Cubans Impatient for Reform...Not Counter Revolution
Photo Credit: Frans Persoon
This article by my recent dinner partner Marc Frank, entitled, "Cubans Fear Hard Times Ahead" uncovers where the real conversation is focused in Cuba: getting the Cuban government to fix the bloated bureaucracy and let ordinary Cubans get to work on improving their own lives. Farms need seeds, equipment, and fertilizer. Consumers need more cash and less handouts. Homeowners need the ability to sell their property--at least like they do it in London and China--with long-term leases.
Here's an indicative quote from a Cuban farmer:
Farmers have never wanted the state to give them anything. What we want is that they sell us what we need to work and produce," Evelio, a farmer in central Cuba, said in a telephone interview.
And supporting reform is where the United States needs to aim its policy. Away from the counter-revolutionary fantasies of the right-wing in Miami and towards a real policy that engages Cuba where it is at, recognizing the wisdom of Amartya Sen, that "development is freedom".
More important, at least for us foreign policy realists, is that a policy structured around a shared agenda of sustainable economic development in Cuba would preempt a full economic collapse in, which, given the strength of the state, the absence of a credible political alternative and the poverty of its people, would result not in a counter-revolution but in a new boatlift headed to South Beach and Coral Gables. That's precisely what happened in 1980 and in 1994 and, if push comes to shove, it will happen again.
Shifting from isolation to development also fits with the best traditions of American foreign policy, like the Marshall Plan. America is at its best and most successful when we engage in shared economic prosperity not coercive regime change. That's true whether we are talking about Cuba ... or Iraq.