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    Replace 'invisible embargo' with real one on Cuba

    OTHER VIEWS
    Replace 'invisible embargo' with real one on Cuba
    Manuel J. Coto | Special to the Sentinel
    November 7, 2007

    After two calls for ending the embargo against Cuba — first from a
    Sentinel columnist and then a guest column — the Editorial Board capped
    it off with a third sounding of the horn. In an editorial, you call for
    Fidel Castro's "inclusion" in the international community.

    Here's what I find interesting: You explain, perhaps inadvertently, the
    reasons why an embargo — a real embargo — would be a brilliant and
    effective strategy against Castro's brutal regime.

    The Editorial Board proclaims that the embargo hasn't hurt Castro and
    enforcement remains a "hypocritical joke." Why hasn't it hurt him?
    Because it has never truly existed.

    And let me be clear: It's not just our $543 million in back-door farm
    subsidies that have kept Castro afloat. An equal share of the blame for
    the "invisible embargo" goes to the exile community — my community —
    for funding the government through remittances to families on the island.

    But that raises a broader question: Where do all those dollars we send
    to our families end up? In the hands of Cuba's ruling elite and the
    military bourgeoisie, which were previously funded by the Soviets and
    now are funded by Venezuelan oil. Also funded by Spanish hotel
    corporations, Italian investors — the list goes on.

    That list, by the way, is the entire "international community." You have
    expended three columns worth of type and energy to trumpet that Castro
    be included in something he's already a part of.

    And yet Cubans are summarily thrown in jail if they collect books in
    their home, if they become journalists with opinions, if they speak up.
    They are beaten by "rapid-response brigades." They live in constant
    fear. For a complete list of this and other abuses, I'll refer you to
    Amnesty International, which you also mention.

    You are correct when you say the embargo provides Castro with a
    convenient boogeyman. But I would ask this: If the embargo were lifted,
    would we suddenly stop being the boogeyman? Is Hugo Ch?vez going to stop
    funding Castro and embrace us, too? Would Fidel's regime, or its
    remnants, "like us better?"

    I doubt that. The United Nations exists because of our generous funding
    — and our Manhattan real estate — and we have been its most reliable
    boogeyman, on bigger issues than Cuba, for decades.

    Ah, but we must appease the "international community." As your guest
    columnist Paolo Spadoni (humorously placed under the heading "Other
    Views") decreed, President Bush must create a policy that is "more in
    line with the rest of the world."

    Why? Aren't we entitled to our own position? The Editorial Board
    proposes that we demand Castro "ease up on dissidents and address
    human-rights violations." Then, a column boldly asserts that "this issue
    should be nonnegotiable."

    Sounds like Bush's position to me. Why can't the United States make the
    same demands the U.N. has made in the past — improvement on human
    rights — from a position of superiority and strength?

    I know what you're going to say: The hard line hasn't worked. Well,
    guess what — neither has the soft line. Your guest columnist mentions
    that "several European and Latin American governments" have voted for
    U.N. resolutions criticizing the human-rights situation in Cuba.

    And yet, nothing. I suppose the soft line has worked about as well as it
    has worked on China.

    But since you're in the business of printing "other views," here's what
    I'd like to see: something historic. A true embargo, backed by the same
    outrage reserved for other brutal regimes in our collective past — a
    policy more in line with how the world handled, say, apartheid in South
    Africa or Augusto Pinochet's Chile or Adolf Hitler's Germany.

    One of the commentaries grudgingly mentioned that President Bush is the
    leader of the Free World. And, yes, our next president will hold the
    same power. Let's ask the "community" to rally behind its leader, no
    matter what he (or she) demands of Cuba.

    Now that would be historic.

    Manuel J. Coto, M.D., a native of Cuba, practices in Orlando.

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/views/orl-myword0707nov07,0,3243749.story

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