Jackson: Crist’s Cuba visit would send a message
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: June 1, 2014
It’s traveling season once more for restless Americans, especially those
sick to death of “staycations” and one-tank getaways. With a little more
jingle in our pockets and wanderlust in our eyes, AAA says we’re ready
to hit the road in numbers and durations not seen since the earliest
days of the Great Recession.
Not coincidentally, Charlie Crist — never one to miss a bandwagon — has
climbed aboard. Furthermore, because he is not a man of wasted gestures,
Crist’s getaway is designed for maximum political advantage: Detecting
what seems to be the achievement of critical mass in Floridians’
shifting regard for their nearest international neighbor, Crist says
he’s going to Cuba this summer; may even lead an entourage.
It’s true surveys reveal a generalized softening toward Cuba. We’re
especially sympathetic for the Cuban people, who endure lives of
quiet-or-else desperation under the relentless and diabolical thumbs of
the brothers Castro, the ailing and unseen Fidel and his successor, Raul.
We’re also increasingly skeptical about continuing America’s 55-year-old
economic embargo, considering it hasn’t triggered the hoped-for
counter-revolution and, worse, it’s a public relations quagmire. Rather
than own their half-century depression, the Castros employ Uncle Sam’s
freeze-out as a ready-made, all-purpose excuse for the failures of their
Along those lines, justifications for ending or modifying the embargo
while normalizing our diplomatic relationship — positions Crist endorses
the moment his jet touches down — are brutally mercenary. Open Cuba’s
nearby gates to business, goes the thinking, and financial benefits
surely will flow both ways.
That certainly might be; there is much good to be gained wherever Adam
Smith’s invisible hand is unleashed. But sometimes the negotiators on
the other side of the table are so thoroughly reprehensible, the only
possible result of sitting down is a bad deal.
Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Florida’s lieutenant governor, understands this
utterly. “It was recently reaffirmed by the current administration that
Cuba is one of four countries to be a state sponsor of terror —
confirming what we already knew.
“Charlie Crist wants to reward the Castro brothers’ regime by paying
them a visit, while Cuba’s communist dictatorship continues to violate
human rights on the island and directs the same oppression in Venezuela.
As a Cuban-American, it is insulting that Charlie’s ignorance is leading
him to support and ultimately condone documented abuse and oppression.”
Bingo. Crist’s weak disavowals notwithstanding, his visit will convey
the notion, if re-elected chief executive of America’s third
most-populous state, there would be some irredeemably vile activities
about which he’d willingly avert his gaze.
Which, interestingly, prompts us to think of his pal and former state
GOP chairman Jim Greer, and Crist’s look-away track record. But Greer’s
felony bilking of the Florida Republican Party didn’t threaten America’s
national security, or the stability of an entire continent. The same
cannot be said of Cuba’s desperate involvement in Venezuela.
A socialist Venezuela is an ally Cuba can ill-afford to lose. Under 15
years of Hugo Chavez and his hard-line successor, Nicolas Maduro,
Venezuela assumed the role of economic sugar daddy once played by the
late, unlamented Soviet Union and the countries of the European Eastern
bloc. Under an alliance struck by Chavez and Raul Castro in 2007, trade
with Venezuela has grown to represent nearly 20 percent of Cuba’s gross
Moreover, imported Venezuelan crude accounts for 60 percent of Cuba’s
oil demands, for which the island nation “pays” by supplying about
30,000 doctors to Venezuela, according to Pavel Vidal, a Cuban central
banker-turned-economics professor at the Universidad Javeriana in Cali,
Vidal told NBC News’ Silvana Ordonez if Caracas succumbs to pressure to
end favors for the Castro regime in the interest of salvaging its own
basket-case finances, Cuba’s threadbare economy could shrink from 4
percent to 7.7 percent, or from dismal to miserable.
Says Vidal, “Cuba depends on Venezuela’s political situation. And right
now, Venezuela is unpredictable.”
Small wonder, then, that besides doctors, Cuba — reprising its service
to Marxist elements in Angola and Nicaragua — props up disastrous
Chavismo policies with arms, finances and training for Maduro’s
Only Marxists could screw up a national economy bobbing on an ocean of
oil; Venezuela under Maduro deserves to collapse, the sooner the better,
if only to begin the task of rising as something freer and more
prosperous. Cuba’s mischief postpones the proper march of history. Does
For its part, having fouled up paradise only to export misery — would
Venezuela require so many Cuban doctors if it had fewer Cubans skilled
at military arts? — the brothers Castro need all the dictator pals they
After all, it’s not like they’re brimming with friends back home, where
they manage political disagreement by locking up thought criminals.
Meanwhile, demonstrating a congenital inability to woo their best
possible friends, the Castros coddle genuinely violent thugs who have
fled U.S. custody, including escaped cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, a
certified domestic terrorist.
We can’t expect everyday Americans, whose concept of Cuba begins with
“Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” and ends with Los Angeles Dodger Yasiel
Puig, to grasp the essence of evil that lies 90 miles south of Key West.
But Charlie Crist did, once upon a time when Floridians imagined his
policy stances emerged from examined principles. Remember, he properly
excoriated his Democratic rival in the 2006 governor’s election, former
Tampa Congressman Jim Davis, for having taken the same trip he now plans.
Now we know — at least some of us know — better. Crist on Cuba is the
same as Crist on abortion, gun rights, Obamacare, same-sex marriage,
voter-fraud prevention, hiking the minimum wage, medical marijuana and
leaving the GOP… to name a few areas in which he opportunistically has
transmogrified, all in narcissistic pursuit of nabbing the Democratic
nomination, then knitting together a 50-percent-plus-one majority in
Well, good luck with that. A Survey USA poll of likely voters released
May 23 on behalf of WFLA-TV, Channel 8, had some disquieting news for
Changeling Charlie. Not only has Rick Scott eased into a 2-point overall
lead with commanding advantages among men and along the Interstate 4
corridor, the first poll taken since Crist declared he would surrender
his itinerary to the contemptible Castro regime in hopes of snapping
selfies with the island proletariat shows Scott ahead 2-1 among … wait
for it … Cubans.
Perhaps that critical mass hasn’t shifted so much, after all. Still time
to back out, Charlie. Still time to do the right, even politic, thing.
Listen, they say it’s going to be a great summer on — if you can stand
the sound of it — Marco Island.
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