U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue was barely finished calling for the further impoverishment of American workers (i.e. “immigration reform”) when he shows up as a guest of Cuba’s Stalinist regime and gives a speech at the University of Havana calling for a further fleecing of American taxpayers (i.e. ending the so-called Cuba embargo.)
“For years, the US Chamber of Commerce has demanded that our government eliminate the commercial embargo on Cuba. It’s time for a new approach,” proclaimed Donohue this week to an ovation from communist apparatchiks, some who in 1960 stormed into almost 6000 U.S. owned businesses (worth almost $ 2 billion at the time) and stole them all at Soviet gunpoint.
A few American business-owners resisted. One of these was Howard Anderson who owned a filling stations and Jeep dealership (not a casino or brothel, which were relatively rare in pre-Castro Cuba, by the way.) I’ll quote from Anderson v. Republic of Cuba, No. 01-28628 (Miami-Dade Circuit Court, April 13, 2003). "In one final session of torture, Castro's agents drained Howard Anderson's body of blood before sending him to his death at the firing squad."
The Inter-American Law Review classifies Castro’s mass burglary of U.S. property as “the largest uncompensated taking of American property by a foreign government in history.” Rubbing his hands and snickering in triumphant glee, Castro boasted at maximum volume to the entire world that he was freeing Cuba from "Yankee economic slavery!" (Che Guevara's term, actually) and that "he would never repay a penny!"
This is the only promise Fidel Castro has ever kept in his life. Hence the imposition of the Cuba embargo, not that you’d know any of this from the mainstream media, much less from Thomas Donohue.
The burglarized (and often brutalized) American owners filed those property claims against Castro’s regime with the U.S. government. They’re worth $7 billion today--and must be settled before the so called embargo is lifted. This settlement provision for lifting the embargo was codified into U.S. law in 1996 by the Helms-Burton act, which means only Congress can lift the embargo, obviously after a vote. But the votes are not there.
Shouldn’t the President of an outfit like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce be aware of this? Or is Donohue calling for more of Obama’s “executive overreach?”
“The reforms under Raul Castro’s government demonstrate that Cuban leaders understand that direct economic investment can be a powerful tool for economic development,” proclaimed Donahue to another ovation from his communist audience.
Oh, Cuba’s Stalinist kleptocracy understands this alright. But this “economic development” via foreign investment exclusively benefits the tiny Stalinist nomenklatura that has run Cuba since 1959—and enthusiastically hosted Thomas Donahue this week. All foreign trade with “Cuba” is still conducted exclusively with the Stalinist regime—no exceptions. In fact private property rights still do not exist in Cuba, much less an independent judiciary and the rule of law.
According to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. has transacted almost $4 billion in trade with Cuba over the past decade. Up until four years ago, the U.S. served as Stalinist Cuba’s biggest food supplier and fifth biggest import partner. We’ve fallen a few notches recently but we’re still in the top half.
For over a decade the so-called U.S. embargo, so disparaged by Thomas Donahue, has mostly stipulated that Castro’s Stalinist regime pay cash up front through a third–party bank for all U.S. agricultural products; no Ex-Im (U.S. taxpayer) financing of such sales. And that’s the catch with Donahue’s gracious hosts. They’re desperate to abolish that provision.
Enacted by the Bush team in 2001, this cash-up-front policy has been monumentally beneficial to U.S. taxpayers, making them among the few in the world not screwed and tattooed by the Castro regime, which per capita-wise qualifies as the world’s biggest debtor nation, with a foreign debt estimated at $50 billion, a credit rating nudging Somalia’s and an uninterrupted record of defaults. Standard & Poors refuses even to rate Cuba, regarding the economic figures released by its Stalinist apparatchiks as utterly bogus. Just this year the Russians wrote off almost $30 billion Castro still owed them.
Regarding the disconnect seen above between historic truth and Castroite propaganda, what we have here, amigos, is not a “failure to communicate.” Instead it’s perfect communication-- between Castro’s propaganda ministry and the U.S. media (and “business leaders”) to whom they issue press bureaus and visas, after careful vetting. These latter amply live up to their side of the bargain, “reporting” exactly what Castro wants them to report.
A Spanish businessman named Fernandez Gonzalez has an interesting story that might serve as an education for Thomas Donahue, or for those who might fall for his siren song, as composed by the kleptocratic Castro brothers:
“A few years ago, I created in the Hemingway Marina, a tourist zone near Havana, a bar/restaurant…then during a farce that would not hold water in any Western judicial system -- my business was taken from me and I became "an enemy of the people." Today, I remain deprived, without recourse, of the property that I steadfastly and honorably worked to create for many years. I don't want other foreign investors, who travel to Cuba under some siren song to suffer the same fate as I did. Thus I recommend, I beg, that you don't contribute with your money and knowledge to shore-up Cuba's dictatorship…Because there is not the slightest judicial guarantee. There is no Rule of Law that protects investors, nor anyone else. In Cuba, what prevails are not rights, but the will and whim of those who govern. The same thing that happened to business owners at the beginning of the revolution can happen, and does happen, to today's investors and businessmen.”
One fine morning in February 2009 the Castro brothers woke up and decided to freeze $1 billion that 600 foreign companies kept in Cuban bank accounts. Another fine morning in April 2012 the Cuban regime arrested the top officers of Britain-based Coral Capital that had invested $75 million in the Castro brothers’ fiefdom and was planning four and luxurious golf resorts. These hapless (greedy, unprincipled and stupid, actually) businessmen find themselves with no more recourse to law than the millions of Cubans and Americans who had their businesses and savings stolen en masse in August of 1960 by Castro’s gunmen.
After all, Che Guevara who served as Cuba’s “Finance Minister” during the initial mass burglaries of Cuban and U.S. owned properties explained the regime’s legal guidelines very succinctly in January 1959, when he served as chief hangman. “Judicial evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail. We execute (and jail and torture and steal) based on Revolutionary conviction.”
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.