March 22, 1996 Halifax Herald

Superpowers: super-paranoid U.S. vs. super-poor Cuba

Paranoia of the contagious variety rules supreme in the mind of North Carolina's Senator Jesse Helms. Quite frankly, until he came to prominence with the Republican takeover of the US Senate in 1995, I didn't have any idea that any paranoia was contagious. But now, seeing as Helms's variety has spread to a large majority in the US Congress, and to President Bill Clinton himself, one must conclude that indeed, some are!

The object of Helms's paranoia is, of course, that colossal world super power, lying menacingly out in the Caribbean Sea - CUBA. I use capitol letters in spelling out the country's name in order to emphasise its overwhelming military importance.

The source of the country's military importance is mysterious. It appears that its poverty-stricken people, 10 million or so, have in their possession something so powerful that it is an overwhelming threat to the very existence of the United States of America, at least this is the impression I get when I hear Helms talk. As a matter of fact, the good Senator views the threat to world order from this Caribbean "Super-Power" as being of such great proportions that he has taken the extraordinary step of engineering, and pushing through Congress, legislation that attempts to compel the world's richest nations to stand side by side with the Americans in opposing it.

What causes this mindless reaction in the States towards what is essentially an impoverished third world country? Its not the shooting down of two unarmed, private American planes by the Cubans; because the American fixation about little Cuba's threat to them is decades older and apparently, as the present situation indicates, grows more pronounced as time passes.

But, before we talk more on this aspect of the problem, let’s discuss further the plane incident. When one examines the incident with an unbiased eye, one has to condemn the Cubans for taking the extreme action of shooting down unarmed planes; but one also has to condemn the Americans for permitting the situation to develop in the first place. In their piety, Helms and cohorts steadfastly refuse to take into account the fact that American law enforcement and military officials, as well as politicians themselves, were turning a blind eye to the illegal use of American territory by the owners of these planes to continually violate Cuban airspace. The pilots of these planes got so bold when violating Cuba's airspace that they flew over Havana, the capitol, dropping leaflets.

One has to wonder what the American reaction would be if the situation were reversed and Cuban jets, unarmed or otherwise, were caught flying over American airspace, in particular Washington. My prophesy is that they would be shot down, but the deed would be justified as a heroic action initiated to repel evil and hostile forces.

Paranoia! The Americans have had a blind panic about Cuba every since Castro came out of the hills in 1959 and unseated, from the American point of view, the saintly Batista. Although the political regime he brought with him, with its leftist belief of state supremacy over individual freedoms, is, for me - a person who is a fiscal conservative with a conscience - unacceptable; I believe, in the case of Cuba, the rise to power of Castro was the right thing for the time.

For those of us who are old enough to remember those days, the Cuba of Batista's era was one where the general population was exploited and severely oppressed. The vast majority were illiterate and poverty-stricken, and any kind of health care for them was almost unknown. Since Castro's assumption of power, this state of affairs has reversed; now the vast majority of citizens are literate and all are entitled to the same health care.

Pre-revolutionary Cuba had all the right elements needed in its poverty-stricken and oppressive social environment to breed communist and radical leftist regimes. Perhaps the American paranoia about Cuba's politics comes from a secret fear they harbour about similar leftist movements growing among the impoverished people living in the hell-hole slums of their large cities. Who knows for sure why they react so towards what is essentially nothing? But from Lenin, to Senator Joe McCarthy's inquisition-style inquiries into the American communist movement in the 1950s, to the present, Americans react to the word “communism” like the Devil reacts adversely, so I'm told, to Holy Water!

However, although I believe that Castro was the right man for Cuba in 1959, his country is now advanced enough to adopt democracy, a market economy, and prosper in it. I love the scenario that just came to mind: Castro is still enormously popular in Cuba. If the country adopted democracy and he ran for president, he would win hands down. How would the Americans react to a democratically elected Castro? Lord, the thought of the dismay this would cause people such as Helms is almost too much for my poor old mind to handle, I think I'll sign off to enjoy the happy thought!

Daniel N. Paul


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