Havana.
Under the Plan, in the future all Cuban communication, electric power, transport, mining, industry, agriculture, medical, and other productive enterprise will be privatized and the vital actors (US and its entrepreneurs) will build and create for Cuba a water and sanitation system, a health care system, an education system, a transportation system, a communication system, a shelter system (homes for everyone), a food security system (a chicken in every pot), all presumably similar to what we are doing for or to the Iraqi people. Much more, in fact, than we are willing to do for the people of New Orleans.
Our generosity to the Cubans is conditioned however on their acceptance of a new political economy which is similar to our own. There’s very little said in the Plan about what already exists in Cuba, and nothing about the effects of our blockade and terrorism against Cubans. It’s as if the institutions, infrastructure and protective capabilities which have been created in 45 years of independence are so insignificant they’re not worth mentioning.
Not surprisingly, this plan is rife with the usual code words this Administration uses to manipulate public opinion, such as "democracy" (commercial oligarchy), "freedom" (of the big fish to eat the little ones), and "dissenters" (the few hundred Cubans, US paid mercenaries, on the island). The Plan is also full of statements about what changes the Cuban people want (with no supporting evidence), but says little about any role for them in pursuing their supposed desires. Indeed, they are treated as the objects of a transformation to be carried out by others. They are seen as helpless and ignorant, in desperate need of education and training in the complexities of modern consumer society. Somewhat similar in tone but much more intense than the 19th century French idea of "noblesse oblige" (the noble obligation) or the English idea of "the white man’s burden." (Kipling)
The Plan is to rebuild the Cuban nation from the bottom up, from scratch to an eventual capitalist neo-colony similar to those that now exist in Central America and the Caribbean. Very little is said, however, about how we get from present reality to "scratch." The first six months are said to be crucial. This is when the Cuban Transition Government (CTG) will be set up. Clearly this means a puppet government such as were created for Afghanistan and Iraq. The nation building will be done on request of these puppets. Funding will consist of an imposed IMF structural adjustment loan, other International bank loans, international investment, especially by the "Cuban community abroad," and direct US taxpayer help where deemed appropriate.
The Cuban Constitution
Much concern is expressed in the Plan about Fidel Castro’s "strategy" for succession. Cuba has a constitution, but no mention of it is made in the Plan. Nor, seemingly, is one to be written for them, as was done in Afghanistan and Iraq. Apparently constitutions are no longer considered necessary. The Plan says that Castro’s strategy is that his brother becomes president when he leaves office, which the Plan’s vital actors (US and its entrepreneurs) will not allow to happen.
The Cuban Constitution was developed at local and provincial levels in the early 1970s, and was approved by 97% of eligible Cuban voters in 1976. Following the "rectification" period in the late 1980s, it was substantially amended in 1992 by the same process and a more than 2/3 vote in the National Assembly as required. In 2002, in response to the proposed Varela Project, it was reaffirmed by a vote of over 8 m Cubans, 93% of the adult population.
This constitution establishes a nonpartisan participatory-representative electoral system, which is not similar to ours, but in many respects is more accountable and democratic. At the local and provincial levels there must be two or more candidates for each office, at the national level it’s a parliamentary type system where any candidate for the 619, five-year National Assembly seats must receive at least 50% of the vote to win office.
The executive (called the Council of State, analogous to our president and cabinet) consists of 24 elected (every five years) members of the Assembly headed by a president and vice president, which presently are the duly elected Castro brothers.
The Constitution provides that if the president is unable to continue or leaves for any reason, the Vice President will take his place until the National Assembly elects a new President. The Assembly and the Castro brothers have frequently said any succession will occur according to the Constitution. The only way it could be stopped or changed is by a US military intervention. Thus, this Plan is in effect, as Cuba’s Assembly President Richard Alarcon has stated, a declaration of war. It’s a combination of unsupported, vague generalities, gross exaggeration, insults, hypocrisy and outright falsehoods. It’s a tunnel-visioned ultimatum that acknowledges no possibility that there may be other views and perspectives about Cuba. It eliminates the likelihood of public discussion of such in the US before our superior military power is introduced to settle the matter. It bears no relation to the reality of Cuba or the century and half struggle of its people for autonomy. It’s another blast in the relentless Cuba propaganda campaign that our government has been conducting for years.
Many Americans are becoming aware of how unreliable our media is and how we are being manipulated through it by our government. After all, for most of us, everything we know about foreign countries comes from the media. In the past, by exercising our constitutional right to travel to other countries at peace with us, we were able to see and learn the truth ourselves or from reports by honest people. In the case of Cuba, however, the effects of the false propaganda are multiplied exponentially by prohibiting travel there. Our government knows that if we were able to learn the reality of Cuba, its entire re-colonization effort would quickly collapse in ridicule.
The Plan in its Larger Context
It’s unusual to publicly issue beforehand a plan for the subjugation of a sovereign nation. The last historical example which comes to mind is the 1924 publication of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which outlined his proposed steps in the upcoming takeover of Germany by the Nazi Party. Unfortunately, no one in Europe paid much attention to it. Americans should ask themselves why our government is issuing a Plan like this at this time.
Clearly, pander is an important factor. The South Florida business community, which consists of people with all kinds of ancestry, including Cuban, American, Latin, has always seen Cuba as its competitor in the main industry, tourism. It funds most of our national and Florida anti-Cuba politicians and receives from them in return a brutal blockade, a vicious anti-Cuba policy, and even more taxpayer money in return.
Many of these people see the present Administration as their last chance to retake power in Cuba. At this point the overbuilt South Florida real estate market is looking like a lead balloon and things are getting a little "iffy" in the construction, mortgage, banking, tourism, stock markets and other areas. Moreover, significant oil deposits have been located off the North coast of Cuba which the present Cuban government, if left in power, will develop to benefit only the Cubans who live on the island.
As suggested in the Plan, Chamber of Commerce and other business conferences are being held frequently in Miami to plan for the rapid takeover of Cuba. They are already arguing among themselves about the spoils. The image is one of a pack of salivating hounds looking across the Florida Straits to an island with significant resources and 11 m workers and consumers waiting to be exploited.
The Plan alleges that Cuba and Venezuela are "intermeddling" in other Latin countries’ internal affairs (which is something the US would never do.) No Latin country has complained of such and no evidence has ever been produced to support such a charge. It’s true that Cuba sends physicians, nurses and teachers to help poor people in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, but only on request of their governments. The truth is that after a century of US corporate exploitation, some countries in South America are becoming independent nations. The Cuban Revolution stands as a shining example that such can be done.
The Plan says it was written and assembled by over 100 experts from various government agencies, but CIA is not among these. There are plenty of reasons to believe that CIA, at least the agents who know something about Cuba, agree with the 1990’s onsite Pentagon investigations of Cuban military installations that Cuba constitutes no risk to our national security. Nevertheless, part of the Plan is being kept secret on national security grounds.
We know now that our government has been at least allowing anti-Cuba terrorist groups like Alpha 66 to conduct weekly arms training sessions in and near the Everglades National Park and elsewhere. In recent months local authorities in Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles have happened upon large arms caches, which are admittedly intended for another Cuba invasion. The weapons include rocket launchers, bazookas, Uzis, all kinds of grenades and machine guns. The possessors have been charged locally but it’s very unlikely they’ll ever be tried publicly. In the Los Angeles case the defense of the Alpha 66 member with over 1,500 war weapons in his home is that they were supplied by our government.
There are several possible scenarios that could be used to publicly justify another military intervention in Cuba. One of the most unfounded, pernicious, dangerous aspects of the US propaganda campaign is the assertion that the Cuban Revolution has been the work of one man ("the tyrant") and the people on the island are desperate to return to US corporate rule. Three years ago a poll indicated that 25% of Miamians of Cuban ancestry want to return to Cuba when the leadership there changes. Many of these people, especially the younger ones, do not fit in with our commercial culture and are not doing well in Miami, the poorest big city in the US per capita.
Thus, there’s a distinct possibility of a boat exodus from South Florida to Cuba when the Cuban leadership changes, possibly tens or hundreds of thousands of people. In the Clinton years, Washington, Florida and Miami had coordinated contingency plans to prevent this by using the Coast Guard and various agencies. This is nowhere mentioned in the Plan but it can be inferred that such contingency plans no longer exist or will not be used. Most of these boat people will be law abiding, but some of them will be US citizens who could cause trouble in Cuba and seek US government intervention for help.
Americans would be wise, in their own self-interest, to try to reign in this Administration before it further executes this Plan. Any intervention in Cuba will lead to a brutal war and a long, harsh, bloody occupation/insurgency, which will end only when the Americans withdraw completely.
Tom Crumpacker is a member of the Miami Coalition to End the US Embargo of Cuba. He lives in Austin, Texas.