Fable about “Military Interference” and Realities Around Remittances

A man tries to withdraw money this Thursday at an ATM on the outskirts of a Metropolitan Bank in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 2 November 2020 — In recent days an opinion column was published in this medium about an alleged interference by the Cuban military in the US elections, which will be held this Tuesday.

Judging by the statements of its author, Emilio Morales, a Cuban-American economist and director of the Miami-based Havana Consulting Group, it is a plot orchestrated by Cuban intelligence through social networks, with the complicity of the international press “with the clear objective of interfering in the next elections on November 3rd”.  In this way, he assures, “the Cuban government joins the group of enemy countries that have tried to interfere in the US presidential elections, such as Iran, Russia and China.”

As basis for the conspiracy, Morales points out the statement published on the Facebook page of the Fincimex company in response to the sanctions of the US State Department, especially President Donald Trump’s recent provision prohibiting US financial companies from transacting remittances with those companies of the business structure of the armed forces that appear on the State Department’s restricted list, which – in fact – directly affects the leader of remittance transfers: the Western Union company.

Morales points out the statement published on the Facebook page of the Fincimex company as the basis of the conspiracy, in response to the US State Department sanctions.

The Cuban communiqué declares that remittances “will be totally interrupted”, which up to now is wishful thinking, while at the same time it places responsibility on the US government for the interruption of the remittance service between the two countries. Nothing that has not been said for decades ad nauseum, but that now, according to the Cuban-American economist, endangers Donald Trump’s eventual re-election.

It would be extensive and possibly unproductive to get into a debate about the real capacity of the Cuban dictatorship to influence the election results of its northern neighbor beyond its wishes or intentions to do so, although it is appropriate to point out how contradictory it is to equate the scope of the cybernetic adventures of the clumsy pro-Castro networks with the real influence that two global political powers such as Russia or China can exert.

Equally questionable is the widely held assumption that the Castro dictatorship has an interest in being part of the pro-Biden campaign, as if Cuba’s survival or recovery depended on the success of this candidate, or as if the Democrat could control the miracle of saving the Castro regime from the final crisis of the socialist experiment.

Obviously, anything goes when it comes to Miami politicking, because in the electoral circus it is not necessary to have arguments or reasons. Stirring emotions is sufficient to achieve schizophrenia. Thus, paradoxically, Morales commits the same sin that he accuses the innocent Castro regime of, using the sensitive issue of remittances to lobby for Donald Trump, his favorite candidate.

Now, although it is fair to admit that the pro-Trump measures to suffocate the Castro regime have an undeniable devastating effect on the leadership of power, mired in the greatest economic crisis and lack of liquidity of its existence, the truth is that Cuba’s ruin was already fait accompli, after six decades of managerial incompetence and failed experiments in a tightly centralized and inefficient economy. And that failure is so profound that it will not be reversed regardless of the success of either candidate.

Morales commits the same sin he accuses the not-so-innocent Castro regime of, by using the sensitive issue of remittances to lobby in favor of his favorite candidate: Donald Trump

At the same time, it should also be acknowledged that none of these measures has favored Cubans, rather the opposite. The principle that “what’s bad for my enemy is good for me” is far from being fulfilled for ordinary Cubans on any shore, who are mere hostages of the political tensions and rampages between the two governments.

However, although Morales focuses his attention on the imaginary powers of the Cuban dictatorship to place an important disruption in the results of the elections of November 3rd, I personally consider another edge of his article much more relevant, since it is directly related to Cubans’ interests: the assumption that there is some alternative way to send remittances to Cuba, eliminating the mediation of “the military.”

In an interview with Univisión last October, Emilio Morales himself stated that if Cuba used other ways to process remittances, such as the Metropolitan Bank, the Credit and Commerce Bank (Bandec), the Popular Savings Bank or even the Cuban Postal Service, these could continue. In his opinion, it is about the existence of service providers in Cuba, other than Fincimex, and it does not belong to the Ministry of the Armed Forces or the Ministry of the Interior.

This brings to the fore an error of principle common to all the defenders of this new Trump punishment aimed at taking the military business community out of the game, which is to say, the Castro power: they forget that in a totalitarian regime, such as the Cuban one, the separation of powers or financial entities independent of the Government do not exist.

This means that all the “alternatives” mentioned by Morales and many other remote analysts are equally innocuous, because they are the property of the regime. And the fact is that the Castro financial system is carefully designed so that the dollars that enter any Cuban bank or institution inevitably end up in the hands of the dictatorship.

An additional independent circumstance is that Cubans residing in Cuba may get their family remittances through any other agency – the latter quite possibly tentacles of the Castro regime abroad, as other shell companies have been, including some inside the US territory- in the end, once the money is in Cuba it will be spent at the markets and other establishments of the state commercial monopoly, among them the chains that also belong to the Cimex military company. In other words, the same process is repeated: all money roads lead to the Castro coffers.

The same process is repeated: all money roads lead to the Castro coffers

Nor do I agree with Morales when he considers that “the cause and effect relationship generated by the inevitable family separation that the process of emigrating from the country entails, affecting thousands of Cuban families today, is the fundamental basis that the induced dependence on these shipments which thousands of Cubans still living in Cuba have today”.

In reality, without denying the effect of remittances in this regard, the induced dependence of Cubans long precedes the start of the remittances, and is based on the elimination of private property and of all large and small businesses at the beginning of the so-called “Revolution”, on the demonization of wealth, on extreme nationalization, on the persecution of those who prosper by their own effort, on the parameterization of poverty, considered a virtue, and in the promotion of a social parasitism, very alien to Cuban culture and idiosyncrasy, among many other absurdities, typical of the imposed economic model.

To say that economic and political freedoms, both endorsed as inseparable rights, is the only way to dignify the life of Cubans on the island based on their work and income is obvious. We already knew that. However, enhancing the entrepreneurial character in Cuba does not go through the decisions made by the current US president or the tug of war in relations between the Palacio de la Revolución and The White House. The last 60 years of failed policies on both sides have shown this.

In any case, magnifying the interest of the US administrations in solving the Cuban crisis is not only naïve and tends to underestimate the capacity of the natives of this island, but it also keeps in foreign soil a matter that (also) belongs to Cubans by right. All interference is open to criticism, be it those of the Castro regime of those of foreign governments towards Cuba.

Ironically, there is nothing that looks more like a Castro regime enthusiast than a Trump fanatic.

Of course, there will never be a lack of illuminati who will, though from a distance, tell those who continue to live in Cuba through thick and thin which president of their host country is better to free us from the dictatorship, or what we must do. The latter, at least, we already know. What neither side has figured out is how to do it, that is why the regime has always ended up winning the game and politicians on both sides have ended up mocking us, whether we like it or not.

Without a doubt, distance and elapsed time since a person emigrates results in misplaced references, reality of the original country to be distorted, and sometimes a certain sense of intellectual and moral superiority in relation with those “who stayed behind” to be forged. These are other fissures among Cubans that are never mentioned and that can’t be attributed to the Castro regime directly.

Perhaps that sense of knowledge acquired upon emigrating is what inspires Emilio Morales to imagine interference by the military arm of the Castro power cupula in the elections of its most tenacious enemy, and to conclude: “that desperate movement clearly shows that when Trump tweets, the dictatorship shakes”.

Translated by Norma Whiting


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