Tonight’s Florida debate illustrates the profound lack of understanding that the current crop of Republican candidates have of the modern history of Cuba, with the possible exception of Ron Paul. I am no supporter of his. I disagree with virtually everything else that has ever come from his mouth, but I do give him credit for his assessment of US policy toward Cuba. Santorum’s comments---well, they speak for themselves. Romney doesn’t appear to have noticed that Fidel has been out of power for six years. In a blog published this evening, hillbuzz.org reported that when asked what should happen if Fidel dies, this is the discussion that took place:
"ROMNEY: First off, you thank Heavens that Castro is returned to his maker in another land. Then you work aggressively with the new Cuba. We just had Wilmer Someone who died for democracy. Obama is wrong. We want to stand with the people of CUBA. We will fight for democracy.
GINGRICH: I don’t think Fidel will meet his maker…he will go to another place. Our policy should be to overthrow the regime. Obama is infatuated with an Arab Spring but not a Cuban Spring. Reach out to every Cuban who wants to be free and tell the younger generation that a Gingrich presidency will not tolerate four more years of a dictatorship. Use covert operations and the things that Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul did to the Soviet Empire.
RON PAUL: I would do the opposite. I don’t like isolationism. The Cold War is over. We propped up Castro for 40 years. Castro used us as a scapegoat. Quit isolationism. We talked to the Soviets and the Chinese and Vietnamese. Why don’t we talk to Cuba? I would think Cubans want to have freedom there. Maybe we can send them packages and visit them. We should talk to the Cuban people. We don’t have to use force and intimidation and try to overthrow governments.
SANTORUM: Cuba is 90 miles off our shore. There are no Chinese people there. Sanctions should continue until Castro is there and then we will give them mountains of aid once they get rid of the Castro Brothers. We need to have a solid offer to come forward and help the Cuban people. There are Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans who want to work with Iran and have platforms 90 miles off our coast. This is a serious threat that will not go away until we confront the threat and convince the Cuban people to change their government."
The above discourse is disquieting. The Republicans do not have a clue as to what is presently going on in Cuba, and the Democrats are not much better equipped. I find it interesting that Gingrich mentioned the Arab spring. I think he has a point, but is not limited to Obama’s “infatuation.” The entire world is obsessed with the fallout from the Arab spring, and no one is really looking Cuba and seriously thinking about what is happening 90 miles from Florida. It is time for our government, and those who would lead it in the future, to create an informed foreign policy with respect to Cuba.