A Discombobulated New York Times

Monday, December 15, 2014
The New York Times' editorial writer, Ernesto Londoño, has written his first editorial since returning from a two-week trip to Cuba.

(In case you missed the double-standards of Londoño's trip, click here.)

His previous six editorials -- part of a self-admitted "lobbying campaign" by the NYT -- have been full of contradictions, misrepresentations and omissions.

This latest iteration contains all of the above -- plus is discombobulated.

Londoño is so determined to keep lobbying against U.S. policy -- rather than against Castro's totalitarian dictatorship -- that he's strikingly incoherent.

For example, he argues, "[Obama should make] it easier for Americans to provide start up-capital for independent small businesses. Doing that would empower Cuban-Americans to play a more robust role in the island’s economic transformation."

But then, a few paragraphs later, unwittingly recognizes, "Many of those building small businesses, such as bed-and-breakfasts, are Cubans who returned with savings earned abroad and those with relatives outside the country who provided start-up capital."

So are Cuban-Americans providing so-called "start-up capital" (unofficially, through remittances) to "small businesses" -- or aren't they?

Please make up your mind.

Londoño then admits how pursuant to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Castro regime "was forced to allow in some foreign investment and authorize limited private-sector employment." But that in 1999, its newest benefactor, Venezuela, "gave Cuban officials the ability to retighten state control of the economy."

So amid Venezuela's imminent political and economic crisis, why not keep "forcing" Castro's regime?

After all, even Londoño admits how currently, "[Cuban] bureaucrats are throttling businesses that are doing particularly well and forcing some to become joint ventures with the state."

So why bail them out and give them the ability to "retighten state control"?

The fact remains that every single (official) foreign trade and investment transaction with Cuba must be with a state entity, or individual acting on behalf of the state. The state's exclusivity regarding foreign trade and investment is infamously enshrined in Article 18 of Castro's 1976 Constitution.

So how would lifting U.S. sanctions and formalizing trade and investment transactions with Castro's regime help independent entrepreneurs?

Want to directly help Cuba's "independent" bed and breakfasts ("casa particulares")?

Here's a simple middle-ground approach: Add a requirement to "people-to-people" licenses that U.S. travelers must stay at "casa particulares," rather than at the Cuban military's 5-star hotels, as they currently do.

However, Londoño doesn't seek any middle-ground. He only seeks to criticize U.S. policy.

Even if it entails dishonesty.

Undeterred, he again mentions a so-called "growing number of lawmakers who want to expand business with Cuba."

Really? Please document this "growing number" -- for last we checked, advocates of unilaterally lifting sanctions haven't won a vote in Congress since 2004. They've actually lost every vote in the last decade. Moreover, only 18 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored legislation to lift sanctions this Congress.

He then states (with no explanation) how removing Cuba from the state-sponsors of terrorism list would help the island's "entrepreneurial class."

Really? How exactly would it do that? In Spanish, this is called confusing "la amnesia con la magnesia."

And yet, all of Londoño's desperate spin and discombobulation turns out to be a big waste of print, for he concludes:

"[This] type of engagement is unlikely to succeed unless the United States abandons its policy of regime change. Cuba’s economic transformation may be proceeding slowly, but it could well lead to a more open society."

In other words, the U.S. must -- first and foremost -- accept Cuba's totalitarian dictatorship.

And then -- if lucky -- we can have a China-style, Vietnam-style -- or better yet, another Pinochet-style -- dictatorship in the Americas.

As Fidel would say, "Democracia? For what?"

The Western Hemisphere's wanna-be authoritarians would be thrilled.

That's quite a (lack of) geostrategic vision.