The Third Intervention Project:
The Rule of Outrage
By: Alberto Luzárraga
This article is directed to those US congressmen, businessmen
and others that play with Cuba's freedom under the guise of "helping"
the Cuban people. A bit of history first. Cuba has experienced two
military interventions by the Unites States. The first was the
consequence of the war with Spain. The Cuban Republic in Arms
represented the people but in a state of uprising. The United States
Army, as it occupied Cuba after Spain's exit, found a devastated country
and a people without democratic experience. It took on the task to
rebuild and facilitate elections. And it did the job. Cuba was rebuilt,
the administration was honest, institutions were organized and in 1902
elections took place for a Constitutional Assembly, Municipalities,
Congress and the Presidency. To sum up, a Rule of Law was established.
The Platt Amendment imposed on the Cuban Constitutional Assembly gave
the U.S. a right of intervention and was the only issue that marred this
otherwise commendable effort. The Amendment was a project of the
congress responding to American investors who desired guarantees for
their investments. They feared that a young country without democratic
experience would veer from the democratic path and the Rule of Law and
fall into civil disorder. (The Platt Amendment was abrogated by mutual
consent in 1934)
Unfair as it was, it at least sought to maintain the Rule of Law. In
1906, against the wishes of President Roosevelt, a second intervention
took place provoked by political fights that spilled over into civil
unrest. Roosevelt tried hard not to intervene. He sent Secretary Taft
(later President Taft) to Havana to promote a settlement. After three
months of efforts he gave up and the second intervention began. It was
administered not by a military man but by a machine politician, Charles
Magoon who spent money right and left in order to buy peace.
However, during the two years of the Magoon administration, the rule of
Law was strengthened not weakened. Excellent legislation drafted by
Cuban jurists was enacted, clean elections took place, and power was
restored to a properly elected president. The Rule of Law pertaining to
the workings of a representative republic was reestablished.
During the intervention and in subsequent Cuban administrations,
citizens rights were respected. The institutions created in 1902
prospered. In those distant years there were free unions in Cuba, labor
bargaining, an independent judiciary, habeas corpus, judicial review of
the law to insure constitutionality, and rights such as protection
against illegal takings, illegal searches and seizures, and all others
conferred by a liberal democracy.
What a disgusting regression in values! Today, a sector of the American
congress allied again to business and other interests, does not appear
to have many libertarian scruples or to be much concerned with the Rule
of Law. Incredibly it seeks to intervene in a none too subtle manner in
order to promote tyranny rather than liberty!
Cuba has lacked free elections for 43 years, there are hundreds of
thousands of victims of the longest tyranny in the Americas, a huge
number of Cuban citizens have gone through jail or died for the simple
"crime" of disagreeing, property rights are a joke, habeas corpus has
been suppressed, freedom of expression is limited to saying: "yes
And we face a labor situation worthy of a Dumas novel wherein the Cuban
state pockets 95% of what it collects from foreign investors for wages
of the labor force which is rented out in the most cynical manner.
Castro thus violates several International Labor Conventions signed by
both Cuba and the United States, and ratified by our congress. Yet some
of its members ignore this fact while blithely asserting their "concern"
for the people. The European tourism and foreign investment that allowed
this abuse of power have only benefited the new class and not the
people, as repression and exploitation have become worse. Money keeps
the government Dobermans well fed.
But our congressmen and their cohorts seem bent to fulfill an ambition:
to be complicit in this abuse. Scores of congressmen and businessmen
visit, cater to, and fawn before the Cuban version of a decrepit
godfather hoping to gain a portion of the loot for their supporters
Their argument: the embargo did not work, we must try something else.
Which really means: given that we could not reform the gang lets
participate in the loot and sell them what they need.
But wait, it gets worse. Castro is broke so in order to buy, he needs
credit and of course the "smart" thing to do is to make the US
government the creditor, to whom the sellers would sell thereby sticking
it to the US. taxpayer.
For contrast, again a bit of history. During the first US intervention
the Foraker Law was passed prohibiting American companies to bid for
government projects in order to avoid patronage and corruption. The Army
meant business: the Postmaster General appointed by the military
government was found to be stealing and was indicted, judged, declared
guilty, swiftly cashiered, sent to the United States and punished. Those
Americans had a high regard for the nation's honor.
The problem, gentlemen of the congress, is that the purpose of the
embargo was to point out to the world that there were thieves that
robbed American citizens and then threatened them with nuclear
catastrophe. It was deemed an appropriate sanction and a fair one
considering the alternative, Cuba's obliteration, which the US can do
anytime it wants but has properly refrained from doing. Reform of the
gang was not the objective, but simply letting the Cubans come to their
own conclusions. This has happened, Castro is broke not only financially
but morally as well. He rules his people by fear and armed force and
faces an increasingly difficult internal situation coupled to
international condemnation of his human rights practices.
But today the policy of our congressmen is really "creative": Given that
the gang won't change, their solution is:
Let us inaugurate a new way of doing things in the continent, The Rule
That would be the true result, because with investors in cahoots with
the ruling gang there would be no labor or citizen rights to be
respected, no checks and balances. Profits would be quick and juicy, and
even better, paid in part by Uncle Sam.
And what about tyranny, gentlemen of the congress? Your actions imply
the answer which is not voiced but clear nonetheless: "Ah well, that
will "evolve", we can't all expect to enjoy the same rights at the same
time. Some of us are more equal than others, and anyway social
experiments in other countries are extremely interesting. Cuba should
take its proper place as a provider of cheap labor and vicarious
pleasures." That is the truth, in all of its poorly disguised, cynical
Fortunately the Executive Power has more common sense and a better
feeling for the honor of the American nation. The President has
announced that he will veto the legislation that would wrap up the deal
with the gang. Let us hope that it will happen and that the time thus
gained will be employed by the gentlemen of congress in studying history
and in replenishing their personal supply of the principles that have
made this country great and that were so well put into play by their
Be that as it may, what is monumentally stupid is to expect the Rule of
Outrage to have a future. One hundred years ago, when it emerged as a
country, Cuba may have lacked a population with a working concept of
democracy. But today there are almost two million of Cubans in exile.
Many have distinguished themselves in politics, business and the arts
and know what it is all about. And in Cuba proper, there is an educated
dissidence that has learned through suffering and will not be
manipulated as easily as the good congressmen and their allies in the
Cuban government think.
Face up to it, you are interventionists but not very bright. Like it or
not, you must rely on the repressive forces of the present government to
implement your vision of things and such arrangements do not last.
No, you won't sell your wares in Cuba, enjoy the protection of those
that now govern, and expect that when the inevitable change occurs you
will simply say: "Congratulations! Tyranny has ended but my business and
my abuses are to be respected, and lets move on." That tune will not
play well in Cuba. The Cuban totalitarians have been a headache. The
democrats will be a worse one, but if you wish to add that "exploit" to
your record, go ahead , because as the saying goes: to each his own
poison. Cubans have a lot of defects and some virtues: they are
imaginative, hard working and persistent. They understand the game and
will be back again and again to denounce the abuse and ask for justice