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A question of freedom

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by Veritas Justitia 16.APR.10

When people speak about “freedom” these days, they are usually not referring to freedom from slavery. That was an issue for a different time. We hear a great deal about freedom of speech and freedom of movement, but in any comparison of different societies, a much broader range of “freedoms” must be taken into account. Nowhere in the world is there any such thing as complete freedom which is a recipe for anarchy. That is why there are laws.{{more}}

In the US for example, they boast about freedom of speech, press freedom and political freedom but not about the freedom to be poor, the freedom to be homeless, the freedom to be in debt, to be unemployed or the inability of millions of people to access necessary health care.

In contrast the people of Cuba enjoy freedom from homelessness, freedom from absolute poverty, freedom from debt, freedom from unemployment along with guaranteed health care and education. And there are no second-class citizens.

The reality is that the US has long since departed from the vision of the Founding fathers. With regard to political freedom, let us not forget that black people in the US were unable to vote until 1964. Many informed political analysts are of the view that the two political parties are simply two sides of the same coin; that elections represent a fig-leaf democracy and that big business interests run the country in the interests of bigger business. In other words, there is only the appearance of democracy not genuine democracy. At all events it is well known that many congressmen are in the pay (read bribed) of various special interest groups who dictate how they vote on public issues. A more corrupt system is difficult to imagine. Is this the democracy America wishes to export?

As for the “will of the people”, a substantial majority of the American electorate have for many years been in favour of lifting the trade embargo against Cuba. Has any US administration responded to the expressed wishes of the people? No, Cuba policy (like most policies) is dictated by small minority groups with political clout – known in the US as lobbyists. President Obama said as much during his campaign. For all its rhetoric, the US has no interest in the self-determination of people outside the US unless the resulting leaders are willing to be puppets or stooges of the US.

On “human rights”, it should be well-known to all Caribbean people that there is no equality before the law in the US. That is another fiction. Ask the thousands who have been rounded up since September 2001 without just cause or due process and kept in indefinite detention…or the dozens of innocent black men incarcerated in US jails on trumped-up charges or evidence. Why is there no outcry from Amnesty International which has plenty to say about alleged injustice and “political prisoners” in Cuba? There are far more people illegally detained in the US than there are in Cuba. In fact the US has the highest rate of incarceration per capita in the world. The US is in no position to lecture anyone on “democratic freedoms” or “human rights”.

No country in the world can permit sedition or subversive activity. And no country can dictate to another what constitutes sedition. It is no secret that the US funds, sponsors and encourages subversive activity among Cubans. Within recent weeks university students in the US were arrested for heckling a speaker. In South Africa a man was arrested for showing the finger to the president as he drove by. In some European countries people can even be imprisoned for their beliefs…not only their actions. Unbelievably even this does not elicit any comment from the human rights organizations. There are obviously different standards for different countries. It would appear that Europe, America and Israel are beyond criticism.

While the media in the US are largely free from direct government interference, they are hardly unbiased and seldom deviate from the government line on foreign policy issues. There is very little objective reporting on Cuba. The “media magnates” often have their own agendas in which truth does not feature prominently.

Any dispassionate observer would conclude that Cuba is a vastly saner, more equitable, more principled society than the USA. It’s a question of values. As everyone knows, in the US money is valued above all else. One wonders why the motto is not “In Money we trust”.