Today, Phil Peters from the Cuban Triangle blog makes very good points after examining a recent essay published by UM's ICCAS. In the essay, titled "When Should the US Change Policy Towards Cuba?" [PDF], Jaime Suchlicki, director of ICCAS, and Jason Poblete provide arguments on how future policy with Cuba should continue, but suggest that in the meantime we just "stay the course." It's a very disturbing essay in my opinion, which I'm sure will be followed strictly by the Bush II administration.
The past work of Jaime Suchlicki, under ICCAS, has in fact been a very important part of current US policy towards Cuba. In fact, it is very likely that the US administration is relying heavily on the work of ICCAS.
Since 2002, ICCAS has received several millions of dollars from the US through USAID, who repeatedly renewed their grants in 2004. It's from this money that ICCAS created and extended the Cuba Transition Project (CTP).
By January 2004, and approaching the release of the first report by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba (CAFC), Roger Noriega, former Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, was praising the work of ICCAS. He said: "I applaud the efforts of Jaime Suchlicki and the CTP collaborators, who have devoted considerable energy to examining a number of these issues [for the CAFC]." The administrator of USAID was one of the official members of the first CAFC report.
One clear example that reveals how dependent the current administration is on the work of Suchlicki and ICCAS is shown in a US State Department Fact Sheet from 2003. The US Fact Sheet titled "Cuba's Foreign Debt" has a portion that is plagiarized from a 2000 report written by Jaime Suchlicki titled "The U.S. Embargo of Cuba" [PDF].
The 2000 report by Suchlicki outlines several arguments opposed to lifting the US Embargo "without meaningful changes in Cuba." Six specific arguments are plagiarized and presented in the 2003 US Fact Sheet.
- If U.S. tourists were allowed to visit Cuba, the Castro government will follow the same practices of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. American tourists will have limited contact with Cubans, thus their influence would be limited. Travel would be controlled and channeled into the tourist resorts built in the island away from the major centers of population. (Cubans cannot stay at resort hotels or patronize them.) Tourists will be screened carefully to prevent “subversive propaganda” from entering the island.
Lifting the Embargo will:
- Strengthen the state enterprises because the money would flow into the businesses owned by the Cuban Government. (Most businesses are owned in Cuba by the state, and in all foreign investment the Cuban Government retains a partnership interest.)
- Lead to greater repression and control since Castro and the rest of the leadership would fear that U.S. influence would subvert the revolution and weaken the Communist Party’s hold on the Cuban people.
- Delay instead of accelerate a transition to democracy in Cuba.
-Guarantee the continuation of the current totalitarian structure.
- Send the wrong message to the enemies of the United States: that a foreign leader can seize U.S. properties without compensation; allow the use of his territory for the introduction of nuclear missiles aimed at the United States; execute thousands of his political enemies, including U.S. citizens; espouse terrorism and anti-U.S. causes throughout the world; and eventually, the United States will “forget and forgive” and reward the regime with tourism and investment.
But, I'm sure Suchlicki doesn't mind.
[Photo by the University of Miami]