William F. Buckley
In the general political commotion centering on John Edwards, the Fourth of July and Fallujah, attention strays from matters Cuban, except when a cigar is being probed. Well, what's been going on is one of those Fidel Castro extravaganzas in Havana in which he vows eternal hostility to anything that threatens his dictatorship or loosens the shackles of the dystopia he has presided over longer than Hitler and Stalin combined.

One important irritant is the ruling by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). It has ordained that Cuban-Americans may not visit their families in Cuba more often than once every three years, that they may not spend more than $50 per day, that they may not stay in Cuba for more than two weeks (this is Uncle Sam talking, not Fidel Castro), and that contributions to Cuban family members must be limited to $1,200 per household per year.

Nobody who keeps political tallies will deny that these initiatives are politically based. This conclusion derives from a general knowledge of the impotence of boycotts, and a particular knowledge of Castro's indomitability. So the pinpricks are not going to derail Castro; will they deliver Florida to Bush? That, of course, is the idea. If it's anti-Castro, the Cuban-American community is for it, right?

But not all Cuban-Americans will cheer. For one thing, the law is designed to prevent them from doing what some of them would otherwise do. Regulations of the kind promulgated by OFAC have no effect on people who do not plan to visit Cuba or to send money for Cuban relief. It can be held that the measures affect everyone concerned with a free Cuba -- if it could be established in which way they would tilt the Castro scene. If they weakened him, the world would benefit. If they strengthened him, then we would have bad politics bringing on bad days.

Some Cuban-Americans, who no longer have family ties to Cuba (Castro took power 45 years ago), have expressed resentment of those who feel free to travel to Havana. There are Cuban-Americans who believe that any traffic of any kind with Castro weakens the solidarity of U.S. policy.


William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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