Data Trumps (Theoretical) Danger of a Cuban Collapse

Friday, March 28, 2014
Anticipating an end to Venezuela's $9 billion yearly subsidy to the Castro regime, Johns Hopkins Professor Daniel Serwer, argued yesterday in Politico that the U.S. has more to fear from a collapse of Cuba's dictatorship than from its survival.

He theorizes:

"A cut-off of money from Venezuela, the demise of the Castros or an international recession could precipitate collapse and set off a chaotic transition that spews people, drugs and arms throughout the Caribbean... Preventing a Cuban collapse, not causing one, should be our goal."

This page is straight out of the Assad-Gaddafi "public relations" handbook.

It reads: They are evil, anti-American dictators, but portray them as being better than the supposed alternative.

In the case of Assad-Gaddafi, the scapegoat is terrorism, which is ironic for there are few worse terrorists than Assad-Gaddafi.

In the case of Castro, Serwer's scapegoats are Cuban migrants, drugs and arms, which is equally ironic for there are few worse smugglers and criminals than the Castro brothers.

One would think Professor Serwer, as an academic, would offer some data -- any data -- to support his thesis.

But he doesn't.

Evidently, Serwer is unaware of the open U.S. indictments against senior Castro regime officials for drug trafficking.  He must also be unaware of the indictment that was prepared against Cuban dictator Raul Castro himself in the 1990's (and politically scrapped by President Clinton), as head of a major cocaine trafficking conspiracy toward the United States.

Moreover, it's mind-boggling how Serwer can express concern for arms trafficking stemming from the Cuban regime's collapse, when the Castro brothers themselves have just gotten caught red-handed smuggling weapons to North Korea, in violation of international sanctions.  And it wasn't just any ordinary weapons cache -- it was the largest ever intercepted to or from North Korea since U.N. sanctions took effect.

Then, of course, Serwer pursues the all-too-familiar "migrant scare."

The fact remains that prior to the Castro regime, Cuba was a country of immigrants, not emigrants.  The only Cuban migration crises faced by the U.S. (in 1980 and 1994) were the result of coercive acts by Castro.

If migration from Cuba has been the result of Castro's regime and the only migration crises the U.S. has faced stemmed from Castro's own coercion -- then clearly the most full-proof way to neutralize this threat would be through an end to Castro's regime.

Instead, Serwer believes the best approach is to continue being coerced by the very regime that has been using Cuban migrants to threaten the United States.

As for future Mafias and criminal organizations in Cuba, evidence suggests that a hard collapse of the Castro regime is precisely the best prevention.

The most successful transitions in Eastern Europe have taken place in the countries where the current dictators and Communist Party elites took no role in the political and economic transition process, namely Estonia and the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, the worst Mafias were created in the countries were the apparatchiks were incorporated throughout the political and economic transition process, namely Russia and Romania.  It was precisely the "soft-landing" that allowed them to use their privileged positions and connections to create criminal enterprises. As Russian intelligence expert Michael Waller has long-observed, the KGB is the heart of the Russian Mafia.

Yet, Serwer would have the U.S. embrace and pour billions into Castro's KGB-trained military and intelligence services, which currently control over 80% of the island's economy.

The fact remains that Cuba is already being run by a Mafia -- the collapse of which should be encouraged.

Finally, a timely article this week by MIT Professor Daren Acemoglu and Harvard Professor James Robinson, authors of the book, "Why Nations Fail," shows the evolution of GDP per capita following a democratization event compared to non-democracies.

(In their graph below, all democratizations are lined up to date 0 so as to visually trace out average growth following democratization relative to the control countries in which there is no democratization.)

They conclude: "the first thing that jumps out from the figure is that a typical democratization takes place when a country is undergoing an economic crisis."

Thus, economic crisis has a strong democratizing effect on non-democracies.

Data trumps theory.