“Dialogue With Cuba Possible, Unlikely” The Bakersfield Californian Newspaper, July 2006
by Dr. Jess G. Nieto

Fidel Castro turns 80 years old Sunday and the Cuban Revolution celebrates 47 years of survival.  Nearly five decades of a U.S. embargo have failed to topple Castro.  However, the Cuban people have been forced to endure incredible economic hardships.

Castro and other Cuban leaders have survived repeated assassination attempts by the CIA.  Cuba has been the target of numerous destabilization and terrorist attacks since dictator Eugenie Bautista was ousted on January 1, 1959.

Regarding social issues – education, health and poverty – Cuba has achieved unparalleled status in comparison to other countries that have gone through a massive change, particularly through an armed revolution.

Over nearly 50 years, Cuba has eradicated illiteracy that still has not been overcome in the rest of Latin America or the U.S.   In Cuba , 100 percent of the children have a free taken to every corner of the island. education.  Cuba has the highest school retention rate – more than 99 per cent between kindergarten and ninth grade – in the Western Hemisphere .  The university has been

Life expectancy has been increased by 15 years.  Almost all infectious and contagious diseases have been eliminated.  Visiting Cuba , I saw that a profound medical revolution has taken place – the majority of doctors live in the neighborhoods close to their patients.  There are more doctors per capita than in any other country of the world.

There has been a trend in the last decade where some Latin American countries – including Brazil , Argentina , Bolivia , and Venezuela – have leaned leftward in economic and social models.  Cuba ’s successes in dealing with illiteracy, education, health, poverty and related issues have convinced a number of Latin American political forces that the U.S. model is not successful.  They believe a different model must be tried.

The U.S. embargo, plus the collapse of the Soviet support, made it impossible for Cuba to import the chemicals, machinery and fertilizers to practice modern, intensive agriculture.  Instead, Cubans turned to farming much of the land organically from a conventional, high-input, mono-crop intensive agriculture to smaller organic and semi-organic farms.

In Cuba , 85 percent of the people own their own homes and pay no property taxes.  The remaining fifteen percent pay a symbolic rent of 10 percent of their salary.

Racism and discrimination have basically been eliminated in Cuba .  The miscegenation of racial groups in Cuba represents one of the most profound results of the Cuban Revolution, with families having members of every conceivable physical and racial characteristic.

The “Plan for Assistance to a Free Cub,” which the George W.  Bush Administration calls a “hastened transition to democracy,” is a euphemism for encouraging Castro’s overthrow and the end of the Cuban government.

A classified chapter raises suspicion that the Bush administration may not rule out attempts to destabilize Cuban national leadership.  Based on this country’s past, it can be assumed that secret sections are aimed at overthrowing Cuba and instituting a government more palatable to Washington .

A consensus of American opinion to eliminate the Cuban government does not exist.  On the contrary, it appears a small community of exiled Cubans in Flrida has been the major force behind this country’s Cuba policy.  Polls indicate the majority of Americans would like to see the normalization of relations.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposes the U.S. embargo.

It is not clear what action the U.S. will take regarding Cuba when Castro is no longer around.  To think that Cuba ’s majority is ready for a government change reflects a misunderstanding of people.

This misunderstanding may be similar to what led Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy to believe Cuba would rise up against Castro when faced with the Bay of Pigs invasion and subsequent subversive acts.

This miscalculation could repeat itself if the Bush Administration believes the money it has set aside for a “transition to democracy” will causes the Cuban masses to rise up.

It is possible to see a number of changes if Raul Castro emerges as Cuba ’s leader.  His view of the Chinese economic model could have a strong impact.  Since enormous fields of petroleum have been found offshore, this could change the island’s economic future.  Raul Castro may also want better relations and more dialogue with the U.S.    Whether the U.S. is willing is another story.

Judging by our past, the antagonism towards Cuba , and the secret sections of the Bush plan, an educated guess is that the U.S. does not wish to have to have a Cuban government similar to the one in power.  It may attempt to line up political and military strategies with its corresponding funds to attack Cuba ’s sovereignty. 

Jess Nieto is the Executive Director for Heritage of America Educational & Cultural Foundation, a non-profit agency.

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