We owe the Chinese a large number of inventions, some of which it would be hard for them to take pride for. Think, for example, about Lingchi, a method of execution whereby those guilty of mayor crimes faced death by a thousand cuts. Thus seems to be the fate of the various laws and regulations imposing U.S. sanctions against the Cuban government.
A Republican senator from Arizona has authored a bill eliminating all the travel restrictions Americans have for years faced when visiting Cuba and authorizing the kind of travel-related banking transactions travelers usually engage in. The bill is said to have the support of over half the Senate.
A Republican member of the House, from Arkansas, has drafted a bill aimed at removing restrictions on the financing of exports of food, dairy products and other agricultural products to Cuba, while applying a two percent excise tax to all agricultural products sold to the island. The funds thus collected would be used to compensate those who have U.S. certified claims of properties confiscated by the Cuban government.
The young man from Arkansas claims he has been negotiating his bill with the Cuban-American delegation to Congress, and if so, the first question that comes to mind is why our Cuban-American politicians seldom take the lead when it comes to proposing bold measures that go beyond the stale Cuban exile party-line of “No Castro, No Problem”.
The answer may be that this bill does not give satisfaction to the delusional expectations of some Americans of Cuban descent whose ancestors were not yet American at the time their properties were taken.
The money from the excise tax will go to compensate the claims of those who were American citizens or corporations at the time their property was expropriated by the Cuban Revolution and had their claims certified as such by the U.S. government decades ago. It is not meant to compensate those who were Cuban citizens at the time of the takings.
For years now I have been frequently approached by people whose Cuban ancestors’ properties were taken by the Cuban Revolution and who are victims of a kind of America-centric bias, which makes them believe that sorting out who owns what in Cuba will be played out in U.S. courts and under our U.S. legal system. In my view, this is nothing more than a delusion, which is why I refuse to take their money. I don’t have any clients with this type of concern or goal, unless they understand that the only venue where they can expect to find satisfaction for their claim would be a Cuban court, ruling under Cuba’s laws. I have not found one such client yet.
Cuba does not apologize for its laws, and it acts from a position of strength, based on those laws which, whether we in Miami like it or not, are the laws of the land.
Cuba does not hide its history of past expropriations or takings. It has even published books telling us what was taken from whom and why in the early revolutionary years.
And Cuba has never turned its back to a discussion of those laws and their consequences as we have systematically done by conditioning such talks to Cuba first becoming Switzerland, as a good friend and colleague of mine likes to say.
We have a Cuban-American senator from Florida who, when unable to accomplish his goals in Congress, blames our flawed political system while wisely pointing out that system is, still, the only one we have. To me that sounds like an invitation to change our flawed system –even acknowledging its fragility-, something he is in a much better position to do than you or me.
He may want to begin by taking the lead in matters affecting the true interests of both the American and the Cuban people, interests that are accurately represented in the two above-mentioned legislative proposals.
But if he really wants to boldly take the lead in draining this quagmire of legal uncertainty and delusions created by the Cuban embargo laws, he should simply go for the outright lifting of the embargo, thus sparing it the slow death by a thousand cuts it inexorably faces.