The ulterior motives of anti-Cuban legislation

Holy Heart High School
St. John's, Newfoundland

By Seth D. (Grade 11)

A recent issue worth mentioning in the American legislature is a wave of anti-Cuban opinion among the senators, most notably Senator Helms and Senator Burton. These two senators have passed a bill in Washington which is an attempt to cripple Canadian trade with Cuba. The Helms - Burton Act, as it is called, gives American citizens the right to sue Canadian businesses that trade with Cuba. Needless to say, many Canadians feel that the Americans are overstepping themselves. Canadians are concerned about the effects of such legislation on their business community, yet I feel it is time for a closer look at the American Congress' reasons for such an action.

The American politicians say that this is a battle of good versus evil, with America, as always, playing the part of the champion of good. Apparently, this is a battle to free the "oppressed" Cuban people from Fidel Castro's "tyrannical" regime. Yet,who is it that tells us the Cuban people are oppressed? That Castro is tyrannical? The very same men who, for reasons of their own, want this bill to be passed. Indeed, a closer look at the state of the Cuban people reveals some interesting things, for example: popularity for Castro is soaring, despite his "tyranny". The literacy rate was 94% in 1993, which is undoubtedly higher than that of many U.S. cities. Each Cuban is guaranteed food, clothing, and lodging, which is a great accomplishment compared to the incredible poverty present all over America. These facts do not really leave Senator Helms and his "humanitarian" trade barrier a leg to stand on.

Humanitarianism is the official reason for these anti-Castro feelings in Congress, but I believe this issue goes much deeper. One of these reasons is the American fear of communism.

Cuba has committed the crime of being a communist country, and one has surely heard it said that communism is a dirty word in America. It is true that Communist regimes deprive the people of their rights and are prone to corruption, but the political reason to fear communism is its ruthlessness, a trait which can be dangerous to any enemies in a war. This trait was demonstrated admirably during the Cold War, and has put a deep fear of anything connected with Russia in the hearts of many Americans who were alive at that time. Indeed, Cuba was once allied with Russia, and even let the Kremlin place nuclear weapons on Cuba, but that crisis has passed, the Soviet Bloc has fallen, and it is high time the Americans let old grudges rest.

Perhaps the biggest reason of all for Helms-Burton, however, stems not from fear, but from pride. The United States is the most powerful nation in the world, both economically and militarily. They have come to be recognized as the bullyboy's of the civilized world. How ironic that this arrogant nation cannot impose its will on a small island in the Caribbean. This is a thorn in the side of American pride, and a demonstration of the Cuban's love for their country.

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