As Bush's Election Test Looms:
New U.S. Threats Against Cuba
See also: Mike Fuller on protests in Cuba
There has not been, in recent history, such a dangerous moment in U.S.-Cuba relations. With an Autumn election on the horizon, U.S. President George W. Bush has issued a pre-emptive strike agaiinst Cuba in hopes of winning votes from the Cuban-American communities of Florida while setting the stage for his brother Jeb Bush's re-election campaign as Governor of that state.
Ironically, there are few Cubans - domestic or abroad - who support the draconian (and in some instances, illegal) measures Bush has imposed following consulation with his "Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba." Among the measures: Cuban-Americans are now restricted to one visit to their families over three years (down from one per year); restrictions on the amount and recipients of cash remittances; an additional $29 million in the hands of those working to overthrow the Cuban government; further restricting people-to-people / educational visits by American citizens; and assigning a U.S. military aircraft (C-130) to fly along the edge of Cuban airspace and forcibly broadcast anti-Castro propaganda into the country.
The most worrisome of these measures is the addition of a military aircraft to the mix. While the forced broadcasting of Radio and TV Martí into Cuba violates international telecommunications agreements, one wonders what might happen should there be a confrontation between the U.S. C-130 and Cuba's air force, should the U.S. aircraft "accidentally" violate Cuban airspace.
The U.S. stated effort to oust the current Cuban government violates countless international agreements, including the Organization of American States (OAS) Charter, which forbids member states from interfering in the internal affairs of their neighbours.
Let us be clear: Washington's hostility toward Cuba has nothing to do with human rights, freedom or democracy. It has everything to do with a Cuban-American voting bloc, the culmination of decades of propaganda and an obsession with "free markets." Many of the U.S.' closest friends in the region have far more serious human rights records than Cuba. In some cases, political opponents are killed; street children are murdered by off-duty police on behalf of business owners; medical care is reserved for the wealthy; housing is unsafe; and employment is left "to the market." But these conditions are acceptable, because the countries have opened their borders to foreign businesses, the markets operate with little regulation, and U.S. military "cooperation" in the laughablewar on drugs is permitted.
In Cuba, none of these violations of human rights are permitted, and yet, it remains the victim of purposeful lies perpetrated by the U.S. government and a compliant media. As Bush prepares to take the White House again - by any means - we cannot discount a possible manufactured crisis with Cuba as a means of distracting voters.