Re “As Cuba reopens for business, so do old wounds over property” (News, Feb. 17): The article unquestioningly repeats Cuba’s assertion that Fidel Castro’s government confiscated Cubana Airlines, Havana’s airport and other properties belonging to José López Vilaboy because they were “the fruits of his close relationship to a corrupt regime.”
If Fidel Castro had only confiscated ill-gotten properties, the Cuban economy would not have collapsed or become the disaster it is today. In fact, Mr. Castro confiscated all privately owned properties, factories and banks and, within a few years of taking control, barbershops, beauty parlors, newspaper stands and other businesses without a scintilla of due process. As a rebel in Cuba’s mountains, Fidel Castro assured the world that, with the end of the Batista dictatorship, Cuba’s Constitution and the due process of law would be fully reinstated. It never was and hasn’t been since the Obama administration precipitously moved to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, which was also done without public discussion.
The president’s action set a bad precedent. The confiscation of Mr. Lopez’s properties had little to do with his relationship to the Batista regime; it was part of the total confiscation of all businesses and private property on the island.
After almost 60 years, Cuba’s Communist regime says whatever it wants without challenge. The fact remains that no judicial process or assessment of the real-estate or industrial, financial and communications businesses that were confiscated ever took place then. Neither is there one now for people who want to “do business” in Cuba today.
Frank Calzon, Washington
The writer is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.