By Carlos Alberto Montaner
Until January of this year, the Cuban regime thought that Donald Trump would be reelected in November. It was resigned and was looking for alternatives to save itself, simulating an opening that really did not exist. Today its analysts inform that Joe Biden has a clear chance of winning thanks to the Covid-19 horror. According to Fox News, in a poll held in late April in Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, three key states, Democrats would comfortably win.
In December 2015, Cuba had managed to restructure its debt with 14 countries out of the 20 that make up the Paris Club. But the 400 million dollars a year it assumed from 2015, and which it barely paid until 2018, was an excessive figure for the weak Cuban production model. From that year on, without expressly declaring it, the Island went into default, and Japan, France and Spain were left without payment and the fearsome 9% with which capital and unpaid interest were taxed was applied.
The problem is not the amount of the debt, but the State Military Capitalism that Fidel Castro invented when the Soviet Union disappeared. That only serves the military who are in charge of the monster. How many are they? Fewer than 300 families, and many have their children abroad. But the Cuban population is 11 million survivors (I dare not write “inhabitants”) and dreams of escaping from that madhouse.
Why doesn’t the regime admit, like Deng Xiaoping in 1978, or Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, that collectivism does not lead to equality, but to hunger? Why not cancel the stupidity that the Communist Party is the sole governing force of society? It happened in Europe, in the Eastern Bloc, and none of those countries, although being able to do so, has returned to the nightmare of communism.
If the eight hundred thousand Cuban university graduates, and the multitude of entrepreneurs that exist in that society, were freed from the rein that ties them, in the course of a generation Cuba would be at the head of Latin America. It is true that social differences will emerge, but that is an excuse to keep power in the same hands decade after decade.
Raúl Castro, Díaz Canel and the rest of the clique prepare their agents of influence to modify Washington’s Cuban policy after Biden’s hypothetical victory. What do they want? They have, fundamentally, six objectives:
First, the total lifting of trade prohibitions to be able to buy and not pay. Now they have to pay tens of millions of dollars in cash for the chicken they import from the United States.
Second, to eliminate Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, supposedly due to the “extraterritoriality” of that fragment of the legislation.
Third, to reestablish the agreements signed between Raúl Castro and Barack Obama, despite Havana’s breaches.
Fourth, allow American tourists to travel to Cuba and eliminate the limitations on remittances imposed on Cuban Americans.
Fifth, cancel OFAC’s powers to prosecute criminals who mistreat Cubans or enrich themselves with the assets of others.
Sixth, the devolution of the Guantánamo naval base.
Strictly speaking, Joe Biden, who is a centrist (he calls himself Third Way), and is not a Castroist or a naïve individual at all, will feel the pressure of Havana’s agents of influence who are already moving towards their goals.
Fortunately, the State Department has just provided an outlet for these pressures. Cuba was included in a short list of nations that do not cooperate in the fight against narcoterrorism, given its evident support for Nicolás Maduro.
It shares that dishonorable list with Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Perhaps Biden should admit that Trump has not done everything wrong (but almost everything), and keep the measures against those five nations in force until the State Department certifies that those countries behave in accordance with the decency expected of them.
Like the leopard, which never changes its spots, Cuba and Venezuela will prefer to hang themselves rather than revoke their barbaric behavior. Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is Sin ir más lejos (Memories), published by Debate, a label of Penguin-Random House.