While we may have “a right to be stupid” in this country, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the other day in Berlin, it is a “right” that we should not abuse.
For instance, it would be stupid indeed, and against America’s interests, for the Obama Administration to now throw a lifeline of U.S. dollars to the Castro dictatorship in Cuba just as it is entering its death convulsions.
Since President Barack Obama won re-election, there has been a notable increase in the number of politicians and “think tanks” urging him to unilaterally make things easier for Cuba – end what remains of the trade embargo, take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism, etc.
These pro-Castro advocates always fail to explain why making these unilateral changes in U.S. policy would advance any American interests. They would not.
They also fail to suggest that Cuba should do anything in return. For instance, Cuba could free imprisoned American hostage Alan Gross, free all political prisoners, stop harassing dissidents and allow the downtrodden Cuban people to organize independent political parties and have freedom of speech, press, religion and association.
When it comes to Cuba policy, I do not trust Kerry for even one nanosecond. When he ran for president in 2004, I kept two news photographs from his days as a Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts taped to my office wall.
In one he was shaking hands with the Marxist revolutionary chieftain Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua in 1985. In the other he was smiling during a 1993 meeting in Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) with Do Muoi, then the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
Kerry, now 69, is the former Vietnam War veteran who in 1971 threw his combat ribbons over a fence at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., to show his belated opposition to the U.S. fight against communism in Southeast Asia.
Therefore, it came as no surprise to me that the moment Kerry became secretary of state, the Cuban head of state, Raul Castro, 81, quickly engaged in a flurry of window-dressing activities to entice the U.S. to open the flow of dollars to the bankrupt island. He named a new vice president and a new head of the puppet National Assembly, and he promised that he would retire as dictator in 2018.
Of course, these “changes” are meaningless, as Raul and his brother Fidel, who is 86, remain in complete control of the country. They can change vice presidents and National Assembly leaders on a whim, as well as revoke Raul’s announced retirement date at any time.
But before they die, Fidel and Raul desperately want to see the U.S. unilaterally end the embargo and allow American tourists, businesses, and, most of all, dollars to return to their misery-stricken island. That way, they could proclaim themselves the “winners” of a “heroic struggle” that they began in 1959 against the imperialists.
Why bail them out now, at the end of their sorry lives? There will be plenty of time for the United States to thoughtfully review and modify its policies toward Cuba after the Castro brothers have taken their communist carcasses to hell.
Angel Castillo Jr., a former reporter and editor for the New York Times and The Miami Herald, practices employment law in Miami. He can be reached at email@example.com.