Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Are Cubans Freer than Americans?

by Jacob G. Hornberger

The U.S. government’s policy toward Cuba is a textbook example of the malevolence and hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy.

In the wake of Fidel Castro’s resignation as Cuba’s president, U.S. officials, led by President Bush and members of Congress, appear all too ready to have the U.S. government “help” the Cuban people achieve democracy and freedom.

Now, doesn’t that notion suggest a love and concern for the welfare of the Cuban people?

Yet, look at the cruel, inhumane, and brutal economic embargo that the U.S. government has enforced against Cuba for decades. Year after year, U.S. officials have steadfastly enforced the embargo with the full knowledge of the horrific adverse effects it was having on the Cuban people. U.S. officials simply blamed the economic misery on Castro’s socialism, even while Castro blamed it on the embargo. The truth is that the Cuban people have been squeezed by both sides of the vise — Castro’s socialism and the U.S. embargo.

In calling for a change in direction in Cuba, U.S. officials suggest that Castro’s communist, totalitarian regime is a miserable place in which to live. That’s certainly true. But then what do U.S. officials do to people who escape Cuba? They attack them on the high seas with such weapons as water cannons, then they kidnap them, then they cooperate with Cuban communist coast guard officials, and then they repatriate the defenseless refugees back into the communist society that U.S. officials say is a miserable place in which to live.

Meanwhile, both Republicans and Democrats continue to tell us that sacrificing 60,000 American men in the Vietnam War was worth it to try to prevent the South Vietnamese from having to live under communist tyranny. Now, they say that it’s worth it to use U.S. force to repatriate people into communist tyranny in Cuba.

Oh, did I mention that there is no U.S. embargo against Vietnam today and that Americans are free to travel to Vietnam and trade with the Vietnamese communists?

U.S. officials, both Republican and Democrat, usually limit their criticisms to Castro’s political system rather than his socialist economic and educational systems.

Why is that?

The answer is simple: Castro’s economic and educational systems are no different, in principle, than those embraced by Republicans and Democrats. That makes them very uncomfortable because they’ve always felt that while Castro is a Cuban socialist, Republicans and Democrats have always been “American free-enterprisers.”

Consider the core element of Castro’s economic system: free, universal health care. Sound familiar? Isn’t that what Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama want? And the Republicans aren’t much better. Don’t they continue to be proud supporters of Medicare and Medicaid and don’t they have their own plans for more federal intervention into health care?

Consider the core element of Castro’s educational system: free public schooling for Cuban children. Can you show me even one U.S. official, either Republican or Democrat, who opposes free public schooling for American children?

Consider the secondary elements of Castro’s economic system: licensing for businesses, income taxation, equalization of wealth, drug laws, economic regulations, old-age retirement assistance, subsidies, a central bank, and government-issued paper money.

How many U.S. officials, either Republican or Democrat, oppose any of those programs here in the United States?

Consider these features of Castro’s legal system: kangaroo military tribunals, condemnation of independent criminal-defense attorneys, denigration of an independent judiciary, torture, denial of due process, arbitrary arrests, no restrictions on search and seizure, and indefinite incarceration. Why, those principles are a dream-come-true for U.S. officials, especially the Republican ones. Why would it surprise anyone that they established their torture camp in Cuba rather than the United States?

Americans view the embargo against Cuba only as an attack on the well-being of the Cuban people, but it is much more than that. It is also an attack on the freedom of the American people. If an American travels to Cuba and spends money there without the permission of U.S. officials, he will be criminally and civilly prosecuted by his own government. Doesn’t freedom entail the fundamental right to travel wherever you want and spend your money in any way you want?

While Cubans understand that the economic and educational systems under which they live are socialism, Americans honestly believe that their economic and educational systems, albeit the same, are “free enterprise.”

Given Goethe’s pithy observation, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believed they are free,” one cannot help but wonder whether the Cuban people, despite their misery and suffering, are actually freer than Americans.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

No comments: