When a nation feels threatened, it often implements extreme measures. We’ve seen that in the United States with the provisions of the Patriot Act, with the increased security at airports, with intrusions into our personal lives that would seem completely unreasonable under normal circumstances. The public accepts these things because of the specter of international terrorism.
The other day I made a wire transfer to Panama as part of my work with Herald of Truth. It was neither a large amount nor an unusual transfer; I’ve sent money to this person in the past.
But in order for the transfer to be completed, I had to go through a lengthy series of questions on the phone “to protect me from fraud.” That reason was a complete lie, which became more irritating as the Western Union employee repeated it. The interview had to do with governments wanting to know who is moving money internationally. The questions were more about me than they were about the recipient. When they asked where I’d last seen this person, and I had to answer: “Last month in Cuba,” I cringed as I thought how that will look in my record. But these things go on as nations seek to protect themselves.
That’s part of what complicates things in Cuba. You have to understand the Cuban situation in light of the threat the United States poses to their freedom. I know that sounds funny, but look at the facts:
- After the Cubans won their independence from Spain, the United States governed Cuba from 1899 until 1901.
- As the Cubans formed their first national government in 1901, the United States kept warships in the Havana harbor until the new Cuban government granted a series of concessions to the United States.
- The United States has occupied Cuban soil (in Guantanamo Bay) since 1898, most of that time doing so against Cuba’s will.
- The United States intervened in Cuba and set up a governor under U.S. control from 1906 to 1909.
- U.S. foces went to Cuba in 1912 to help put down an Afro-Cuban civil rights protest.
- During World War I, the United States sent troops to Cuba to protect U.S. interests there. This is often known as the Sugar Intervention.
- The U.S. supported the government of Fulgencio Batista, who was the de facto leader of Cuba during much of the 30s and the elected president of Cuba from 1940-44. In the 1950s, Batista took power as a military dictator, with the support of the United States. (I won’t go into all of Batista’s atrocities; let’s just say that he was one of many ruthless dictators supported by the U.S. during the 20th century)
- After Castro’s revolution overthrew Batista, the United States made several attempts to oust Castro, including a U.S. planned invasion (the Bay of Pigs) and numerous assassination attempts.
- The U.S. has maintained an economic embargo/blockade of Cuba to some degree since 1958. It began with an arms embargo in 1958, was expanded to include almost everything except food and medicine in 1960, and became a near total embargo in 1962.
This list doesn’t include numerous actions taken by operatives of the CIA and the USAID, some of which are documented and some are not. Nor does it discuss the influence of U.S.-based corporations and the U.S.-based Mafia in Cuba before the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
All of this to say that one major complication in understanding Cuba is the need to see it as a nation under siege. I’m not trying to comment on which of these actions were justified and which weren’t; the fact is they occurred and have enabled the Cuban government to operate in an emergency status for decades.
Are you starting to see why Cuba is a complicated place?