WikiLeaks on Cuba:
US Undermines Dissidents

Exporting democracy incompetence

by , December 20, 2010

Editor’s note: Justin Raimondo is taking the holiday off but will be back Monday, Dec. 27.

The WikiLeaks revelations continue to pour in, the latest including revealing material on the intimate and always troubled relationship between Cuban dissidents and the US government. Most of the attention has been given to a cable that characterized the dissident movement as being old, tired, and out of touch, with little support inside Cuba. Far more interesting, however, is a 2006 cable detailing a visit to the US Interests Section in Havana by two dissidents, whose names are redacted  – but not consistently.

The last paragraph, consisting of comments by the cable’s author, reveals their last names: Sanchez, and  Roca. These are almost certainly Elizardo Sanchez, founder of the Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission, and Vladimiro Roca, leader of the outlawed Cuban Social  Democratic Party, a former fighter pilot and the son of one of Cuba’s Communist founding fathers.

The cable, written by Michael Parmly, the former chief (until 2008) of the US Interests Section in Havana, opens  with this:

“XXXXXXXXXXX on April 18 requested a meeting with COM, without declaring the reason.  At the April 24 meeting, they presented a list of 10 independent  journalists banned from USINT’s two Internet Centers since 2004, saying they had been unfairly blacklisted.  XXXXXXXXXXX called the bans excessive and said they amount to a professional death blow for independent journalists.  They called on USINT to reconsider its punishment.  The 10 are among a relatively small number of Cubans whose Internet privileges were revoked for repeatedly disturbing other users, mistreating USINT staffers or committing other offenses.”

If you don’t toe the party line – the Yankee  party line, that is – you don’t get to play with the Americans’ toys. Washington has no use for independent journalists: they want bought off parrots who will squawk on command – and they have the nerve to turn around and deride their sock puppets as ineffective!

This is how the US government  is “exporting democracy” to Cuba and the rest of the world – by cutting off the democratic opposition at the knees. And not just by taking  away their internet access and deriding them behind their backs. In the last section of the cable, where names are named, they accuse the two visitors of being agents of Cuban State Security:

“It should also be noted that the credibility of both Sanchez and Roca has long been a matter of speculation.  Sanchez was at one point undeniably linked to State Security, and similar accusations have long surrounded Roca.”

No supporting evidence for this charge is offered by Parmly, although given the seriousness of the accusation, some sort of corroborating material certainly seems called for. In the case of Sanchez, his longstanding ties to the dissident movement – and personal sacrifices on its behalf, including many arrests – would seem to rule this out.  The same goes for Roca, who gave up a life of privilege as the son of a central Communist leader, and served a five year prison sentence for his political activities. The Washington Post described Sanchez as

“Surely the dissident who is best known outside Cuba, and is considered by many to be among the bravest after long years of imprisonment and many arrests. His Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation is the most informed, organized and articulate source of information about political prisoners and the domestic opposition. While the government denounces him as a right-wing extremist, Sanchez described himself as a ‘man of the left . . . all my life.’ He is a socialist who broke with the government in 1967, and says Cuba’s best chance for positive change is under the leadership of the 73-year-old Castro.”

No wonder the Americans hate Sanchez: he refuses to take seriously their illusion that a US-backed “Bay of Pigs”-style coup will overthrow the firmly entrenched Fidel, who has outlived every US President who sought to kill him. Therefore, he must be an agent of the Cuban government.—that’s the narrow-minded mentality behind US foreign policy.

By the way, Senor Parmly is also the author of a cable which claimed the Cubans had “banned” Michael Moore’s documentary, “Sicko” – which makes the case for government-funded health care and holds up Cuba’s health care system as a model for the US – an assertion, as it turned out, without the least bit of truth to it, and easily disproved.

Far from aiding Cuba’s democratic opposition, the US government systematically subverts and betrays it. Through USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, the US government funds dissident Cuban groups and “NGOs” with a single goal in mind: the overthrow of the Cuban government, and the installation of a US-friendly regime. Thus the dissident movement is easily marginalized in Cuban society.

Yet US diplomats and policymakers are unable or unwilling to see that their policies are to blame for the failure of freedom to ignite in Cuba: they blame the victims of their own incompetence, and shamelessly manipulate the various dissident groupings in order to keep them on Washington’s leash.

In 2005, the US Interests Section apparently was the main guiding force behind the “Assembly to Promote Civil Society” – a two-day event which took place in a working class section of Havana, featuring a congratulatory message from President George W. Bush. Sanchez, Roca, and the ten independent journalists cited above had some doubts about the wisdom of such a strategy – after all, Cuba is a police state, and open manifestations of dissent are swiftly and severely punished. The US government retaliated by banning the journalists from the Lincoln and Roosevelt internet centers – and, no, the Roosevelt center isn’t named after Teddy, but after Eleanor.

For over fifty years, Washington has been trying to isolate the Cuban people, assassinate their leaders, and re-establish its control over the island nation – to no avail. In the process, they have decimated Cuba’s democratic opposition, strengthened the Castro regime, and done more to cement totalitarianism in place than the Cuban State Security thugs. Instead of exporting democracy, US diplomats in Cuba are exporting their own incompetence and unmitigated arrogance.

Thanks, WikiLeaks, for letting us in on what wasn’t a secret, at least to anyone who has been paying attention to US efforts to “liberate” and re-colonize Cuba. It’s a point, however, that needs underscoring – which this cable surely does.

There is only one way Cuba is going to throw off the Communist yoke – not by exchanging it for one made in America, but by opening up to the world. And, again, the main obstacle to that is the US government, which maintains a draconian economic blockade in the hopes of squeezing the life out of the Cuban people.

Lift the blockade, and the life of the regime will be cut short by decades: along with the economic largess that will pour into the blockaded isle, the ideas that make this largess possible will also infiltrate Cuban society on every level. That’s what happened in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union: the Communists simply could not compete with the economic and cultural power of the West.

Cuba will then be free to evolve into democracy and develop civil society on its own: but that is not what the US government wants. Washington wants colonies: it wants military bases and economic domination. Back in the day, US imperialists of Teddy Roosevelt‘s ilk dreamed of annexing Cuba: it was only popular revulsion at the idea of having colonies that stopped them in their scheme to absorb Cuba and the Philippines, although they did get away with conquering Puerto Rico. Teddy’s dream of empire, archaic as it may seem, hasn’t died: it has merely taken on new forms.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

I’ll be taking a break from now until Monday, December 26, when I’ll return to this space refreshed and raring to go. To my readers I wish a happy holiday. Perhaps the new year will give us new hope for the cause of peace. And speaking of hope….

In the midst of all the brouhaha over WikiLeaks, and amid the general burden of writing a column three days a week, I neglected to thank my readers for their generous contributions to Antiwar.com’s Winter fundraising campaign.

That campaign set a new record: $100,000 was raised. I am humbled by your continuing support: thank you, one and all for making this achievement possible. Please pardon my tardiness in expressing my gratitude, but I’m sure you’ll understand. I turned 59 this past November, and I’m not as on top of things the way I used to be: in these dark days, the world presses down ever harder, and I tend to lose track of the many tasks I am charged with.

In any case, you made this our most successful fundraising campaign ever – and the staff of Antiwar.com is acutely aware of our responsibility to live up to this stunning vote of confidence.

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