Monday, April 21, 2008

Cuba libre

Flag of CubaBoth houses of the Minnesota Legislature have passed a resolution that "supports national efforts to remove all trade, financial, and travel restrictions to Cuba." Unfortunately, this resolution as written is silent on the suffering of the Cuban people and economy under the brutal dictatorship of Fidel Castro, darling of the socialist left. Calling for free trade without quid pro quo expansions of political, legal, and economic freedoms for the Cuban people amounts to not much more than the further exploitation of a people who have suffered too much. It would be like trading with Communist China for goodness sakes. (Er, wait a minute...)

I find it disappointing, but not surprising, that the corporate mass media did not bother to get any reactions from the Cuban expatriate community in Minnesota. A doctor friend of mine fled Cuba in the early 1960s after Castro became prime minister and began "nationalizing (confiscating with the power of armed force without compensation or legal recourse)" private property. We often have conversations about how the liberals in this country love Castro's Cuba so much that they are trying to recreate it in America.

(For a dramatization of what my friend and an entire generation of Cubans experienced during the Cuban Revolution, I recommend the film The Lost City, expat Andy Garcia's love note to his home country. Beautifully written and filmed, it's a Caribbean Casablanca.)

Kudos to reporter Hilary Brueck at the University of Minnesota's student newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, for her concise statement of what's wrong with the Cuban government (even as the rest of her article gives chief author Phyllis Khan (DFL-Minneapolis) a free ride to promote the resolution): "But many still say it will take more than the recent regime change to change U.S. policies on relations with Cuba. A need for free elections, open markets, more human rights, the restoration of political prisoners and property taken during the Fidel Castro regime are just a few of the lingering deal-breakers."

Governor Pawlenty should veto this resolution with apologies to the Cuban people and its expatriate community in Minnesota. As Minnesota Public Radio reported, "House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, questioned the value of spending time on a memorial resolution when the state's budget deficit still isn't resolved." The Legislature should stop wasting time on resolutions outside its purview and get back to the business of the citizens of the State of Minnesota.

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