6/8/2005

Dear Mr. Weisberg,

I have just finished reading your column entitled Democratic Cuba: Why Bush isn't bringing it any closer. You are a genius. Why didn't we Cuban Americans think of these solutions earlier? Oh, because we are too busy cultivating our ties to terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles! Look I am going to make this real simple for you:

1. The 45-year embargo has only really been a factor since the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90s. In the immediate aftermath of those events, Castro was forced to implement some basic market reforms. He began to allow foreign investment as a means to prop up his decrepit regime and many countries came running at the chance to do business with the tyrant. Those countries have quickly learned that Castro is a bad business partner and a money loser. Now he is seeking U.S. business to be his next suckers and people like you are just oh so willing to aid him in his task.

2. Your vision of change in Cuba magically resulting from being awash in American tourists, Cuban-American visitors, and development-driving entrepreneurs is ridiculous in light of the fact that every other country in the world is free to trade with Cuba and many actually do. And it has not helped one bit. Cuba is still as repressive as ever. U.S. dollars can only do one thing in Cuba, give a gasping regime a little more oxygen with which to breathe. Cuba's economic problems lie squarely at the feet of Castro and his failed policies.

3. The huge loophole in the embargo that you speak of allows food and medicine sales to Cuba, but only for cash. Opponents of the embargo are really lobbying for giving Castro trade credits. But Cuba's credit record is among the worst in the world, an incredibly bad risk for which the U.S. taxpayer would end up paying when Castro defaults (it is just a matter of time). This is simply a farm subsidy boondoggle in which Castro and U.S. farmers profit at the expense everyday Americans and the enslaved Cuban people. No thanks.

4. Luis Posada Carriles was twice acquitted in Venezuela of the airliner bombing of which he is accused. You brand him as a terrorist without even using the traditional journalistic cop-out: alleged. He escaped prison in Venezuela after 9 years and while awaiting a THIRD trial. I do not know if he committed the bombing but I sure as hell do not think he will get a fair shake if he is deported to Venezuela or Cuba. I wish your concern for Posada Carriles due process rights were as deep as it probably is for the enemy combatants currently being held in Guantanamo.

5. I would like to know why the American left hates the Cuban exile community so much. To brand us as terrorists without recognizing the terrorist legacy of Castro's Cuba is hurtful and deceiving. You fail to mention the countless international fugitives that make Cuba their safe haven including a woman who shot and killed a New Jersey State Policeman.

6. Oswaldo Paya does not have the support of most Cuban exiles because he is supposedly trying to change Cuba through a loophole in its communist constitution. To do this is to recognize that document's legitimacy which Cubans are loathe to do given the fact that it was foisted upon them. Castro lied to his countrymen and the world from the beginning of his reign. He promised democratic elections. We are still waiting. Besides, the loophole in the constitution was subsequently closed by Castro and the petition that Paya was circulating was not certified by the communist government. The Varela project is, for intents and purposes, dead. Additionally Oswaldo Paya does not play well with other dissidents. Just two weeks ago, in Havana, opposition groups from all over the island met in an assembly to promote civil society in Cuba. Mr. Paya spoke against the assembly and refused to participate. It is funny that you did not mention this assembly at all in your column or how the U.S. lent its moral support to those gathered in the form of a message from President Bush brought to the assembly on a laptop by the U.S.'s top diplomat in Cuba. No those are inconvenient details that conflict with the fantasy of a disinterested administration that you want to perpetuate.

Please understand if there were a guaranteed method of creating a democracy in Cuba, the Cuban exile community would be the first people in line to vote for it. But more than 1 million of us are convinced that there is no way to negotiate with a pathological liar, murderer and egomaniac who has a knack of playing Democratic Presidents of the U.S. like a cheap fiddle. So we are just going to wait the old bastard out. He can cheat everyone in the world but he will not be able to cheat death and history will not absolve him as he once famously claimed as he parroted Adolph Hitler.

I am glad you enjoyed Havana's gorgeous tropical decay because I will lobby the government of the free Cuba of the future to never grant you a visa to visit again. Cuba once boasted a civil society and standard of living second only to the U.S. in the western hemisphere. I do not understand how you can revel in the destruction of such beautiful and culturally rich country. Oh yes I do, because you are closer to Fidel Castro in your ideology than to our democratically elected president.

Most Sincerely,

Henry Gomez

P.S. For an on-line magazine you go to great lengths to not give out your email addresses. I guess you are more into giving opinions than hearing others.

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