As Bush escalates threats, Cuba refuses to be bullied

By Julie Fry

Fight Imperialism – Stand Together (FIST), New York City chapter
On Oct. 24, President George W. Bush gave an unprecedented speech on Cuba at the State Department. He outlined a new, much more aggressive U.S. policy that is clearly aimed at trying to destabilize Cuba. Surrounded by families of right-wing Cuban mercenaries, Bush came close to openly threatening a military assault against the socialist island. The Cuban people and the rest of the world took note.

Bush outlined his new strategy as follows: The creation of a multi-billion-dollar “Freedom Fund for Cuba” that he promises will help Cubans “rebuild their economy and make the transition to democracy”—but only if the Cuban people agree to forfeit their sovereignty and follow the political and economic conditions demanded of them by the U.S. government.

Bush will also give Cuba some computers and more Internet access, as well as some scholarships to U.S. schools, if Cuba agrees to his demands.

But the most important part of Bush’s speech was not the offer of this pitiful amount of so-called aid, which even Bush can’t possibly believe will entice Cubans to abandon their revolution. The real news in the speech was the fact that Bush came closer than he ever has before to threatening to overthrow the Cuban Revolution through force.

Throughout his speech, Bush repeatedly referred to Cuba’s so-called “transition.” He said that the U.S. would not seek to “accommodate” Cuba’s acting president, Raul Castro. Ominously, Bush declared, “The operative word in our future dealings with Cuba is not ‘stability.’ The operative word is ‘freedom.’”

Bush is apparently willing to destabilize Cuba in order to try to win this so-called “freedom” and Cubans immediately recognized this statement to be an absolute threat.

Cubans stand up to Bush

Throughout Cuban society, people responded immediately to Bush’s threat. Cuba’s foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque, issued a statement calling Bush “raving.”

Roque said Bush was completely out of touch with the reality of life in Cuba and the people who live there. In response to Bush’s new initiatives, Roque issued a 12-point platform of demands on the U.S. government.

Among these demands was an end to the illegal U.S. blockade of Cuba, the release of the Cuban Five, and, importantly, respect for Cuba’s independence and sovereignty. Cuba demands that the U.S. cease its policy of aggression and stop its “intervention in Cuba’s internal affairs and attempts to manufacture an internal opposition.”

The Union of Communist Youth of Cuba (UJC) also responded to Bush’s speech. Many of Bush’s new policies, such as the computers and scholarships, were directed at youth in Cuba in the hope that they would be less loyal to the revolution than the older generation.

The UJC began their response with the following statement to Bush: “Your ridiculous words are embarrassing and disgusting to the Cuban youth.” The UJC talked about the reality of life for youth in their society and how distant it was from Bush’s portrayal. “The Cuban youth,” they wrote, “raised on values completely different from the model you represent, are not a bunch of uncommitted and fanatic people that will run after your cynical offerings. We know our history and have learned very well the lessons of sovereignty that so many generations have left us throughout many years.”

U.S. isolated in policy toward Cuba

Although Bush invited diplomats from all over Latin America to attend his Oct. 24 speech, the only people who applauded when he announced his policy were the right-wing mercenaries and U.S. politicians he invited to be there.

Although Cuba is a small country with much less military and economic power than the U.S., it has managed to rally international support for its position. The presidents of Nicaragua and Venezuela, Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chávez, respectively, both immediately condemned Bush’s policy. On Oct. 30, the United Nations General Assembly members voted overwhelmingly to oppose the U.S. blockade against Cuba, for the 16th consecutive year.

Here in the U.S., there is no mass support for an attack on Cuba. Bush’s current war against Iraq has lost the support of the vast majority of people in the United States. His more recent threats against countries such as Iran, which Bush and the U.S. media have demonized thoroughly, have only caused further opposition to his administration, given the disaster it has caused in Iraq. There is no support for such an aggressive policy against Cuba except among the most extreme right-wing forces.

Given the seemingly arrogant detachment of Bush’s latest speech, many U.S. media sources have commented that Bush was only pandering to the Cuban right-wing in Miami, who are frustrated that the Cuban Revolution did not collapse after Fidel Castro’s illness over a year ago.

There may be some truth to this view. After pursuing an unsuccessful policy of aggression against Cuba for the last 50 years that included assassination attempts, terrorism and many forms of subversion, all the U.S. government had left to rely on was its own propaganda: the belief that the Cuban Revolution was totally dependent on Fidel Castro. And now, over a year later, it is clear to everyone that it was wrong. Surely, the anti-Cuba forces must be a bit panicked.

But Bush, of course, isn’t dependent on the Cuban right wing. They work for him, and not the other way around. The U.S. government provides them with every ounce of power and influence they have. Bush and his predecessors have provided the Cuban right wing with all the training, arms and money they have used to attack Cuba over the years.

Bush is really speaking for the part of the U.S. ruling class that sees Cuba as a threat and wants to overturn the revolution by force. As different hostile and isolationist policies toward Cuba have failed over the years, a split has developed among U.S. capitalists.

Some would like to continue along the same track of open hostility. Others, fed up with past failures and eager to try to exploit Cuba’s natural resources and highly educated workforce, favor more normal relations. Bush falls decidedly in the former camp with regard to U.S.-Cuba relations. And as the president and his foreign policy have become increasingly unpopular, those who he represents are desperate to see some gains. That is why Cuba does not regard Bush’s statement as an empty threat.

Neither does the Cuba solidarity movement in the U.S. The International Action Center and the New York Committee to Free the Cuban Five issued a statement this week condemning Bush’s speech and calling on the movement in the U.S. to organize in defense of Cuba. Attached to the statement was an online petition calling on Bush to cease his aggression toward Cuba. If Bush decides to carry out his threats, the movement in the U.S. will be poised to respond, and so, of course, will the Cuban people. Go to www.iacenter.org to read the statement.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi, I read your article with much interest. As a Canadian I travel to Cuba about twice a year, I will be going back in about 3 weeks from now. You hit the nail on the head with the Cuban youth statement “raised on values completely different from the model you represent,” As in any society there is a need for change, however if Miama Cubans believe they are going to return to Cuba and set up shop they are greatly mistaken. These people are dispised by the ordinary Cuban. I have travelled all over the world and can honestly say that Cuba is by far the safest country I have ever visited, I believe this is due to the very high level of eduction. When change does come they will be aligning themselves with S.America & not USA


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