It is not every day that the Washington Post and the Heritage Foundation sing from the same sheet of music. Today, on the problem of Cuba, we generally do. One must read the Post’s lead editorial “Coddling Cuba.”
The reaction to the recent visit of the Black Congressional Caucus to Cuba will, we predict, do little to strengthen the hand of those anxious to rush the Obama Administration unconditionally toward a complete normalizing of relations with Cuba. The adulation and exoneration lavished on the Castro brothers, the readiness to shift the blame for Cuba’s ills to the U.S., and the arrogant dismissal of deep-seated human rights concerns are already percolating through the U.S. body politic.
There also appears to be an even deeper irony associated with the visit of the Black Congressional Caucus leaders. One the members have yet to grasp.
The argument is relatively simple. Cuba’s record on race relations involves a strong official stance against any form of racial discrimination contrasted with habits and practices that should be the subject of a vigorous debate back here in Washington. The track to higher positions within the Communist Party of Cuba and the powerful state institutions that run the nation favor substantially Cuba’s whites foremost and its mixed or mestizo citizens secondly. Cubans of color, of African-Cuban descent receive fewer opportunities in a so-called equal society. The Cuban regime is built on structures of political preferment [party membership and advancement] and economic stratification [jobs linked to the dollar-based peso or earning linked to the local peso] that amount to a system of apartheid.
Observed the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson some years back:
the Cuban version of the “New Economy” is based not on computers or the Internet but rather on tourism, which is growing by leaps and bounds while the rest of the Cuban economy languishes. Young blacks say they are under- represented on the staffs of the big new five-star hotels and the ancillary service businesses springing up around Havana, the Varadero beach resort and other major cities. In today’s Cuba, with the economy substantially “dollarized,” those with access to tourists — and the dollars they spend — form a kind of new elite, and this elite of waitresses, doormen, tour guides and cab drivers appears much whiter than Cuba as a whole.
The election of President Obama has substantially stirred fresh emotions and hopes for change among ordinary Cubans. Issues of equality, access to political and economic participation, relaxations of state controls, greater freedom of speech are clearly called for. Before the U.S. elections, Fidel Castro predicted that “profound racism” in the U.S. would discourage millions from voting for Obama and said it was “a miracle” that candidate Obama had not been assassinated. On this count, as on so many, he was clearly wrong.
There is continued restiveness in Cuba where the alienation of Cuba’s youth, Generation Y, and disaffection among the 35% of the Cuban population identified as of mixed [mestizo], mulatto, or black are placing new pressures on the rigid, underperforming regime.
Therefore measures — such as the granting of trade credits or unrestricted tourism for Cuba’s “new economy” — that bring fresh resources to Castro regime will allow it in the name of the preservation of Cuba’s Communist revolution to prolong its stay in power and marginalize the very people the members of the Black Caucus claim they wish most to help.