By Chris Powell
For practical purposes Fidel Castro died a decade ago as he bequeathed his dictatorship to his brother and slipped into decrepitude. For practical purposes Cuba itself died 25 years ago upon the collapse of its financial patron, the Soviet Union. The country remains impoverished and totalitarian.
But the cheering throughout the United States, particularly from Little Havana in Miami and the right-wingers in Washington, is hypocritical. For the United States created Castro with its decades of military intervention in Cuba and then its support of his predecessor as dictator, Col. Fulgencio Batista, who overthrew Cuba’s elected government in a military coup in 1952.
Indeed, there is hardly a country in the Americas that hasn’t been invaded, occupied, or controlled or exploited economically by the United States in the last century and a half, even as we presume to lecture them about freedom. The Monroe Doctrine’s principle of keeping European powers out of the Western Hemisphere has been one thing. It has been something else to make the hemisphere safe for the United Fruit Co. and its successors.
As in Cuba, U.S. support of oppressive regimes in the name of containing communism has led to tyrannical pushback. In Iran the shah begot the ayatollahs. In Nicaragua the Somoza regime begot the Sandinistas. In Libya King Idris begot Moammar Gadhafi.
But our intervention in Cuba has been more extreme than anywhere else. Even today the United States continues an economic embargo against the country, though President Obama has loosened it by executive action. Federal law prohibits normal relations with Cuba unless it becomes free, though there are no restrictions on our relations with similarly repressive countries like China and Saudi Arabia.
This week even President-elect Trump couldn’t resist beating up on Cuba, announcing that he would reverse Obama’s opening to the country unless it democratizes. (What’s the problem, Mr. President-elect — that Cuba lacks an Electoral College?)
Imperial communism is no longer a threat to the world. The only imperialism operating today is that of the U.S. dollar and the market rigging done by Western central banks to support it so this country can maintain a huge trade deficit, consuming from the world more than it produces in return.
Developing countries should be left to solve their own problems in their own way, ugly as it sometimes will seem. For foreign intervention creates distractions and resentments that tyrants exploit with nationalism and thus only makes things worse.
Permitted to have normal relations with the United States, Cubans inevitably will want more freedom, will make more demands of their government, and will be drawn into the U.S. economic sphere. Eventually the best Cuban baseball players will be able to earn a good living at home, Havana’s team in the Eastern Division of the Liga Nacional will win the World Series, and, as is starting to happen in increasingly capitalistic Vietnam, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.
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Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer.