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Column 100906 Brewer

Monday, October 9, 2006

It is the Cubans Who Must Decide Their Future

By Jerry Brewer

Although claims and accusations of voting irregularities
are becoming frequent once again, nations looking to
shed their oppressed past need to be heard with
compassion. Such is the case for the Cuban people as
they face what could soon be the end of Fidel Castro’s
more than four-decade rule.

Castro took power in Cuba in 1959, after President
Fulgencio Batista fled during local guerrilla fighting.
Castro’s government began sweeping changes, both
socially and economically, without restoring promised
liberties. Opponents were imprisoned and many
executed. Over 700,000 Cuban citizens emigrated in
the first years of Castro’s rule, mostly to the United

Cuba’s communist state and turbulent rule resulted in a
U.S.-imposed trade embargo in 1962 that severely
damaged the Cuban economy. Cuba became
dependent on aid from other Communist countries, and
it was seriously impacted by the collapse and breakup
of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in
1991. The United States imposed even stiffer trade
sanctions in 1992, and once again in 1996, actions
taken especially due to Cuban aggression throughout
Latin America and in Angola during the 1970s and early

The perceived threat to the United States throughout
Castro’s dictatorial rule began with Cuba allowing Soviet
nuclear weapons to be placed on Cuban soil in 1962.
Too, Castro’s rule and self-claimed revolution
throughout Latin America certainly distanced him from
the United States. Castro’s envoy in his guerrilla cause
was leader Che Guevara, who traveled through the
underground networks of the continent encouraging
others to emulate the Cuban Revolution.

The United States further accused Castro of state
sponsored terrorism in the 1980s. Ilich Ramirez
Sanchez, also known as “Carlos” and/or “the Jackal,”
trained in Cuba at Camp Matanzas, with instructors that
included a USSR KGB general. Carlos the Jackal was
eventually captured in the Sudan with the help of a
specialized unit of the CIA’s Counter-terrorism Center in
August of 1994.

Does anyone believe that this past history is relevant to
the 21st Century? The relevance is certainly in the
eyes of the beholder. The vociferous recriminations by
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez against the United
States are surely morsels for thought. Especially as
Cubans look to their future and see the closeness of
Chavez to Castro with considerable similarity. Chavez’s
Bolivarian Revolution – with Castro as his self-claimed
mentor, resulted in the two enjoying a photo-op in
Argentina in July at the boyhood home of Che Guevara.

Castro’s long rule over Cuba’s island population has
brought years of misery to the homeland. His
communist ideology in Cuba’s internal and external
affairs unscrupulously forced much sacrifice upon the
citizens. However he has continuously been able to
avoid irreparable damage to himself and Cuba as a
whole. His ideology purely a means for the promotion
of a goal that guided him from the start – to reach the
country’s top position and stay there.

Much like his mentor, rule by Chavez of Venezuela
depends largely on the strength and security of his own
political position. His Bolivarian Revolution is clearly a
class system in which the populace owes its allegiance
to him. The reality of both Cuba and Venezuela is that
stability will eventually be dictated by mounting
domestic pressures and the citizen’s desire to rise
above poverty. This, the doctrine of nothing is ever
permanent in political situations — everything is
transitory and subject to the ultimate goal of self-

In Cuba, as well as Miami, you won’t have to look far to
find the disgruntled in masses. New generations of
people crying out for freedom and peace, as well as
technology, clothing, food, and other Western comforts.

And today Cuba is indeed approaching the crossroads of
democracy or continued dictatorial rule. The latter
involving continued tenacious perseverance under
manipulative rule.

A right turn instead of a left at this crucial intersection
will require the rejection and eradication of continued
post Fidel Castro despotic rule and ideological influence.
Partners for peace will be needed, and Cuba will need
to oppose similar revolutions and renewed attempts to
carry on as usual that might come from neighboring
nations to the south.

As this new era approaches, free nations should be
ready to offer a helping hand when the time comes.
Yet it is the Cubans themselves who must ultimately
choose their future, and the dilemma will be in
acquiring the freedom to decide.

Jerry Brewer, the Vice President of Criminal Justice
International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm
headquartered in Miami, Florida, is a guest columnist
with He can be reached via e-mail at