Don't "Gruberize" With Cuba Policy

Tuesday, December 9, 2014
This week, The Economist published a remarkably shallow piece urging President Obama to unilaterally and unconditionally ease sanctions towards Cuba.

Its main rationale?

Because, purportedly, "support for the embargo across America is crumbling."

Its evidence?

"A nationwide poll taken earlier this year for the Atlantic Council, a think-tank, found that 56% of respondents favoured improving relations."

Of course, The Economist fails to mention that -- even in the Atlantic Council's push-poll -- when a brief explanation of the Castro regime's human rights abuses preceded the question, the number of Americans who supported engagement dramatically dropped from 56% to 43%.

In other words, The Economist is banking on the American people's lack of information regarding Cuba's realities.

Such a strategy is akin to that of MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber, an Obamacare consultant, who is under fire from both Republicans and Democrats, for wanting to mislead, deceive and exploit the American people through misinformation.

This why foreign news bureaus in Havana only write "fluff" pieces or regurgitate Castro's press releases.

It's also why Castro's U.S. lobbyists and anti-sanctions advocates are constantly trying to "white-wash" the regime's abuses.

The fact remains that the more information the American public has about Cuba's realities, the more they oppose lifting sanctions or engaging with Castro's regime.

Why?

Because, unlike whatever Professor Gruber may think, the American people aren't "stupid."

Just imagine if the general American public knew that:

- Political arrests in Cuba have quadrupled since 2010, with over 8,400 arrests thus far this year.

- An American hostage, development worker, Alan Gross, was imprisoned for helping Cuba's small Jewish community obtain uncensored Internet access.

- Over 240 tons of heavy weaponry from Cuba to North Korea were intercepted in the Panama Canal. The largest interdiction of weapons in violation of UN Security Council sanctions, anywhere in the world, to date. This also threatened the safety of the Panama Canal and risked bringing global commerce to a halt.

- Democracy leaders Laura Pollan, leader of The Ladies in White, and Oswaldo Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, have mysteriously died.

- Cuba has wrested political, civil and military control of Venezuela, and has been exporting its repressive apparatus to other nations, including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

- European and Canadian businesses have been illegally confiscated, their bank accounts frozen and an unknown number of foreign businessmen imprisoned without charges or trial.

- All foreign trade with Cuba must be done through Castro's monopolies.

- The Cuban people are denied Internet connectivity through pricing, discrimination and imprisonment.

- New long-term political prisoners, who have been arrested in recent years, remain arbitrarily imprisoned, e.g. The Ladies in White's Sonia Garro, rapper Angel Yunier Remon, labor leader Ulises Gonzalez Moreno, LGBT advocate David Bustamante, author Angel Santiesteban and activist Ivan Fernandez Depestre.

- Cuba has mobilized its diplomatic arsenal in support of Assad's genocide in Syria, of North Korea's crimes against humanity, of a nuclear Iran, of Vladimir Putin's illegal annexation of the Crimea and of the violent actions by Russian separatists in the Ukraine.

If the Atlantic Council's poll saw support for engagement with Castro's regime drop from 56% to 43% with a simple explanation of human rights abuses -- it would plummet if Americans were made aware of all these facts.

Unfortunately, the American public generally doesn't follow Cuba policy very closely -- a reality Castro's lobbyists and anti-sanctions advocates try to exploit through deception and misinformation ("Gruberize").

A shallow and shameful strategy.