CubaBrief: On the death of Carlos Alberto Montaner, Cuban patriot, writer, scholar. Carlos Alberto Montaner on why Cuba doesn’t deserve normal diplomatic relations.

Carlos Alberto Montaner April 3, 1943 – June 30, 2023

The Center for a Free Cuba released early yesterday the following statement:

The death of Carlos Alberto Montaner in Spain after a long illness is a great loss for Cubans in the island and around the world who benefited from his tireless efforts to denounce the crimes of the Cuban regime. It is also a loss for millions of people worldwide whose struggle for human rights he defended in his many books, columns, and thousands of articles that appeared in major newspapers on three continents. Carlos Alberto was a champion for the victims of communism and oppression, and he urged the international community to assist them.

The chairman of the Center for a Free Cuba, Guillermo Marmol, stated: “Carlos Alberto Montaner served for many years on the Center’s research council where he made significant contributions to the Center’s policies, publications, and research. We are confident that it will not be long before the extent, significance, and importance of Carlos Alberto Montaner’s life is fully known in Cuba itself.”

The Center for a Free Cuba extends its deepest condolences to Linda, his widow; to Carlos and Gina, his children; and to his family, colleagues and friends. 

Carlos Alberto Montaner with his wife Linda.

On April 4, 2007 Carlos Alberto Montaner was interviewed by Helen Aguirre Ferré on GBH, public television, about communism in Cuba. This analysis remains relevant today, but he had toughened his outlook by 2014.

Carlos Alberto Montaner contributed an article to the New York Times published on October 13, 2014 in which he made the case against normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. He Tweeted it out one week after President Obama announced the normalization of relations with Cuba.

Time proved him right. Below is the article.

New York Times, October 13, 2014

Cuba Doesn’t Deserve Normal Diplomatic Relations

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

Carlos Alberto Montaner is a Cuban-born author, journalist and syndicated columnist. His work appears in The Miami Herald and other publications throughout Latin America, the United States and Spain. His latest novel is “Tiempo de Canallas.” He is on Twitter.

The United States should not normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba for several reasons.

First, the Cuban government has been officially declared “a state sponsor of terrorism” by the State Department. It’s inconceivable to oppose the terrorists in the Middle East while treating them normally in the United States’ neighborhood.

There’s also a bipartisan consensus in Washington against the Castro regime. All three Cuban-American senators and four Cuban-American representatives, Democrats and Republican, agree that sanctions should be maintained. They are the best interpreters of the opinion of the almost three million Cubans and descendants of Cubans living in the United States.

Cuba systematically engages in undermining the interests of the United States. It is an ally of Iran, North Korea (to whom it furnishes war matériel), Russia, Syria, the FARC terrorists in Colombia and Venezuela. The F.B.I. recently warned that Cuban intelligence is trying to recruit people in the academic world as agents of influence. It once infiltrated them into the Pentagon and the State Department; today, they are in prison.

The Cuba dictatorship continues to violate human rights and shows no intention to make amends. The small economic changes it has made are directed at strengthening the regime. Why reward that behavior? During the entire 20th century, the U.S. was (rightfully) reproached for maintaining normal relations with right-wing dictatorships. For the first time, the U.S. maintains a morally consistent position in Latin America and should not sacrifice it.

A reversal of policy would be a cruel blow against the Cuban democrats and dissidents who view the United States as their only dependable ally in the world. Normalizing relations would be the proof needed by the Stalinists in the Cuban government to demonstrate that they don’t have to make any political changes to be accepted. Not to mention a premature reconciliation without substantial changes would also be a harsh blow to the reformists in the Cuban government who are pressuring toward a democratic opening.