Thinking About Cuba

On Cuba, I am extremely conflicted.

I have told the story before of sitting in a dark hotel bar in the basement of a hotel in Samarkand, Uzbekistan with Ray Cline, who was the Number Two at the CIA for decades, and asking him, “Who killed JFK?”

He said, “I don’t know, but if you had asked everyone on the plane carrying the president’s body back to Washington, everyone would have agreed that it was Fidel Castro.”

Unfortunately, the actions taken by US administrations against Cuba have punished its citizens, not the Castro brothers. The citizens have accepted, even supported the regime despite their physical deprivations, which is blamed on the US embargo despite the fact that just about every other advance nation trades with Cuba, including Canada.

No, the Cuban people suffer because of their government, but they are too proud (and too cowed) to demand a change. Perhaps, what I call the Helsinki Effect — the access that the Russians in St. Petersburg had to western TV, and the impact that had on all of Russia — can have a similar impact on Cuba.

Many people alive today do not carry the enmity toward Castro that some of us do. The Castro brothers still rule a police state, complete with political prisoners, and Cuba has become seriously weakened from its abject state by the crashing price of oil which is given to Cuba by an equally crashing Venezuela.

Perhaps a strong bargain can now be driven — except that the Obama administration has not historically been a good negotiator.