14ymedio, René Gómez Manzano, Havana, 29 February 2020 — In recent days, the issue of Cuba has burst with unusual force (and not entirely deserved) into the US presidential campaign. Especially among the many leaders of the Democratic Party who are struggling to win the nomination in opposition to the Government of Donald Trump.
The trigger for that issue — which does not have to have a primary importance in that political debate but which has acquired such relevance — were statements made by the septagenarian Senator Bernie Sanders — a self-proclaimed “socialist” — who, for now, is leading in the polls for the nomination of the “blue” party.
In an interview with an important national television network, the Senator from the state of Vermont ratified his previous statements, favorably assessing certain facets of Fidel Castro’s performance. Specifically, he spoke about the literacy campaign carried out by the late Cuban dictator and declared it a positive.
These statements admit several objections. The first is the that formulated correctly by the blogger Yoani Sánchez: Is it possible to applaud that hundreds of thousands of citizens are taught to read and, at the same time, to ignore that the Castro regime, for those same literates and millions of other Cubans, for ideological reasons, prohibits access to books that this regime considers “undesirable”?
But we can also ask ourselves: is it permissible to point out a positive aspect of the public performance of a dictator while silencing the essentially negative balance of his Government? To give an example: can we find it good — say — that someone praises Adolph Hitler for having built the highways or having significantly reduced unemployment?
If it were a colloquium of specialists talking about the construction of public roads or a convention dedicated to employment policies, perhaps it could be tolerated that the performance of the Nazi leader in these areas be cited, without entering into an analysis — or even a mention of other facets of the dire acts of that macabre character.
But it is inadmissible for a politician to act in the same way. Whoever devotes himself to the public trust is obliged, by virtue of his own profession, to take into account all the implications that anything he does or says may have on the different sectors of the electorate.
Should we assume then that Mr. Sanders is a public man with little aptitude? The he praised Fidel Castro out of ignorance? That is not the case. He, with the remarkable support he has managed to gain among the sectors of the extreme left of his party, has demonstrated his extraordinary political ability.
The problem is that Mr. Bernie has no empathy in courting those extremist groups of Democrats. It is a human conglomerate whose little hearts, after sixty years of an anti-democratic regime and economic involution in Cuba, and despite the arrival at the American coast of a couple of million fugitives from Castroism, continues to beat in unison with the ringleaders in Havana.
This should not surprise us, because in the sect of the “socialists” the many sins committed by those who uphold these doctrines are easily forgiven. And regardless of whether the measures taken by their governments have produced tens of millions of deaths (as in the cases of “little father” Stalin and “great helmsman” Mao), or “only” millions, as in the case of Kim of North Korea, Pol Pot or Mengistu … aren’t they all co-religionists! Then it’s about simple venial sins!
In the case of the American leftists with respect to Castro, the matter is complicated a little, due to the extreme anti-Yankeeism maintained by the man. It is an orientation not only demonstrated by decades of political decisions, but also confessed in the well-known letter that, before his rise to power, the founder of the Cuban dynasty addressed to his confidant Celia Sánchez, telling her, “When this war ends, a much longer and greater war will begin for me: the war I am going to wage against [the Americans]. I realize that is going to be my true destiny.”
But all these are minor inconveniences for the Vermont senator. This, in order to win the sympathies of the extremists of his party, does no less to seek to make an enemy of the Cuban exiles (most of whom are citizens of the United States and vote in that country). I suppose Mr. Sanders made a very simple calculation: You are not going to vote for me anyway!
In the meantime, I believe that President Trump and his friends have every reason in the world to pray that the ineffable Bernie continues to win party primaries and caucuses and that he ultimately achieves the Democratic nomination. Everything seems to indicate that, in such a case, the current tenant of the White House would continue to live there for another four years.
As altogether different thing is what the traditional sectors of the blue party think, dreaming that their nominee will be a more moderate leader, capable of obtaining, in the presidential election of November, the support of the political center.
We will have to see how the voting turns out next Tuesday, when the voters of numerous states, including some as important as California and Texas, will pronounce themselves. It’s not for nothing that it is called “Super Tuesday.”
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