Republican Candidate Mitt Romney’s promises mirror Newt Gingrich’s. Romney and Gingrich both attempt to link their Cuba policies to the memory of President Reagan, the Helms-Burton Act, and re-imposition of travel and remittance restrictions. By a strange coincidence, both campaigns also advance the same new idea, combatting the Castro regime through the Internet.
Gingrich promises to promote a “Cuban Spring” parallel to the Arab Spring democratization movement. He doesn’t explain how this might occur, but American news media gave much credit to Internet media and social networks for the success of the Arab Spring. Romney apes Gingrich by attempting touse Gingrich’s “Cuban Spring” ideas without giving his opponent credit--or spending five minutes investigating the restrictions on the Cuban Internet on Wikipedia. Romney promises he will “employ robust Internet, social media, and other innovative steps to bring information to the Cuban people and help them send information out.” Cuba, unfortunately, follows the North Korean approach to the Internet, as the brief article “Internet in Cuba” in Wikipedia explains. Internet access and connection of the Cuban Internet to the outside world is severely restricted. In fact, Cubans have less access to the Internet than the citizens of any other country in the Western hemisphere.
Fidel Castro and his niece tweet. Foreigners and selected officials in Cuba can access Internet sites outside Cuba. In general, Cuban dissidents can’t. For example, Yoani Sanchez (@yoanisanchez) microblogs on Twitter via sms, perhaps by means of a foreign sim card, and can only add posts to her blog through a complex secret network of friends who, in essence, smuggle the posts out. Does Romney propose to donate satellite phones to dissidents in Cuba so that they can have access to Facebook? One American activist is already in a Cuban prison for distributing laptops and satellite phones. Who will deliver the phones, Seal Team 6?
The Romney campaign bills his statement as “Governor Mitt Romney on Cuba and Latin America.” The 642-word document thus has a wider scope that Gingrich’s statementson his ideas on Cuba because Romney devotes the final 208 words of the piece to the rest of Latin America. He decries “the anti-American Bolivarian movement” of “Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers” and cites the drug and terror connections of the movement as a security threat to the U.S. and its allies. The Wikileaks cables brought to light the rather minor involvement of Cuba with Columbian and Basque terrorists. Cuba has very strict drug laws, and executions of government officials involved in drug shipment suggests that the corruption of the regime bears responsibility for Cuban drug trafficking. The “drug-terror nexus” Romney writes about may not exist as policy in the “anti-American Bolivarian movement.”
Romney’s statement devotes 138 of 208 words to the Bolivarian movement. Aside from Cuba and Venezuela, eighteen other countries make up Latin America. These countries go without comment.
Rick Santorum, the only other serious candidate in the race, is running behind Romney and Gingrich.The official website of the Santorum campaign offers no statement or position papers on Cuba as of this writing. Santorum recently added his hysterical note to a recent Republican debate with claims that the Castro regime might allow Jihadists to put missiles in Cuba. Perhaps in response, Fidel Castro wrote on cubadebate.com that the race to select the Republican candidate for president was “the biggest competition of B.S. and ignorance that’s ever been listened to” (this writer’s translation). We all wish the candidates would rise to the occasion and prove him wrong. (This writer reported on Gingrich’s statements in a Jan. 20 article.)