Sanctions foes argue that U.S. policy -- or anything short of unconditionally normalizing relations -- gives the Castro regime an effective scapegoat for its failures.
However, that theory overlooks two important facts:
First and foremost, the Cuban people don't believe it.
Overwhelmingly, Cubans have tuned out the absurdities of the Castro regime. Furthermore, they understand that it is Cuba's totalitarian regime -- not "U.S. sanctions" -- that denies their most fundamental human rights, harasses, beats and imprisons them.
Secondly, sanctions or no sanctions, the Castro regime will always try to vilify the U.S. (while brutally repressing the Cuban people). So why multiply its political and economic monopoly?
In an interview with Germany's Deutsche Welle, Chinese dissident (and renowned artist) Ai Weiwei and former Romanian activist (and 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature) Herta Mueller discuss how vilifying the U.S. is simply the modus operandi of tyrannical regimes, whether in Iran, Cuba, China or Romania (during Ceausescu's reign).
Here's an excerpt:
Secret police an integral part of authoritarian regimes
Another picture that Ai Weiwei showed, describing it as his best photographic work so far, was of him in a lift with two police officers that were tailing him, none too subtly. He took the photo with his mobile phone and immediately posted it on the Internet.
As one of the most famous of China's dissidents, Ai Weiwei enjoys a certain degree of protection but it takes courage to confront ones "minders" in such a way.
Herta Mueller can very much empathize with Ai Weiwei's experiences of being spied upon or accused of spying for the West. In her novels and essays, she criticizes the Securitate, Romania's secret police, and depicts the atmosphere of fear, humiliation, and distrust that prevailed in communist Romania.
"This immediate accusation of spying is so typical. I think it exists in every dictatorship. If we look at Cuba or Iran, they always say people are working under the influence of external powers. I heard it all the time. At a factory that I worked in, people would say 'so-and-so is a CIA agent.' They didn't even know what CIA stood for!" she said.
The greatest accusation was that a person was too individualistic, lacked collective spirit and did not display a socialist attitude.
Both Ai Weiwei and Herta Mueller fell prey to this accusation but it did not stop them from taking refuge in art and literature to nurture their individuality.
Herta Mueller saw Romania's brutal regime fall. Ai Weiwei hopes he too will see China's one-party system fall.
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