Brookings Institution on Cuba: The Cuban people like to be slaves

It is without a doubt one of the most pernicious obstacles to communicating the reality of Cuba that human rights activists face: the devaluing of human life of those who live in Cuba. In my years of advocacy for freedom and liberty in Cuba, I have run across too many people whose view of that country is completely devoid of the human element. To them, Cuba is not an island of 11-million enslaved and oppressed fellow humans, but an island with beautiful beaches, great cigars, and natural beauty. Instead of seeing an island filled with people suffering and in misery, they see a deserted tropical isle populated only by a subhuman species, wild animals who are kept in check by a handful of zoo keepers, if you will.

It is that narrow-minded view that leads organizations such as the Brookings Institution to conclude that Cubans like to be second-class humans, they like to be slaves. After all, it is not like they are real humans.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Brookings Claims Cubans Like Being Second-Class Citizens

We already know that for the Brookings Institution, human rights for the Cuban people are optional.

Now Brookings wants you to believe that Cubans are happy being second-class citizens.

No reasonable observer has been able to argue that Cuba’s “new” foreign investment law is anything but a farce.

Other than a few menial tax breaks for foreign companies, the “new” foreign investment law contains the same provisions as the 1995 version, violates international labor law and reinforces the state’s exclusive control over foreign trade and investment.

In other words, it continues to treat the Cuban people as second-class citizens, with absolutely no rights to own a business, receive foreign investment or even be directly hired by a non-state company. Meanwhile, those few Cubans “obedient” enough to be hired by the regime to work at a foreign company will continue to have the overwhelming majority of their salary kept by the state.

However, according to Brookings‘ Richard Feinberg, this is absolutely fine with Cubans. He writes:

From my informal conversations in Havana, Cubans on the street seem to accept with enthusiasm the government’s dual message: that the new guidelines will not compromise Cuban sovereignty – a key gain of the 1959 revolution – but will encourage badly needed inflows of foreign capital and technology.

That’s right — Feinberg claims Cubans told him that they are perfectly fine with the Castro brothers continuing to enrich themselves at their cost.

It’s interesting, for every other observer has written that Cubans were appalled by their continued relegation.

For example, CNN‘s Havana correspondent, Patrick Oppmann, tweeted:

Hearing from Cubans who are indignant that new law allows exiles who left #Cuba right to invest but not those who stayed.”

Of course, Brookings doesn’t want you to hear that because they have been lobbying to allow its three Cuban-American patrons (Carlos Saladrigas, Paul Cejas and Alfie Fanjul) to invest in Castro’s foreign trade monopolies and play the role of “barbarians at the gate.”

That’ll really win the Cuban people over.

Meanwhile, Cuban blogger Miriam Celaya wrote:

An informal survey I conducted in recent days in Central Havana after the March 29th extraordinary session of parliament shows rejection of the new Law on Foreign Investment, almost as unanimous as the “approval” that occurred in the plenary: of a total of 50 individuals polled, 49 were critical of the law and only one was indifferent.

In fact, the issue has been present with relative frequency in many cliques not directly surveyed–uncommon in a population usually apathetic about laws — in which the dominant tendency was to criticize various aspects of the law.”

So who are the Cubans that Feinberg is talking to?

The answer is pretty clear.



14 thoughts on “Brookings Institution on Cuba: The Cuban people like to be slaves

  1. Anybody who believes the average Cuban even thinks in terms of “sovereignty” doesn’t know SHIT–but Feinberg is not that stupid. It’s called bad faith.

  2. Actions speak louder than words, Alberto, and I don’t see much action. It’s sad to contemplate that, after 55 years of enslavement and tyranny on the island, the Cubans have amply demonstrated to the world that Venezuelans have more balls than they do.

    Brookings is right, but for the wrong reasons. I’ve written before in these comments that the vast majority of the Cuban people (and I’m not writing about the nomenklatura) neither want freedom nor care whether it ever comes to Cuba. The status quo is perfectly fine with them, despite their complaints, and their inability at times to resolver.

    Apathy is the only disease that is endemic in Cuba.

    The real dissidents and opposition — Biscet, Roque, Paya, The Ladies in White, etc., etc. — are the only ones left on the island with enough self-esteem and dignity to keep fighting an evil regime and its philosophy.

    The Morlocks have won…

  3. To be fair, practically all the people in Cuba who are still young enough to do something were either born into or raised under Castro, Inc. and are thus products of that highly perverse, aberrant and pathological system–which affects and controls every aspect of society on the island. They have been subjected to constant indoctrination and either misinformation or no information about the real world since a very early age. They are inevitably contaminated or damaged goods to one degree or another. Even after chavismo took hold of Venezuela, the situation there has never been as hermetic as in Cuba, and 15 years is not the same as 55. The problem with a country in thrall to a highly virulent disease for over half a century is that it is bound to be a sick country, and Cuba is.

  4. Asombra, very true. But the fact that, so few great men and women willing to oppose the regime, telling the truth about it, and taking the violence hurled against them for their beliefs, are unable to influence the others to some sort of action, also speaks volumes. Like I said, apathy…

  5. I agree with you, George, that apathy plays a major role in keeping Cuba under the yoke of tyranny. But Asombra’s point is quite valid. It is hard to expect anything else after a half-century of forced indoctrination and forced isolation. It is really not fair to compare Venezuela with Cuba. At least not yet. Venezuelans have yet to be isolated from the rest of the world as Cubans have and Chavismo propaganda has only being going on a little over a decade. Not enough time has passed for Venezuela’s dictatorship to reap the rewards of indoctrination. This is not to defend the apathetic majority in Cuba, but I am simply recognizing the fact that when dealing with Cubans, you are not dealing with a society that knows much of anything else other than what they have been told by their oppressors.

    In regards to conceding victory to the Morlocks, I refuse to do so. As long as there are Cubans such Biscet, Paya, the Ladies in White, and others like them, the Morlocks cannot win. To paraphrase Venezuela’s Leopoldo Lopez, “He who gives up first, loses…”

  6. George, the others you mention are so conditioned to focus on the most basic and mundane survival issues that they cannot conceive of “asking for trouble” or making their situation even more problematic, and simply go for what seems the easiest and surest way to make do or, if possible, do better (as in getting the hell out of Dodge). It’s not so much apathy as cynicism and a kind of fatalistic acceptance of Cuba’s status quo as something that cannot be changed, only “gotten around” or abandoned for greener pastures. I’m not justifying, just explaining.

  7. Alberto, the vast, vast majority has already given up. Then again, Moses freed the Jews from Egyptian bondage after 390 years. We still have a few years to go to match that. A little ray of hope, I guess…

  8. One big difference between the situation of the opposition in Cuba vs. in Venezuela, media. I’d wager that after 55 years of media black out, hundreds of thousands arrests, public executions, hunger,etc., not to mention glorification of the regtime by Hollywood and all the world’s elite, you won’t be seeing massive protests in Venezuela either.

  9. Ziva, you’re just trying to justify the unjustifiable. Biscet does it. Roque does it. The Ladies in White do it. Why not the others?

  10. George, I’m not justifying anything. Just stating human nature. I don’t remember mass protests in the streets of Moscow during the Soviet years, how about North Korea, China, or for that matter massive Jewish uprisings during the centuries of slaughter, persecution and second-class citizenship leading up to the Holocaust. IMO, Antunez, Biscet, the Las Damas, and others, are the exceptions of human nature, not the norm.

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