Friday, November 21, 2014

The Cuban “Sovereignty” Fable

The Cuban "Sovereignty" Fable / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya
Posted on November 20, 2014

14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havna, 11 November 2014– In recent weeks we
have seen a lot of media hype on the subject of US embargo against the
Cuban government and the implications for lifting it. The New York Times
led the way, with several inflammatory anti-embargo editorials which
resulted in immediate answers from numerous other digital venues,
pointing to the dangers of the unconditional and unilateral withdrawal
of the sanctions that would allow the Island's regime new possibilities
for extending and consolidating power after half a century of dictatorship.

Without a doubt, the issue of the embargo constitutes the Gordian knot
that marks the Cuba-US relations, though with a clearly differentiating
thread: If lifting the embargo is today an element of crucial strategic
importance for the survival of the Cuban regime, it is not a priority
for the US government, and it does not constitute a strategic point in
that country's foreign policy agenda.

This antecedent, by itself, explains that the negotiations about the
relations between both governments should not develop on the principle
of "same conditions" as Cuban officials and its troupe of organic
intellectuals (candidly?) claim, since, while the survival of the Castro
regime depends to great measure on the lifting of the US sanctions, in
Washington, it is neither an element of strategic importance nor an
economic or political priority.

In addition, it is ridiculous to suppose that the Cuban government —
after hijacking the rights of the governed and excluding them of all
legal benefit — making a show of an unspeakable cynicism, pretends to
establish itself as defender of the "American people", which has been
deprived by their own government of the ability to travel to or to
invest in Cuba as they wish, even if it is a well-known secret that the
US is currently one of the major trading partners with Cuba, especially
in foodstuffs, and that the presence of Americans is an everyday event
in the main tourist destinations on the Island.

But above all, all this foreign policy debate debunks the main pillar on
which the foundation of the whole structure of the Cuban revolution has
been created: the unwavering defense of sovereignty.

The fallacy of Cuban "sovereignty"

In the 70s, Fidel Castro publicly mocked the embargo ("blockade" in the
revolutionary jargon). By then, the much overhyped Cuban sovereignty
omitted its humiliating subordination to the Soviet Union, legally
endorsed in the [Cuban] Constitution and, under which, Cuba stood as a
strategic base of the Russian communist empire in the Western
Hemisphere, including in those relations of servitude the failed attempt
to create a nuclear warhead base in the early days of the Castro era,
the existence of a Soviet spy base in Cuba, Soviet military troops on
Cuban soil, building of a thermonuclear plant — which, fortunately, was
never finished — sending Cuban troops to encourage and/or support armed
conflicts in Latin America and Africa, among other commitments, whose
scope and costs have not yet been disclosed.

As compensation, the Soviet Union supported the Cuban system through
massive subsidies that allowed for the maintenance of the fabulous
health and education programs on the Island, as well as other social
benefits. By then, the so-called US "blockade" was reduced to teaching
manuals and classroom indoctrination, or mentioned in some other
official discourse, as long as it was appropriate to justify production
inefficiencies or some shortage that the European communist bloc was
unable to cover.

After the demise of the Soviet Union and of socialism in Eastern Europe,
the regime managed, with relative success, an unprecedented economic
crisis in Cuba, euphemistically known as the "Special Period", thanks to
two key factors: foreign investment from a group of adventurous
entrepreneurs who believed that a virgin market and a system in ruins
were sufficient conditions for bargaining advantageously and the forced
establishment of opening enterprise in the form of small family
business, two elements that had been demonized for decades, since the
nationalization, in the early sixties, of foreign capital businesses,
and seizing of small businesses later, during the so-called
Revolutionary Offensive of 1968.

In the late 90's, however, a new possibility for subsidies appeared on
the scene, in the form of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. His deeply
populist and egotistical government assumed the maintenance of the
Castro system based on the exploitation and ruthless squandering that
country's oil. At the same time, he sustained the Cuban sovereignty
myth. This myth is the foundation of the revolutionary anti-imperialist
tale (David vs. Goliath), played endlessly in this ignorant and
superstitious region by a host of leftist opportunistic intellectuals
that thrive in Latin America.

That explains how, after half of century of revolution, Cuba is still
one of the most dependent countries in the Western world, and at the
same time the "most sovereign" though, currently, it may be common
knowledge, according to the very official acknowledgement. The final
destiny of the Island depends on foreign capital investment. It turns
out that, in this nation, so very independent and sovereign, the
olive–green oligarchs no longer mock the embargo, but they weep for its
termination. It may be that their personal wealth, fruit of the plunder
of the national treasury, is comfortably safe in foreign funds and
vaults, but, without foreign investments, the days of their dynasty are

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall there have been about six US
administrations, three presidents have ruled in post-communist Russia,
and several more have followed in the governments of the countries of
Eastern Europe, while the same system of government still remains in
Cuba, imposed by the succession of the Castro brothers, with
adjustments and "renovations" that only serve to cover up the mimetic
capacity of an elite military clique in the transition to state
capitalism, the administrator of an economic and political monopoly that
attempts to successfully survive the inevitable transformation of
late-Castrism into something that no one knows for sure what it will be.

Today, while others resolve Cuba's destinies, Cubans, always subjected
to extraterritorial powers and at the mercy of an octogenarian autocracy
– however sufficiently proud or stupid enough so as to not recognize it,
and sufficiently meek as to not revolt — have ended up winning just one
card: that of begging, only that the olive-green elite poses as a
beggar, their hands held out palms up, asking the alms of foreign
capital. Reality has ended up obeying the discourse: never before have
we been more dependent.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: The Cuban "Sovereignty" Fable / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya |
Translating Cuba -

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