A "private" letter to President George Bush on Cuba and U.S. policy
I wanted to review your accomplishments and thank you for your persistence in helping our Cuban revolutionary regime. Specifically, you provided needed aid that helped us improve the economy, boost our trade relations and make our succession a peaceful one. Of course you did not intend to do so.
For those who belittle your efforts, they forget that in 2004, you redefined in a speech what constitutes a Cuban American family, which only included the closest of relatives and, thus, who can travel to Cuba and how often -- no more than once every three years. You may have upset lots of Cuban Americans over this. Mario, Lincoln and Ileana, whose families have left the island, advised you. Thanks to this fixation, the Democrats might win Congressional seats in south Florida. Losing two idiot Diaz-Balart brothers and a hysterical Ros-Lehtinen would also crush the pillars of the recalcitrant Cuban American establishment. We would miss their televised stupidities. You as leader of the war on terror, will recall in 2006, Ileana calling for the assassination of my bro … I mean Fidel.
In 2004, those political morons told you to reduce the number of U.S. academics traveling to the island. This proved beneficial to us because if American academics know less about Cuba, any anti Cuba policy will become less effective. In other words, if people don't understand Cuban reality, how, short of war, could they hurt us? With your troops tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan-maybe Iran and even Russia? -- we stopped worrying.
We especially admired the ineptness of your intelligence services. Despite advanced spy technology, none of them knew what was happening on the island. We got a chuckle when we read Spy Chief Negroponte's assurance-almost two years ago-that Fidel had terminal cancer and wouldn't last a month. What fun to "leak" stuff to the CIA and then prove them wrong!
We had to feign ignorance when foreign ambassadors in Havana begged us to tell them about our Comandante's health. Some of our spies enjoy having Chavez (remember him, the Venezuelan president?) telephone Fidel. Then we provide you with misinformation. In the old spy v. spy game you almost always lose.
One unexpected ploy came from agents at the University of Miami who advised you to severely restrict remittances to Cuba. So you reduced the legal amount of dollars entering our country. In so doing, you helped solve serious problems. Remittances had reduced the value of the peso to almost nothing. So, cutting remittances meant some Cubans didn't get regular stipends from Florida relatives and had to work for a living. It also meant that our currency's purchasing value improved. Jorgito, money flowing from Florida had provoked inflationary pressures. We could barely maintain labor discipline. "Whew!" we said in gratitude.
In the midst of our debate on reducing access to foreign dollars, you levied fines on foreign banks handling Cuban accounts: a $100 million dollar fine on the Swiss UBS. You saved our ass as your countrymen would say. Since 1993, we had been trying to figure out our U.S. dollar policy after we had legalized its use. By punishing non-U.S. banks, you forced us to dump the dollar, taxing it at 20% so that Cubans brought the bucks they stored under their mattresses to our central bank before they lost value. We got the equivalent of a billion dollar loan-thanks to you.
In 2004, Cuba shifted to more stable currencies, particularly the Euro, while you steadily devalued the dollar. We know you need to keep U.S. exports competitive, but gracias a Dios (and you) the Cuban economy escaped the impact of steady devaluation. The shift to the Euro even allows us to buy American goods at a lower cost.
You spoke forcefully about tightening the embargo. That also helped us. Over the years, we couldn't modernize our electricity-generating plants because U.S. rules prohibited companies from selling us crucial parts. So, we had to use different technology, more environmentally friendly, smaller and more efficient, and we diversified our suppliers. Now, thanks to your "militant stand"-oh you're a good actor, Jorgito --, when electric production stalls in one municipality it no longer affects the rest of the country. You helped decentralize our operation and, in the process of solving the electricity generating problem, we began using alternative methods; we've become downright green.
I also praise you for the apparently insensitive diplomatic and economic pressure to isolate us at the United Nations and in the Human Rights Commission at Geneva applied by your ardent officials who tried to persuade your allies and client states. You must have known they'd take your rhetoric seriously. They used such overt bullying methods that even the weakest of sisters rejected their demands. We never dreamed the dreary ritual of confronting the U.S. at Geneva every Spring would end. But, voila, as French comrades would say, a new Human Rights Council replaced the old Commission and we play a dominant role in it. In fact, the Council Advisory Committee elected Miguel Alfonso, a prestigious Cuban diplomat, as chair. So, instead of the U.S. isolating us, your rhetoric isolated your own country. Thank you!
Guantanamo! Jorgito you could have seized "terrorists," and tortured them on a Pacific island. Instead, you sent them to Cuba and simultaneously outsourced torture. A little joke, eh? You charged us with torture-you know we don't do that-and then you turned the U.S. naval base on our soil into the world's most publicized water-boarding center.
From Amnesty International, through America's Watch, and the Center for Constitutional Rights and even the UN Human Right Council you get denounced. We're almost forgotten. Monitors from these groups even ask us for visas so they can see your concentration camp from our side of the fence!
One of your big favors involved Cuban exile terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. In 2006, you claimed you didn't know his whereabouts. But we had told you where he was. The mass media laughed at you. How could we Cubans, with so few resources, know more than you, the leader of the world's fight against terrorism, with your multi billion dollar agencies and the most sophisticated spying equipment? But you gave us the chance to demonstrate that tiny Cuba has better intelligence. In fact, U.S. journalists compare our spooks to the fabled Israelis on matters of intelligence. Between you and me, Jorgito, I think after the 2006 Lebanon invasion debacle, they're overrated.
Then, you allowed Posada Carriles to enter the U.S. and stay there. Wow! You acted as we had hoped. We didn't grab him in Honduras after we spotted him and we didn't-well, you know. Then, you helped us turn Posada into an example of U.S. hypocrisy on terrorism. Imagine the Western Hemisphere's most notorious terrorist turns up in Florida, where brother Jeb once pretended to govern (democratically)! And you charge Posada with immigration fraud!
We're also grateful for your efforts in helping to generate unreadable "transition" documents, even after we completed our succession. The old Platt Amendment, I must say, was at least short and readable; unlike the "plan" you adopted from Florida's elite universities and paid for by U.S. taxpayers-an amazing use of PhDs and tons of paper to print them. We provide these "transition to democracy in Cuba" documents to Central Committee members who suffer from insomnia.
When you announced you approved the sending of cell phones to Cuba, we smiled. Fabulous! Your speech on cell phones indicated that you had found the secret weapon against our government, because mobile phones somehow transform people into counterrevolutionaries. That's a good one, you old technological determinist!
Probably, the CIA didn't make public that U.S. cell phones can't operate in Cuba because gadgets like the protocol and transponder are different. Dan Fisk, who did understand and handles the White House Cuba portfolio, said that the U.S. government will allow Cubans to pay ETECSA, our phone company, for the service. Thanks again, subsidizing our phone company is something we didn't expect, but sincerely welcome.
The media didn't even pick up on the contradiction between prohibiting Cuban Americans from visiting their relatives, but permitting those relatives to pay a Cuban company for cell phones. We appreciate what you call the pork barrel approach. By the way, you could make payments to the Cuban phone company tax deductible so Cuban Americans might benefit. At 1.50 (Cuban convertible currency) per minute, well, "keep those cells a 'comin."
As you prepare to leave office we feel a sense of sadness. Your policies have helped keep Cuba's revolutionary government in power. We hope your successor maintains that cooperative spirit, perhaps not masked in hostile language.
P.S. After finishing the letter, hurricane Ike hit Cuba. After Gustav landed, you offered a miserly $100 K with ubiquitous strings attached. We, of course, refused it. I know Florida heavies Lincoln and Mario Diaz Balart and Ileana Ros demanded it. You know the offer is insulting. But you're rich and claim to be a Christian. So send a contribution, Make the check to MEDICC Hurricane Fund, 1902 Clairmont Road, Suite 250, Decatur, GA 30033.
NOTE: Nelson P. Valdés and Saul Landau obtained this letter which was found by a White House cleaning woman. Analysts at NSA suspect the letter's author was an extremely high Cuban official.
Nelson P. Valdés is Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of New Mexico. His "An Open Letter to George W Bush on US Policy Toward Cuba," appeared in CounterPunch, August 9, 2002. http://www.counterpunch.org/valdes0809.html
Saul Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow, author of A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD (A/K-Counterpunch). DVDs of his films are available from http://roundworldproductions.com.