Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What the Left Misunderstands About Cuba’s History

What the Left Misunderstands About Cuba's History
Mike Gonzalez / @Gundisalvus / August 18, 2015

Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, is a widely
experienced international correspondent, commentator and editor who has
reported from Asia, Europe and Latin America. He served in the George W.
Bush Administration first at the Securities and Exchange Commission and
then at the State Department. His book, "A Race for the Future: How
Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans," was
published in September.

Just before Secretary of State John Kerry raised the Stars and Stripes
in Havana last week as he opened the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Sen.
Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., accused those who oppose President Obama's Cuba
policy of being nostalgic for former dictator Fulgencio Batista.

It's probably best to clear up some misconceptions he may have left.

Speaking in Congress, Leahy said that "positive change in Cuba will take
time. But it will come not as a result of stubborn nostalgia by a
vociferous few for the Batista years, but by visiting Cuba, listening to
the Cuban people, and engaging with them."

By all means, let's listen to the Cuban people.

Certainly, that would include some of the many dissidents—people like
Antonio Rodiles, whom the regime's henchmen beat to a pulp last month
for demanding in public that Cuba be free.

Antonio says that Obama's decision to establish diplomatic relations
with the Castro regime has only emboldened it. "They now feel they can
act with impunity," he told me when I last spoke to him. That was before
the beating, which proves his assessment was right.

Antonio doesn't need to visit Cuba. He lives there. He's not nostalgic
for Batista. He simply yearns for democracy and basic human rights.

And let's listen to Rosa Maria Paya. Her father, the dissident Oswaldo
Paya, was the 2002 winner of the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize.
In 2012, he died in a very mysterious car crash. A Spanish lawyer who
survived that crash, Angel Carromero, accuses the Castro regime of
killing Paya.

Just last month the Human Rights Foundation published a report that
cited evidence Paya was assassinated by the Castro regime. It called for
an investigation, which the regime refuses to carry out.

Rosa Maria Paya, too, demands an investigation—and a plebiscite so
Cubans can vote for change or more of the same. She recently described
how Obama's policy had changed life in Cuba by quoting Vaclav Havel:
"The only thing we have left is the power of the powerless."

No, she isn't pining for the Batista years, either. But she deeply
regrets the further empowerment of a murderous regime.

How about those of us in this country who oppose the new policy? Does
Leahy really believe that Texas Pastor Rafael Cruz—who was tortured by
Batista—looks back fondly upon the dictator? Does he think that Cruz's
son—who sits with Leahy in the Senate—is a shill for Batista?

I grew up in a Cuban household in the 1960s. There was no love lost for
Batista in my family. At the dinner table, I was taught that
batistiano—the term for those who followed Batista—was second only to
comunista as an insult.

Batista, you see, had my father arrested while he was still in law
school. And my father's father devoted a good part of his life to
fighting Batista at every step—when the strongman ruled behind the
scenes in the late 1930s, when he was freely elected in 1940 and when he
took over in a coup in 1952.

As evidence, I offer one of my grandfather's columns from the late '30s.
You don't have to read Spanish, just look at the cartoon. It shows
Federico Laredo Bru, Batista's puppet president from 1936 to 1940,
dreaming that he's holding Batista in the palm of his hand, only to be
awakened in the last frame.

My parents made the mistake of supporting Castro when he was in the
mountains. It wasn't until six months after the triumph of the
revolution that they realized, to their horror, that he was a communist.

Before they had not believed Castro was a communist precisely because
Batista said that he was.

By all means, let's listen to the Cuban people. But be sure to listen to
those who oppose the regime and not just those who shill for it. The
Associated Press reports that more than 20 U.S. lawmakers have visited
Cuba since Obama and the Castros declared détente—and not one of them
has met with a dissident group.

Meanwhile, if it's not too much to ask, Leahy should refrain from
accusing Rodiles, the Paya family, Pastor Cruz or any of the millions of
Cubans and Americans who disagree with the president's Cuba policy of
being closet batistianos.

There's no need to add insult to this injurious policy.

Source: What the Left Misunderstands About Cuba's History -

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