Why the USA Keeps Cuba On Its Black List

Pedro Campos

Telephone conversation.  Photo: Juan Suarez
Telephone conversation. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — The US government has decided to keep Cuba in its list of countries that sponsor terrorism, on the basis of arguments full of flagrant contradictions.

The reasons seem obvious: the United States lacks any clear evidence that could justify this decision, but keeping Cuba on this list allows it to continue to rely on “legal” justifications for maintaining its embargo / blockade sanctions.

President Obama speaks of “updating” US policy towards Cuba, but, given the many and complicated contradictions that exist between the two countries, in no way can this be interpreted as a willingness to lift all the sanctions. Another factor that prevents this is the influence, in the US Congress, of sectors of the extreme Cuban right based in the country.

To understand and adequately assess US policy towards Cuba, one must begin by looking at the United States’ many interests and contradictions and not at our desires and preconceptions in this connection.

US leaders have systematically repeated that this policy will be maintained until Cuba implements changes to its political system that the United States considers democratic – in short, as long as the political and economic model of State “socialism” is in place here.

Here, we catch sight of a first mistake in judgment.

No matter how democratic the Cuban government considers its old-school political system to be, the decision regarding the lifting of the embargo is to be made, not by the Cuban government, by the US administration.

“Our political and economic model is a question of sovereignty, and we accept no impositions in this regard.” – this is line followed by the Cuban government. But the Cuban government must also understand that any decision regarding foreign policy is also a question of US sovereignty, even when such a policy violates certain aspects of international law recognized by all countries. Does the Cuban government pretend to dictate US foreign policy?

This is a key question of the utmost importance, and a line of reasoning the Cuban government does not accept, even though it continues to insist that the sanctions be lifted.

Waiting for a bus.  Photo: Juan Suarez
Waiting for a bus. Photo: Juan Suarez

A second error in judgment on behalf of the Cuban government is this:

Intent as the Cuban government is on having its powerful northern neighbor lift the embargo, so as to enjoy all of the benefits that close relations with the largest and most developed economy on the planet can afford, it has worked on the assumption that offering attractive economic incentives to US capitalists through the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZED) and its new Foreign Investment Law will break the will of the US establishment.

The ZED and new law certainly do offer advantages to US capital, but they are minimal when compared to the possibilities opened up to US capital throughout the continent, and such prerogatives will be maintained as long as democratic governments continue to predominate in the region. Some of these governments may be left-wing, but none are State socialist as the Cuban government is, characterized by a single party, monopolies, absolute control by the State, the absence of a growing internal market and such liberties as freedom of expression, association and the vote.

With governments like Cuba’s, US capital would have no guarantees in the region. The reason is simple: it isn’t easy to forget the recent past, characterized by all-out confrontation, the nationalization of properties and the expropriation of even the smallest business carried out by the same people who are in power today.

Therefore – and this is elementary – it better suits the interests of US capital that there be no governments like Cuba’s in the region, and that the island finally sinks under the weight of its State-command policies, rather than help this government stabilize itself. That would send a very dangerous signal to the rest of the continent: “you can confront the United States, our capital will always be willing to bail you out.”

The one thing that could offer the United States a guarantee this situation will not repeat itself is a real change in the political and economic State-command model and the resignation of Cuba’s historic leadership. Like it or not, that is the simple truth. Of course, there’s no way to ask the Cuban leadership to understand this!

I am speaking about interests, not desires.

I’ve explained this elsewhere: US policy towards Cuba is aimed at making the model they have called socialist fail and prevent its reproduction in the region.

Bread and  socialism.  Photo: Juan Suarez
Bread and socialism. Photo: Juan Suarez

If the Cuban government is unwilling to bring about true changes to its political and economic system and only seeks to maintain itself in power until the final days of its rulers, it must resign itself to its destiny, the destiny of its Russian and European predecessors, a fate that is impossible to avoid without international financial aid, today available only in the form of international capital, particularly US capital.

The Cuban government must come to understand that international capital will not do anything to favor the neo-Stalinist State monopoly capitalism established in Cuba in the name of socialism.

If, on the other hand, this government wishes to secure this aid and sincerely wants the embargo to be lifted, it must move towards the true political and economic democratization of its current model, affording everyone full (and not merely formal) liberties, such as freedom of expression, association and election, so as to impel the development, without obstacles or monopolies, of different forms of production, on the basis of basic regulations that guarantee national and environmental interests over our natural resources.

Personally, I don’t believe this must be done to please the US government or to get the embargo off our backs, but because it is an objective need if Cuban society is to openly and freely debate about its interests, overcome its current stagnation and move towards a new, truly democratic and socialized reality that is truly just, where Jose Marti’s maxim can become a reality: “with everyone and for everyone’s benefit.”

This is the path I and others have proposed from the stance favoring participative and democratic socialism, on the basis of a nationwide debate that is inclusive, broad, democratic, open, public and devoid of sectarianism or vengeful motives, a debate that looks only to the future. It is a difficult but not impossible road.

If the government isn’t ready to go down that road, then, it should accept its inevitable fate.
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7 thoughts on “Why the USA Keeps Cuba On Its Black List

  • Mr campos, your article is well thought out and accurately describes the present situation in Cuba. I know you are an advocate of bottom up democracy from your other articles elswhere, and am wondering why Cubans don’t take more advantage of their ability to form non agricultural cooperativas. Even with the inadequacy of the laws governing them and the problems with the supply of material etc. those could be rectified and they do have several benefits not offered in the other forms of labour.

  • M r. Goodrich, please, read again, what I said: “Personally, I don’t believe this must be done to please the US
    government or to get the embargo off our backs, but because it is an
    objective need if Cuban society is to openly and freely debate about its
    interests, overcome its current stagnation and move towards a new,
    truly democratic and socialized reality that is truly just, where Jose
    Marti’s maxim can become a reality: “with everyone and for everyone’s
    Thaks, for your time.

  • This is an excellent article!!

  • You’re putting the cart before the horse in saying that Cuba should liberalize/ease up restrictions BEFORE the U.S. ends its war on the revolution.
    The reason for the many restrictions and economic hardships may well include the Leninist mind-set of the Cuban leadership and the PCC but it is certainly the embargo that is the far bigger cause of both economic hardship and repression in Cuba. .
    Cuba is doing well in maintaining controlling share of any foreign investments without which the downhill slide into feral/cowboy capitalism becomes an inevitability and a certain end to any chance for a true socialist society in Cuba.
    Cuba has held out for over 50 years and should never consider surrendering and throwing away the sacrifices made by the Cuban people to keep their revolution at this late date with the embargo ending in the fairly near future; perhaps when Raul retires in another year or two.
    As for who is the worst terrorist state in the world by far , anyone can find out by Googling: “Uncle Sam: Top Menace to Peace on /and Earth” by Paul Street .
    Everyone who reads the article is invited to TRY to contest any of the facts in it .
    This will exclude the far right who, generally don’t read or believe facts that contradict their thinking and whose info is limited to far right sources.

  • One word “Politics”!!!! Every country in the world could make a list and have the US on it also. THE END…

  • Once again, while I do not share Pedro’s leftist economic views, I find this analysis, more so than previous others he has written, to correctly and succinctly describe the motivations and intentions of current US policy towards Cuba. It is worth noting he did not use words like “annexation, colonization, and fear”. There is an old saying that goes “The business of America is business!” The US can’t safely do business with State Socialists so the spread of Castro-style socialism must be resisted. In addition, so long as the same leadership that created the situation in Cuba continues in charge, it will be impossible to trust that changes in the economic, let alone political system will be permanent. The leadership must go. Finally, reversing US policy, despite the relative ineffectiveness over the last 50+ years must come with a tangible and permanent quid pro quo from the new Cuban leadership. If not, the political will to unilaterally concede is simply not there. Pedro would be well to consider Cuba’s flagrant violation of UN sanctions against weapons transfers to North Korea as a fair basis for Cuba’s continued inclusion on the Terrorism list. In addition, Cuba’s role is arming and training Venezuela’s ‘colectivos’ is also valid justification. Despite his oversight on these points, an overall good analysis.

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