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Clinton, Castro, and Cuba

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August 19, 1994, will go down as a black day in the history of the United States. On that day, President William Jefferson Clinton began jailing Cuban refugees in an American concentration center on the American side of Cuba. It was the first time since the Cuban revolution in 1959 that people in Cuba were freer under Fidel Castro than under an American president.

There ought to be 250 million Americans rising up in anger and outrage over the president’s conduct. These Cubans are the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free — the people described on the Statue of Liberty. They have suffered for most of their lives under communist tyranny and oppression. They are now threatened with death by starvation.

They only seek to sustain their lives — and the lives of their spouses — and their children — and their parents.

They leave all of their earthly possessions behind. They say good-bye — possibly for the last time — to lifelong friends and relatives. Under cover of darkness, they tie their inner tubes together. They climb into their rickety, leaky rafts. They have little to eat or drink. They see how the scorching sun causes others to hallucinate and jump overboard, into the waiting mouths of sharks. They see arms and legs floating by. They know not what awaits them at the end of their journey.

And still they come.

Where have all the leftists gone?

And what awaits those who make it? Outstretched arms? Joy? Love? Happiness? Freedom?

Not exactly. What awaits them is a penitentiary. A penitentiary in Cuba. A penitentiary organized and run by U.S. government officials on the American side of Cuba.

President Clinton says that it is better that Cubans remain home where they can assist in the overthrow of Fidel Castro.

Now, since when has Bill Clinton become an ardent anticommunist? Twenty years ago, Clinton was asked to give his life to fight communism in Southeast Asia. His response? “Are you crazy? You think my life is going to be sacrificed to stop communism? I’m headed to Oxford.”

Today, despite the fact that he was unwilling to give his life in a fight against communism, Clinton says that Cubans should be willing to do so.

And what weapons does Clinton expect the Cubans to use against the machine guns that protect Fidel Castro? Sticks? Sugar canes? Rocks? Unfortunately, Castro and Clinton share the exact same perspective on the issue of gun control: that is, that only the government should own assault rifles, grenades, and other means by which people are able to resist effectively the tyranny of their own government. Hundreds of Cubans would be massacred if they assaulted Castro’s machine-gun nests with sticks, sugar canes, and rocks — and it is cruel and irresponsible for Clinton to even suggest the idea.

Clinton says: “The emigration of the Cuban refugees is the result of Castro’s failed system.” But notice that in speaking about Castro’s “failed system,” Clinton and others in his administration never go into specifics. What specifically is it about Castro’s system that has failed?

Let us scratch beneath the surface and see what we find. As we do so, ask yourself: Does Clinton oppose any part of Castro’s failed system? For the last thirty years, Castro’s failed system has consisted of:

(1) national health care; (2) public housing; (3) public schooling; (4) public works; (5) public spending; (6) high taxation; (7) welfare; (8) economic regulations; (9) guaranteed employment; (10) trade restrictions; (11) emigration and immigration controls; (12) wage and price controls; (13) antispeculation laws; (14) government monetary system.

In other words, if we examine carefully the specifics of Castor’s failed system, we find — voilá! — the economic philosophy of Bill Clinton! In fact, there is not one aspect of Castro’s economic philosophy that Bill Clinton does not wholeheartedly embrace.

And it is somewhat amusing to hear Clinton complaining about the nondemocratic aspects of Castro’s regime. After all, when Clinton decided that a 30-year American immigration policy should be changed, did he go to Congress, set forth his arguments, and ask that Congress change the policy? Of course not. Just as his nemesis Fidel Castro does in Cuba, Clinton ruled by decree. Exercising his role as the American ruler, he unilaterally decreed a major change in America’s 30-year-old immigration policy toward Cuban refugees.

Where have all the lovers of the poor gone?

No, the problem is not that Clinton has ideological differences with Fidel. On the contrary, their philosophies on the role of government in economic affairs are the same. Clinton and Castro are ideological brothers-comrades-in-arms — they both wholeheartedly endorse the welfare-state, regulated-economy way of life that has brought so much misery and poverty all over the world in the 20th century.

The problem, instead, is a practical one — these ideological brothers had a falling out many years ago. In 1980, Fidel permitted thousands of immigrants to flee to the United States. Many of them were housed in Arkansas, where Clinton was governor. Rioting took place in the Arkansas concentration centers in which the Cubans had been placed. Clinton lost his bid for reelection. And he has never forgiven Fidel Castro for helping to cause his political defeat.

Unfortunately, it is the Cuban people who must pay the price for this dispute between the American ruler and the Cuban ruler.

Of course, this is not the first time that U.S. immigration policy has been used to ensure that people remain under totalitarian tyranny. Recall what happened under the regime of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is presented to every child in every public school in America as one of history’s greatest humanitarians and lovers of the poor. Unfortunately, those attributes did not manifest themselves in 1938. For this was the year that FDR was asked if U.S. immigration policies could be relaxed in order to permit Jews to emigrate from Hitler’s Germany and enter the United States. The great humanitarian’s response? “This is not in contemplation. We have the quota system.”

One of these days, if Roosevelt and Clinton ever have their faces carved into some mountain in the Rockies, the following words can appear beneath them: “They ensured that people lived and died under Nazism and communism so that America could remain stable and pure.”

And what have we heard from American mayors and city-council members about the plight of the Cuban refugees? After all, whenever a local resident opposes a public-housing project in the community, local politicians are the first to exclaim: “You hate the poor. You hate the homeless. You are a racist.” One would naturally assume that, with their love for the poor and homeless, these politicians would openly embrace the Cuban refugees. Unfortunately, however, their silence has been deafening. Why? Because they cringe in fear that Clinton will do to them what Gorbachev did to Castro — cut off the millions of dollars in government largess that flows to local politicians and bureaucrats from the nation’s capitol.

Where have all the advocates for the homeless gone?

What is Clinton’s method of combating Castro’s socialism? Clinton (like all of his predecessors) believes that the way you fight socialism is with socialism.

What, in essence, has Castro done to the Cuban people since 1959? He has used the government to control their lives and fortunes — this is the core of the socialist philosophy — that people should not be free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth and decide for themselves what to do with that wealth.

And so what does the U.S. government decree? It prohibits the American people from traveling to Cuba and trading with the Cuban people! In other words, to fight Castro’s control over the lives and fortunes of the Cuban people, the U.S. government takes control of the lives and fortunes of the American people!

There is only one effective way to fight socialism overseas — with freedom! Americans have the moral right to do whatever they want with their own money — and to travel anywhere in the world without permission of their public officials. It is abhorrent — and a violation of every principle of freedom and every principle in the Declaration of Independence — that an American who travels to Cuba or does business with the Cuban people is jailed by American authorities for this conduct.

If Americans were free to travel and trade without political interference, would this mean that Castro would immediately end his socialist system? No. But every time Castro opened the door a little bit — whether by legalizing the use of dollars — or permitting a private hotel to be built in Havana — or selling fine cigars to Americans — American producers and consumers would rush through the opening, without having to concern themselves with interference from American politicians. As private Cubans became prosperous and wealthy, more and more doors would begin to creak open. And the increased levels of private wealth in Cuba would serve as an ever-growing counterweight to Castro’s political power. As private citizens flourished, Castro would become increasingly irrelevant.

Thus, it is the United States government’s embargo against Cuba that is ensuring the continuation of Castro’s omnipotent control over the Cuban people. Even worse, the embargo is causing starvation and death — not for Castro, but for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. The situation is the same as it is in Haiti — Clinton wishes to punish the foreign rulers, and so he imposes an embargo that instead starves and kills those at the bottom.

And it is not simply U.S. government trade embargoes that are causing so much misery, death, and destitution in different parts of the world. America’s protectionist policies are doing the exact same thing. When the U.S. government imposes a quota on imported sugar in order to protect American businessmen (welfare for the rich), consider what this does to sugar farmers in the Caribbean, not to mention what it does to American consumers.

Now, imagine the results if the American people required their government to end all quotas, import restrictions, and all other protectionist measures. Economies overseas would begin to flourish as a result of the increase in international trade, especially trade with American consumers! And that increase in prosperity would mean that people would no longer have to leave friends and family to escape starvation and destitution. Emigration and immigration would become a more natural process — one in which people were moving simply in order to find increased opportunities.

Where have all the 60s’protestors gone?

There is one positive aspect of the incarceration of Cuban refugees. At least now the charade behind the welfare state’s “We love the poor, the needy, and disadvantaged” is exposed for the lie that it is and always has been. The U.S. government — the government that professes to love those at the bottom of the economic ladder, with its public housing, food stamps, minimum-wage laws, welfare — once again takes off its velvet glove and exposes the ugliness of its iron fist. It slams the door on the Cuban poor and homeless. And then it herds them into American concentration centers far from American shores — on Clinton’s side of Cuba, where the hope is that they will ultimately seek asylum in some other country . . . perhaps even in Castro’s side of Cuba.

Gone to graveyards every one.

A few years ago, the German people tore down one of the most despicable walls in history. Is it not time that the American people do the same?

When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.