The Obama Administration is apparently readying a “Fall Surprise” regarding its policy toward Cuba. The New York Times reports that the White House intends to ease restrictions on travel to Cuba and return to the “people-to-people” policies of the Clinton Administration. It will also reportedly make private assistance flows easier. Claimed one Democratic policy mandarin, the Administration has worked up “a smarter Cuba policy.”
The decision to loosen restriction comes as Cuba’s mismanaged economy is again in free fall and seeks help from any quarter. Cubans recently were informed that they must further tighten their belts since as much as a fifth of the nation’s workforce may soon be let go. Food production continues to fall despite Raul Castro’s tinkering. And Cuba’s exploitative export of doctors and medical personnel was recently exposed.
Changes would also take place at a moment when the convalescent 84-year old Fidel Castro is making a return to the public stage. Acting more like Nostradamus than the “maximum leader,” Castro is given to prognosticating that nuclear Armageddon is just around the corner because of U.S. imperialistic confrontations with Iran and North Korea.
It is surely an ironic fact that in October 1962 at the height of the Cuban Missile crisis, Castro urged the Soviet Union’s Khrushchev to launch a nuclear war against the U.S. if JFK landed U.S. troops in Cuba. An unrepentant Castro sees in Iran’s deadly nuclear quest the same visceral anti-Americanism that remains the guiding star in his geopolitical firmament.
Fidel’s return is, according to veteran Cuba analyst Brian Latell, “unbridled narcissism.” Valiant blogger Yoani Sanchez captures the muddle that is the political scene in Cuba: Fidel, she observes, “has come forward again to shamelessly display his infirmities and announce the end of the world, as if to convince us that life after him would be lacking in purpose.”
The Administration will move ahead despite the fact the Cuban are still holding AID worker Alan Gross, who was arrested in December, 2009 , and his being held without charges. Gross was engaged in a “people-to-people project” that ran afoul of Cuba’s ever-present security apparatus.
While failing to advance any substantial U.S. economic [jobs, exports], political [democracy, respect for human rights, freedom for Mr. Gross ], or security interests, the Obama Administration proposes to serve up the Castros and their moribund communist regime with a fresh bunch of carrots—more visitors, easier private assistance aid, and heightened legitimacy. This policy is the opposite of “smart.”