When is enough enough? The U.S. military and the CIA have waged war on Cuba for more than 50 years. After a half-century of invasions, assassination attempts, terrorist attacks, and a cruel and inhumane economic embargo, it’s time to bring the entire sordid policy toward Cuba to an end. Not only has it failed to accomplish its purported end — the ouster of the Castro regime and its replacement by a pro-U.S. dictatorship — it has also played a major role in the economic misery of the Cuban people. The U.S. government’s war on Cuba has also constituted a grave infringement on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the American people.
Keep in mind that neither the Cuban people nor their government has ever attacked or invaded the United States or engaged in acts of terrorism against the United States. It’s always been the other way around. It’s been the U.S. government — i.e., the national-security state, specifically the Pentagon and the CIA — that has always been the aggressor in the decades-long conflict with Cuba.
What has been the justification for U.S. aggression against Cuba? From the beginning, it’s been that Cuban leader Fidel Castro is a communist and a socialist. And so what? Under what moral or legal authority does the U.S. government target a foreign leader for assassination or a foreign country for invasion or terrorism owing simply to the ideological perspective of that country’s leaders?
The warped values that have come with the U.S. national-security state’s war on Cuba are well-reflected in the criminal conviction of the Cuban Five, a group of Cuban agents who came to the United States to ferret out acts of U.S. terrorism that were being planned for Cuba. For that, they were convicted in U.S. federal court of being “spies” and given long jail sentences.
You see, in the eyes of U.S. officials, a country that is targeted for regime change by the U.S. national-security state is supposed to passively accept its fate at the hands of the U.S. Empire. It’s not supposed to resist a U.S. military invasion of its land, as Cuban forces did at the Bay of Pigs. It’s not supposed to avoid assassination attempts at the hands of the CIA-Mafia partnership that was trying to murder Castro. It’s not supposed to try to ferret out terrorist attacks on Cuban businesses and industries.
To resist the U.S. Empire’s attempts at regime change is considered a criminal act. That’s why those five Cubans were punished even though they were doing nothing more than trying to defensively protect their country from U.S. terrorism.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials continue to bray about Cuba’s jailing of American Alan Gross, who was caught distributing satellite telephones to Cuban citizens in violation of Cuban law. He’s now serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba. U.S. officials are hopping mad over that, pointing out that it’s legal to distribute satellite telephones in other countries, an obviously irrelevant point given that Gross did it in Cuba, where it’s illegal. More important, Gross was being funded by the U.S. government, whose goal continues to be regime change in Cuba.
The irony is that when one considers Cuban socialism, the fundamentals aren’t really much different in principle from those embraced by American statists. Consider the two socialist programs that Fidel Castro is most proud of: free public schooling and free government-provided healthcare in Cuba.
Now, ask yourself: What American liberal opposes free public schooling and free government-provided healthcare? Answer: None. Not one single American statist, liberal or conservative, favors the repeal of public schooling or the repeal of Medicare and Medicaid. It’s only we libertarians who favor the immediate repeal of these two major socialist programs, along with all the others.
Moreover, if you compare the judicial system established by the Pentagon on its side of Cuba, you’ll immediately notice the remarkable similarities with Cuba’s communist judicial system: military tribunals, no trial by jury, torture of prisoners, indefinite incarceration without trial, no right to speedy trial, no right to confront witnesses, presumption of guilt, secret proceedings, and abuse of criminal-defense attorneys.
What Castro did was carry statist economic principles to their logical conclusion. While President Franklin Roosevelt, for example, nationalized gold, converting Americans who were caught owning what had been the official money of the American people for more than 100 years into felons, Castro nationalized everything.
While American statists favor taxing the rich and giving the money to the poor, Castro went all the way and just took all the wealth from the rich, including their big mansions, and redistributed it to the poor.
While American statists favor the concept of a government-managed economy, Castro embraced the principle to the full extent through strict government control over all economic activity.
That’s why Cubans have always been on the verge of starvation — not just because of the embargo but also because they were being squeezed at the other end by all that socialism.
This commonality of beliefs between American and Cuban statists is best manifested by the mindsets of Cuban-American members of Congress, who are the most steadfast opponents of lifting the half-century-old embargo against Cuba. The truth is that their beef with Castro is personal, not ideological. Their commitment to statism is as ardent as Castro’s. They don’t want genuine freedom, as libertarians do, they just want to see Castro replaced by their own statist dictator — a pro-U.S. statist dictator, like the pro-U.S. Cuban dictator who preceded Castro, Fulgencio Batista.
After all, those Cuban-American members of Congress who insist on the continuation of the embargo are imposing the same type of economic control on us — the American people — that Castro imposes on his people. The embargo is an infringement on the economic liberty of Americans, not Cubans. It’s Americans who are strictly prohibited from traveling to Cuba and spending money there. If they’re caught violating the law, they are subject to fines and imprisonment — by the U.S. government, the government that purports to stand for “free enterprise.”
It’s time to end this idiocy. It’s time to end the U.S. national-security state’s war against Cuba. No more regime-change operations. No more assassination attempts. No more invasions. No more terrorist attacks. No more embargo. Leave Americans free to travel to Cuba, spend money there, and interact with the Cuban people. Free the Cuban Five and permit them to return home. There is no better time than now.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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