Blogs > Liberty and Power > Carlos Alberto Montaner on Cuba & Iraq

Oct 28, 2005 11:13 am

Carlos Alberto Montaner on Cuba & Iraq

I read with interest the article by Montaner at the link provided by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, that is in Spanish rather than English.

I find Montaner's recounting of US-Cuban relations of a century ago very partial, and perhaps misleading when then applied to the situation in Iraq today.

Cuba in 1898 was the largest US intervention into Hispanic-America, but not the first. In 1792 the Adm. of Jorge Washington had given aid to the Creoles in Haiti, as the repercussions of the French Revolution erupted there, in the hopes of preventing a Black leadership from emerging, which, of course, eventually did occur. Southerners filibustered in the Caribbean early in the 19th century with dreams of a great slave holding empire there, based considerably on sugar production, shattered only by the North's victory in the US Civil War.

When Marti began the second revolution against Spain in 1895, the guerrilla war was led by a Black general, Maceo, and included many Blacks, unlike the tobacco revolt of 1868-78. Marti feared that Cuban conservatives were involved with US interests, in negotiations to press Spain to cede Cuba to the US.

Whether it would have been better for Cuba to become a US Territory, like Puerto Rico, eventually a state in the US system, or, later given independence like The Philippines, is today a rather mute point.

On top of southern US fears of a Black Republic in Cuba, was the threat of the competition of Cuban sugar if allowed within the barriers of US Tariff policy.

It was no accident that the Teller Amendment promising Cuba independence was pushed by a Senator from Colorado, a sugar-beet state, which would find it difficult to compete with Cuban sugar.

Of course, it was "pseudo" independence under an American Protectorate.

Montaner is a bit off in saying the US forced a Constitution on Cuba. Rather, they had to write several before finding the right protectorate formula that the US would accept. Heaven forbid that the US ever "force" anything on anyone, or intervene militarily!

The factors of race and sugar are not a part of US policy in Iraq. Oil and Israel are nearer the mark in the Middle East. The tariff issue, of course, remains with respect to Doha and the actions of the EU. The US and other developed nations are very big on the rhetoric of free trade and the right to immigrate, except when these are against its economic interests with respect to promoting economic development in the LDCs.

Montaner might also spare us all of this admiration for the historical lineage of the US Constitution, going back to Great Britain, etc. Prior to the Spanish King getting the wealth of Mexico, Peru, etc., the Cortes had managed to wrest more concessions from the King, than had the Parliament in England.

The US' greatest contribution Republican theory and practice was during the era of the Articles of Confederation when a process was developed whereby new entities could come into the system on a basis of eventual equality. No other republics in the ancient world had been able to achieve that.

The Constitution was flawed from the beginning in its failure to resolve the issue of slavery, and whether entities might withdraw peacefully from this Union. The bloodiest war of the 19th century, except for the T'ai P'ing Rebellion, was fought to begin to resolve the slavery/race issue, and the issue of possible secession was decided in favor of Empire; centralization, and all real power to the central government.

It would take several volumes to detail how American power — the Empire — has betrayed the ideals of self-determination inherent in the Declaration of Independence, or of the Bill of Rights.

The first occurred at about the same time as the economic intervention in Haiti in the 1790s, when the Militia system was "murdered," to use the term of the historian Richard Kohn, and the US developed the "Standing Army" that had been the bane of Republics throughout history.

In the face of that reality, blathering on about the Constitution is just noise!

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