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Editorial & Column
By FRANCISCO JAVIER CIMADEVILLA
April 17, 2003
News last week brought a reality check to many in Puerto Rico and around the world.
The powerful images of newly free Iraqis in downtown Baghdad desecrating a toppled statute of Saddam Hussein--like his regime, bronze exterior but hollow--is the stuff history is made of.
That moment, and the days that have followed, have had a riveting, glued-to-the-TV-set appeal to millions around the world. They have rivaled the knockdown of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union as a testament to that immutable law of human history: In the end truth always shines and justice triumphs over evil.
Uplifting as they were to most of us, the news brought a sobering reality check to U.S. detractors of every stripe around the world, including a few in Puerto Rico. Their ridiculous caricature of the U.S. as a self-interested, oil-thirsty, imperialistic, warmonger who would supposedly encounter fierce opposition from proud Iraqis, was negated by the images we all watched on TV--the most professional military force in the world utilizing its technological superiority to accomplish the military objective of removing a lawless, evil regime while minimizing collateral damage, preserving the infrastructure and flooding the country with humanitarian aid.
The Iraqis are a proud people alright; proud that in the face of Russian, French, German and U.N. cowardice, theres still enough leadership and righteousness in the world to combat tyranny and oppression. Whether or not weapons of mass destruction are found, which U.S. officials remain certain will be uncovered, the U.S.-led coalition has already been vindicated by millions of Iraqis who are no less deserving of liberty, democracy, and freedom than any other people in the world.
Including Cubans. Yes, the week also brought a reality check to apologists of the Fidel Castro regime, who in the last few years have sought to discredit U.S. policy towards that Caribbean island-nation on the allegation that the regime has eased down on the tyranny and oppression that characterized the earlier decades of the revolution. They point to millions of dollars in European and Canadian trade and investments as evidence that the U.S. has remained alone in its stubborn unwillingness to recognize that the Castro regime has changed and is not all that bad after all.
Well, think again. The crackdown against political dissidents in Cuba last week, including the firing-squad execution of three people who attempted to escape by boat sends a chill down the spine, even after four decades of communist dictatorship. It is also likely to chill down recent euphoria, including here in Puerto Rico, over any prospect of normalized commercial relations while Castro remains in power.
Finally, this week also brought a reality check to those in Puerto Rico who were blinded by the hidden, separatist, anti-American agenda of those who claimed to be working for "peace" in Vieques. As first reported by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS more than two years ago, the U.S. Navy base at Roosevelt Roads would not survive the closing of the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility at Vieques. Last week the Navy finally confirmed it. Locally, the expressions of shock and surprise have run the gamut from naïve to hypocritical.
At a time when our nation, undaunted by criticism, has fearlessly reasserted its role as the beacon of hope for democracy and freedom from Baghdad to Havana, the vast majority of people in Puerto Rico are facing up to reality, wondering here our local leaders have been taking us and where we will be left standing after all the chips fall.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.