"The life of the Cuban revolution is in the balance! We rectify or we sink!" (Raul Castro Dec. 18, 2010)
“Cuba will be bankrupt in 2011.” (Italian ambassador to Cuba, Wikileaks Cable)
“Here I come to save the day!” (U.S. President Barack Obama, Jan. 14th 2011)
But unlike Andy Kaufman on his first Saturday Night Live skit, President Obama hoped to keep his Castro-rescue quiet. He waited till after the November elections (Florida Democrats could be besmirched by a Democratic bail-out of Castro) to sign the executive order, then announced it on a Friday afternoon, slowest news period of the week. His Presidential order further loosens travel and remittance restrictions to Castro’s fiefdom from the U.S., which sounds pretty harmless and innocuous as presented by his chums in the media. After all, the goal is simply to increase “people-to-people” contacts between Americans and Cubans.
But Cuba-watchers weren’t fooled and America’s “Tea-Party Candidate,” Senator Marco Rubio, reacted promptly:
"I strongly oppose any new changes that weaken U.S. policy towards Cuba,” he said Friday afternoon. “I was opposed to the changes that have already been made by this Administration and I oppose these new changes...It is unthinkable that the administration would enable the enrichment of a Cuban regime that routinely violates the basic human rights and dignity of its people."
Note that I wrote “further loosens.” And Senator Rubio mentions, “changes that have already been made by this administration.” Because they hear the term alongside every mention of Cuba by the MSM, most Americans probably think the U.S. actually “embargoes” Cuba. Can’t blame them. But in fact:
The U.S. has transacted more than $2 billion worth of business with Castro’s Cuba in the last decade. Until last year, the U.S. served as Castro’s Cuba’s biggest food supplier and fifth biggest import partner. Furthermore, the U.S. has been Castro’s Cuba’s biggest donor of humanitarian aid including medicine and medical supplies for decades. Last year a defector from Castro’s regime revealed that owing to Obama’s earlier “loosening” of remittance restrictions to Cuba, almost $2 billion a year in remittances were succoring the cash-strapped Castro regime. This ranks the U.S. right between Red China and Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela as Castro’s lifeline. At this rate we’ll soon be number one. Some “embargo.”
Last year Castro’s Cuba also received 200,000 visitors from the U.S.—legally. Global Travel Industry News reports that another 200,000 Americans visited Castro’s fiefdom illegally. Every euro, peso, lira, pound, dollar, etc. spent in Cuba ultimately lands in the pocket of the regime.
The anti-“embargo” mantra stresses that a flood of rich Western tourists will magically smother Cuban Stalinism, whereupon the island nation will quickly mutate into a bigger (and more historic and picturesque) Cozumel. This reasoning seems to go something like this: Rewarding and enriching the KGB-trained and heavily armed guardians of Cuba’s Stalinist status-quo will magically convert them into instant opponents of that Stalinist status quo.
As two decades of such tourism have amply proven, any trickle of foreign currency that reaches the Stalinist regime’s subjects (primarily from prostitution) is offset a thousand-fold by the millions ($2.4 billion last year, for instance) crammed into the regime’s military and secret-police coffers.
Nowadays the so-called U.S. embargo merely stipulates that the Castro regime pay cash up front through a third–party bank for all U.S. agricultural products; no Export-Import Bank (U.S. taxpayer) financing of such sales. Enacted by the Bush team in 2001 this cash-up-front policy has kept the U.S. taxpayer among the few in the world not screwed and tattooed by Fidel Castro. But for how much longer?
President Obama’s executive order will also boost cultural, scientific, religious and educational travel with Cuba. The Clinton administration also made a fetish of fostering such travel, so if Castro is singing “Happy Days are Here Again!” we can’t blame him.
The deepest and most damaging penetration of the U.S. Defense Department by an enemy agent resulted precisely from all that “sharing” by the Clinton team with Stalinist Cuba. During the Clinton administration Ana Belen Montes, a champion of cultural and educational exchanges with Cuba in which she partook abundantly, was promoted to head the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Cuba division. She was also awarded the “Certificate of Distinction,” the third-highest honor awarded by any U.S. Intelligence agency.
Thus honored under Clinton, Montes today serves a 25 year prison sentence for "Conspiracy to Commit Espionage." On September 20th 2001 (under Bush), Ms. Montes was arrested by the FBI as a Castro spy and accused of the same crime as Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. After conviction, only a plea bargain allowed the Clinton Administration’s top “Cuba Expert” and champion of “people-to-people” contacts to escape the fate of the Rosenbergs. The Montes case is widely considered the most damaging espionage case since the "end" of the Cold War.
These Clinton-era "people to people" exchanges with Cuba got so doggone chummy that in the mid 90's Mobile, Alabama and Havana became official "Sister Cities." In 2003 Castro’s “cultural ambassador” to Mobile, Oscar Redondo, was nabbed by the FBI as a Castro espionage agent and booted from the U.S. For years he’d labored diligently as one of Ana Montes’ top lieutenants.
In May 2003, 14 more Cuban spies were uncovered and booted from the U.S. Most had worked under diplomatic cover while gleefully “culturally-exchanging” with their American hosts.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.