By Carlos Alberto Montaner
Cuba is behind the Venezuelan horror. The island learned from the Soviets the art of controlling a society, although 80% of people oppose the imposed system. To achieve the submission of the whole society, 0.5% of the population working for the counterintelligence is more than enough.
People obey out of fear, not out of love, much less out of ideological reasons. In Cuba and Venezuela -- as in the whole field of socialism of the 21st century of which only Bolivia and Nicaragua are left -- there is only a handful of brainless people who believe in Marxist-Leninist slogans.
But that’s not the problem. After all, it’s not the first time that a small island controls a much larger and richer nation. That’s the history of England and India. The problem is what the colony is dedicated to, beyond being exploited by the implacable Cuban metropolis.
The Venezuelan military leadership, led by Nicolás Maduro -- the puppet chosen by Havana -- is primarily engaged in drug trafficking, from which it obtains billions of dollars. But that’s not the only Venezuelan commitment to crime. They lend support to Islamist terrorists, to Iran and to anyone who is against the West. It is the way they have to dignify their criminal activities. They cover those activities with an ideological “anti-imperialist” leftist mantle.
That’s what John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams and the Cuban-Americans Marco Rubio and Mauricio Claver-Carone think. There had never been before a unity of criteria so consolidated in Washington. Everyone knows what happens in Venezuela and they don’t ignore the importance of Cuba as the power behind the throne.
The problem is how to deal with that danger. They have even asked Raul Castro to abandon his Venezuelan prey. It seems that was the message that Prince Charles was carrying on his amazing trip to Cuba disguised as tourism. This is what Abrams transmits to his interlocutors in Cuba and Venezuela.
But it is useless. Cuba is ready to fight until the last Venezuelan. First, because it needs it from a material point of view. The system imposed on Cubans – the “State Military Capitalism” – is absolutely unproductive and requires joining another nation to sustain and maintain them. And, second, because for 60 years controlling power has worked for them and they know that their adversaries change or get tired. Everything depends on staying firm in the same position.
In the face of these facts, John Bolton, Donald Trump’s Security Adviser, revealed on April 17 in Miami, the measures that the U.S. will adopt against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the three nations that today constitute the evil empire.
As it is known, the United States has opted for economic sanctions included in the Helms-Burton Act passed during Democrat Bill Clinton's administration. That law, promulgated by the U.S. Congress and Senate, goes so far as to say that any country that does business with Cuba, in transactions involving U.S. properties confiscated by the communist revolution, could face lawsuits before US courts.
Likewise, it limits remittances and visits of Cuban-American emigrants to the levels they had during the George W. Bush (Jr.) government and imposes a six-month waiting period for berthing on U.S. docks to ships that previously entered in Cuban ports.
Actually, these are reasonable tactical measures to maintain a semi-hostility, but they do not necessarily lead to the end of the dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela. If the intention is to eliminate those governments that are enemies of the United States, the development of a strategy, subject to a timetable, is necessary to achieve those goals before the elections of 2020, when they could turn the tables.
To achieve these goals, it is important to align all the major factors and that can only be done by the United States if it is serious when it says that “all options are on the table.” No major international actor (Canada, the Lima Group, the European Union, NATO) would deny Washington its support to eliminate outlawed states dedicated to drug trafficking and undemocratic conspiracies, and they would surely collaborate in the effort.
Otherwise, if Washington chooses to limit itself to showing its teeth and being a “paper tiger,” as Humberto Belli fears and has written, it does not make sense to mortify Cuban society with more hardship. In that case, the United States must return to the strategy of containment: vigilance, propaganda and precise denunciations against the transgressors of the laws. Naturally, the Caribbean pistol would continue to threaten the heads of all, as has happened over six decades. Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.