What If We Had Befriended Cuba?

The premises of this discussion are limited to U.S.-Cuban relations after the Revolution, smiling.

I let that slide. The truth is that our “friends” in developing countries are in general murderous thugs propped up by death squads and drug trafficking.

The political freedom in Cuba from this seems to superior to our own.

Eliminate our blockade and normalize trade, their food problem would ease considerably.

Oh please, let me give you the perspective of someone who has actually lived in Cuba.

Eleccions - In the first place there is only one political party in cuba, the Communist Party (PCC). That does not mean that Cubans are monolithic in their political thinking, that means that other political parties are illegal. In Cuban elections you get a ballot with a candidate’s name, one candidate per office, your choices are ‘Si’ or ‘No’.

Freedom of movement - Cubans are not allowed to travel overseas without permission from the Cuban government. That’s not a passport, that’s a whole other thing. In order to travel overseas, unless you are sent by the Cuban government, you need to be invited by some foreign entity. The Cuban government evaluates 1. the foreign entity, and 2. the likelihood that you will not return, and grants or denies an exit permit. Then you must apply for a passport, in order to get a passport you must 1. have an exit permit, 2. a paid airline ticket, and 3. a reasonable likelihood of of returning. Then you must apply to the foreign government for a visa, since many Cubans have a tendency to stay overseas that is not as easy as it sounds. Special permission must be obtained to travel to Havana, and if you overstay your time in Havana you get deported back to your town of origin.

Freedom of speech - The easiest way to get in political trouble in Cuba is when you are charged with ‘desacato’ or disrespect. There are several levels of desacato, from ‘Desacato Oficial’ to ‘Desacato a la Figura del Comandante en Jefe’, or Official Disrespect and Disrespect to the Figure of the Commandant in Chief (Fidel, now Raul), both of these laws are used to repress all criticism of the government. But the best of the bunch of repressive Cuban laws is the crime of ‘Peligrosidad Pre-delicitiva’, or ‘Pre-crime dangerousness’. That’s when no crime, not even desacato has been committed, but someone feels that, perhaps, you are not revolutionary enough, and might commit some couter-revolutionary act, you get 3-5 years for that.

Government - I have one name for you: Castro. 1959-2008 Fidel, 2006-present Raul. That’s not a democracy, that’s a dynastic monarchy, no?

Race Relations - Take a look at Fidel and Raul, pretty white looking, correct? The Cuban Council of Minitros has something like 30 ministries, 5 are black. Cuba’s population is 40% black.

Gay Relations - Until the 1970’s Cuba had a policy of sending gays to detention camps, Unidades Militares para la Ayuda de Producción (UMAP), these were re-education camps where gays were sent. UMAP camps were championed by Guevara.

Several thousand gays were deported during the Mariel boatlift. Prior to being picked up at their homes and sent in boats they were subjected to Actos de Repudio, or Acts or Repudiation, where many where mobs demonstrated in front of their houses and pelted them with rocks and garbage.

During the AIDS crisis other concentrations camps were established where all diagnosed with HIV were sent.

Education - From grade 6 children are sent to labor camps for 45 days during the school year, the children live, work, and sleep in these camps. Parents are allowed to visit one day every two weeks. In order to attend university one must be a member of the Union the Jovenes Comunistas (UJC) or Communist Youth. If one cannot demonstrate sufficient revolutionary zeal, one is not allowed to join UJC, consequently no university.

Work Relations - Only government run worker unions are allowed in Cuba. The only problem with that is that the government is the only legal employer, consequently unions in Cuba are useless. Most workers make $15-20 a month.

Blockade - Bullshit. There is no blockade in Cuba, there was one for about two weeks in 1962, nothing since then. There is a trade embargo by the US, but that also is bullshit.

The US is Cuba’s 5th largest trading partner, behind Venezuela, China, Spain and Canada, and the US is Cuba’s largest supplier of food imports.

Although food in Cuba is rationed, it is not for all. If you have dollars, through relatives abroad or contact with tourists, you can get anything you want in Cuba, whether it comes from the US or not. Coca Cola? No problem. BMW, sure. MS Office, of course.

Of course you might look at my list and say that there are many other countries in the world that are just as bad. And I agree. But those countries don’t have people who defend their government’s right to abuse their people, much like you do here with Cuba. Those countries and those governments are, rightly, condemned.

Cuba is not how it is because the US didn’t befriend it. Cuba had a powerful enough friend in the USSR, and it was equally repressive then. Cuba is how it is, a repressive dictatorship, because one man was allowed to climb to power, and then remain in power, by any means possible. Even if those means meant the ruin of the country.

And if you want to compare Batista with the Castro brothers, keep in mind Batista seized power in 1952, and was ousted in 1958, 6 years in power. The Castro brothers have been in power for 51 years. You tell me which is worse.

I’ll leave you with Fidel Castro’s own words assessing like in Cuba before his own, and Bastista’s take over of power:

"Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time there was a Republic. It had its Constitution, its laws, its freedoms, a President, a Congress and Courts of Law. Everyone could assemble, associate, speak and write with complete freedom. The people were not satisfied with the government officials at that time, but they had the power to elect new officials and only a few days remained before they would do so. Public opinion was respected and heeded and all problems of common interest were freely discussed. There were political parties, radio and television debates and forums and public meetings. The whole nation pulsated with enthusiasm.

This people had suffered greatly and although it was unhappy, it longed to be happy and had a right to be happy. It had been deceived many times and it looked upon the past with real horror. This country innocently believed that such a past could not return; the people were proud of their love of freedom and they carried their heads high in the conviction that liberty would be respected as a sacred right. They felt confident that no one would dare commit the crime of violating their democratic institutions. They wanted a change for the better, aspired to progress; and they saw all this at hand. All their hope was in the future.

Poor country! One morning the citizens woke up dismayed; under the cover of night, while the people slept, the ghosts of the past had conspired and has seized the citizenry by its hands, its feet, and its neck. That grip, those claws were familiar: those jaws, those death-dealing scythes, those boots. No; it was no nightmare; it was a sad and terrible reality: a man named Fulgencio Batista had just perpetrated the appalling crime that no one had expected. "

That’s an excerpt from Fidel Castro’s “History will Absolve Me” speech. Downright counter-revolutionary, isn’t it? Quote it in Cuba and it can get you 5 years in prison.

It would be a much more grassroots-democratic system than we have in the U.S. – if the Communist Party did not (like the Guardian Council in Iran) control every stage of the election processes and freeze out suspected/potential dissidents, and if the Communist Party did not (like the Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran) form its own dominant pole of power independent of the elected organs. Interesting to speculate what it might turn into if the Communist monopoly on power is ever broken.

First, thanks for your input. Believe it or not, I’m actually here to learn. While I ingest the rest of your post, will you tell where and when you lived in Cuba, how you happened to be there and what were you up to?

I believe you, that’s what brought me to this site too. I posted about my experiences in Cuba, and in leaving Cuba in this thread. Let me know if you have any questions.


In spite of the embargo? How does that work?

Hijack: When Fidel finally passes, is it possible Raul will be more open to loosening things up a little? Or is he no different from his brother? Or has the system become bigger than both of them, with too many parties with vested interests in blocking any change?

Double hijack: lalenin, please tell me what you as a Cuban think of this article, “Waiting for the Next Revolution” (in Cuba), by Jordana Timerman (March 2008).

The way it works is that it’s not “trade” at all. Cuba can export nothing to us and pays hard currency for what they get here. I don’t doubt it’s one of the reasons for their 2-peso economy.

What do you think they use to buy stuff from Canada, if it isn’t hard currency?

Triple hijack – er, actually, back to the OP. So I read Che’s offer as this:

  1. We’ll give you some money for expropriation of property.
  2. We will establish a one-party state and then hold an election for Fidel.
  3. We won’t promise not to be friends with the USSR.
  4. We won’t start a war with the US over GTMO.
  5. We may or may not do or not do something or nothing with or without regard to some countries in South America, or not in South America, wink wink.
  6. You (the US) come up with a plan to let us do the above and we’ll be okay with not being invaded.

Che didn’t make a serious offer of compromise there. He made a plea not to be invaded. Regardless of how one feels about the embargo on Cuba (I think it has failed), Che’s offer to Kennedy was insulting in how one sided it was. It boils down to: we do almost nothing, and you guarantee you won’t invade us.

Why would any president take that offer?

I’m glad you’re here and happy and thanks for a real eye-opener. From what you’ve said and what I’ve read, while the revolution has produced a more egalitarian country, it has been at the price of general impoverishment and severe political repression. Not a great deal, I agree.

While the thread title is What If We Had Befriended Cuba? I inexplicably have found myself defending the regime’s progress while ignoring it’s big downside. Of course, the present regime is the result of our not befriending Cuba.

So back on track. In the original Dick Goodwin memo (please see the OP), Che(Castro) indicated a willingness work with us, in particular to pay us for what Cuba had appropriated from us and not to enter into a political alliance with the Eastern Bloc.

What if JFK had said to himself, yeah, we’ve been installing and supporting assholes in Cuba for the sake of US investments since the get-go, it’s time for a real change. I’m not saying it would have been an easy sell at home or even to Castro. Fidel was quite aware of our idea of self-determination in Latin and South America, for example our little exercise in democratizing Guatemala into a banana republic on behalf of United Fruit.

But suppose we had established normal trade relations with Cuba and Cuba had refrained from entangling itself with the USSR, what then?

ETA On preview, I see someone is addressing the question. Carry on.

Perhaps because Cuba was an independent sovereign state, and as such had a right not to be invaded, whereas the U.S. had no right to dictate its internal affairs nor foreign policy despite having done so from 1898 to the Revolution? IOW, Che was simply asking JFK to gracefully accept a not unjust status quo that he had already tried and embarrassingly failed to overturn. Quite a reasonable offer under the circumstances.

Your summation is at best simplistic. But to answer your question.

He wouldn’t if he had ideas of another invasion.

But how would he justify it since Eisenhower had recognized the Castro govt in 1959? That’s why the Bay of Pigs was a covert operation.

missed edit:

Thanks BrainGlutton. Much better put.:slight_smile:

They pay for it thru trade. They may both pay cash but in the end, there’s no drain on either country’s currency reserves. That’s what balance of trade is all about.

Canada actually imports more from Cuba than it exports to Cuba.

Well, whaddaya expect?! They’re both Commies! :mad:

No, that would not account for the U.S. being Cuba’s 5th-largest trading partner. So how does it work?