The Castro government has argued for decades that the reason for not having elections and basic civil liberties is the ever present danger of the American superpower ninety miles away from Cuba's shores. The height of this cynical argument came when Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace prize winner and former President of Costa Rica, was told no political opposition was needed in Cuba because Washington's was sufficient.
Two hundred years ago another small country faced off against a world superpower, and like Cuba in 1960 approached the opposing superpower for help in an alliance of convenience. Yet, unlike Fidel Castro the first order of business when this nation was born and the revolution a success was not to eliminate civil liberties, but rather to expand and guarantee them.
The United States had sought to separate itself from the greatest empire in world history: the British Empire. A bloody war was fought, and an alliance was forged with France which at the time was an absolute and an unjust monarchy. This was done out of a necessity to succeed in the American Revolution. Unlike Castro, even before a treaty of stability was signed with Britain, the rights of the American people were not sacrificed for the sake of the nebulous term "reasons of state." Remember at the end of the Revolutionary war, the Americans found themselves facing Great Britain on their immediate north in Canada and France on their immediate west. Instead of instituting a police state and becoming a de-facto colony of the French as the Cubans became of the Soviet Union. The American Founders played a calibrated game of balance between the two superpowers, because both posed a threat to American sovereignty and the emerging republic.
At this time of heightened tension free men met together and drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights which limited the power of the state over the individual and divided the power of the state into three separate branches to further weaken its ability to become a tyranny like the one in France or the despotism of King George in England which they had just escaped. During the first 36 years of the American Republic, a period of danger and instability, the Americans elected five presidents. Even though the people wanted to re-elect Washington, the first president, for a third term he turned it down and retired. Setting a tradition for presidents serving only two terms. This informal tradition lasted until Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. Fidel Castro did not give up power and has remained in power for over 36 years. In addition one party gained and remained in power throughout this period and any opposition was and has always remained outlawed. Unlike Castro, the Americans encouraged an armed populace to defend against external threats, and the potential threat from the state. Castro disarmed the Cuban people.
Both Revolutions were threatened early on by external threats sent by superpowers. Although the Bay of Pigs was led by Cuban exiles trying to restore democracy to Cuba; this was only halfheartedly supported by the Americans. The British in the War of 1812 burned the U.S. capitol to the ground, and occupied American territory. Clearly a greater threat to the American Revolution than the Bay of Pigs to the Cuban Revolution. Yet Castro claims that he cannot hold elections, respect civil liberties, nor allow an opposition because of external threats. He is nothing more than a machiavellian seeking to preserve his personal and absolute power.
The American example shows what brave men with strong patriotic and democratic values can accomplish with the odds against them. Fidel Castro is no George Washington nor is he a Thomas Jefferson. The only contemporary figure of the American Revolution that Castro resembles is Louis XVI who stated "Etat es moi" that he was the state. A reactionary despot living in the delusions of a bygone era executed by the French people. His end was the guillotine and the French Revolution. We shall wait and see what the Revolution against Castro's tyranny will choose for his end.
by John Suarez
"Cubanos, no hay hombre sin patria,
ni patria sin libertad."
" Cubans, man does not exist without a nation,
nor the nation exist without liberty."
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Last Updated: Sunday, January 07, 1996