Vail Daily letter: Couldn’t disagree more
September 8, 2013
To paraphrase the late Sen. Moynihan, Mr. Trujillo is entitled to his own opinions but not to his own facts ("Time to open up to Cuba," Aug. 27).
How did he arrive at the conclusion that economic opportunities in Cuba have slowly improved? Really? Before Castro, Cuba had a higher per-capita GDP than Italy and than many states in the southern United States. Today, it ranks lower than many poor African nations. Not much improvement, I am afraid.
How did Mr. Trujillo determine that in Cuba there is a long-standing misperception that the American embargo equates to American opposition against Cuba's people? Is that why so many risk their lives and flee on anything that floats to gain access to the United States? Every Cuban has friends and family members who live abroad, mostly in the U.S., and frequent contact keeps them well informed of the reality of their situation.
And how did he conclude that American tourism would lead to economic reform in Cuba? Tourists from Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Asia visit Cuba regularly. Many of them speak Spanish fluently and can easily communicate with everyone they come in contact with, something that most American tourists would be unable to do. Why then, has this massive influx of foreign tourists not made one iota of difference in encouraging economic reforms in Cuba?
The answer, of course, is that since 1959 Cuba has been run by an illegitimate government, which for 54 years has managed to destroy what once was a prosperous country, and they have no intention of changing their repressive methods because tourists happen to be vacationing there.
The trade embargo was imposed by President Kennedy in 1960 to protest the illegal expropriation of all American property in Cuba by the Castro regime. (Castro later expropriated all Cuban property as well.) The embargo does not apply to food or medicine, and as a result, the United States is today the fifth-largest exporter to Cuba. And the illegal taking of American property remains an unresolved issue between the two countries.
Instead of asking whether the embargo has accomplished its objectives, Mr. Trujillo should ask why the same thugs who took over the country in 1959 are still there after 54 years.
Any visitor to Cuba, by spending money there, is aiding and abetting the Cuban government to continue its hold on power. Yes, you can get a cheap vacation, but you would be benefiting from the misery of those who have endured more than five decades of repression and you are delaying the day when true reforms may actually be put in place.
Without freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom of the press, and with zero political freedom, not much will happen, tourists or no tourists.
Editor's note: Lino Piedra, a retired auto executive, was a member of the U.S. delegation to the 61st Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. He left Cuba in 1962.