The New York Times recently carried an interesting article about Cuban citizens who are wearing clothes depicting the American flag. The fashion statement reflects the excitement among the Cuban people for renewed relations between the United States and Cuba and a hope that the decades-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba will finally be lifted.
The downside to this phenomenon is that it might encourage U.S. national-security state officials, especially those in the CIA, to believe that Cubans are finally willing to embrace a U.S. regime-change operation that ousts the communist regime from power and installs a pro-U.S. dictatorship in its stead.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While the Cuban people love America, they absolutely hate the U.S. government, specifically the national-security state branch of the federal government.
That notion shocks lots of Americans because for them America and the federal government are one and the same thing. That’s why, for example, they equate patriotism with love of the national-security branch of the government, specifically the military.
For example, consider the Washington Nationals baseball team. As part of their 2015 Patriotic Series, they are celebrating Military Appreciation Day. For the Nationals, that’s what patriotism is about — honoring and glorifying the military component of the national-security branch of the federal government.
The problem is that Americans have been inculcated with the notion of conflating the federal government and the country. Under this conflation mindset, when someone expresses his love of America, he is, at the same time, expressing his love of the federal government. By the same token, anyone who expresses disdain for the military or the CIA shows, under the conflation mindset, that he actually hates America.
Not so with the Cuban people. In their minds, America the country is a separate and distinct entity from the federal government, including America’s standing army and the CIA.
I had firsthand experience with this phenomenon when I visited Cuba many years ago. I had secured a license from the Treasury Department and a special journalist’s visa from the Cuban Interest Section to travel to Cuba to conduct a study on both Cuba’s socialist economic system and the effects of the U.S. embargo.
I was fully prepared to be treated very badly by the Cuban people, given how the U.S. government has done everything it can for more than 50 years to squeeze the economic life out of Cuban citizens with its cruel and brutal embargo. But it was the exact opposite. I have traveled to Mexico, Central America, and South America and I have never encountered nicer, more genuine people than Cubans. I couldn’t believe how nice they were to me, especially after discovering that I was an American.
One day I asked a cab driver: “Why are people here so nice to me after what my government has done to them with its embargo?” His answer was interesting and revealing: “What responsibility do you have for what your government does?”
The responsibility question was an interesting one but what struck me was how he distinguished between the American people — i.e., the private sector — and the U.S. government — i.e., the public sector. That is not something many Americans are able to do.
One day, a boy about 17 or 18 came up to me on the street and asked, “You’re an American, aren’t you?” I said yes. He said, “Could I say something to you?” I said sure. He then asked me to follow him to a side street and into the entranceway to someone’s home. He looked around and said to me, “I have to be very cautious that no one hears what I am about to tell you.” I said okay.
He said words to the following effect: “I would like you to know that my biggest dream in life is to visit the United States. I especially want to lay my eyes on the Statue of Liberty. I love everything America stands for. I love the Declaration of Independence. I love your country. I just wanted you to know that.”
It was very clear that he was referring to America and not the federal government. He was referring to the principles of liberty expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the principles that America once stood for.
What the Pentagon and the CIA have never understood, given that they suffer from the conflation mindset, is how the Cuban people can love America without, at the same time, loving the U.S. government, especially the Pentagon and the CIA. The mindset of the national-security branch of the government is the same as that of the Washington Nationals — love of America automatically equates to love of the U.S. military.
But the fact is that the Cuban people, while loving America, hate the federal government or, to be more specific, what the federal government has done under the guidance of the national-security branch of the government. In fact, while most Cubans oppose the socialist system they live under and would relish economic liberty, they continue to revere Fidel and Raul Castro for standing up to the U.S. government and finally freeing Cuba from the control of U.S. government officials.
The Cubans have not forgotten the Batista regime. How could they? It was one of the most brutal and corrupt dictatorships in history. Imagine: The Batista regime had a partnership with the Mafia — yes, the same criminal organization that the CIA would later partner with in its repeated attempts to murder Fidel Castro for believing in communist ideas. Arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention, torture, and extra-judicial executions. They were all core elements of Batista’s regime. And it was all done in cahoots with the U.S. government.
The Cubans also haven’t forgotten the U.S. government’s sneak attack at the Bay of Pigs, an invasion conjured up by the CIA. They also haven’t forgotten about the many acts of terrorism and sabotage that CIA operatives inflicted inside Cuba. They also haven’t forgotten the U.S. government’s continuing harboring of accused terrorist Jose Posada Carriles, the man suspected of the terrorist bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed dozens of innocent people, including the members of Cuba’s national fencing team. And, of course, they haven’t forgotten the embargo.
Indeed, they haven’t even forgotten how the U.S. government double-crossed them during the Spanish American War, leading them to believe that U.S. officials were helping them to secure independence from Spain only to be subject to U.S. rule. They also haven’t forgotten how the U.S. secured Guantanamo Bay by having U.S.-installed puppet regime execute the lease for the property.
There is nothing more that the Cuban citizenry would love more than to have free and open relationships with the American people. They just want to be left alone by the U.S. government, especially the Pentagon and the CIA. It was a sentiment expressed as far back as 1964, when Cuban communist official Che Guevara answered ABC news reporter Lisa Howard’s question about what the U.S. government should do regarding Cuba: “Just leave us alone.”