In her new book, "Hard Choices," former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton writes that the embargo has given the two Castro brothers “an excuse not to enact democratic reforms.”
First, to believe that the Castro brothers, who have ruled over Cuba with a brutal, totalitarian iron-fist, will suddenly enact democratic reforms -- as if they had been "closet democrats" for five decades -- if the U.S.embargo is lifted is simply naive (at best).
Second, when U.S. leaders make this argument, it's music to the Castro's ears. As we recently explained in The Hill, "Dictators Need No Excuses to Crackdown on Dissent."
Third, this argument has been consistently debunked by polling data from the island showing that less than 10% of Cubans believe the U.S. embargo is the cause of their ills.
Finally, this argument borders on insult, for it implies the Cuban people are somehow ignorant or stupid as to the nature of the Castro regime (and its history of lies).
Just yesterday, Cuban independent journalist, Camilo Ernesto Olivera, visited the Havana neighborhoods of San Leopoldo and Coco Solo, which tourists don't frequent, and asked them about recent efforts to lobby President Obama to bypass Congress in further easing sanctions.
Here's how the conversation went (in Diario de Cuba):
(Caution: There's foul language)
An elderly woman said: "If the Americans ease the embargo any further, then they better get on all fours so Raul and these SOBs can screw them. These guys in the government are a mafia, not a government that one can negotiate anything with."
A group of men noted: "You can tell that those who signed that [Council of Americas] letter are living comfortably in the 'Yuma' and have no idea how things work here. For me, the real blockade is not the one by the Americans. The real blockade here is the government's, which doesn't let anyone live. It doesn't give, nor tells you where to get. They're afraid of people having money."
A young man noted on the Castro regime's recent crackdown on "mules" who transport merchandise: "The Generals who own the hard-currency stores want all the business for themselves. The poor quality and expired items that they sell at these stores for gold prices are a fraud, but they force it upon people as they have the arms and the terror mechanisms in their hands."
Finally, another man noted: "That I'm aware, it wasn't the Americans that closed the 3D home theaters or the clothing stores. It's not the Americans choking the private taxis. The Americans aren't the one who send inspectors or the police so that one can't move. It's hard to put food on the table. But if you say it loudly, they arrest you... and it's not the Americans, it's this government that's worthless..."
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