Mar 16, 2011

Flawed Reasoning on Cuba by The Wall Street Journal and Obama

According to the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board, the United States should condition bailing out the Cuban tyranny on the release of convicted and imprisoned American citizen Alan Gross.
"Conditioning future visas and Cuba's economic lifeline on Mr. Gross's release is the only message that the Castro brothers and their government will heed."
But, this of course would make America's Cuba policy contingent on one American. Secondly, such a policy repeats a grave historical error with Cuba, that is, supporting a dictatorship.

Is this really what the Wall Street Journal believes should be done? If so, its policy recommendation couldn't be more perfectly aligned with the United States' 1952 Cuba policy, when it immediately began supporting Batista, after his coup on Cuba's democratically elected government.

If the United States government wants to be taken seriously in its defense of democracy and human rights it should unconditionally stop helping keep tyrannies afloat. That should not be too hard to understand.

While the United States continues to bail out this tyranny, unconditionally, or conditionally as the Wall Street Journal recommends, it will only continue to demonstrate that truly nothing has changed in its Cuba policy in the 59 years since Batista's coup, which is when this tragic mess began.

Therefore the United States should withdraw all recent concessions (cultural travel, remittances by all Americans allowed, etc.) whether or not Alan Gross is released.

In a previous version of this blog post I had referred to the Wall Street Journal's suggestion as "tantamount to giving in to extortion". But it is not extortion, because Castro has not explicitly demanded or asked for anything in exchange for releasing Alan Gross. The truth is that the Wall Street Journal is in effect suggesting that the United States bribe tyrant Castro with economic assistance. This is unethical and hypocritical. It is unethical to abet a tyrant who for 52 years has robbed a people of their nation and is on the list of US terrorist states. It is hypocritical and an insult to Cuban (anti Batista, anti Castro) exiles who arrived in these shores from 1960 onwards trusting in the United States and its democracy, to now suggest it's necessary to finance the tyrant who caused their exile. Cuban Batistianos who arrived in 1959 will probably not mind if Castro is bribed, as they are of the same ilk. But the United States should finally just stop listening to them.

Furthermore, by attempting to buy Castro off with concessions, the United States is providing him with the ideological ammunition he uses with nationalist non-socialist Cubans, and Latin Americans, and a cover for every crime he has committed and may yet commit.

Rather than condition the issuing of Cuban visas to Gross' release, as the Wall Street Journal recommends, I believe no more should be granted, conditionally or unconditionally, because they have become a way for Castro to create a base in the United States. However, exiles who have parents or offspring in Cuba should be allowed to bring them to the United States (vertical family only). But they should not be allowed to travel to Cuba from the United States anymore. To avoid family break ups, they should bring them to the United States or move back.

If the United States wants to help Cubans it can directly and openly help them build their own homes, grow their own food, provide them with food and nutritional supplements where needed, and with the means to communicate freely on the Internet. Castro may of course not agree to any of this generosity. But that bridge should be crossed only once he refuses it.

If the United States wants to help Cubans it should also not forget the exiles to whom it once opened its arms.

As for the release of Alan Gross, there is no easy ethical answer. He is not guilty for he did nothing unjust. Yet he is in a Cuban prison.


MARCH 29, 2011 1:39 A.M.

But at the beginning of his public ministry, quoting Isaiah 61:1, Jesus proclaimed:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.

He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
You can read it in Luke 4: 18-21.

So that is what I think God wants, on both sides.

UPDATE MARCH 20, 2011 10:29 P.M.

When Jesus announced that he came to free prisoners, he primarily meant prisoners of Satan, of sin, for he later asserted that his Kingdom was not of this world (John 18: 36). So why am I using Luke's passage (Luke 4 18:21) to recommend that prisoners be freed and on on both sides?

The fact that his kingdom is not of this world does not mean that he excluded liberating prisoners in the here and now. Indeed, Jesus encouraged compassion towards those in prison when in Matthew 25: 36 he says: "For I was ... in prison and you visited me."

Freeing a prisoner who is innocent (e.g. Alan Gross, Castro's political prisoners regardless of charges) is the only just thing to do. Freeing one who, once freed, cannot bring harm to others, is compassion.

Accordingly, if freeing Cuba's five spies imprisoned in the United States cannot harm this country (including Cuban American exiles) but can obtain the release of Gross and Castro's Cuban political prisoners, then it would be an intelligent act of compassion to liberate them.


American Convicted and Sentenced - What Now?

This Time It's an American Who May be Convicted in Cuba (Revised)