14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, 4 November 2022 — Some of us don’t understand how a significant number of people who defend democracy and freedom can assist dictatorial regimes when they face some type of disaster, either because of natural disasters or because of terrible administrative management, even knowing that those regimes divert the aid to satisfy their governments’ needs.
Consider President Joe Biden, who gave two million dollars to Cuba. The Island dictatorship, in an unprecedented wink, accepted that the contribution be made through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the same entities that the Cuban government doesn’t allow to contact political prisoners.
Solidarity with those who endure and suffer is an extremely laudable decision; however, history has shown that many recipients of aid have used that wealth for their own benefit, selling the donations to the needy population itself, or depositing the money in their own accounts, then outdoing themselves in perfecting repression or in concluding some project that assures hegemony.
The best example of this reality is North Korea, which, due to the terrible economic management of its dynastic dictatorship, endures chronic food crises and even devastating famines, such as that of 1995 to 1997, to the extent that the dictatorship acknowledged that more than 200,000 people died, although international media claimed that the deaths reached two million.
Despite its economic difficulties, Pyongyang has managed to mount a powerful army, 1,200,000 active soldiers and more than 600,000 in the reserves, in addition to having nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, plus submarines capable of launching them. It has one nuclear weapon, it says, and despite serious economic problems, is building another.
The most appropriate question is, how is it possible for a country to achieve such advanced military development and not be able to produce food for its citizens? In these subsidized and indebted dictatorships — North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia — the limited food they offer to their population comes from foreign aid, while their development and military production is basically a consequence of their productive management. Have they discovered the solution to the alternative: “cannons or butter”?
North Korea and Cuba are two countries receiving large economic aid. Billions of dollars have been given from the Kremlin to Pyongyang and Havana for decades. The Koreans developed nuclear weapons, despite the fact that several U.S. governments sent them aid, fuel and other proceeds in exchange for paralyzing the construction of nuclear reactors and the production of plutonium.
For their part, the Castros spent the multi-billion Soviet subsidy and Western loans on the subversion of the democratic order in America and in its African imperial wars. The hunger and difficulties suffered by Cubans are due to the country’s bad government and not because of foreign measures against the dictatorship.
Cuba has swindled material aid from abroad for its benefit. I remember that, in 1963, the devastating cyclone Flora hit Cuba, and the dictatorship ordered that all the goods that were in Customs having been sent from abroad to relatives in need on the Island, be confiscated and sold to the population, a situation that has been repeated on numerous occasions with international donations. This was the case with clothing and Mexican contributions, basically rice and beans, sold in stores that require hard currency; or the extreme example of the sale of cooking oil donated by the World Food Program, which led the Minister of Interior Commerce to declare that “the decision to sell donated oil was an alternative to the shortage experienced on the Island.”
The call of the Assembly of Cuban Resistance to President Biden is timely: sending aid to the Cuban people through totalitarian authorities means nurturing repression and increasing poverty. I don’t doubt that this opinion allows the supporters of those repressive regimes to accuse those who state it of being official haters, but the truth must be told even if it can be distorted.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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