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Leave Cuba Alone: Lift The Embargo, Free The Cuban Five

07 December 2012

By Jacob G. Hornberger

Following up on my blog post of December 4, entitled "It's Time to End the War against Cuba," the conservative Heritage Foundation published an article the same day entitled "Three Years as Cuba's Hostage: Freedom for Alan Gross Still Far Away" by Kathleen Donnelly. The article, which opposed a prisoner swap between American Alan Gross and the Cuban Five, is a good example of how differently conservatives and libertarians view such areas as foreign policy, the military and intelligence establishment, and the U.S. national-security state.

In her article, Donnelly points out that Gross was convicted of distributing satellite telephones to Cuban citizens. She suggests that such a crime is unconscionable and that "no one deserves 15 years in prison for helping to give Cubans freedoms that are considered universal."

The Cuban Five, on the other hand, were convicted of spying.

Therefore, since the two crimes are not comparable, Donnelly says that the U.S. government should not do a prisoner swap.

But is it that simple? For a conservative, yes. When it comes to foreign affairs, the U.S. government is like a god to conservatives. It can do no wrong.

But it's not that simple for us libertarians. We don't look upon the federal government as a god. Using our minds, our reason, and our consciences, we pierce through the surface of things and are not afraid to point out and condemn wrongdoing by our own government.

Needless to say, Donnelly doesn't permit herself to ask the critical question: Why were the Cubans spying? Were they gathering information to enable the Cuban armed forces to initiate a surprise attack on the United States? Were they searching out possible sites for acts of terrorism?

No. Their actions were entirely defensive in nature. They were trying to discover acts of terrorism that Cuban exile groups were planning to initiate against the people of Cuba. If they discovered such acts, they planned to warn the authorities back in Cuba so that they could prepare for the terrorism or perhaps to prevent it.

What's wrong with that?

Well, for a conservative, everything. Cubans aren't supposed to do that. They're supposed to accept acts of U.S. terrorism. They're supposed to quietly accept the effects of the brutal U.S. embargo imposed upon them. Castro should have let himself be assassinated at the hands of the CIA-Mafia assassination partnership. It was wrong for Cuba to defend itself when the CIA invaded at the Bay of Pigs.

Consider the terrorist attack on a Cuban airliner in 1976, which killed 78 Cuban people, including the young members of Cuba's fencing team. The bombing took place over Venezuelan skies. For years, the Venezuelan government has been attempting to extradite Jose Posada Carriles to Venezuela to stand trial for the terrorist murder of those 78 Cubans.

Yet, the U.S. government, which has been harboring Posada since his release from a jail in Panama, where he had been accused of conspiring to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro, steadfastly refuses to grant the extradition request. Perhaps it's because Posada had been a CIA operative who loyally served the CIA for some undetermined period of time. According to this article in the Christian Science Monitor, Posada is also the "admitted author of a rash of Havana hotel bombings in 1997."

For a good summary of Posada, who received his training at the U.S. military's School of the Americas, take a look at this article entitled "The Terrorist We Tolerate" by Rosa Brooks in the May 11, 2007, issue of the Los Angeles Times.

It's that type of thing that the Cuban people have had to put up with ever since Fidel Castro assumed power and refused to become a puppet of the U.S. government. And if Cuba had sent agents into the United States in the hope of discovering and preventing the terrorist downing of that airliner, they would be considered bad people who deserved to spend a long time in jail.

Let's face what conservatives will not face, given their predilection to look on the federal government as their god: The U.S. government loves dictators, especially military ones. That's why it has ardently embraced such dictators as the shah of Iran, Augusto Pinochet, the succession of military dictators the U.S. government installed in Guatemala, and, of course the myriad of dictators in the Middle East, including Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, and Pervez Musharraf.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention Fulgencio Batista, one of the cruelest, most brutal, and most corrupt dictators in Latin America, who ruled the roost in Cuba before he was ousted from power by Castro. Why did U.S. officials love Batista? Because he was subservient to them. He was their boy. He was their lackey. He was their servant.

So why didn't they love Castro too? Because from time he assumed power after ousting Batista, Castro made it clear that the days of U.S. hegemony and domination of Cuba had come to a screeching halt. U.S. officials, especially those in the Pentagon and CIA, hated him for that. It's was Castro's mindset to keep Cuba independent of U.S. government control that made Cuba the target of more than 50 years of continuous regime-change operations.

Don't forget: that's what the cruel and brutal U.S. embargo is all about. Its purpose is to squeeze the lifeblood out of the Cuban people, with the intent of encouraging them to violently revolt against Castro or of encouraging the Cuban military to oust Castro from power and install a pro-U.S. general in his stead.

In fact, if it weren't for John Kennedy's promise that the United States would never invade Cuba, who can doubt that the Pentagon and the CIA would be doing to Cuba precisely what they did with Iraq in 2003, after 10 years of sanctions had failed to effect regime change there? With his promise, Kennedy put the quietus to the hopes and dreams for violent regime change of the Pentagon, the CIA, and Cuban exiles, which is precisely why all three of them considered Kennedy to be a traitor.

But with the Cold War over, who can say with any degree of certainty that the Pentagon and the CIA will still comply with Kennedy's promise, especially if they have nothing to do after exiting Afghanistan? One thing is for sure: There are few things the CIA and the Pentagon would love more than regime change in Cuba before Castro passes away.

But remember: the Cubans aren't supposed to resist it. They're not supposed to send agents over to the United States to try to discover assassination plots, terrorist plots, or invasion plots in advance. Under the rules of the Empire, the aggressor is entitled to aggress all it wants, and the targets of regime change operations are supposed to simply submit.

Donnelly looks at Gross's conduct and observes how innocent it is. Come on. She's not fooling anyone but herself. Gross was being funded by the U.S. government. The distribution of those phones had nothing to do with spreading freedom, any more than all the other aggressive actions that the U.S. government has taken against Cuba for the past 50 years. After all, Gross didn't get convicted of distributing telephones, he got convicted of "acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."

It's time for the U.S. government to leave Cuba alone. Lift the embargo. Free the Cuban Five to return to their families. Most important, dismantle the U.S. national-security state apparatus that has caused so much misery and suffering to the Cuban people and also warped the moral values and principles of many Americans, especially conservatives.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.



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