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WASHINGTON'S POLICY TOWARDS CUBA OF "NO CHANGE" HAS TO BE CHANGED
by Major General (DC-Ret) Erneido A. Oliva
Recently, the White House, tried to justify President George W. Bush's second waiver of the Helms-Burton Title III, and to explain why the president was not enforcing the laws on Cuba, as promised during his presidential campaign, by distributing a fact sheet that at the end states: “The recent appointment of Otto Reich as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs completes the President’s foreign policy team. With it, a full review of the tools we are using to achieve our policy goal in Cuba is now appropriate.” I personally know that Ambassador Reich is a very capable man and I do not question his democratic values. However, due to my 30 years of experience in Washington, I am sorry to say that one of Ambassador Reich’s task in this Hemisphere, to make possible a democratic transition in Cuba, is going to be very difficult to accomplish. In my dealings with many of his past and present colleagues at the State Department, I have found out that most of them have been afraid of directly interfering with Cuba’s dictatorship and have been opposed to supporting the Cuban-Americans who are peacefully struggling for a free, civic and democratic Cuba.
A few days ago, with strong rumors swirling within and outside of the Cuban-American community about possible rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, the White House decided to reinforce the president’s overall policy toward Cuba by stating that "no change" has been made on President Bush’s decision to achieve democratic changes in Cuba.” Three high level State Department officials in charge of Cuban affairs repeated similar remarks last Thursday in Miami. There have been so many rumors about secret negotiations between Havana and Washington that we do not have enough space to publish them here. Unfortunately, official statements of “no change” have been made year after year by presidents and senior officials of nine previous administrations. It seems that the tough rhetorical position adopted by the current president, is only a “cosmetic” stance to appease the politically active Cuban-Americans. In reality, “no change” in Washington’s Cuba policy means only a continuation of the status quo, a continuation of the only military dictatorship in Latin America, a prolongation of the Cuban people suffering under a terrorist regime that has intervened politically and militarily in every country of Latin America and has shamelessly fooled with impunity nine American presidents.
It is my personal opinion that we do not need a continuation of present and past policies; we do not need to hear any more promises by government officials of “no changes.” Washington has been making identical promises to the Cuban people and the exile community for more than four decades. We do not need Administration officials wasting their precious time preparing yet another “white paper” to appease Cuban-Americans, until the next state or national elections as it was done during past administrations. What we do need is an active policy with “clout” (“cojones” as mentioned by former Secretary of State Albright) to finally implement the “promises” made such as those included in President Clinton’s 1998 “Support for a Democratic Transition in Cuba” Report that never saw the light of the day. What we do need is active support to civilian and military dissidents inside Cuba who courageously demand political changes. What we do need are Radio and TV Marti to improve their broadcasting and reach the Cuban people without interference. What we do need is for the U.S. Government to provide financial assistance, not only to academicians and universities, but also to Cuban exile organizations that are prepared, organized and ready to assist in achieving democratic changes in Cuba. Let us be frank, if we are serious about our “War Against Terrorism,” why are we not taking action against Castro? Why we are not informing the American people and the world about how Cuba routinely infringes upon the human rights of his country’s population? Why are we not strongly denouncing how the Cuban dictator continues to harbor, train and encourage native and international terrorists as he has done for the past 42 years. Are these not the same things that are being done by those in the “Axis of Evil?” For the reasons explained above, Washington’s policy toward Cuba of “NO CHANGE” should be changed.