The American Empire’s obsession with Cuba has endured thirteen presidencies and counting, yet the neurosis is unlikely to be cured anytime soon. On Thursday, the twenty-second of April, NBC News published an inflammatory feature urging the Biden Administration to exploit the political volatility in Cuba to enforce the Empire’s economic and social philosophy. The feature in question was authored by Elena Sheppard, who begins her propaganda piece with the unsubtle declaration: “The Castro regime is why my family left Cuba.” She alleges that her family fled the island in fear of instability in the aftermath of the revolution of 1958, and while such fear was understandable, her subsequent description of her family as “exiles” is not. The term “exile” implies a forcible and involuntary removal of one by another, not an elective exodus; and while we recognize that some flight is effectively compelled, such as the mass departure from the annihilated remains of Libya, the conditions of post-revolutionary Cuba came nowhere close to meeting such a standard.
As may be expected, this is not Sheppard’s only indulgence of pseudohistory. She does not explain any of the reasons for the Cuban Revolution. She does not mention any of the western corporations (several of which are still in operation today) that purchased unnatural power and favoritism from the colonialist government. Those corporations amassed incredible wealth that they never even considered sharing with the natives, and political injustice inevitably followed the economic injustice. Such a situation ought to inspire revolutionary action, but only among psychologically healthy people—which is why it has not yet occurred in the United States. We do not suggest that every action taken in the name of that revolution is morally commendable, but we must recognize the inevitability, if not the necessity, of revolutionary action if we are to understand the relationship between man and state.
In contrast, Sheppard adopts the unnatural, rationalizing perspective of the imperialist. She refuses even to explain the historical conditions that culminated in the revolution, although she does make a passing, derogatory reference to “older Cubans … who supported the revolution and remember the hardships of life before it”. As I said, she mentions them only to demonize them for being “loyal” to the simplistic philosophy of the motto “Homeland or Death”, which she interprets as meaning that “everyone must sacrifice for the revolution”. Tellingly, she does not explain who was responsible for those pre-revolutionary hardships, nor does she explain why someone might support the post-revolutionary social and government structure, notwithstanding its flaws.
She cannot explain these things because to do so would be to open inquiries as to the rationale for the American Empire’s unceasing fascination with Cuba. Unlike Venezuela, which has infuriated the Empire by refusing to sell its oceans of oil at bargain prices, Cuba does not appear to possess anything that the Empire wants, so why does it continue to harbor such resentment? It is because Cuba defied the Empire sixty years ago and has consistently refused to repent. Such refusal is wholly warranted: whatever the Cuban government may have mismanaged within its own borders, it owes no apologies for bucking the Empire and reclaiming the investments to which it was entitled. If there is a victim of the Cuban Revolution, it is not and never has been the American Empire.
Cuba has, however, exposed the Empire’s impotence for the past sixty years simply by enduring as a sovereign nation, and this is unacceptable to the imperialists who wish to present the image of America as an insurmountable force. Hence why it must seek out a mountebank like Sheppard who will advocate for American meddling in Cuba—although, of course, she cannot describe this meddling by its proper name of invasion. Instead, she uses coy, nebulous language, referring to the current period of transitory politics in Cuba as an “opening”, one that the Biden Administration “must seize”. This seizure would entail “a slow opening of Cuba to the world and the benefits of a market economy”, though in both instances she makes an inadequate case: she herself observes that America is the only nation that has a conflict with Cuba, and she never explains what “the benefits of a market economy would be”.
Such is the challenge the Empire faces in attempting to lecture foreign nations about economic prudence at the same time that the Empire’s own economy is dilapidating. The abusive response to the coronavirus, both by the Biden Administration and by the Trump Administration before it, has proven the fundamental inability of the American government to manage its own affairs. It was in light of this demonstrable, undeniable incompetence that even mainstream media outlets expressed puzzlement when the Trump Administration, at the onset of the pandemic, placed a multimillion-dollar bounty on Nicolas Maduro. Sheppard’s dishonest lecture on Cuba is not as obscene, or as reckless, but it shares its imperialist inspiration.