When luminaries of Marxism-Leninism such as Leonid Brezhnev, Nicolaeu Ceausescu, Erich Honecker and other leaders from the extinct Communist Europe travelled to Cuba nobody had reservations. Solidarity among dictators is a given.
Back then, however, some Cubans wondered why leaders from democratic nations, such as Sweden’s Olof Palme or Mexico’s Luis Echevarría visited the island and expressed approval for Cuban Communism.
When Pierre Elliot Trudeau visited Cuba in 1976 and befriended Fidel Castro, precious few Cubans knew anything about the Canadian prime minister. But when he returned to the island in 1991 with his three children some were cognizant of his work to include in the Canadian Constitution a new Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At the time some asked themselves: “How is it possible that a man who argued that Canadians had to have freedoms of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion, of the press and of association, befriends a dictator who deprived the Cuban people of all the rights and freedoms Canadians deserve?”
At present, much older and a little wiser, those same Cubans have realized that in democracies politicians affirm their never-ending commitment to defend the human and civic rights of their citizens. But when dealing with dictatorships, business dealings, investments, trade, migration and fighting crime take precedence over the rights and freedoms of subjugated populations.
Many democracies overlook China’s infringement of rights and freedoms and do business with that nation because it is the largest market.
The Canadian media reported three years ago that current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared: “You know, there’s a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say ‘we need to go green fastest, we need to start investing in solar.’”
Another reason to overlook the contravention of inalienable rights.
President Obama has taken several executive actions concerning Cuba. As a result, American airlines are anxious to start flying tourists to the island. Idaho is looking forward to exporting potatoes. Southern states are eager to sell merchandise, from frozen chickens to lumber, to the regime. Oil companies might be conducting geological studies to ascertain whether exploration with cutting-edge technology might be profitable. Those are the big fish. Thousands of guppies are salivating.
Considering all of the above, is it surprising that Barack Obama will visit Cuba in March? I don’t think so. But what does the Cuban political elite plan to do as the rapprochement advances?
To strive for perpetuation the elite have conceived a strategy supported on something irrefutable: The vast majority of capitalists will ignore ethical principles such as rights and freedoms if by doing so they can make a buck. They argue that investing hundreds of billions in China to make trillions in profits throughout the 21st century proves the point.
Legality is the furthest thing from their minds. Learning that Apple refuses to unlock the phone of a terrorist makes them shake their head in disbelief. “Why doesn’t Comey lock up Tim Cook and his whole team?” Should you explain the principle of rule of law, they will roar with laughter.
Not being stupid, the elite will (1) build infrastructure to accommodate three, four or even five million American tourists every year; (2) ask sufficient compensation for economic damages caused by the embargo to pay off the American assets confiscated in 1960; (3) request export credits and preferential duties and tariffs from the US government; (4) negotiate lengthy deferred payments with American providers and banks; (5) export Cuban cigars, rum and (maybe) nickel to the US, and (6) authorize American companies to explore offshore for oil and pump it if found in commercially adequate quantities.
If that strategy is successful the elite will heave a sigh of relief and continue receiving advice from the Chinese on how to mummify tropical Communism, especially in the areas of repression, Internet censorship, and spying on America.
In all fairness, Mr. Obama confronts situations that keep him awake at night. Xi Jingpin will keep building islands in the South China Sea. Putin conquered Eastern Ukraine and is winning in Syria. Kim Jong–Un refines his missiles and A-bombs. ISIL have made Iraq a worse mess than it already was. The Taliban are taking charge in Afghanistan.
Constitutional scholars are not equipped to deal with bullies, fanatics and murderers, so Mr. Obama deserves a break. Welcome to Havana, Mr. President! Sip a mojito, watch a baseball game, bask in your Cuban achievement and sleep soundly for a couple of nights.