Washington’s Reasons

John Bolton, presidential adviser to the president of the United States, Donald Trump, speaks during a press conference in Miami, Florida. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos A. Montaner, Miami, 21 April 2019 — Cuba is behind the Venezuelan horror. The island learned from the Soviets the art of controlling a society, even though 80% of people oppose the imposed system. It is enough for 0.5% of the population to be affiliated with counterintelligence, to achieve the submission of the whole.

People obey out of fear, not out of love, much less for ideological reasons. In Cuba and in Venezuela, as in the whole field of 21st Century Socialism, in which only Bolivia and Nicaragua remain, there is barely a handful of brainless people who create Marxist-Leninist slogans.

But that’s not the problem. After all, it is not the first time that a small island has controlled a much larger, more populated and richer nation. That is the history of the United Kingdom and India. The problem is what the colony dedicates itself to, beyond being exploited by the implacable Cuban metropolis.

The Venezuelan military leadership, led by Nicolás Maduro, the puppet chosen by Havana, is primarily engaged in drug trafficking. From that murky business they get billions of dollars. But the Venezuelan commitments to crime do not end there. They lend support to Islamist terrorists, to Iran and to anyone who claims to be against the West. It is the way they of dignifying their criminal activities. They cover them with an ideological “anti-imperialist” mantle on the left.

That’s what John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams and the Cuban-Americans Marcos Rubio and Mauricio Claver-Carone think. There has never been a unit of opinion in Washington so consolidated. Everyone knows what is going on in Venezuela and they do not ignore the importance of Cuba as the power behind the throne.

The problem is how to deal with that danger. They have even asked Raúl Castro to abandon his Venezuelan prey. It seems that was the message that Prince Charles delivered on his amazing trip to Cuba disguised as a tourist with his sweet Camila hanging on his arm. This is what Abrams transmits to his interlocutors in Cuba and Venezuela.

But it is useless. Cuba is ready to fight until the last Venezuelan. First, because they need it from a material point of view. The system imposed on Cubans — the “Military Capitalism of the State” — is absolutely unproductive and requires joining another nation to sustain and maintain them. And, second, because for 60 years it has worked for them in controlling power and they know that their adversaries change or get tired. Everything rests on staying firm in the same position.

Given these facts, John Bolton, Security Advisor Donald Trump, on April 17, in Miami, revealed the measures that the US will adopt against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the three nations that today constitute “the axis of evil.”

As is well-known, the United States has opted for economic sanctions included in the Helms-Burton Act passed during the Clinton administration. That law, promulgated by the US Congress and the Senate, goes on to say that any country that does business with Cuba, in transactions involving US properties confiscated by the communist revolution, could face reprisals and lawsuits before US courts.

It also limits remittances and visits by Cuban-American migrants, a measure similar to that taken during the George W. Bush (son) government. In addition, boats that have previously touched Cuban soil cannot land in the United States for six months. This measure has already caused terror among some shipowners and the paralysis in Venezuelan waters of the Greek tanker, the Despina Adrianna, originally destined for Cuba.

Actually, these are reasonable tactical measures to maintain a semi-hostility, but they do not necessarily lead to the end of the dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela. If the intention is to liquidate those governments, enemies of the United States, the development of a strategy, subject to a timetable, is necessary to achieve those goals before the 2020 elections, when the tables could turn.

To achieve those goals, it is important to align all the essential factors, and that can only be done by the United States if it is serious when it states that it “reserves all the cards.” No major international actor (Canada, the Lima Group, the European Union, NATO) would deny Washington its support to eliminate outlawed states dedicated to drug trafficking and antidemocratic conspiracies, and would surely collaborate in the effort.

On the contrary, if Washington chooses to limit itself to showing its teeth and being a “paper tiger,” as Humberto Belli, the Nicaraguan essayist, fears and writes, it does not make sense to mortify Cuban society with more hardships. In that case, the United States must return to the strategy of containment: vigilance, propaganda and precise denunciations against the transgressors of the laws. Naturally, the Caribbean pistol would continue to threaten everyone’s heads, as has happened over six decades.


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.