Cuba

Many Cuban-Americans feel betrayed.    They wanted the  lifting of sanctions tied to some grand change from the Cuban government.   It didn’t happen.  But nothing the Cuban government could have done would have satisfied many ardent anti-Castro, anti-communism  supporters.

Cubans in Miami will tell you how Fidel destroyed their country and imprisoned their   people trying to reform the government.  Good, hardworking  and honest people went to jail or escaped Cuba.  Those that left Cuba had to  leave all their possessions behind.

According to Wikipedia:

The Republic of Cuba is one of the world’s last remaining socialist countries following the Marxist-Leninist ideology. The Constitution of 1976, which defined Cuba as a socialist republic, was replaced by the Constitution of 1992, which is “guided by the ideas of José Martí and the political and social ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin.”[4] The constitution describes the Communist Party of Cuba as the “leading force of society and of the state”.[4]

It might be in the Constitution, but by all reports, capitalism is far from dead in Cuba.  Increased tourism is creating a new economy.

Those supporters of  sanctions have a point- you can not have democratic reform with a one party system.   The economy was destroyed through government ownership of everything.  Those opposed to the embargo also have a point- this is a 50 year attempt to change Cuba and it  failed.  The other countries in South America and the EU do not support the sanctions.

There is no one more adamant on maintaining sanctions than Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,  representing Miami and Coral Gables, FL.   I have include a link to her speech to Congress below:

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Speech to Congress, March 21, 2016

Actually, this is fairly tame attack on President Obama and his efforts to restore relationships with the Cuban regime.  Some 13 years ago, Cuba included as one  of a handful of countries in the infamous “axis of evil”  which included Iraq (under Saddam Hussein), Iran,  North Korea and Libya.  This inclusion was done on in May 2002, by the Undersecretary of State John Bolton, in the Bush Administration warning these rouge states including Cuba,    “state sponsors of terrorism that are pursuing or who have the potential to pursue weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or have the capability to do so in violation of their treaty obligations.”[5]

I think Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen statement  that ‘The image of President Obama in Cuba says ‘no human rights are being violated.’”  is not valid.  Didn’t the Congresswoman see the image of Pope Francis in Cuba in September 2015?  Did that also mean “no human rights are being violated.”  This bit of fiction came  from the mouth of Raul Castro- and not President Obama or Pope Francis.   Was Congresswoman upset when Nixon visited Chairman Mao  in China in 1972, or Gerald Ford in 1975?

I like the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) – they are very courageous women.   I want them to succeed. (see description below)  Raul Castro still has many political prisoners.   I don’t think Obama trip hurt their cause and likely helped them. The Castro government was harassing members of this group.  The police were seen tearing down their banner as Obama came to Havana.  They didn’t want the media to film what was on the banner, “Cuba’s dream is Cuba without the two Castros.”  It got reported anyway- and so did Cuba’s harassment of the Ladies in White.

Ladies in White (Spanish: Damas de Blanco) is an opposition movement in Cuba founded in 2003 by wives and other female relatives of jailed dissidents. The women protest the imprisonments by attending Mass each Sunday wearing white dresses and then silently walking through the streets dressed in white clothing.

In the future, it will hurt Raul Castro if he attempts to blame the failure of his government on the embargo and the supposed threat from  the US.  President Obama said in Cuba at the joint press conference with Raul Castro:

I’ve made it clear that the United States has neither the capacity nor the intention to impose change on Cuba. What changes come will depend upon the Cuban people.

We will not impose our political or economic system on you. We recognize that every country, every people must chart its own course and shape its own model. But having removed the shadow of history from our relationship, I must speak honestly about the things that I believe, the things that we as Americans believe.

What has been surprising is how muted the response has been from Republicans.   One would expect former Ambassador John Bolton to be all over Fox News.    Of course,  all Republicans are right now focused on the election, and candidate Trump is not out there blasting Obama for embracing communist Cuba, but just saying he could have cut an even better deal.   About pare for the Donald.  Rubio and Cruz announced they would reverse course.

Rubio and Cruz Skeptical on U.S.-Cuba Relations, Trump Wants to Improve Them

MIAMI – The Republican candidates for the White House, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both of Cuban origin, would reverse the US openness towards Cuba, undertaken by President Barack Obama, while Donald Trump said that he “would improve it.”

During the twelfth Republican debate in the primaries, held in Miami on Thursday, Rubio, a Florida senator, who needs to win in his state in order to stay alive in the race, claimed that the new US policy toward Cuba is “an unrewarded exchange,” adding that Cuba “has not taken a single change in human rights.”

“I would love the relationship between Cuba and the United States to change. But today, Cuba has not changed,” Rubio said.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz said he would reverse the diplomatic relationship steps taken by Obama with Havana, just as he would reverse other steps taken by Obama’s government, like the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump when asked the same question said he believes that “50 years is enough” referring to the embargo imposed on the island, but noted that he would like to “improve the agreement”, however without delving into details.

Latin American Herald Tribune detailing comments made during the last debate.

Rand Paul with his Libertarian leanings thought the lifting of the embargo might be a good for Cuba.   Libertarians believe in less federal government interference abroad.

So,  Trump is being really clever. It is his answer to almost anything. Elect me, and I’ll have this wonderful deal I’ve negotiated with the Cuban government.   American will be great again.  (Applause sign).   Note that international support for the embargo has pretty much gone.

So  the real problem with what Representative Ros-Lehtinen is saying, is not her characterization of Cuba today, but whether to use the whip or carrot to move the cart forward.  After 50 years,  the carrot seems far more productive

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

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