By Jesus Arboleya (Progreso Weekly)
HAVANA TIMES – Cuba is not in a position to decide U.S. policy. In fact, no single country, or set of countries, is enough to force you to adopt a particular policy. Proof of this is that the condemnation of the economic blockade against Cuba, expressed almost universally by the UN for the last quarter of a century, has not been enough for the United States to modify this policy.
The only real options that the rest of the world has in the face of U.S. policies are to bow to them or confront them. There are no other options, as was the case when the Soviet Union existed and some countries tried to take advantage of the contradictions between both blocs to obtain a certain margin of independence. Confrontation or submission may have varying degrees of intensity and magnitude, but international politics unfolds under these coordinates.
Because the U.S. dominance over Cuba was so comprehensive, the Cuban Revolution had no alternative but to confront U.S. policy in all its dimension and scope. For its part, from the start, the U.S. made it clear that it was not willing to accept a social revolution 90 miles from its shore, so confrontation became the only possible option for Cuban revolutionaries.
As a result, except for direct military intervention by troops, all the weapons in the U.S. arsenal have been applied against Cuba. Included have been persistent campaigns of ideological influence on a global scale, which have at times accompanied brutal terrorist attacks.
During the Barack Obama administration, the U.S. concluded that the policy of maximum hostility towards Cuba had not overcome the resistance of the Cubans, so it was necessary to change the methods in order to achieve the same objectives. Although it can be considered a triumph of the Revolution, the ‘thaw’ between the two countries was a U.S. initiative established, to a large extent, under the theoretical umbrella of the so-called ‘smart power.’
This position reflects supreme confidence in the ‘benefits’ of capitalism in the face of the supposed innate inability of socialism to guarantee the full economic well-being of the people. The point is to ‘infect’ Cuba with the virus of capitalism, which is why the blockade is an obstacle, say the proponents of this policy. It is still paradoxical that in Cuba there are people who, consciously or unconsciously, reach the same conclusion and consider this policy more dangerous than one where confrontation takes more terrible, but more transparent, forms.
It is a faulty, risk calculation. Although it is true that the blockade has not worked in its attempt to force regime change in Cuba, this does not deny its enormous impact on the Cuban social fabric. Beyond the damage it produces to the economy, and its social consequences, it is worth analyzing the implication of this policy in the revolutionary ideology itself. With all the merit that the political conscience has had in the Cuban resistance despite the implicit justice in the socialist proposal and the beauty of its message of social emancipation, it is very difficult to sustain, without fissures, the popular support for a precarious political system. The high level of Cuban emigration is proof of this.
In turn, beyond its own errors and inadequacies, U.S. policy has prevented the true development potential of the socialist system in Cuba from being deployed. It has managed to spread the notion of its apparent failure, which weakens its ability to convene. As much as it serves to demonstrate that “imperialism is bad,” the economic siege by the United States is not a comfort zone for the development of a socialist conscience. So modification of this situation is of strategic importance for the Cuban system.
When the most frightening stage of the confrontation between the two countries seemed to have passed, Donald Trump arrived at the scene to remind us that no one is capable of preventing the United States from repeating its arbitrariness. Now everything indicates that the politics of smart power will again be used by the new Biden administration.
Cuba has no other option but to adapt. Although we must agree that such a strategy represents a qualitative change with respect to the past. Biden is not the same as Trump.
By way of these methods, policy is specified and in the new conjuncture the Cuban possibilities to influence the design and application of U.S. policy increase thanks to the importance given to negotiation in this process, something totally absent when the politics is of aggression — also because it increases the access of Cubans to U.S. society. Until now, people-to-people contact — conceived by smart power strategists as the vehicle par excellence for the invasion of ‘ambassadors’ of the capitalist system into Cuba — has left a favorable political balance for Cubans.
It will depend on the intelligence of the Cuban side to avoid the most harmful consequences of this policy, and to take advantage of the opportunities that arise from it, and moving forward favorably in the country’s interests. It is a confrontation that is won by demonstrating the advantages of the socialist system to compete with capitalism on its own terrain, since there is no other. Even to adapt some of its mechanisms to the Cuban model in an international environment that cannot be chosen, because it is predetermined. Furthermore, it is a strategy that is part of the reforms that are currently being implemented in the Cuban economy.
It is still a complex scenario since responses previously justified under a climate of aggression, such as prohibitions, exclusions and violence, become counterproductive in an environment where enemy activity appears camouflaged in endogenous conflicts that have another origin and other objectives, and the opponent’s speech is expressed in a more conciliatory way, even advocating universal values. It does not matter that at times they may not be sincere, the revolutionary doctrine cannot allow goals and methods that are intrinsic to it to be taken away from it.
The key is to know what you want and trust the intelligence of the people to understand it. Using facts and arguments to convince, as well as favoring truly democratic and inclusive spaces, should be the ideals for the defense of socialism.
To combat the virus of capitalism, it is not worth burying yourself in a trench and shooting toward the sky, as heroic as this may seem.