U.S. Envoy to Mexico Assails Times Editorial

March 29, 1986

The Times editorial (Jan. 6) argues for the restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States after 25 years of rupture. Its logic for this argument reflects the "Blame America First" school of thought.

As rationale for its position, the editorial states that some U.S. scholars believe Fidel Castro is "eager for a settlement in Central America"; that the United States' support for its allies in the area is equal to Castro's "adventurism"; that the true problem, in the failure to achieve better relations, is which gave Castro "no choice" but to break a recently negotiated agreement on immigration with the United States.

With all respect, The Times is wrong. It is wrong on the facts; and it is wrong on its interpretation of the facts.

Let us examine The Times' statements more closely:

1--The Times states: A number of scholars are convinced "Castro is eager for a peaceful settlement" in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Some scholars. The facts: Castro may be eager for a settlement, but only one in which the Communists dominate. Castro may not have achieved an enviable record in promoting communist revolution, but it is not for want of trying. Only in Angola and Nicaragua have Cuban-supported revolutionaries been victorious in 25 years of struggle, although both are under counterattack at the moment. There is, however, undisputed Cuban support for revolutionary organizations that use the tools of terrorism. Training for such insurgents in Cuba has occurred regularly in the past 25 years and occurs today.

2--The Times states: U.S. support for its allies is equal to Cuba's support for its friends. Some equivalence. The facts: This is an egregious attempt to make a moral equivalent between subversion and support of freedom. Cuba maintains 25,000 troops i Angola supporting a Marxist regime. Cuba maintains 15,000 troops in Ethiopia in support of a Marxist regime. Cuba maintains 2,500 to 3,500 troops in Nicaragua in support of a Marxist regime. I challenge The Times to cite one country where U.S. troops are stationed to protect regimes friendly to our nation from being overthrown by internal opposition.

3--The Times states: Castro has moderated his sinister activities. Some moderation. The facts: Does The Times not call sinister and attempted kidnaping of a Cuban political refugee in Madrid in December, 1985, by four Cuban Embassy employees? They were foiled only by bystanders. Castro's spots have not changed; The Times simply chooses not to see them.

4--The Times states: "The latest breakdown was the fault of Washington. The initiation of Radio Marti broadcasts last May left Castro little choice but to break the Mariel prisons and immigration agreements negotiated only five months earlier." Some fault. The facts: The Voice of America has been broadcasting to Cuba for more than 20 years. It is in full compliance with all pertinent U.S. legislation and with domestic and international regulations on broadcasting. The VOA began its Radio Marti program on May 20, 1985. The only alteration in VOA broadcasts to Cuba was a change in programming. There was no increase in the power of transmissions, no use of new frequencies, no interference with Cuban domestic broadcasting, no derogation from VOA's well-known high standards of objectivity and accuracy.

Despite the Castro regime's attempts to jam it, Radio Marti is very popular with the Cuban people. Its news broadcasts have forced Cuban authorities to treat issues they would rather ignore. Radio Marti recently reported the attempted kidnaping of the Cuban defector in Madrid. The Castro regime had no choice but to comment on the matter openly. This reaction contrasts with the official silence which used to be the norm in such cases.

Radio Marti, far from giving the Cuban government "little choice" but to break agreements made with the U.S., has given it "little choice" but to come clean with its own people. The Cuban dictatorship's concern with Radio Marti reflects only its fear of the consequences of letting the Cuban people know the truth.

The Times editorial stands facts, logic and international law on its head. In the words of Lewis Carroll, The Times' treatment of Castro seems bent on "madly squeezing a right-hand foot into a left-hand shoe." Some squeeze. Some shoe.


U.S. Ambassador

to Mexico

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