Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pilgrim's Progress; or, How Christian Learned to Love The Embargo

Christian C. said:

You must admit that there is no great solution to this dilemma, but there is a least-bad one. If the embargo remains, the Castro regime stays in power and the Cuban people continue to suffer. If the embargo is removed, the Castro regime stays in power and the Cuban people continue to suffer, but perhaps a bit less than before, and definitely not under the fiction that the Goliath to the north is responsible for their plight.

Cuban exiles who haven't been to Cuba in decades underestimate how widespread this myth is in Cuba (and rightfully so). It makes them feel as if they are trapped between Scylla and Charybdis. If you remove the embargo, there can be no doubt to Cubans that the Castro regime is the enemy, not the United States. If you keep it, you give the Castro regime the lifeblood that has sustained it for half a century.

The cases of China and Vietnam are instructive. Communist Parties in both countries were far more bloodthirsty than Castro, responsible for the deaths of millions including, in Vietnam's case, thousands of Americans; and in China, the world's greatest famine. The absurdity that we've restored relations with those more horrible regimes and not Cuba aside, the restoration of diplomatic and economic ties with China and Vietnam hasn't put an end to those regimes but undoubtedly resulted in more economic opportunity and less material deprivation for the Chinese and Vietnamese people.

Ironically, the hostile policy towards Cuba championed by hardline Cuban exiles has been one of the greatest contributors to the Castro regime's longevity. Some Cuban exiles realize all of this more than they let on, leading me to believe that this is no more than another pathetic machista contest to see who has the bigger dick.


Your intentions are good and you are better informed about conditions in Communist Cuba than most. I suspect also that you are very young (as evidenced in your observation about relative penis size, which is rather puerile), so I will treat you differently from the agents provocateur who have lately opined on the subject of the embargo and do my best to educate rather than mock you.

All Cubans on the island, from the youngest to the oldest, know that Fidel Castro is alone responsible for the destruction of their country and for the miserable quality of their lives. If anyone told you otherwise it is because he does not trust you. After 55 years of practicing dissimulation as a survival tactic, Cubans are quite adept at telling foreigners exactly what they want to hear and nothing that would compromise their safety or that of their loved ones. When you visit Cuba consider yourself to be a member of the Red Cross inspecting one of the Nazis' "model" concentration camps. How glowingly the inmates spoke of their lives there. Why they even policed themselves without the need of keeping guards at the gates. The enemy was outside the gates; within, they were safe and looked after. Who would ever wish to escape from such an earthly paradise! So the Swiss redactors were told and so they concluded in their report.

Nobody in Cuba blames the United States for the state of Cuba's economy. Even after 55 years of countless betrayals Cubans still look to "the Goliath to the North" for at least personal deliverance. Now this is wrong because they should blame the U.S. for their country's plight, not because of the embargo which does not personally affect any Cuban just as lifting the embargo wouldn't personally benefit any Cuban except the stakeholders in Castro & Company, the family monopoly that owns everything of value on the island; but, rather, Cubans should hold the U.S. responsible because it installed Castro in power; betrayed the freedom fighters at the Bay of Pigs; and agreed in the Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact to act as the guarantor of Communism in Cuba, which is one commitment that the U.S. has kept.

You write that "Communist Parties in both [China and Vietnam] were far more bloodthirsty than [was] Castro." Vietnam's population is 9 times the size of Cuba's and China has 135 times Cuba's population. Even if Castro had succeeded in killing every single Cuban in the world, as he very nearly did during the Missile Crisis, there would still be more victims of Communism in China and Vietnam. But this is simply because Castro has a much smaller theater of operations for his depredations. Still, even within his demographic limitations, Castro has accomplished a great deal in the way of bloodshed. In just his first year in power, Fidel Castro executed more men, women and children than have been put to death for capital crimes in the United States in the last 225 years (or since 1608, if we also count the colonial period). Yes, take a minute to catch your breath; you are going to need it.

According to the census of June 1933, the Jewish population of Germany consisted of 505,000 people. Jews represented less than 1 percent of the total German population of 67 million. Approximately 300,000 German Jews managed to escape before the Holocaust. Of the remaining 205,000, 170,000 were killed in the Holocaust. (Source: The Holocaust Encyclopedia). The Cuban Archive Project has identified and documented 102,000 Cubans killed by Castro (and this number, of course, is always growing).Hitler killed 170,000 German Jews relative to a total German population of 67 million in 1933 (when he took over). Castro has killed 102,000 Cubans out of a total population of 6.6 million (when he took over in 1959). Proportionally, Castro has killed 7 times more Cubans than Hitler did German Jews. Even if we relate Castro’s killings to the current Cuban population (11 million), he has still killed 4 times as many Cubans than Hitler killed German Jews.Moreover, if all the European Jews killed by Hitler (6 million) in all countries to which he extended the Holocaust are taken as a percentage of the total population of Europe, Castro has still killed more Cubans per capita than Hitler killed Jews.

Now, Christian, does the real extent of Castro's genocide really matter to you? If it did you would abandon this ridiculous conceit of yours that a tyrant's morality should be measured by the quantity of pints of blood that he has not spilled.

Your last point does you the least credit of all.

You claim that the "hostility of hardline Cubans" is responsible for maintaining the Castro regime in power. So it is the victims, then, who are to blame for the crimes committed against them by their enemies. If only the Jews or the Cambodians had tried harder to understand the motives of their persecutors, and had walked into the gas chambers or the Killing Fields with a song on their lips and gratitude in their hearts, they might have been spared or subjected to a lesser chastisement. But their presumptuous hostility towards their would-be assassins whet the assassins' appetite for revenge and sealed their fate. If only they had declined to engage in "a machista contest to see who had the bigger dick," but rather tucked their dicks between their legs, or, better yet, cut off the offensive member, they might have lived serene lives as eunuchs without the least trace of that poisonous hostility towards evil that fuels evil.

So when did you put yours on the chopping block?


Christian C. said...

Your response is, as expected, rich in histrionics and insults but tellingly doesn’t address the thrust of the argument against the embargo.

The policy of embargo, diplomatic isolation, and covert war that has recently come to an end is one of the most abject failures in the history of U.S. foreign policy. The Castro regime will remain in power with or without it. But steps can be taken to alleviate material deprivation and bring more economic freedom to everyday Cubans by normalizing relations.

Even though the fruits of economic relations with the U.S. weren’t always justly distributed, Cuba would not have been able to realize the economic success it enjoyed before 1959 without trade with the U.S., nor can it realize much economic growth without it today.

Without a foreign enemy to blame for Cubans' continued privation, the regime will have to take greater steps towards improving standards of living by reforming its unsustainable economic model, which has decimated the Cuban economy and ironically made Cuba more dependent on foreigners than ever before. To continue on its current economic course would be suicidal, and the regime is increasingly more concerned about its survival than its commitment to socialism. The biggest share of the profits will flow to the regime and its cadre of well-connected benefactors as usual, but Cuba will, on the whole, be less poor; its entrepreneurial spirit less restrained.

You can observe the same pattern in China and Vietnam, which would not have been able to realize raised living standards and overall economic growth without their largest trading partner, the United States. Those societies are highly unequal and oppressive, but its people undoubtedly suffer less than they did before.

It is not an ideal state of affairs by any means but we should not, like Castro, futilely pursue ideals by insisting on having all-or-nothing but instead be willing to accept pragmatic steps towards progress.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I have treated you, literally, with kid gloves, but not surprisingly such consideration is mistaken for condescension by you and therefore resented.

I addressed every assertion that you made in your initial comment, and your rebuttal consists of reiterating what you said previously, minus your theory, bastardized from Freud, that penis envy is at the root of this conflict.

What you want, admittedly, is for Cuba to become another China or Vietnam — that is, a corporate-fascist state with Communist slogans and iconography. And why not? As I noted elsewhere, Cuban children can certainly sew sneakers for 5 cents a day just as well as Vietnamese children can, and it would cost a lot less to transport those sneakers to the U.S. from Cuba than it would from Vietnam. There's another "logical argument" for normalizing relations with Communist Cuba.

But these justifications and others are all predicated on Cubans remaining what they have been for 55 years — the slaves of genocidal madmen.

There is no such thing as a happy slave, nor such paragon as a good master. Slavery is inhuman and unacceptable in any and all guises. If you doubt it have it tried out on you before you recommend the Sino-Vietnamese variant as a universal panacea for the world's oppressed.

Write me again when you grow up.

Vana said...


No use arguing with those who have their eyes and hearts closed, to really believe that Cubans are better off with a lifted embargo is childish, it is the castros who have enslaved them, who keep them dirt poor and hungry so they don't rebel. Remember what Stalin did to Ukraine before WWll, hunger kept them in line, and that's where castro and his henchmen learned all their tricks, from their communist masters.

I just read in Havana Times the new law raul passed, those who work for foreigners will only be allowed to keep 8% of their salary, the rest goes into the castro coffers, they know damn well that if they practice a complete open economy, they wont last long in power.

My friend what can I say except that we are alone, we have always been alone, no one cares but us, no matter how we say it or in what language, those who refuse to listen wont.

As always your argument was spot on.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


The New York Times' crowd regards Cubans exactly as Castro does and wants them never to have the best that life can offer when the worst is available, because three meals a day, a roof over their heads that is not in constant danger of collapse, and wages paid in actual money rather than in script which is not even accepted at the company store (and there are only company stores in Cuba), is considered too crass an aspiration for its favorite noble hostages, who must be content with "living in Nature," that is, hungry and naked in the howling wind and scorching sun, so that they can point to them and say: "That's what life is really about; we are so pampered and spoiled and removed from the verities of life," and yet, though they could easily have that life if they really wanted it, continue pampered, spoiled and ignorant of the verities of life.

Christian differs from The Times' crowd in one respect: he knows how horrible life is for Cubans today, and also that Castro is alone to blame for that fact. He knows, that is, exactly what all Cubans know, and is definitely not nostalgic about shtetl life, as is The Times' crowd. Still, he cannot draw the right conclusions from the facts because he is too immersed, and, indeed, drowning in the platitudes of American culture. Do you remember that old Coca Cola commercial that featured the catchy anthem "I Want to Give the World a Coke?" Well, that's exactly what he wants to do: he wants to give each and every Cuban a can of Coke. At best, that's all they'll ever get or at least hope to get from the lifting of the embargo. But for Christian that is enough, even if they have to sacrifice life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for generations to come in order to pursue that elusive Coke.

Vana said...

Here you go slaves, have a Coke and a smile, all from your "friends" up North.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Here it is, from 1971, the original ad:

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke