Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You Cannot Love Cuba and Hate Cubans

Val's incendiary "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" post, which he described as an exercise in "Socratic madness" (when practiced by Val it is "madness," not a method), has thus far garnered over 100 comments and become the breakaway post that Val had so long wanted and done everything in his power to get, though protesting all the while that comments are of no significance to him and say nothing about a blog's readership. We have already shown in another post that it does indeed say a great deal about a blog's readership. Of course, it says a great deal more about how its readers receive and react to the blogger's views and the blogger himself. So far the reaction has not been very positive. Val has even been compared to Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands of Jesus' blood even as Val has washed his own hands of the balseros' blood, in Val's own words, "pragmatically, calculated[ly] and heartlessly."

When Val asked the question: "Pretend you are me ... and tell us what I [Val] think about the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy, the first to attempt to read Val's mind was George Moneo: "You want the status quo ante reinstated, just like I do." These sentiments do credit to George and were completely unexpected on his part. Nevertheless, George was wrong, very wrong; Val wishes no such thing.

Henry, on the other hand, couldn't give "a fuck" what Val or anybody else thinks because only his opinion matters. For him the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy is a "powderkeg of an issue intended to "divide us." He doesn't specify whom he means by "us." We must suppose that it is other "American-Cubans," as he defines himself. Henry thinks the policy has "worked" because it all but stopped rafters from coming to this country. But he is dissatisfied because it did not stop the smugglers from bringing their "human cargo" here (ah, that awful free market and profit motive; they're so hard to kill!). Not until the U.S. is able to stop all refugees fleeing Cuba will Henry be content.

It's not the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy which Henry thinks is a problem, but the Cuban Adjustment Act (1966) which accords Cubans automatic legal status. He considers this "special treatment" [which it is and rightly so: special treatment for a special case] and agrees with "people in our community" (i.e. Castroites) who want to see it abolished altogether. Why, he asks, isn't there a "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy for Haitains and a Haitian Adjustment Act? Here he is playing the race card to exclude Cubans from this country while not really giving a damn about the Haitian boat people except as props in his war against the Cuban people. As if sensing his own bias, Henry attempts to counteract it by assuring his readers that "Of course I want Cubans to be free." Just not here. Free in Cuba, whenever. He wants Cubans to do what his parents did and stay in Cuba. Oh, wait, Henry's parents didn't stay in Cuba. How different his life would have been if they had! Then he might be one of those balseros being beaten back into the ocean by the Coast Guard, or fired at with live ammunition, or pushed into waters and allowed to drown. Bet Henry wouldn't think the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy "worked" if he were being hunted on the high seas by pirates in uniforms determined to prevent him from asserting his legal right to asylum in the U.S. under the Cuban Adjustment Act (1966).

Henry hates the rafters also because they "become benefactors of their own families" (how terrible and unnatural!), which he believes is "counterproductive" to his plan to starve Cubans into rebellion (as if they hadn't been starved enough for 48 years). I wonder how much starvation it would take to prod Henry into using his fork as a deadly weapon. I should think not much; the boy likes his food. Maybe if his parents had stayed in Cuba Henry might have led the revolution against Castro. He is so intrepid about food.

Marc R. Másferrer's take on this issue is as clearheaded and humane as Henry's is muddled and barbaric. For Marc, the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy is a "travesty" and "un-American." He recognizes and condemns "the immorality of working hand-in-hand with the dictatorship in Havana to send Cubans back to the island." Marc also takes everything that Val says in deadly earnest, which is precisely how his anti-Cuban remarks should be taken, and answers him accordingly.

Val has endeavored to present himself throughout as a dispassionate searcher for truth "trying to keep emotions out of this debate and [to] remain as unattached as possible." "Unattached" to what? Obviously, his Cuban roots. Contradicting himself, as he always does, and, in this case, in the same sentence, Val assures Marc that "while I agree wholeheartedly about the immorality of the policy [!], why should it be considered immoral and reprehensible for America to secure its borders. What makes Cubans different from, say, Mexicans?" Asked if this is a rhetorical question, Val avers that it is not. He's just "playing devil's advocate." What devil's advocate? Fidel Castro's? George Bush's? Val does not say.
Although several commenters, including Marc, tear to shreds the false analogy of Cubans and Mexicans — which should be obvious even to Americans — Val keeps bringing it up because it is practically the only argument in his arsenal besides questioning whether these brave men and women, willing to risk their very lives to escape Castro's Cuba, are really opposed to Castro after all.

Marc tended to handle Val with great love and patience, as one would a mentally-challenged brother. Others were not as gentle. Mamey was especially eloquent:

"It is inconceivable, if not revolting, that any Cuban living inthe USA today would support a policy that returns Cubans fleeing Cuba to the island. Put yourselves or your parents in their shoes. Hay que tener mucha gandinga y falta de corazón. ¡Increible!" That's about as perfect a photograph of Val as one is ever going to get (except for the "mucha gandinga").

But mamey didn't stop there. Here's the knockout punch:

Val: Perhaps no one really wants Cubans repatriated, but.... it appears from some comments that there are fellow Cubans who want to play the Pontius Pilate bit...gee, I guess Cubans should be able to flee the dictatorship, but heck, the USA needs to protect its borders, the law of the land has to be respected, they are no different than other migrants, bla, bla, bla...or golly, it was okay for us and our parents to flee, but they should stick it out no matter what, I mean, ahhh...gotta go, lemme go wash my hands."

When a punch drunk Val finally got to feet, he had this rejoinder:

OK, since my last question was responded to peripherally, let me interject: ... national security issues ... economic issues ... Americans are concerned about immigration."

I seemed to recall that the object of this post and corresponding thread was to guess Val's position on the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy. But there was nothing to guess. The devil's advocate was his own advocate and a very poor one indeed.

If there were one ounce of courage or independence among Babalú's satellites, they would be condemning and disassociating themselves from Val now. But there is not. Which is the reason that this blog exists: to call them to account.

You cannot love Cuba and hate Cubans.


joep said...

Does RoCAB exist mainly to slam Babalú, or is it a vehicle for commentary, discussion, analysis and the exchange of ideas on the reality that is Cuba today and the US's policy therein? I only ask because having just read through a majority of the current posts on this site (RoCAB), the Babalú-bashing is starting to sound repetitive and gets in the way (for me at least) of the ideas presented here. Granted, if Babalú is your foil and tearing apart what's posted there is your vehicle for presenting your own ideas on the reality of the Cuba situation, more power to you. I would just like you to know that as a first time visitor to your site, the anti-Babalú sentiment appears significant to the point of ... er, obsession.

joep said...

I agree with Henry @ Bablu when he states in one of his later comments that no communist regime can last forever. For that matter, no government or state will endure forever.

After nearly five decades of existence, however, the Cuban regime is well-entrenched, and its collapse can only be catalyzed by a major domestic policy blunder (from the perspective of maintaining power), like permitting the return of farmer's markets or relatively untaxed independent job categories, which put more money into the hands of actual Cubans and food into their bellies, or direct, concentrated, intense, unyielding external pressure in the diplomatic, economic and security spheres. Absent the stress of real external pressure, I don't see the regime making a domestic policy blunder, or choosing any path that would put its existence in jeopardy - especially when its position of power is absolute.

Cuba is a country of 11 million, correct? Of that 11 million, perhaps 200,000 have a vested interest in maintaining the communist state because their material condition is markedly better than their compatriots? I don't discount the perspective or opinion of any informed commentator, but in doing so I also hold fast to my own beliefs. And those beliefs, borne from the experience of 15 trips to Cuba, marriage to a Cuban, involvement in athlete defections and direct action against the regime, and intimate, uncensored views into the horror that is daily life in Castro's island prison is that those 10,800,000 walking dead are subjugated, subservient and enslaved, both mentally and physically, and it will take massive external support to foment domestic revolt. Because when there is no surplus of food, no extra energy, no ability to trust one's closest confidants because of the police state that creeps into the darkest, most intimate corners of your life (let alone the means and material to overthrow a military that - while in disrepair, was still equipped with substantial Soviet hardware)...how do you expect the average Cuban to throw off his shackles and revolt? Do I think Cubans are happy with the way things are in Cuba? No way. But is the stage of development of a "counter-revolution" such that the average Cuban can even safely discuss with his neighbor overthrowing the state and restoring the Constitution of 194x? No way.

Here's another analogy - if you run a prison, and you want to lessen the chance of organized revolt, what is a simple step to take? Limit the ability of the prisoners to meet in secret, organize, and provide one another with emotional and moral support, and technical know-how. Keep them in virtual or real isolation. That's what the Cuban state has achieved in function, and while the effectiveness of that system is chipped away at each time the regime fails to maintain a basic standard of living for its people, the populace's level of desperation is out-of-sync with the tools available to them to fight the government.

Last comment before I pull the pin on my participation in that thread:

John Bolton is not I guy I would invite to go fly-fishing with me. Actually, I'm repulsed by his the majority of his policy positions. However, I wish he'd been more successful in 2002 when he argued that Cuba was engaged in the transfer of bioweapons to rogue states. That, combined with overt Chinese and Iranian meddling in Cuba and the recapacitation of the Lourdes eavesdropping facility, could have been the smoking gun justification needed to legitimize military intervention in Cuba. Otherwise, absent the political will, and without an obvious, confirmed national security threat, I'm the first to admit that the US has gone so weak on communism and is so gun-shy after the Iraq debacle that invading Cuba is about as likely as Raul Castro publicly admitting that he is gay and that he actually cares about having destroyed a beautiful country and caused the deaths of thousands of his countrymen.

Charlie Bravo said...

Great analysis Joe.
My recipe for a great wake up every morning is reading powerful intellectual analysis such as yours, listen to Porno Para Ricardo, and the strongest coffee I can drink. It works, and I recommend it to everyone.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Let me speak to you as one who for years resisted the idea of opening his own blog, even though everyone I knew told me I should.

Your insight and eloquent manner of expression will always make you an adornment and a blessing to any blog where you choose to display your formidable talents.

But do not be content with that.

Start your own blog. You know more than practically anybody else about the real Cuba. Let that light shine; you don't need to reflect it through other prisms.

I am delighted to have you here and wish you to remain here as long as you want. But I would be less than honest with you — in fact, I should think I was using you — if I did not apprise you of your own great potential and encourage you to give it the greatest possible diffusion.

Charlie Bravo said...

Manuel, Joe has an excellent blog, it can be reached through our blogroll at KillCastro -sorry, I don't have access now to put the link here for all to visit him.....

Rene said...

The dry foot/wet foot policy is morally repugnant. It used to be quite clear what difference between a political refugee and an economic migrant is, but I guess that's too fine a distinction these days. I guess the silver lining is that there is still some recognition of the difference by the U.S. Government in the "dry" part of it.

If joep is Joe Papp, then here is the link, but when you go to it, it says it's available by invitation only: