Former antivirus software guru and 2020 Libertarian presidential “hopeful” John McAfee is a controversial figure, polarizing opinion in politics and culture, and taking a bold stand against the U.S. federal government. Most recently this has involved offering to help the Cuban state develop its own cryptocurrency in the interest of avoiding U.S. interventionism in trade.
Running From the State
John McAfee has been on the run since January 2019, when he fled to the Bahamas after major tax evasion charges in the U.S. According to the maverick entrepreneur, the FBI came looking for him there, and that’s when he fled to Cuba. Prior to all of this, the current presidential hopeful’s life was already riddled with scandal, tabloid press attention, and a smorgasbord of other troubles.
There was the wrongful death suit filed against him by the family of his neighbor in Belize, the drunk driving charges, and police discovering a 17-year-old girlfriend—and a house full of weapons—upon paying him a visit investigating suspected methamphetamine production. In the eyes of many, John McAfee is not what one would call a “good guy.”
Cuba Seeks to Create New Cryptocurrency
McAfee is surrounded by as many mythical stories and embellishments as he is actual facts it would seem, and maybe that’s what lends in part to his sympathy for Cuba, a country long shrouded in mystery and Westernized propaganda to foreign eyes. During an interview from his yacht harbored in Havana on July 4, McAfee told the attendant press agency that he had offered to help Cuba develop its own crypto, to get around the current U.S. embargo. Venezuela being in crisis has also knocked out significant sources of aid for the country.
On Cuban national television last week, president Miguel Diaz-Canel announced that a new cryptocurrency could aid in the economy’s recovery under Trump-tightened, decades old sanctions. Economy Minister Alejandro Gil Fernandez stated:
We are studying the potential use of cryptocurrency … in our national and international commercial transactions, and we are working on that together with academics.
A Long History of US Abuse
Since the late 19th century, Cuba has been torn and pulled apart by competing foreign interests. The Spanish-American War would be the beginning of a long and strained relationship between the U.S. and Cuban governments, setting the mold for a repeating pattern of puppet state installations, resource takeover, and clandestine intelligence operations seeking to overthrow political leadership.
After U.S.-backed Cuban president Fulgencio Batista was ousted by Fidel Castro’s revolutionary forces in December of 1958, the stage was set for further unrest and more interventionism. Although Batista had been notoriously corrupt, allowing organized crime and U.S. business and banking interests to dominate the Cuban landscape—in spite of high unemployment, water shortages, and starvation in much of the country—the American government viewed him as an ally all the same. With Castro’s revolutionary socialist government now in place, these big business and U.S. interests were effectively threatened.
Trade Wars Cost Human Lives
One of the results of this rising tension would be the infamous Bay of Pigs tragedy, illustrative of what happens when imperialist regimes seek to take control of weaker countries, and individuals in the weaker countries resist. A politicized and propagandized struggle for control of resources encouraged secret operations (which would have been viewed as despicable and politically unacceptable if shown in the light of day) and all kinds of trade restrictions, embargoes, and sanctions.
Castro had reached out to Soviet statesman Nikita Khrushchev in this context, and the Soviet Union began purchasing Cuban sugar in exchange for fuel. Though initially skeptical of Castro, the Cuban government eventually gained Khrushchev’s support, and in the volatile context of the “Red Scare” this made Cuba look all the more suspicious to Western eyes.
Clandestine CIA operations were approved by U.S. presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, involving fake Cuban resistance aircraft, manufactured “uprisings,” and attacks designed to give the appearance of internal resistance to Castro’s government, providing a justification and pretext for U.S. political involvement. Due to disorganization and internal conflict, however, the lies and deceit were made public. This was only after the fact that many on both sides, not knowing the actual situation, had died in the debacle. Both military personnel and civilians paid the price with their lives.
Why Help Cuba Now?
While many Cubans have historically idolized Fidel Castro and his leadership, and many still do, his was a dark, and violence-based state which stifled dissent via horrific and inhumane brute force. After all the propaganda is washed away, though, it seems that U.S. foreign policy is usually more interventionist. After all, the U.S. military was not forced to bring its violence to Cuba. Cuban militants from Castro’s forces were not landing on U.S. soil attempting to install puppet states there. Humanitarian aid could have been provided. Instead supplies were cut off in the interest of securing oil and Cuban sugar resources.
The current embargo against Cuba is still stifling trade, prohibiting tourism, and costing the U.S. government $1.2B per year, according to some sources. In about six decades, the embargo has cost the small island nation itself around $130B. Individuals in both the U.S. and Cuba, having nothing to do with the implementation of economic policy, or the trade starvation that modern nation states deal in, are paying the price. Viewed in this light, it makes total sense that a libertarian being stalked by the same state would want to join forces and help.
‘But McAfee Is a Scumbag…Cuba Is a Communist Nation!’
Even if both of these protests are true, the reality remains. The creation and implementation of a Cuban crypto could help many people. This isn’t about McAfee as a persona, or Cuba as the legendary communist troublemaker Americans are taught to believe it is. The importance of McAfee’s official offer is about none of this.
The most important element lies in the fact that free market actors—everyday individuals—are affected by the whims of power happy “world leaders” far away, who get to dictate what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. What they can and cannot trade of their own property. This is a fundamental violation of human rights.
This view, regardless of one’s personal opinions on McAfee, Castro, or modern-day Cuba, to tell any individual or group of individuals that they may not trade or use their property as they see fit, is always the predictor of violent conflict. As McAfee continues his flight from the IRS on his yacht, while simultaneously running for president, one salient truth remains: this is a money racket, and when someone steps out of line, they will be hunted down relentlessly. Technology moves faster, however, and voices like McAfee’s lend boldness and courage to free marketeers everywhere, waiting for it to surpass the clunky movements of the violent state.
What do you think about McAfee’s plan to help Cuba? Let us know in the comments section below.
OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, Fair use
Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see what’s happening in the industry.