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This is no time to give Castroism quarter, and Bob Menéndez knows it

Far from what some members of the Democratic Party believe, the abrupt increase in Cuban migration is driven by Castroism, and has nothing to do with the embargo.

La Habana
Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez.
Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez. B. Menéndez/Twitter

Last May, Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, backed by more than 50 economists and foreign policy specialists, sent a letter to President Biden, demanding a lifting of the embargo on the grounds that, according to her and her experts, it exacerbates migration to the United States.

The letter was answered in less than 24 hours —an immediacy that shows passion and commitment— by Democrat Bob Menéndez, president of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the champions of a hard line against the regime in Havana, even though this position is often vilified for its apparent failure.

The case is that, although the optimal result of the US embargo, to democratize Cuba, has not been achieved, how many of the "rights" (more like permissions) that Cubans today enjoy, and that their  predecessors in the 70s and 80s did not, would have existed had that hypercentralized economy remained undaunted, allowing Castroism to violate civil and economic rights? And (experts in international politics should know about this) how many resources, if any, would the Cuban government have devoted to financing armed guerrillas in Latin America?

If, as broke as Castroism is (though not the Castroites) it has continued to support urban movements to destabilize governments in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, and has continued to promote anti-Americanism, via the Sao Paulo Forum, and similar "open veins" and empty brains initiatives south of the Rio Grande, how much more damage would it have done if it had possessed resources?

In his response, Bob Menéndez addressed the heart of the matter. Even though the United States suffers uncontrolled illegal immigration, without being intimidated by how the Cuban dictatorship regulates human flows at its convenience, he focused the dispute on the issue that should center it, right where it should be: the values and principles of freedom and rights, such as those enjoyed in the United States, but that the oh-so progressive congresswoman Veronica Escobar and her allies does not seem to care about in Cuba.

The Cuban-American senator understands that the abrupt increase in migration from the island in the last two years, far from being caused by the embargo, demonstrates precisely the opposite: the scant relationship between these two phenomena, since the unprecedented increase in migratory flows was not preceded by any intensification of the "blockade," which, on the contrary, is increasingly permeable, as shown by the billions in commerce taking place between Cuba and the United States.

What did change two years ago was the Castroist policy that, through the "Ordering Task," when the country was at the peak of COVID, rejected, with one fell swoop, the paternalistic policies of Fidelism, at the same time devastating real wages to make state companies more efficient, after wiping out self-employment, a truly private sector, thriving even with the limitations it suffered. In short, it was Havana's policies, not Washington's, that unleashed the wave of migration.

Menéndez, moreover, understands that only a government that does not allow its people freedoms, and that is unaccountable to them (and that is the crux of the matter) can launch, with impunity, such a cruel and malicious policy, whose objectives include promoting emigration in order to ease pressure on the country and boosting the number of Cubans who send dollars from abroad, at the same time the Democratic Administration is pressured to make concessions in exchange for nothing; a new Obamization.

"The truth is that Cubans and Venezuelans are leaving their homelands due to a simple fact: they suffer under the yoke of brutal dictatorships that violently persecute their citizens and that have destroyed the economies of their countries through mismanagement and widespread bribery," the senator correctly observed.

In  Cuba, economics and politics have been the same thing ever since Castroism stole the means of production, including the labor force, and subordinated the well-being of the people to keeping its people in power. Cuban emigrants, as much as or more than Salvadorans or Guatemalans, are fleeing from an armed and violent gang, with the difference that on the island the criminals comprise the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), which kidnapped the Government 64 years ago, taking the entire country hostage.

Thus to give in to migratory pressure, disregarding the political destiny of the island, is not only despicable and morally unjustifiable, but also, and above all, to legitimize and finance an openly hostile regime that actively conspires with the greatest enemies of the American people (China, Russia, Iran), with the resume of having installed the nuclear missiles of an enemy and bellicose power just minutes from some American metropolises.

And, to top it off, the argument of the migratory wave, in addition to being morally invalid, is counterproductive as well; how much more migration would the United States receive if the Castros managed to multiply their infection beyond Venezuela and Nicaragua?

Castroism, contrary to what American progressivism believes, is extremely conservative, and only desists when it is forced to. This is no time to ease up on the regime, as the "rights" that Castroism has conceded are reversible, or aimed at its own salvation. Only when the country embraces the rule of law will the embargo cease to be useful; only then, not now, and Menéndez knows it.

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