In a speech earlier this month to the Organization of American States, Vice President Mike Pence issued the standard, obligatory denunciation of the communist regime in Cuba, which the U.S. national-security establishment (i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA) have targeted for regime change ever since the Cuban revolution in 1959.
Pence stated: “In Cuba, the Castro name has begun to fade, but under a handpicked successor, their legacy endures and the oppressive police state they established is ever-present. Under President Donald Trump, America will always stand for Que Viva Cuba Libre.”
That’s pure nonsense. Under American conservatives and the U.S. national-security establishment, America has always stood for “Que Viva Una Dictadura conservativa en Cuba.”
The last thing that American conservatives and Pentagon, CIA, and NSA officials want for Cuba is genuine freedom. When they say they want a Cuba “libre,” what they really mean is that they want to replace the Castro regime with a pro-U.S. right-wing dictatorship, just like the one that the Cuban revolutionaries ousted from power in the revolution—the brutal dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista. That’s what they call “freedom.”
Batista is their model. U.S. officials loved him. They supported him. They adored him. That’s because he did the bidding of the U.S. government. He obeyed the CIA’s orders.
So, why did the Cuban people oust Batista from power? For the same reason that the Iranian people ousted the CIA’s hand-picked Iranian dictator from power in the Iranian revolution in 1979. Batista, like the Shah of Iran, was one of the most brutal and corrupt dictators in the world. Batista was a dictator who partnered with the Mafia, the premier criminal organization in the world. He permitted the Mafia to operate casinos in Havana in return for the payment of generous bribes to the government. He also permitted the Mafia to use Cuba as a way station for the importation of heroin into the United States.
To ensure that the Mafia’s Havana casinos could compete effectively against those in Las Vegas, Batista’s partnership with the Mafia included having government henchmen go out and kidnap young girls in outlying towns and villages in Cuba and bring them into Havana to be raped by well-heeled gamblers. It was a perk that the Las Vegas casinos were unable to offer. It was one of those rapes that inspired a woman named Celia Sanchez, not Fidel Castro, to launch the Cuban revolution.
What if anyone objected? He was arrested, incarcerated, tortured, and sometimes killed. There was never an independent judiciary or legislature to stop or inhibit Batista. His was a dictatorship in the pure sense of the word, no different in principle from the dictatorship that Castro would adopt. One was a right-wing dictatorship, the other a left-wing dictatorship.
That’s what the battle that the U.S. national-security establishment has waged against the Castro regime has always been all about—trying to get rid of Castro to install another right-wing dictatorship in Cuba, one that will be “pro-U.S.,” meaning that it will do whatever the U.S. national-security triumvirate wants it to do.
Look at Chile. To this day, American conservatives, the Pentagon, and the CIA express great pride over having brought “freedom” to Chile in the U.S. national-security state’s regime-change operation in the early 1970s, when they violently ousted from power the leftwing, democratically elected socialist regime of Salvador Allende and replaced it with the rightwing unelected military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Never mind that Pinochet and his national-security state goons proceeded to round up tens of thousands of people and incarcerate, torture, rape, disappear, or execute thousands of them. Since the victims were suspected of believing in communism or socialism or of having voted for Allende, it was considered entirely appropriate to kidnap, torture, rape, disappear, or execute them.
U.S. officials and American conservatives loved Pinochet. That’s why they set into motion the forces that brought the coup that violently ousted Allende (and left him dead) and replaced him with Pinochet. That’s why they flooded Pinochet’s coffers with U.S. taxpayer money.
That’s what they want for Cuba. It’s what they have always wanted. That’s their concept of “Cuba libre.” Another Augusto Pinochet. Another Fulgencio Batista. Another Carlos Castillo Armas, the brutal right-wing dictator that the CIA installed into power in Guatemala in the CIA’s successful regime-change operation in which that country’s democratically elected president was also violently removed from office. Another Shah of Iran. Or another Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the brutal rightwing military dictator who currently rules Egypt, who the Pentagon and the CIA have long supported, embraced, and partnered with.
What Pence failed to note in speech to the OAS was the commonality of economic beliefs between American conservatives (including Cuban exiles), the U.S. national security establishment, and the communist regime in Cuba.
Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid. Free public (i.e., government) schooling. A central bank. Irredeemable paper money. Drug laws. Travel restrictions. Economic regulations. Income taxation. Occupational licensure. A standing army. Massive government surveillance. Obsessiveness over “security.”
They are all part and parcel of the communist-socialist regime in Cuba. They are also part and parcel of the political and economic philosophy of American conservatives, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. They love these socialist and totalitarian-like programs and apparatuses here in the United States. They consider them to be “freedom.” Thus, they have no desire to dismantle them in Cuba. They just want their right-wing dictator to rule over the system.
While Pence pointed out in his OAS speech the massive violations of civil liberties in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, he forgot to mention what has been occurring on the U.S. side of Cuba, at Guantanamo Bay, the military base that U.S. officials forced Cuban official to grant them more than a century ago. Indefinite detention. Why, there are now people at the Pentagon-CIA prison in Cuba that have been denied a trial for more than a decade! Torture. Denial of due process. Hearsay in trials (if they ever have trials). Kangaroo military tribunals. In other words, the same type of “judicial” system that is found in communist and other totalitarian regimes.
Pence did mention the U.S. system of sanctions on Venezuela, which bring even more economic suffering to the Venezuelan people than they are already suffering under their dictator’s socialist system. The Venezuelan people are supposed to be grateful for the additional economic suffering inflicted by the U.S. government because it is intended to bring regime-change to their country.
The U.S. sanctions on Venezuela bring to mind, of course, those that were enforced against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. While those sanctions never brought the regime-change that U.S. officials hoped for, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright expressed the official sentiment of the U.S. government when she told Sixty Minutes that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.”
Oddly, Pence didn’t mention the brutal U.S. embargo against Cuba, the Cold War-era measure that is still in existence today, which, in combination with Cuba’s socialist system, has brought untold economic suffering to the Cuban people as a way to finally get a regime change that will bring a pro-U.S. rightwing dictatorship back to Cuba.
For that matter, Pence also didn’t mention the CIA’s partnership with Batista’s partner, the Mafia, and their repeated attempts to murder Fidel Castro, or the CIA’s paramilitary invasion of Cuba, or the Pentagon’s Operation Northwoods, or the CIA’s many acts of sabotage and terrorism inside Cuba, which left many innocent Cubans dead.
Never mind that Cuba has never attacked or invaded the United States or even threatened to do so. That is considered irrelevant. The Pentagon and the CIA had the “right” to aggress against Cuba, U.S. officials say, because Castro was a communist.
And of course, Pence didn’t mention the destruction of American liberty in all this, especially by punishing American citizens with fines and incarceration for exercising their fundamental, God-given, natural rights of freedom of travel and private property by traveling to Cuban or spending money there.
Pence’s talk to the OAS is the very model of the hypocrisy that goes to the core of U.S. foreign policy, especially when it comes to the U.S. national-security establishment’s Cold War enemies.
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Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.