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Let the Cuban people decide

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Why does America feel that it has the right to determine the destiny of post-Castro Cuba? Cuba and its people certainly do not belong to them. It was revolting if not in the least bit amusing to look at the reaction of Little Havana and the American political establishment to the news of the illness of Castro. Rice even saw it fit to address Cubans in anticipation of the quick demise of the Cuban leader, a man whom the American establishment had been plotting to kill for almost as long as he was in power. In fact, it is said that there have been over 600 plots to kill Fidel Castro. The Cuban people have to make the decision about their future and by this I am referring to the people living in Cuba and those genuinely interested in the future of Cuba, not those in Little Havana ready to fleece the resources of the country and the political establishment in the USA looking for a pliant population and subservient leadership that would bow to their wishes.{{more}}

Behind all of this too is America’s obsession with taking democracy to people of different countries and cultures. Democracy however is not something that can be imposed or imported. It has to be home grown. Look at the mess in Iraq. Additionally there is a great deal of hypocrisy involved here. The people in Palestine elected the Hamas government. It was their choice. America and some of the other powers were not prepared to accept this since in their view Hamas is a terrorist organisation. But that was the government that the people decided on. You either have democracy or you don’t. What is their alternative? The right to decide and impose on them the type of government they think these people should have? Many speak about democracy but do they really want and even understand what democracy is all about? There are indeed many examples of America’s hostility to the democratic process. Take for example Chile in 1973 and Venezuela in 2000. There are also countless examples of their willingness to fall into bed with the most dictatorial regimes imaginable.

Cuba had been, long before the revolution, a playground for Americans. The country was being raped to satisfy their desires. It was for this reason that the revolution occurred. Now they are about to make the same mistake, given the noises coming from them and the business interests that await the passing of Fidel Castro to pounce on the body of Cuba. Certainly Cuba is a country with many problems. The Cuban people have suffered and are suffering a lot. Many of their problems, however, have to do with the American inspired blockade and the efforts made by the CIA and others to topple the government and to get rid of Castro. One has to look at events in Cuba within this context. It is easy for Castro to justify any authoritarian measures on the grounds that the American government had been funding and plotting with dissident groups and individuals. This is what America wants in a democratic space, the right to use its enormous resources to fund parties that would remain loyal to her. Iraq however should always be a lesson to us. That country is at the point of Civil War or perhaps in the midst of a Civil War because Bush and his people had this maddening dream and decided that they knew what was best for them and were prepared to carry what they considered democracy, their warped version of it, to Iraq and the Middle East.

The Americans have for long been talking about regime change in Cuba but Castro has withstood all they had to offer. Radio Marti was set up in 1985 and Television Marti around 1990 in attempts to undermine Castro and preach the American gospel of democracy. But their hostility and efforts at regime change had long preceded all of this. Their machinations have after such a long time shown no signs of success but they continue doing what they do best, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. Other countries that had been following their lead in terms of their relationship with Cuba have long since distanced themselves from it.

Today business interests from Europe, Canada and Latin America have been investing in Cuba much to the dismay of American businesses that consider that they are encroaching on what they consider their turf. Some of these business interests being so long out in the cold had been putting pressure on the American government to allow them to taste a piece of the pie, but to no avail. With the Republicans what matters most is the electoral votes from Miami,(remember the celebrated case of the stolen election) so they play the tune the anti-Castro elements and religious right want to dance to.

The illness of Castro and his temporary surrender of power to Raul Castro must also be a period of reflection for Cubans. Raul Castro is 75 years of age, 5 years younger than Fidel. What does this say about the future of the regime, where conceivably within a short period of time there are likely to be two changes in leadership if Raul replaces his brother? That certainly appears not to be in the best interest of Cuba. One will hope that this move is mainly designed to fill the period of Castro’s illness and that a different arrangement prevails for the day when Castro steps aside. Cuba has made tremendous strides in the areas of health, sports, culture and education despite the many obstacles. The country has an outstanding record of assistance to countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere. Just look at the Vision Now programme and the thousands of scholarships given to persons as far away as Africa. But economically Cubans carry a heavy burden. What will the future hold? Issues of the right to elect their government and greater freedom of speech will certainly be on the agenda.

America’s hostility and general attitude have retarded efforts in this area for without America’s threats the Cubans will have settled such issues a long time ago. What will the new Cuba be like? Will America give it the space to work out its own future? Any attempt to impose an American version of democracy could result in another Iraq. Will the Americans not learn? Cuba is a sovereign country. It does not belong to Bush or Condolezza or America but to the Cubans. Let them shape their future without interference.

As Caribbean people we must push for and speak out strongly for this.

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