By Jesús Arboleya Cervera (Progreso Weekly)

cuba-study-groupHAVANA TIMES – The Cuba Study Group (CSG), formed by Cuban-American businessmen, intellectuals and political activists who identify with the so-called “moderate line of the exile community,” has just issued a document titled “Restoring Executive Authority Over U.S. Policy Toward Cuba,” in which it criticizes U.S. policy toward the island and sets forth its proposals for change.

The most important part of those proposals is the elimination of the Torricelli and Helms-Burton laws, where the core of the problem unquestionably lies, inasmuch as their existence prevents any significant move forward in the relations between the two countries, as they represent the most extreme positions of belligerence.

Until that happens, however, the document describes some measures that President Obama could take that would undoubtedly result in a positive step in that direction.

I must point out that no other group of its kind has been so clear in assuming this position. This contributes a qualitative element to a debate that is currently held by diverse U.S. sectors, indicating the possibility that in the immediate future this trend will strengthen within the very American establishment.

To a degree, the CSG resolves the problem of the imbalance that, from my point of view, has existed between its criticism of the Cuban system and the U.S. policy, focusing its attention on the issue where its contribution to the existing problem can be most effective, thus maximizing its importance in both countries.

With good reason, the CSG argues that the current policy is “counterproductive to the United States’ interests and damages Cuba’s civilian society.” However, its definition of the “United States’ interests,” instead of being based on the advantages for both nations of an improvement in their relations, reprises the argument that an improvement in relations would be more effective to promote the “regime change” that the U.S. hopes to accomplish in Cuba.

Also incorporated within this logic is the development of closer links with the émigrés, as the new immigration policy has made clear. In fact, many émigrés are already participating in the ongoing changes, although it is true that a more-encompassing legal framework is still missing.

This contaminates the nature of the Group’s objectives, hindering the dialogue that allegedly is being promoted, inasmuch as it assumes the same interventionist posture that has been the crux of the dispute.

In truth, this shouldn’t surprise us, since the Group responds to its condition as a U.S. entity linked to the groups of power in that country, which have not renounced to that strategic objective, so it is predictable that the Group will act according to the logic that guides the doctrine of the U.S. foreign policy.

The United States’ hegemonic project regarding Cuba goes back to the early years of that nation. It solidified in the neocolonial state and is not a variation of the dispute between the two countries but its specific context. It determines the conditions of our independence from José Martí until today, so the most we could hope to is a climate of coexistence between two opponents.

I think that beginning from that historical premise (given that Cuba’s conflict with the U.S. did not begin with the Revolution) we should evaluate the pertinence of the CSG’s proposals, as well as its contradictions and insufficiencies.

Several leaders of the CSG have expressed their commitment to the defense of Cuba’s sovereignty, and the document criticizes those who hope that the U.S. “will resolve the Cuban problem.”

I have no reason to doubt their sincerity, but the reader should realize that a sovereign nation needs to be defended only when someone threatens it. The document not only recognizes the source of that threat but attributes to the U.S. prerogatives about Cuba’s national life that conflict with the rights of a sovereign state.

Proof of that is that the extensive criticism the CSG aims at the Helms-Burton law lacks one argument: that law is such an interventionist proposal that not even the Platt Amendment demanded so much.

The truth is that one cannot defend Cuban sovereignty without being an anti-imperialist. And to be that, one doesn’t need to be a Marxist or support socialism, but to recognize that condition as the basis for a fairer and more democratic international order, which is what Third World countries aspire to, especially Cuba.

The ongoing reforms to the Cuban economic model, whose objective is to match its functions to the realities imposed by the country’s situation and the rules that guide the world’s economies, respond to needs of the socialist system itself, which obviously cannot be conceived the same as when it belonged to a socialist camp.

The most important part of those proposals is the elimination of the Torricelli and Helms-Burton laws, where the core of the problem unquestionably lies, inasmuch as their existence prevents any significant move forward in the relations between the two countries, as they represent the most extreme positions of belligerence.

Clearly, this implies an immense intellectual effort. It requires broadening the domestic debate so as to build new consensus and a change in the mindset of state officials and the citizens themselves.

As the CSG says, reforms encourage the development of the private sector and that can generate contradictions within Cuban society that imply risks for the model. But assuming those risks has been an initiative of the state, not against the state as implied in the document. It is part of inclusive criteria that attempt to find formulas that favor the state’s articulation in the common social goal, which is at heart the essence of socialism.

Also incorporated within this logic is the development of closer links with the émigrés, as the new immigration policy has made clear. In fact, many émigrés are already participating in the ongoing changes, although it is true that a more-encompassing legal framework is still missing.

Like other Cuban-American organizations, the CSG can contribute to this process. Its proposals against the current U.S. policy fit perfectly in this dynamics, but they are limited because they are conceived as contrary to the premises that inspire them.

No doubt, the project begun by Cuba is very complex and proceeds (as the government itself has acknowledged) through unknown roads, so it is likely that errors, advances and retreats will be made. However, one distinguishing quality is that it can be carried out in full sovereignty, without external interference or imposition, so its failure or success will depend exclusively on the Cuban people. That’s a luxury that most countries cannot afford, one that, as I see it, constitutes the essence of what has been achieved so far and what is worth defending at all costs.

The CSG document absolutely ignores the resistance shown by the Cuban people to ensure this condition and takes it for granted that the ongoing reforms will crack the nation’s will, not stopping to think that they could in fact strengthen it. That’s the desire of most of the revolutionary sectors that support them.

It is a historic truth that U.S. policy has failed precisely thanks to this capacity for resistance and we must say that the document gives a good account of that policy’s failure, though not of its causes. However, I feel that the CSG’s analysis falls short, because the policy is not only failed but also unviable, given the relative deterioration of U.S. hegemony throughout the world, particularly in Latin America.

In any case, perhaps without meaning to, the CSG document brings us closer to that conclusion. That would be a good starting point for the dialogue it proposes with the “Cuban civilian society,” where I assume they will include those of us who do not share their concepts about the future of Cuba and the nature of its relations with the United States.


9 thoughts on “The Cuba Study Group Proposal

  • I think there is a bit of a contradiction to say on the one hand that nobody cares about Cuba and on the other that it is a political risk. Is there any real evidence that the embargo has swung any election either way or even affected them in any way? Does anyone remember Clinton and the Buena Vista Social Club issue or Obama’s People to People trips? Is it even an issue for Cuban-Americans, because after all in practical terms they probably do more to keep the current Cuban government in power than Chavez and Brezhnev put together.

    I don’t know if he can, but one way for Obama to move things forward would be to allow Cuban-Americans businesses and individuals to do business with Cuba if they so choose. He can then always argue for “freedom of choice”, “reconciliation of Cuban families”, “help build civil society”, “greater importance of the war on terror” etc

  • Actually, I “like” the banking industry, and I think that fractional reserve credit is one of the greatest inventions of civilization. With this historically evolved mechanism, properly utilized, modern cooperative socialism can reform the monetary/financial system and transform the world in fairly short order.

    What I do not like is the scam of charging time-based interest on fractional reserve credit debt. This is fraudulent, and should outlawed forever in our Constitution.

    If the US people will give our movement/party a political mandate, this will be part of our Bill of Transformation that will make banking an instrument of and for the people, rather than a racket of usury parasitism by the monopoly bankers.

    Thanks for the tip on the book, Moses. I already feel that the insurance industry is a gigantic scam, although I hesitate to believe it is as much an ogre as monopoly banking.

  • Your comments have led me to believe that you don’t like the banking industry. I would suggest you read a book called ‘The Invisible Bankers’ by Tracy Kidder. If you think bankers are the bad guys, you are going to go ballistic about the insurance industry. BTW, against what moral standard are you judging the Torricelli and Helms-Burton laws? How do government-sanctioned acts of repudiation against private citizens who speak out against their government (like what you have done here) hold up against that same standard? How does government-ordered murder as described to the daughter of Oswalda Paya, Rosa Maria, by the driver of the car, Angel Carromero http://www.diariodecuba.com measure up?

  • Given the regime desperately wants the embargo lifted, it seems unlikely therefore that they expect it to crumble their dictatorship. More likely, it will enrich the ruling oligarchy while taking some of the pressure off from their grumbling subjects.

    As Moses has pointed out: ending the embargo is on the top of the Castro’s to-do list. It’s near the bottom of Obama’s.

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