Title III and the game of chicken the U.S. is playing

Apr 15, 2019 by

Title III and the game of chicken the U.S. is playing


The Trump administration continues to demonstrate how little they understand Cuba. And Marco Rubio, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams et al are using the opportunity to advance their own causes.

On Wednesday, April 3, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced his decision to continue for two weeks, from April 18 through May 1, 2019, the current suspension with an exception of the right to bring an action under Title III of the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act —also known as Helms-Burton. The current suspension expires April 17. 

The move, reports the Miami Herald, “increases pressure on companies — primarily from Spain, Canada and the United States … [that] could potentially be sued for ‘trafficking’ in properties confiscated by the Cuban government as much as 60 years ago.”

This game being played by the U.S. — the threat of Title III implementation — is a pandora’s box that if opened could lead to more chaos than already exists between the U.S., Cuba, and the rest of the world. As Progreso Weekly columnist Jesus Arboleya wrote in a recent column, “Putting Chapter III into full force would entail reviving … contradictions and adding them to the growing conflicts between the United States and Europe.” 

The European Union, the United States and Helms-Burton

Then again, chaos has never stopped Trump. In fact, the president thrives under chaotic situations, and his goal with implementation is the votes he feels he wins in Florida during the 2020 election. 

Trumpians now threaten Title III because they claim that the Cuban government is responsible for propping up Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, helping him maintain power over the oil-rich South American country. 

It’s the type of statement about Cuba that never ceases to amaze me. 

Our readers know and understand that Cuba is a small and poor island nation. Cuba’s biggest problem is their economy and turning it into one that competes and gets ahead in the world of the 21st century. 

It is why I’ve often wondered how a ‘destitute and useless Cuba’, as some would have you believe, can help prop-up Venezuela. 

Since the advent of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, who turned his back on the neoliberal economic policy favored and directed by the U.S., the Americans have tried overthrowing first Chavez and now Maduro. The reason obvious. Venezuela sits on the world’s largest oil reserves —300,878 million barrels. Right there are the billions of reasons why the U.S. salivates when it thinks of Venezuela. And the U.S., who helped control that oil through multi-national companies before Chavez won the presidency in 1999 and nationalized the industry, wants it back. The U.S. feels the oil is theirs —like the rest of the Western Hemisphere (and the rest of the world). And they are willing to do almost anything and everything to get it back.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 

But it’s more than Venezuela that have administrations since Eisenhower pissed off. I remember the late Progreso Weekly columnist Saul Landau telling me why the U.S. was upset at Cuba. They’d decided unilaterally to blockade the island, he’d assured me, as punishment for their misbehavior and for not obeying the master’s orders. Read your history books: Cuba, even during colonial times, has never seen itself beholden to any one but itself. There are the exceptions, of course. Names like Diaz-Balart come to mind. Rubio too, but he’s not even Cuban.

Now in their failed attempt at overthrowing Venezuela’s government, they have seen an opportunity to take it out on Cuba. Trump hates to lose and Rubio has seen an opening that serves his purpose.

Venezuela, Helms-Burton and Title III, and so much more has little meaning for Donald Trump except votes in Florida next year. In the meantime, and I will quote Arboleya again: “The problem for the United States is that, as Barack Obama said, this policy has failed in its purpose to overthrow the Cuban government and has cost it credibility in the international arena. But Trump cares little about these consequences. It is why he is willing to mortgage the country in favor of his vanity.”

In other words, the real losers in this game will end up being us. The American public.

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