Sunday, June 04, 2006


While engaging in the discussion of comments posted on the very interesting blog from the Miami Herald columnist Mr. Andres Oppenheimer (find link here), I have come to realize that sooner rather than later we have to leave the Cuba issue behind and move on. Latin America is far more strategically important for our future well being. I am herein quoting some of those comments and my response to them to illustrate the case at hand.
mousqueton said:

Mini-me: You are absolutely right. The US foreign policy in Latin America has been and continues to be Cuban centric and this has been both bad for Latin America and for our interests in the region. Cuba is a very small country, with a small population and a very small GDP. If at all it doesn’t deserve more attention that the one we pay to Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. The problem is that Republicans are businessmen and therefore they feel comfortable selling out our interests in Latin America in exchange for the Cuban vote in Florida. A shame and a pity, but it did get them in the White House.

proudcubanamerican said:

“Oye Mosquito, In case you just crawled out from under a rock where you lived with the rest of the tira-flecha indios, Cuba has been at the center of a geo-political crisis in the Western Hemisphere since 1959. That makes it more relevant and important to US foriegn policy than Jamaica, Trinidad and even Mexico.

It was out of Cuba that the world almost got involved in World War III during the Kennedy Administration. Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis?

It was out of Cuba that approximately 2 million exiles have come to this country and built a region of this country (South Florida) that is quite prosperous and very beautiful, thank you.
It is out of Cuba that President Carter suffered his second greatest political defeat (the Mariel boat lift). The Iranian hostage crisis was Carter's worst mistake.

And it is out of Cuba that the US has the opportunity to win the final battle of the Cold War when Fidel dies and the country turns to democracy.

Also, you make a big mistake thinking numbers instead of power. There are only 2 million exiled Cuban Americans in this country. Yet we wield more political power and clout than perhaps the other 60 million Hispanics put together.

Instead of your poorly veiled passive aggressive rip on Cubans, you should try to learn something from us.”

mousqueton said:

My dear proudcubanamerican: Let me start by saying that I do not have any passively aggressive rip against Cubans. As a matter of fact I have the utmost respect for the Cuban people and the Cuban culture. This is, for all the Cuban people and the entire Cuban culture which off course is not limited to Cubans in the US.


Having said this I must say that I am sorry that you feel offended because I have just stated the undisputed fact that Cuba as a country, including the Cuban population in Miami, has no strategic value and/or importance for the US.

It is not that I am trying to be offensive or nasty, it is just a fact.

Of course you are welcomed to give your arguments as to why this assertion is wrong but you will have to do much better than the emotional and inaccurate outburst in your comment. Let me explain:
1) You are wrong and a bit arrogant when you say that Cuba has been at the center of the geopolitical crisis in the Western hemisphere since 1959.

It is us, the United States of America that has been at the center of the geopolitical crisis in the Western Hemisphere from the day we adopted the Monroe doctrine and due to our own naïve and inept foreign policy in the region.

Cuba has only been an instrument used by both sides to show their contempt for each other. The United States punished Cuba to make an example in the region and Latin America continued to have diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba to express their contempt at the United States.

Do you seriously believe that Cuba is the leader of anything in the region? Wake up for God’s sake; only in fantasy land you can dream of midgets leading giants. It would take us only hours, not even days, to take full control of Cuba. We haven’t done so because it has been in our best interest to keep things the way they are. Believe me when I say that neither the US or Latin America is afraid of Cuba and that Cuba is the center of nothing.

2) You are right when you say that it was out of Cuba that the world almost got involved in world war III. What you do not mention though is that Cuba was just a puppet in that crisis. Cuba had little or no say in the crisis and the crisis itself was not of Cuban making. So much so, that the solution to the crisis was negotiated with the puppeteer (USSR) and not with Cuba.

For all purposes, any minute island in the Caribbean could have been used by the URSS to challenge the US. It just happens that Cuba was for sale at the time.

That doesn’t make Cuba strategically important for the US. It just makes it a sorry and opportunistic country.

3) The fact that over 2.0 million Cubans have fled to the US doesn’t mean that the country is of strategic importance to us either. If at all it only proves that our policy towards Cuba has been and continues to be wrong.

Freedom is not a gift that can be handed over by others. It is a right that you conquer. You have to fight and die for freedom to deserve it. People in countries through out the world have fought and continue to fight, even against incredible odds, to conquer their freedom. This is, people throughout the world except in Cuba. Our policy toward Cuba instead of encouraging the Cuban people to fight for their freedom has encouraged them to take the easy way out and come to Miami. Freedom is not going to come to Cuba because Fidel Castro dies. Freedom will come to Cuba the day the Cuban people decide to fight for it.

4) The fact that Cubans are hard workers doesn’t mean that Cuba is of strategic importance to the US either. Hard work makes you decent not strategically important.

5) You can make any arrogant and absurd comment about President Carter but that still doesn’t make Cuba strategically important for the US.

6) As for, “the US has the opportunity to win the final battle of the Cold War”; what planet do you live on? There is no cold war anymore; when the dog died the rabies went away.

Further, we are not at war with Cuba so there is nothing to win. Further more; it serves no logical purpose to fight for Cuba; there is nothing we need there.

7) As for your power trip in the comment about Cubans vs Hispanics; do not spit to heaven because it might fall in your face. Cuban power is on its way down not because of other Hispanics but because of us, Americans, who have endured about enough of this nonsense.

By the way, having political power in the US still doesn’t make Cuba strategically important.
Last but not least, do not waste your Mexican bigotry on me because I am not of Mexican descent though, as with Cuba, I do have the utmost respect both for the Mexican people and culture.

P.D. The only argument that I concede could make me change my opinion about the strategic importance of Cuba for the US is the possibility that Cuba finds oil in the Florida straights. If the proven reserves are significant, that would make a big difference.

ada b... said:

“I read the arguments presented by Proud Cuban American and Mosqueton and have to agree with my compatriot from Cuba. To deny Cuba's mark on history is to deny the truth.

This is a fact Mosqueton: In 1777, with the American revolution not faring so well, the colonies sent an envoy to Havana, then the oldest and most established city in the Western Hemisphere, to seek monetary aid for their cause. History books record that women of the Cuban elite gathered jewelery worth $1.1 million AT THAT TIME and donated it to the fledgling colonies.

That money helped your country get born, which seems fairly strategically important to me. Please feel free to look this up on the internet and history books -- you'll be a less ignorant person for it.

Also to deny the Cuban people's mark on South Florida is to be blind. If you can prove that South Florida is completely unimportant to the United STates, then I guess you can argue the Cuban people, and the country they come from by extension, are strategically unimportant. Otherwise, you are wrong again.

One final point: The Cuban people tried to fight for Cuba's freedom but it was an American president named Kennedy who didn't have the stomach for it. He promised air cover and instead delivered only air at the Bay of Pigs. This while he was already sending troops in the guise of "advisors" to a disaster called Vietnam.

Sounds like good old fashioned American hypocrisy to me. Ensuing American politicians then made it illegal for Cuban nationals to launch offensive operations from the US against communism on the island. I know because my father was arrested by the US Coast Guard when he tried to smuggle weapons into Cuba for a dissident group in 1971. So you are totally ignorant as to the facts when you speak of Cubans preferring not to fight and free themselves, mosqueton.

By the way, I'm sure you're a brave American man. Why don't you set out on an inner tube into the gulf stream for a couple of days and then make the argument that that doesn't test a man's courage.”

mousqueton said:

Dear Ms. Ada B...: Let me start by saying that I do not deny Cuba’s history nor I have anything against Cubans. I have great Cuban friends with whom I spend delightful nights zipping rum, smoking cigars and having enlightening and passionate discussions about politics, music and literature. My original statement, to which “proudcubanmerican” reacted emotionally and using terms that were certainly of very bad taste, is that from a geopolitical standpoint Cuba today is not strategically important for the United States and therefore we should abandon our current Cuban centric foreign policy and concentrate our efforts in building those relations, particularly with Latin America, Central America and Mexico, that are critical to our future well being.

That doesn’t mean that I neglect the historic ties between Cuba and the United States, especially those between Cuba and the great state of Alabama. It doesn’t mean either that I am against Cuba. It just means that we have to look after our own interests and that we have bigger fish to fry. Let me elaborate in this regard.

By the year 2050 China will be a market of 1.4 billion consumers and at the current growth rate will have a GDP (Gross domestic product) 1.5 times that of the United States. India will be a market of 1.5 billion consumers with about the same GDP as the US. Europe will have a market of 653 million and the US will have a population of 394 million. Our technological superiority is shrinking by the minute and we need to grow and acquire a critical mass that allows us to compete in a world of huge markets otherwise our economy will become totally dependent of foreign markets. Building an alliance with Latin America will make us a 1.2 billion market, give us access to natural resources that are critical to sustain our growth and pretty much make us self sufficient energy wise.

I am sure you will concede that, in this picture, our relationship with Cuba has absolutely no relevance and certainly absolutely no strategic value.

Having said this, I do feel compelled to mention that I take your comment about my ignorance as a compliment because it is of wise people to be aware of how little they know.

I also want to take this opportunity to highlight some gross inaccuracies and erroneous interpretations in your comment with the only purpose of helping you become wiser.

1)In 1777 Cuba was indeed the oldest and most established “Spanish” city in the Western hemisphere. It was built, owned and ruled by Spain.

2) France and Spain, eager to settle old scores with their rival England, joined the Americans in their fight in 1777.

3) It was not the women of the Cuban elite that gave away their jewelry to raise $1.1 million, “at that time” to help the colonies. Prominent merchants in Havana rose almost “half a million pesos” from patriotic residents (Spanish patriots) to support the war effort. The money sent to the Spanish crown proved valuable to the American victory at Yorktown - the engagement that finally broke the British will and ultimately ended the war. The Cubans, much like the Americans, were driven by a mixture of principle and practical materialism though. The merchants who raised the funds were awarded special trade privileges in exchange, particularly in the slave trade. I am sure some women must have donated their jewelry to the cause but certainly it was not an unselfish ladies initiative.

4) We were and continue to be grateful to Cuba for that gesture regardless of the obvious self interest and that is why we liberated Cuba from Spain in 1898.

5) I have never denied the Cuban people mark in South Florida but the fact that there are 2 million Cubans in South Florida does not make Cuba strategically important for the US. By the same token, the fact that there are over 2 million Dominicans in New York does not make the Dominican Republic strategically important either.

As for the cause of freedom in Cuba I believe I should make my position very clear even though this has absolutely no bearing on my opinion regarding the lack of strategic importance of Cuba.

Why is it that every time someone brings up the fact that there is no fight for freedom in Cuba the first argument is to blame the United States? What gives you the right to demand that we fight to liberate Cuba when Cubans are not fighting for their freedom themselves? Why should you be allowed to fight Fidel Castro from the US and drag us into a fight that is not ours?

It was the Cuban people, not a foreign power or the US, who brought Fidel Castro to power. He did not start his fight in Miami with air support from the US. He fled into the mountains, earned the heart of the Cuban people and fought inside Cuba against Batista.

There are over 10 million Cubans in the island and 2 million in the US. Cubans from Miami are not going back to the island to fight and certainly no one in the island is doing it either.

As for the Bay of Pigs fighters I join you in expressing my utmost admiration and respect for those few brave Cubans (1,400) that are truly an example of bravery and unfledged commitment with the cause of freedom and love for their country.

I must say though that I am appalled at the fact that there were about 70,000 Cubans in the US in 1961 and only 1,400 were willing to die fighting for freedom and country.

History has taught us that wherever there is a will there is a way. People all over the world, and certainly in Latin America, have fought and continue to fight and die inside their countries for their beliefs (right or wrong beliefs).

That is not happening in Cuba and it is a strong indicator that maybe the Cuban people, particularly inside the island, do not want to change the status quo and/or do not want it bad enough.

As for us, you have no right to question our commitment to freedom or even raise the argument that we are to blame for Cuba’s misgivings because no other country in the world has shed more blood for freedom in foreign lands than us.

I dare you to stand at the Normandy Cemetery and Memorial in France and question our resolve and commitment to freedom.

We are not perfect and we make many mistakes, but no one has the right to question us because we do not fight their battles.

Finally, I do not know if I am a brave man but you can be absolutely sure that if I was Cuban I would be testing my bravery with a rifle in my hand in the hills of Santiago and not in the straights of Florida.

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