Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
The Sopranos, Mar/Apr 01
(continued from page 2)
Amen!!! Your February editorial reflects my exact feelings of the past six years. As a Cuban-born former refugee, now an American citizen, I echo your sentiments that the small but powerful Cuban political lobby of Florida is on the brink of turning the Fidel issue into an irreparable issue much like the Middle East and Northern Ireland.
I was not of this sentiment until October 1994, when I returned to Cuba after 32 years. The light bulb went on; it was blatantly obvious that the embargo had switched courses, much like a river. Now, instead of hurting Castro, it was keeping his own people from having the means to bring him down.
The overwhelming majority of Cuban people would revolt, but with what? Horse-drawn vehicles, machetes, rakes and hoes? That didn't even work in the 1890s against Spain; we still needed help. The Cuban people have no gasoline or vehicles to run around in, no means to buy arms, no means of mass communicating with one another (try making a phone call in Cuba to a neighbor, assuming you each have a phone).
The Cuban people need money to arm themselves and to bribe the military. I know the argument that if you drop the embargo you are giving Castro money. Here's a news flash: he's already got the money!!!
If the embargo is dropped, while Castro will get richer, there will be no way to stop even a trickle of money from getting to the people. There will be too many leaks in the dike; the Cuban people will sniff out the sources of money and get to them. And then, when Castro's continuing failing policies keep the country in poverty, and when he can't point his finger to the north and blame the evil Americans and their embargo, the Cuban people will drive Castro out so fast, he won't know what hit him.
Thank you, Mr. Shanken and Mr. Mott, for continuing to surface this issue. Take note that without much fanfare, Castro recently stopped incoming calls from the United States and later welcomed the new Russian president for a visit. He's doing it again, and we are doing nothing about it because our hatred is blinding our ability to think this through. The same tool we rightly used against him in 1962, we can now use against him by dropping it.
Simi Valley, California