Cuba, Obama and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Sunday, April 24, 2016
 By Carlos Alberto Montaner in El Nuevo Herald:

Cuba, Obama and the Law of Unintended Consequences

There are no exceptions. The president of the United States is also subject to the “Law of unintended consequences.” This became patent, for example, in Libya. NATO carried out 7,000 bombing raids and caused the destruction of the army of Qaddafi, who ended up executed by his enemies. In total chaos, the country was finally taken over by some fanatical gangs that murdered the U.S. ambassador.
Objectively speaking, that criminal madman, Qaddafi, was less bad than those who came later. Something similar happened with Saddam Hussein Mubarak, the Shah of Persia, and Batista, episodes in which, directly or indirectly the United States has great responsibility for its behavior, by abstaining to act or for acting belatedly.

It just happened to Barack Obama in Cuba. The president arrived in Havana jovial, hopeful and loaded with good intentions, accompanied by successful (former) Cuban exiles, also desirous to help their native land, convinced one and all of the simplistic theory of the “bombardment of hams.”

Grosso modo, those who support that strategy suspect that -- out of the capitalist penetration, the empowering of the civilian society and the creation of a layer of private owners and self-employed entrepreneurs -- the gradual end of the communist model will eventually emerge.

They therefore renounce any economic reprisals or military threats, confident that the island's gradual economic transformation will produce the results that weren't obtained after more than half a century of economic embargo and hostility.

Wishful thinking. They assume that wishes are reality. Raúl and Fidel are two serious communists, resolutely Stalinist, ready to maintain by blood and fire the State's economic preponderance, the exclusivity of the Communist Party in charge of the nation, and the firm belief that Washington is the enemy against whom Cubans must fight to the death.

That is why they support Nicolás Maduro with cloak and dagger, why they send weapons to North Korea, embrace Iran and the Middle East terrorists, and give their total solidarity to the narco-guerrillas of the  FARC. To the Cuban government, it is obvious who are its friends and who are its enemies. It doesn't hesitate or err or is halted by petty bourgeois prejudices about violating human rights.

As Mauricio Claver-Carone pointed out in CapitolHillCubans, the first thing they did was to add the alleged crime of “accumulation of riches” to the prohibitions imposed on Cuban self-employed entrepreneurs, an anathema that joins the existing impossibility to “accumulate properties.” They know perfectly well the strategy of the “bombardment of hams” and will not be surprised by the “grossly materialistic” tactics of their adversaries.

For the Castros and for the military men who command in their dynasty, the weak private economic fabric, watched very closely by the counterintelligence, composed of minor service activities (small hostels, household restaurants, sweaty bicitaxis and a ridiculous etcetera.), has the function of paying taxes, absorbing the manual labor that doesn't fit in the large public companies, alleviating the deficiencies of an astoundingly clumsy system, and giving the regime the stability furnished by a layer of micro-entrepreneurs anxious not to do anything that might endanger their meager privileges.

A few days after Obama's trip, the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba answered the American president firmly and unanimously. Raúl Castro, along with other octogenarians, were returned to their posts by 100 percent of the votes. The same happened with all the members of Politburo and the Central Committee. Those who expected some sign of aperture or pluralism, some symptom of tolerance toward other voices, did not find them.

The icing on the cake was Fidel's delirious speech. After repeating for the umpteenth time that he has been a communist since the age of 20 -- the only verifiable truth that he has said in all his life -- he began to hallucinate about dinosaurs and the cosmic end of life upon the planet.

It is a pity that Barack Obama, the (former) Cuban exiles, and those diplomats and academicians convinced of the virtue of the strategy of “bombarding with hams” ignore the power of ideologies, absurd and counterproductive though they may be, and don't respect the homicidal determination of some cutthroat enemies that have held power for almost 60 years, terrorizing the domestic population and intimidating their foreign adversaries.

The “unintended consequences” have not taken long to materialize. The dictatorship prepares to tighten the screws. It already expelled from his post Prof. Omar Everleny, a surprisingly reasonable and dialogue-prone Marxist. It will redouble its vigilance. It will batter the opposition with greater brutality (it's already doing so.)  It will economically bleed the entrepreneurs and will show Obama and his friends that the Castros are convinced and consistent Stalinists, willing to kill or be killed in defense of their ideas.

Raúl and Fidel are not sucking their thumbs. It's time for their enemies to learn that.