Chomsky on Restoring Ties with Cuba (Video)

After Decades of U.S. Meddling & “Terrorism” it’s the least we could do

Democracy Now

HAVANA TIMES – The United States and Cuba have held a second round of talks as part of the effort to restore full diplomatic ties for the first time in more than half a century. The two sides could reopen embassies in Havana and Washington in time for a regional meeting next month. World-renowned political analyst and linguist Noam Chomsky welcomes President Obama’s decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba, but cautions that after more than half a century of U.S. meddling in the island nation, it’s the minimum step he could take.


AMY GOODMAN: As we continue our conversation with Noam Chomsky, we turn now to Latin America. Democracy Now!’s Aaron Maté sat down with Noam Chomsky yesterday on Democracy Now!, the MIT professor emeritus. We asked him to talk about the thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations and U.S. meddling in Cuba.

NOAM CHOMSKY: The U.S. has been at war with Cuba since late 1959. Cuba was—had been, essentially, a colony of the United States, a virtual colony. In January 1959, the Castro guerrilla forces took over. By late that year, around October, U.S. planes were already bombing Cuba from Florida. In, I think it was, March 1960, there was a formal decision internally to overthrow the government. John F. Kennedy came in shortly after, got the Bay of Pigs. After the Bay of Pigs, there was almost hysteria in Washington about how to punish the Cubans for this. Kennedy made some incredible speeches about how, you know, the future of the world is at stake in dealing with Cuba and so on. The U.S. launched a major terrorist war against Cuba. We kind of downplay it, and what you can get reported is CIA attempts, you know, to kill Castro—bad enough—but that was a very minor part of it. Major terrorist war is part of the background for the missile crisis, which almost led to a terminal nuclear war. Right after the crisis, the terrorist war picked up again.

Meanwhile, the sanctions have been very harsh sanctions against Cuba, right from the Eisenhower regime, picked up, extended by Kennedy, extended further under Clinton, who actually outflanked Bush from the right on extending the sanctions. The world has been totally opposed to this. The votes at the General Assembly—you can’t do it at the Security Council because the U.S. vetoes everything, but at the General Assembly, the votes are just overwhelming. I think the last one was 182 to two, you know, U.S. and Israel, and sometimes they pick up Papua or something like that. This has been going on year after year. The U.S. is utterly isolated, not just on this issue, many others.

Finally, notice that Obama didn’t end the sanctions. In fact, he didn’t even end the restrictions, many of the restrictions on travel and so on. They made a mild gesture towards moving towards normalization of relations. That’s presented here—the way it’s presented here is, we have to test Cuba to see if our long—as Obama put it, our efforts to improve the situation in Cuba have failed, right? Big efforts to improve the situation—terrorism, sanctions. The sanctions are really incredible. So, if, say, Sweden was sending medical equipment somewhere which had Cuban nickel in it, that had to be banned, you know, things like that.

AMY GOODMAN: And terrorism, you mean?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Terrorism just—it went on into the ’90s. The worst part was under Kennedy, then picked up again in the late ’70s and so on. Major terrorists are provided refuge in Florida. The late Bosch is one, Orlando Bosch. Posada is another. You remember there was something called the Bush Doctrine, Bush II: A country that harbors terrorists is the same as the terrorists themselves. That’s for others, not for us. We harbor them and also support their activities.

But we have to test Cuba to see if they’re making successful gestures, now that our old policy of bringing freedom and democracy didn’t work, so we have to try a new policy. I mean, the irony of this is almost indescribable. The fact that these words can be said is shocking. It’s a sign of, again, a failure to reach a minimal level of civilized awareness and behavior. But the steps—I mean, it’s good that there are small steps being taken. It’s interesting to see what the Cuban intellectual community—there is a dissident intellectual community in Cuba—how they’ve been reacting to it. Actually, there’s an interesting article about it by my daughter, Avi Chomsky, who’s a Cuba specialist. But we don’t look at that. We don’t hear what they’re saying.

AMY GOODMAN: What are they saying?

NOAM CHOMSKY: What they’re saying is approximately what I was just saying: You know, it’s a good step that the U.S. is beginning to move, but they’ve got to begin to face up to the reality of what’s been happening, which is that the U.S. has been attacking Cuba. And the reason for—the primary reason, probably, for Obama’s slight moves are that the U.S. was becoming completely isolated in the hemisphere. It’s not just that the world is opposed, the hemisphere is opposed. And that’s a remarkable development.

20 thoughts on “Chomsky on Restoring Ties with Cuba (Video)

  • I am sympathetic to a fault to the CUBAN PEOPLE. I blame the Castros for most of what ails that country. I am well aware of the actual history of US/Cuban relations. The single greatest legacy of impact of US ‘imperialism’ in Cuba is racism. Low productivity…Castro. Corruption….Castro. Nationalism to a fault….Castro.

  • Oh yes we did. Read that Jane Franklin book. Maybe if you knew actual history as opposed to propaganda, you’d be a little more sympathetic to Cuba.

  • History is very important. The history of Cuba shows how Fidel seized power from the anti-Batista rebellion with the help of the communists that had supported Batista up to late 1958 (Pacto de Caracas). History further shows how Castro destroyed the country’s economy and turned the third developed country of the Americas in to a third world country that is “food deficient” (WHO) needing to import 70-80% of the food the people consume. History also shows Castro went as far as the ask for a “first strike” from the Soviets against the US. History shows that Castro on various occasions (1962, 1981).
    History also shows the abysmal record on human rights of the Castro regime.

    All very important and all totally ignored by Mr. Chomsky.

  • As a matter of fact I did. There is a long list of Chinese products that Americans will never see sold in Walmart. There are German wines whose names I can’t pronounce that people all over Europe drink every day. By the way, the Cuban cigar business has done just fine and yet it is considered contraband in the US. So, I can tell you without my MBA education that Cuba could do just fine without selling to the US. The problem is not a lack of market, the problem is a lack of marketing. That’s the problem with socialism. Failure is always someone else’s fault but success is owned by the government. No, the US government did not bomb or sabotage Cuba. We may have encouraged ….

  • I can’t comment on your friends experience. But it sounds a bit suspicious. I say that because o happen to know that his linguistic work is often quoted in academia and I know his political writings have been used as well.

  • You didn’t major in business did you Moses. Who is going to make a product in today’s globalized economy that can’t be sold in the US ? By the way, you never answered the question. Did the US bomb, sabotage, ect. or not ?

  • I’ve lived in a few countries, and I can say w/o hesitation that Americans are the most misinformed people I’ve seen. Regarding Chomsky, I’m a lawyer. If I can find more than 2 colleagues who have heard of him I would be surprised. If I walk out on the street, or ask clients, the answer would be 0 out of the first 1,000 people. I have an Italian friend who is a professor at a US university who wanted to use some Chomsky writings in his class. He was told not to. What do you think of that?

  • Let’s get this straight. Noam Chomsky is very well known for his political and social commentary and publications, less so for his philology background. He has gotten very rich doing his leftist shtick. I can go into any Barns and Noble and probably find some of his writings. This doesn’t sond like someone who is unknown.

    That being said I will acknowledge that to some extent a portion of Americans may not know who he is. The more uneducated of Americans, the Kim Kardashian group I like to call them, who are more interested in the latest gossip about “The Batchelor” than what happening around the world. But, and this is an important distinction, there is a difference between Americans who are uninformed and Cubans who are misinformed!

  • I will speak more slowly….Chomsky has been published in the New York Times yet remains largely unknown because his views are unpopular. When he has had the opportunity to express his unpopular views he was largely rejected. No chicken and egg conundrum here. Yes, the US is the world’s SINGLE largest market but represents only a fraction of the WORLD market. Cuba can sell to more than 188 countries, minus one, the US.

  • I get it. History, not even last year’s is not important. Apparently at least not to you.

  • Just what I expected from you Moses. I love your chicken before the egg reasoning. Chomsky, who is unknown, is unknown because the people who don’t know him, don’t like him. And who is going to buy those “trinkets”, i.e. tobacco, sugar and nickel, if anything made from them can’t be sold in the world’s largest market ?

  • What Chomsky, and many other anti-US hypocrites do is use the freedom of expression they enjoy in the US to speak out against the US which is their right but then they go on to defend those very regimes which would deny them the same rights. Chomsky is unknown to most Americans because his message is unpopular. There is no government censoring keeping his message from getting to the people. Yoani Sanchez who is largely unknown in Cuba, on the other hand, is active prevented by Castro goons from communicating directly with the people. Chomsky has been published in the New York Times. Sanchez has no such access to Granma. I am aware of the regulations imposed by the US embargo on products made from Cuban components. So what? It is our sovereign right to do business with whom we please and in the fashion we please. Cuba is free to sell their trinkets all over the world, except the US.

  • It is not about history grades. It is about today’s reality. Of that I am well informed and not prejudiced as Mr. Chomsky is. He totally glosses over the reality that is the Castro dictatorship and has done so on other occasions.

  • Moses, you are correct. You just have it upside down. There is no Cuban Chomsky, in jail or out. But if there were, the Centers of Power and their media and political arms would be overjoyed and would lavish him with limiltless support. Look at the treatment the West has given to such 3rd rate intellectuals like Armando Valladares and Yoanni Sanchez. Is she still sitting in a Castro dungeon by the way? Too bad she’s not free to have her own blog and flit back and forth to meet wiith her country’s enemies. Chomsky, on the other hand, doesn’t get his instructions and financing from the Chinese or Iranian embassies. But he is point-blank unknown by 99.5% of the American people. What you need to do, is get of Google, and read US and Cuban history a little more deeply. When things have become unstable here and a dissident’s message begins to resonate, our government has no qualms with locking up or otherwise dealing with a “troublemaker”. Ever heard of Eugene Debs ? COINTELPRO ?
    I’m fine with you not agreeing with Chomsky’s conclusions. What I’d like to hear you answer, which you never do is, are you alleging that he is making up his facts ? Are you denying foreign importers have to certify their products contain no Cuban inputs, that the US bombed Cuban cities, engaged in all kinds of sabotage, assassination and even bio-warfare ?

  • You’re less than half right…there is indeed no “war” between Cuba and the US…there is however a very real war between the US and Cuba. To deny that is absolutely insane. And the Cuban government is not at war with the Cuban people either…that’s more than ridiculous…and that’s being kind. Your sensationalist statements seriously diminish your credibility…and make you look juvenile. Grow up.

  • Cubaqus, I’d like to see the respective grades you and Noam got in your history classes.

  • The irony here is that an intellectual of Chomsky’s stature and recognition, who has made his living and established his reputation on his debatable criticisms of his government, if that same level of intellectual did exist in Cuba, he would have been jailed or exiled and his writings unpublished in Cuba. While I thoroughly disagree with most of what Chomsky believes, I support his right to say it. In Cuba, no such right to publicly disagree with the Castros exists.

  • This old timer seems to have a “selective memory” recollection on the topic of Cuba…

  • And so while the US has agreed to begin negotiations with Cuba, this happened:

    The Colombian authorities have intercepted a Chinese-flagged ship loaded with “war materiel” headed for Cuba. It was intercepted near the Port of Cartagena. The cargo includes long-range weapons systems.

    According to El Tiempo, the ship did not have appropriate documentation — indicating that this was a clandestine shipment. The ship’s captain also resisted any inspection.

  • The guy is a joke. There is no “war” between Cuba and the US.
    The only war is the one the Castro regime wages on the Cuban people.

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