Cuba and the Ninth Summit of the Americas

Cubans on the island love Joe Biden, but outside of Cuba, in large numbers, they love Donald Trump, says Montaner. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 5 June 2022 -The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has been unleashed and transformed into the Patron Saint of dictatorships – Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. He has threatened not to go to the California meeting if the three dictatorships are not invited. (Since ‘Andrés López’ seems vulgar to him, he uses all his names, to the despair of his American neighbors: Andrés Manuel López Obrador.)

He should be reminded that the first letter, from Clinton in 1994, clearly stated that “these are meetings of democratically elected Heads of State.” Or, at least, belonging to the OAS, and none of the three cases has remained within the organization.

In the Fifth Summit, held in Trinidad-Tobago, inexperienced President Barack Obama was harassed with the issue of the embargo on Cuba. He believed that the end of the embargo was a popular request. It was April 2009. He had started his first term on January 20. In 2014, relations between the two countries had been reestablished. But at the Seventh Summit, in Varela’s Panama, in 2015, Raúl Castro appeared, and they finalized the details for an Obama visit to Havana.

The visit took place in March 2016, very close to the end of Obama’s term. He gave a sensational speech in which he said many things that Cubans longed to hear. Raúl Castro almost accused him of trying to overthrow him and of having ‘hidden intentions.’ However, since that moment, Obama became an idol of Cubans on the island, but someone very confused and naive for the exiled community.

That dichotomy can still be seen today. Cubans on the island love Joe Biden, but outside of Cuba, in large numbers they love Donald Trump. Cubans on the island associate the Democrats with a period of hope and relief from economic misery, and they don’t care if the ultimate goal is to overthrow the tyranny. Simultaneously, Cubans outside the Island abhor any concession to the Díaz-Canel government, without stopping to think that it might lead to the end of the dictatorship.

The First Summit

I remember the First Summit of the Americas. It was in 1994. I was invited by Luis Lauredo, then the Bill Clinton administration’s ambassador to the OAS. There was the purpose of dealing with regional issues within that institution. Cuba was a “regional issue,” and Ambassador Lauredo, with a reputation for being very competent, had the mission of monitoring the movements of what was already called “Socialism of the 21st Century.”

His role went very well with something I heard him say to a person who knew the intricacies of the Democratic Party in relation to Cuba. In the eighties, Bill Clinton lost re-election as governor of Arkansas for compromising his government with the arrival of 125,000 Cubans through the port of Mariel. After the end of the three minutes assigned to Cuba, the only comment Bill Clinton made was, “I don’t want to be surprised again. I hope the CIA knows what is happening on that Island.”

Bacteriological warfare

They knew it. “The Cubans” were preparing an elaborate plan to make the US intelligence believe that they already had bacteriological warfare ready to face a hypothetical invasion. It was the poor man’s atomic bomb. Placed at the center of the universe by his own personality, Fidel could not believe that the least attractive thing for Bill Clinton was to land the Marines in Cuba.

He thought that this inexperienced young “Gringo,” who had gotten fewer votes than Michael Dukakis, and who was in the Oval Office thanks to the unexpected candidacy of Ross Perot, could not resist the old hypothesis of the “ripe fruit,” a kind of conspiracy theory from the 19th century, by which Cuba’s destiny was to be part of the American nation. Something that Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States (1801-1809), could believe in, but not Bill Clinton, the first president of the USA after 1945 who had not participated in World War II, and who had not even had to deal with the Cold War.

I was returning from a trip to the chancelleries of Eastern Europe, including Russia. They all saw – some more and others less – an opportunity to eliminate Cuban Stalinism, but they invariably asked me, “To what extent is the United States willing to commit itself?”

I took advantage of the visit to Miami to confirm what I already sensed – the United States did not want to take advantage of the obvious weakness of the Cuban government in those hazardous years to hasten the end of Castro’s absurd regime. The thesis of Republicans and Democrats alike was that the Island did not pose a danger to the United States, and it was much more beneficial to sit on the fence than to rush to depose the Cuban government. After all, the regime was totally “rotten,” and had no capacity (as they believed) to do harm.

And time passed, and an eagle flew over the sea,” José Martí wrote.

We are in the Ninth Summit. There are already two Latin American dictatorships under Cuba’s orders – Venezuela and Nicaragua. Collectivist Marxism has disappeared from the face of the earth. In China in 1976, after Mao’s death, an accelerated return to private property began. But the most important event occurred in the USSR. After its implosion, in 1991, privatization towards “crony capitalism” began. Very soon it drifted towards the elites close to Putin, the so-called “oligarchs.”

In those years, Fidel Castro designed a hybrid compromise between Marxism and tyrannies – State Military Capitalism (CME by its Spanish initials). The CME did not leave investors’ hands or imagination free. Either they conformed to the previous development plans drawn up by the military, or they achieved nothing, thereby amputating the most productive feature of free economy.


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