Castro’s death could be destabilizing to the island since he has been the decision maker for nearly fifty years. Experts on Cuba warned of as many as 500,000 Cubans taking to the seas to escape a destabilized Cuba.
The administration seemed to place fears of a mass exodus, “another Mariel”, before the potential freedom of the Cuban people. The fear, to me, seemed unfounded and unbecoming of a great Nation like the United States. The fear of a wave of refugees hitting US shores struck me as an irrational reaction- like paranoia or a phobia – so much so, that I started calling the phenomenon “Cubanophobia”. After all, could the United States be afraid of the liberty and the pursuit of happiness, its core value? Hardly. Therefore, it must be Cubans they fear or loathe.
With operation Vigilant Sentry, the administration set out to prepare for a potential mass exodus from Cuba once Fidel died. Clearly, any mass exodus from Cuba would have to be “allowed” by the Cuban communist regime. Nothing happens in a concentration camp unless the warden allows it. Vigilant Sentry was, in my opinion, also a warning to the regime (and us exiles) that the United States would consider another Mariel as an attack on its sovereignty and would respond accordingly-with Marines. The shortest route from point C (communism) to point D (democracy).
The United States also made it clear that it would not mind dealing with a Castro-less provisional military junta not comprised of the current leadership that would promise elections somewhere in the future.
Not surprisingly, I found the following quote in the President’s speech quite interesting. Since it is the second time that he uses Havel’s “freedom before stability” axiom, I take it that the Bush administration is willing to have some instability in the Cuban freedom process and may be even willing to be the instigator of such instability when Castro finally dies. This is somewhat of a departure to the day after Castro transferred power to his brother Raul when he urged Cubans on both sides of the puddle to stay at home.
Life will not improve for Cubans under their current system of government. It will not improve by exchanging one dictator for another. It will not improve if we seek accommodation with a new tyranny in the interests of "stability." America will have no part in giving oxygen to a criminal regime victimizing its own people. We will not support the old way with new faces, the old system held together by new chains. The operative word in our future dealings with Cuba is not "stability." The operative word is "freedom."
The administration has not abandoned its hope for a peaceful transition presided by the current military altogether. By appealing to the military and security forces not to use force against the Cuban citizens, Bush opens the door for the military to facilitate a transition to the inevitable regime change. I believe that this is the first time President Bush has used the Chirino axiom “Nuestro dia ya viene llegando”:
Some of you are members of the Cuban military, or the police, or officials in the government. You may have once believed in the revolution. Now you can see its failure. When Cubans rise up to demand their liberty, they -- they -- the liberty they deserve, you've got to make a choice. Will you defend a disgraced and dying order by using force against your own people? Or will you embrace your people's desire for change? There is a place for you in the free Cuba. You can share the hope found in the song that has become a rallying cry for freedom-loving Cubans on and off the island: "Nuestro Dia Ya Viene Llegando." Our day is coming soon.