[News] Cuba. Again. Still. Forever.

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 8 10:41:13 EST 2010

Cuba. Again. Still. Forever.
by William Blum


More than 50 years now it is. The propaganda and 
hypocrisy of the American mainstream media seems 
endless and unwavering. They can not accept the 
fact that Cuban leaders are humane or rational. 
Here's the Washington Post of December 13 writing 
about an American arrested in Cuba:

"The Cuban government has arrested an American 
citizen working on contract for the U.S. Agency 
for International Development who was 
distributing cellphones and laptop computers to 
Cuban activists. . . . Under Cuban law . . . a 
Cuban citizen or a foreign visitor can be 
arrested for nearly anything under the claim of 'dangerousness.'"

That sounds just awful, doesn't it? Imagine being 
subject to arrest for whatever someone may choose 
to label "dangerousness." But the exact same 
thing has happened repeatedly in the United 
States since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. We 
don't use the word "dangerousness." We speak of 
"national security." Or, more recently, 
"terrorism." Or "providing material support to terrorism."

The arrested American works for Development 
Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), a US government 
contractor that provides services to the State 
Department, the Pentagon, and the US Agency for 
International Development (USAID). In 2008, DAI 
was funded by the US Congress to "promote 
transition to democracy" in Cuba. Yes, Oh Happy 
Day! -- we're bringing democracy to Cuba just as 
we're bringing it to Afghanistan and Iraq. In 
2002, DAI was contracted by USAID to work in 
Venezuela and proceeded to fund the same groups 
that a few months earlier had worked to stage a 
coup -- temporarily successful -- against 
President Hugo Chávez. DAI performed other 
subversive work in Venezuela and has also been 
active in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other 
hotspots. "Subversive" is what Washington would 
label an organization like DAI if they behaved in 
the same way in the United States in behalf of a foreign government.1

The American mainstream media never makes its 
readers aware of the following (so I do so 
repeatedly): The United States is to the Cuban 
government like al-Qaeda is to the government in 
Washington, only much more powerful and much 
closer. Since the Cuban revolution, the United 
States and anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the US 
have inflicted upon Cuba greater damage and 
greater loss of life than what happened in New 
York and Washington on September 11, 2001. Cuban 
dissidents typically have had very close, indeed 
intimate, political and financial connections to 
American government agents. Would the US 
government ignore a group of Americans receiving 
funds or communication equipment from al-Qaeda 
and/or engaging in repeated meetings with known 
leaders of that organization? In the past few 
years, the American government has arrested a 
great many people in the US and abroad solely on 
the basis of alleged ties to al-Qaeda, with a lot 
less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its 
dissidents' ties to the United States, evidence 
usually gathered by Cuban double agents. 
Virtually all of Cuba's "political prisoners" are such dissidents.

The Washington Post story continued:

"The Cuban government granted ordinary citizens 
the right to buy cellphones just last year."


What does one make of such a statement without 
further information? How could the Cuban 
government have been so insensitive to people's 
needs for so many years? Well, that must be just 
the way a "totalitarian" state behaves. But the 
fact is that because of the disintegration of the 
Soviet bloc, with a major loss to Cuba of its 
foreign trade, combined with the relentless US 
economic aggression, the Caribbean island was hit 
by a great energy shortage beginning in the 
1990s, which caused repeated blackouts. Cuban 
authorities had no choice but to limit the sale 
of energy-hogging electrical devices such as cell 
phones; but once the country returned to energy 
sufficiency the restrictions were revoked.

"Cubans who want to log on [to the Internet] 
often have to give their names to the government."

What does that mean? Americans, thank God, can 
log onto the Internet without giving their names 
to the government. Their Internet Service 
Provider does it for them, furnishing their names 
to the government, along with their emails, when requested.

"Access to some Web sites is restricted."

Which ones? Why? More importantly, what 
information might a Cuban discover on the 
Internet that the government would not want him 
to know about? I can't imagine. Cubans are in 
constant touch with relatives in the US, by mail 
and in person. They get US television programs 
from Miami. International conferences on all 
manner of political, economic, and social 
subjects are held regularly in Cuba. What does 
the American media think is the great secret 
being kept from the Cuban people by the nasty commie government?

"Cuba has a nascent blogging community, led by 
the popular commentator Yoani Sánchez, who often 
writes about how she and her husband are followed 
and harassed by government agents because of her 
Web posts. Sánchez has repeatedly applied for 
permission to leave the country to accept 
journalism awards, so far unsuccessfully."

According to a well-documented account,2 
Sánchez's tale of government abuse appears rather 
exaggerated. Moreover, she moved to Switzerland 
in 2002, lived there for two years, and then 
voluntarily returned to Cuba. On the other hand, 
in January 2006 I was invited to attend a book 
fair in Cuba, where one of my books, newly 
translated into Spanish, was being presented. 
However, the government of the United States 
would not give me permission to go. My 
application to travel to Cuba had also been 
rejected in 1998 by the Clinton administration.

"'Counterrevolutionary activities', which include 
mild protests and critical writings, carry the 
risk of censure or arrest. Anti-government 
graffiti and speech are considered serious crimes."

Raise your hand if you or someone you know of was 
ever arrested in the United States for taking 
part in a protest. And substitute "pro-al-Qaeda" 
for "counterrevolutionary" and for 
"anti-government" and think of the thousands 
imprisoned the past eight years by the United 
States all over the world for . . . for what? In 
most cases there's no clear answer. Or the answer 
is clear: (a) being in the wrong place at the 
wrong time, or (b) being turned in to collect a 
bounty offered by the United States, or (c) 
thought crimes. And whatever the reason for the 
imprisonment, they were likely tortured. Even the 
most fanatical anti-Castroites don't accuse Cuba 
of that. In the period of the Cuban revolution, 
since 1959, Cuba has had one of the very best 
records on human rights in the hemisphere. See my 
essay: "The United States, Cuba and This Thing Called Democracy."3

There's no case of anyone arrested in Cuba that 
compares in injustice and cruelty to the arrest 
in 1998 by the United States government of those 
who came to be known as the "Cuban Five," 
sentenced in Florida to exceedingly long prison 
terms for trying to stem terrorist acts against 
Cuba emanating from the US.4 It would be lovely 
if the Cuban government could trade their DAI 
prisoner for the five. Cuba, on several 
occasions, has proposed to Washington the 
exchange of a number of what the US regards as 
"political prisoners" in Cuba for the five Cubans 
held in the United States. So far the United States has not agreed to do so.

1 For more details on DAI, see Eva Golinger, The 
Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in 
Venezuela (2006) and her website, posting for December 31, 2009.

2 Salim Lamrani, professor at Paris Descartes 
University, "The Contradictions of Cuban Blogger 
Yoani Sanchez," MRZine, November 12, 2009.

3 <killinghope.org/bblum6/democ.htm>.

4 <killinghope.org/bblum6/polpris.htm>.

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