"One of the more stinging critiques Cuban exiles get is that we are all here waiting for the castro regime to topple to regain all of our properties and homes. I've always taken issue with that because not all of us were rich landowners and not all of us, rich landowner or not, would go back to Cuba to try to regain what was usurped. Pragmatically speaking and in my opinion, it's probably too late and too much water under the proverbial bridge for those who lost properties and businesses to attempt to get them back." -- Val Prieto, "What If It Were Your Home," Babalú, July 29, 2008
It's obviously not his home or his business. What Val is saying is that the Communist piñata should be validated in a post-Castro Cuba as it was in a post-Sandinista Nicaragua. He is apparently unaware of the fact that in the former Eastern bloc countries all properties confiscated by the Nazis and Communists have been returned to their legitimate owners or their heirs, including pre-revolutionary palaces and family estates.
Because Communist society is built on a foundation of theft does not mean that the same foundation should be used in reconstructing a democratic society under the Rule of Law. In fact, it would undermine civil society and make reconstruction itself impossible.
Since Val has always supported the return of confiscated properties to their American owners before lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Communist Cuba, it is only Cubans, both here and on the island, not his fellow Americans, who must consent to bear the burden of the Revolution's redistribution of the nation's patrimony to its henchmen. Because there was no "Agrarian Reform" under Castro: the fallow lands which the regime now proposes to lease to sharecroppers is proof of it. Nor was there any "Urban Reform," either, since the State maintained sole control of all confiscated real estate, collecting rents on it for nearly 50 years before deciding to let the occupants "buy" the ruins that they inhabit.
No one will ever maintain in good repair something which is not his and which he knows is not his. The upkeep of property is yet another benefit which a society derives that recognizes property rights. This holds true also for the sugar mills and other industries confiscated and run to the ground by Castro. The land on which they were built, more than the ruins on it, are still a valuable asset and should be returned to their legimitate owners rather than monopolized by the State or auctioned off to foreign corporations, as will be the case in a post-Castro Cuba unless the Rule of Law is upheld as pertains to private property.
I have had this debate before with someone who should be smarter than Val Prieto but isn't. Like Babalú's "Founding Editor," Professor Eduardo Peñalver, of Cornell University Law School, is willing to throw the Rule of Law "under the proverbial bridge," but unlike Val, who recognizes the ultimate injustice of doing so, the professor actually maintains that pre-revolutionary Cubans do not "deserve" to have their properties returned to them while maintaining at the same time that American Indians should have their tribal lands returned to them and African-Americans should receive reparations for the wrongs done to their ancestors.
The guy is Cuban-American, of course.
The debate is here: