Europe partakes in a recipe for disaster cooked up in Washington

Winter 2006

As the US steps up its subversion plans for Cuba, Britain and Europe would do well to steer clear of a policy that is doomed to failure.

IN November the US government’s so-called “transition coordinator for Cuba,” Caleb McCarry, paid a visit to Europe, including the UK. Immediately following his visit there was a noted increase in pressure on the island emanating from different European capitals.

In Britain, McCarry had talks with senior Foreign Office officials and, though it was not confirmed, Foreign Office Minister Lord Triesman. He also gave an interview to the BBC’s Robin Lustig on the Radio 4 World Tonight programme.

In the programme, McCarry, a sinister figure on the right of the Republican Party who was the engineer of the coup in Haiti that deposed President Aristide in 2004, told listeners that his task was to convince the US’s allies to help support the so-called “opposition to the Castro dictatorship” on the island.

Following his visit, the Foreign Office postponed a scheduled a meeting that the CSC had arranged with Lord Triesman and promptly announced that it was inviting the leading Cuban “dissident” Oswaldo Paya to the UK for a conference on Human Rights.

In Brussels, the EU responded to McCarry’s call be awarding the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights to the so-called “Women in White” - a group of women who allegedly demonstrate daily in Cuba dressed in white for the release of relatives who have been jailed for being the paid agents of the US. In 2002, the EU had awarded the same prize to Oswaldo Paya.

McCarry’s visit coincided with a Press conference in Havana in which Michael Parmly, the new top US diplomat in Cuba, said he was “convinced that Cubans yearn for a transition from the island’s communist system” to a new “democratic” government.

“I don’t know when a change is happening,” said Parmly, the chief of the US Interests Section on Havana’s Malecon: “I just know that a change is happening.”

Parmly went on to say that the Cuban people would lead the change with assistance from the US. McCarry said much the same to Lustig on the BBC radio programme.

These initiatives were followed in late December by the reconvening of the so-called Commission for a Free Cuba by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. At the event Rice increased Washington’s bellicose rhetoric by saying that she thought it was “time the Castro dictatorship was brought down.”

Rice announced a number of new measures that would be aimed at increasing pressure on the Cuban government and hasten the hoped for transition.

However, the possibility of there being any change in Cuba as a consequence of anything the US might do short of invasion is clearly a pipe dream.

With economic growth currently at 11.8 per cent, the government is preparing to spend more than ever next year on raising the living standards of the people, and lavish public celebrations on the 47th anniversary of the revolution on January 1st, confirmed that there is absolutely no indication whatsoever that the Cuban people are in any way interested in the US plans.

Cuban TV responded to the US statements with major exposes of the activities of the US interest section chief’s activities. Along with senior diplomas form European countries such as Holland, Poland and the Czech Republic, the TV showed Parmly hosting meetings with leading so-called dissidents in which quantities of cash and equipment was being handed out.

Later, a number of the opposition leaders were shown on footage taken by closed circuit TV in foreign currency supermarkets spending large quantities of cash on new refrigerators and other electro-domestic products.

According to one Cuban journalist quoted on television the income of Marta Beatriz Roque, one of the leaders of the Cuban opposition, received an income of more than $70,000 in 2005 alone from her US mentors.

A recording of one of Beatriz Roque’s speeches was shown in which she said she would not care if the US invaded the island militarily.

Such material served to further confirm the widely held view in Cuba that the opposition are really only interested in an easy life and a possible future in the United States, rather than any serious programme of political change.

This view is shared by many observers including former US diplomats who have served in Havana.

“The whole idea that somehow Caleb McCarry is going to come in and supervise the transition in Cuba is absurd,” says Wayne Smith, former head of the US mission in Cuba under the Carter administration. “Cubans would never accept that, not even Cubans who oppose the government.”

The Cuban government is nowhere near collapse, says Smith.

“None of the measures put forward by the United States - increasing broadcasting and cutting back on travel and so forth - none of that is going to bring down the government and force them to do anything.” Smith said.

Thankfully, the current British ambassador to Cuba, John Dew, was not among those diplomats seen on TV conspiring with the so-called dissidents. It is a pity that his counterparts in London do not follow his lead. Instead of responding to US calls for help, Britain and the EU would do better to listen to the advice of people such as Smith.

In place of inviting the likes of Paya to conferences in the UK, the British government ought to be deepening its relationship with its legitimate counterpart in Havana and telling the US to keep out of Cuba’s internal affairs.

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