Jul 26, 2021 Letters
By the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, the US Government assumed dominance of the Western Hemisphere and ipso facto the fate of Cuba came under US hegemony. True to form Sir Ronald Saunders writing in the KN of 7-18-21 titled, “Cuba could help US normalise relations’ ‘ echoed those sentiments and sought to lay the onus for the restoration of normal US-Cuba relations solely on Cuba. Sir Ronald lauded the television address by the Cuban President on July 14 in which he made some concessions by self-criticism in which he admitted the government’s shortcomings in handling shortages and other problems which played a role in the recent protests. The reference was to protests by thousands of Cubans across the island. Sir Ronald, a former Manager of the Guyana Broadcasting Service (GBS) in the 1970s, took pains to mention how the US government valued freedom of speech by the media to be fundamental rights everywhere, including in Cuba.
What was shocking was when Sir Ronald wrote that, ” In the almost 60 years of experience of the 13 English-Speaking Caribbean countries as sovereign states, governments have learned to manage dissent and protests and to encourage media freedom as part of their democracies.”
As a matter of fact during his broadcasting of the results on GBS radio of the 1973 election results in Guyana, Mr. Ronald Saunders (he was not a gallant knight then) repetitively and gleefully reported “another electoral breakthrough” in PPP opposition strongholds when those elections were widely known to be rigged by the PNC.
During the same 60 years that Sir Ronald wrote about, the PNC government denied newsprint to the opposition run Mirror newspaper in the 1970s . Mr. Saunders never publicly condemned this policy as an affront to press freedom. In fact, Mr. Saunders used the state radio resources of GBS to stage on the scene broadcast from the home of Sir Shridath Ramphal, the Foreign Minister of Guyana, who later became his father-in-law.
While it is true as Sir Ronald wrote that all efforts to end the stalemate between Washington and Havana would depend on sensible negotiations, the burden lies overwhelmingly on Cuba to manage dissent with caution and pragmatism rather than by military force.
The opening started by the Obama administration when he visited the island may yet lead to the Biden administration being able to get the US Congress to relax the decades old trade embargo.
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