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Why we should normalize relations with Cuba

(FinalCall.com) - On May 6, the Bush administration announced another round of serious measures aimed at destabilizing the sovereign nation of Cuba. In what can be described as being a maniacal approach to foreign policy, the Bush administration has now made it more difficult for Cuban Americans to send funds to their family members back home, and more difficult for them to travel to Cuba to visit relatives.
It has also created a special fund, at a point when most states could benefit from increased federal assistance, aimed at preparing the groundwork for the overthrow of the Cuban government. It has additionally kept Cuba on the list of states that allegedly sponsor terrorism, despite the fact that no evidence is cited to support such allegations.

In what almost sounds like something from a comedy skit, the Bush administration also proposes to offer funds for democracy-building aimed at reaching Afro-Cubans and addressing issues of race. This proposal comes from an administration that has not demonstrated anything other than a symbolic interest in addressing the continuing manifestations of racism in U.S. society.

Yet, the activities of the Bush administration are not a joke. Oddly, opinion polls continue to indicate that the majority of the people of the U.S.A. seek normal relations with Cuba, and an increasing number of businesses seek to take advantage of opportunities for investment in Cuba. Nevertheless, a relatively small group of both Cuban exiles and right-wing fanatics united in their hatred of President Fidel Castro and the Cuban government has insisted on a policy of destabilization that has not worked, even on its own terms, not to mention representing the height of hypocrisy and arrogance.

Since the Cuban Revolution succeeded in ousting the corrupt puppet Batista regime in 1959, succeeding U.S. administrations have done all that they could to undermine the Cuban government. During the 1960s, such interventions were not limited to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, but also included a covert military operation that carried on through the mid-1960s. This accompanied economic sanctions and other efforts to isolate the Cuban government.

None of this worked.

People in the U.S.A. often stop and ask, what is the logic in the hatred by U.S. administrations of the Cuban government? What is particularly odd is that the U.S. was able to establish sound diplomatic relations with the former Soviet Union, even during the height of the Cold War. Relations were opened with the People’s Republic of China, beginning in the early 1970s during the Vietnam War (when the Chinese were openly supporting North Vietnam and the anti-U.S. rebels in South Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea/Cambodia).Yet, for some reason the U.S. cannot seem to change its attitude toward Cuba.

Every allegation against Cuba, even if true, could as well be made about other governments with which the U.S. has or has had normal diplomatic relations. Yet, the attempts to destroy the Cuban government persist.

The historic hatred of the Cuban government by various U.S. presidents and their Congressional supporters has less to do with the fact that the Communist Party of Cuba is in power than another fact. A small, Western Hemispheric country, made up largely of Black and Brown people, chose to stand up to the United States, throw the Mafia out of the country, and insist that their country be treated with respect by their northern neighbor, which had for more than half a century, interfered in the internal affairs of their country. If this is not the reason, then nothing else makes sense.

As I noted, the U.S.A. had diplomatic relations with the former Soviet Union, which from the 1960s to the end of the Cold War, had thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S.A. The Cubans represent no threat to the U.S.A., and in fact, have offered assistance in fighting drug trafficking and terrorism. None of this matters to the Bush administration because, for the fanatical right-wing, the facts never stand in the way of their judgment.

The time has arrived for people of conscience in the U.S.A. to take a clear and unadulterated stand against the right-wing fanatics and their policies of international arrogance and bullying. The voices of the millions of silent opponents of international criminality must be heard. These began to be heard in the lead up to the war against Iraq and in opposition to the subsequent occupation. Those voices need to be just as loud against the policies being taken by Bush & company toward Cuba.

The time has arrived to demand: Normalize relations with Cuba now!

(Bill Fletcher Jr. is president of TransAfrica Forum and co-chair of the Anti-War Coalition, United for Peace and Justice (www.unitedforpeace.org). He can be reached at  bfletcher@transafricaforum.org.)