Thursday, December 22, 2011

D.C.: Trapped By Unpopular Demand

   One of the common slanders against Cuba heard in our media is the claim that the island is a prison.  "People are trapped."  Although the rules of travel are different then many other countries' rules, it isn't true that Cubans are unable to travel.

   It is being reported and has been speculated for many months, that these restrictions, which are easy targets for propaganda against the island, will be soon eliminated.  When this happens, it will leave those cold hearted extremists with one more argument lost that they use to attempt to justify the embargo.

   Even more interestingly, part of the changes in the Cuban laws may be that it will become easier for people to return to live on the island, virtually eliminating the "permanent" exit that so many Cubans opt for when they choose to leave to make their lives in another country.

   Is the U.S. ready for such a thing?  Officially, the Obama administration has decided to pretend that there have been no signs of change on the island.  I don't think Washington has found a way to wrap its mind around the fact that the changes in Cuba are profound and independent of Washington's 50+ years demands.  But Cuba evolves anyways and Washington will have to watch as Cubans on the island and abroad are welcoming the changes.

   Gone from the list of excuses for maintaining the embargo will be the nonsense about Cuba being "an island prison".  This hasn't been true.  Cubans have traveled from Cuba to various countries and back to Cuba again in spite of the red tape which makes it unnecessarily difficult.  The U.S. will be put on the spot as its own denial of visas are put on display.  I have witnessed with my own eyes people waiting for their fifth and sixth interviews for visas only to be denied again by the U.S. authorities.

   What will be done about the wet foot/ dry foot policy, which entices people to risk their lives for automatic residency?  Will political asylum still be granted to any Cuban who asks for it?  Perhaps only Cubans willing to skip the normal visa process and try to come with neither permission to  enter the U.S. nor an exit permit will be celebrated as political refugees?

   With each step that is being taken by Cuba to improve its society, it is becoming more difficult for the political establishment to twist and turn as it attempts to justify the position of maintaining the embargo/ blockade.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Keep It Together Mr. Cardona!

The anti-Cuba extremists got handed a defeat this week.  Mario Diaz-Balart's proposal to make life more difficult on Cuban families was dropped from a bill in the House due to pressure by the President.  A big victory for logical people who understand that families shouldn't become subject to their dirty politics nor should the definition of relative.  It's fine if Mario doesn't want to visit his cousins(!), but he shouldn't prevent those who do and would be welcomed with open arms.

Since at least the Elian Gonzalez fiasco, caused by the lunatics in Miami, the anti-Cuba crowd has been finding it more difficult to maintain the upperhand in convincing people that they make sense.  It's hard to make sense when you don't.  So Joe Cardona took a stab at trying to convince readers what the problems with Cuba are.  He labels the Cuban government the "800 pound gorrila".  Here is my reponse to his nonsense:

"The 800 pound gorilla in this situation might actually be one of two things.

First it may be the embargo, which has intentionally caused more economic difficulty on the island than ever was necessary. Even though economic warfare is the expressed intent of this policy which remains in place, those who have supported it somehow make the illogical jump to blaming all economic woes on the island on Castro. It is dishonest, and actually makes little sense. But I wouldn't say that this is the 800 lb gorilla, The full weight of the embargo by the US definitely weighs more than only 800 lbs.

The second possibility is that the 800 pounder is the rabidly anti-Castro/ anti-Cuba crowd that has been holding our foreign policy captive for too many decades. But when I reflect on that pitiful group, and consider the attitudes of a growing number of both Americans and Cuban immigrants, I think that they actually weigh a lot less than 800 lbs. They are getting skinnier, weaker. Their power is fading and they know it. You know it, Mr. Cardona.

So as you guys scramble to hold it together, Cuba's society is evolving, building on the foundations that were created after Batista fled. They are doing so without you guys, independently. Sure, they would love to normalize relations with Washington, it would be positive here and there. They might just get a chance sooner than that pitiful group in Miami ever dreamed.

(You can read Mr. Cardona's sillines with the following link)
Read more:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Florida's 21st District's Representative Is Shameful

   Hialeah.  The home of international fugitive terrorist Luis Posada.  Hialeah.  The city awarded the keys to the city to this terrorist.  Hialeah.  Is it any wonder that Mario Diaz-Balart is its representative in the House of Representatives?   Hialeah.  Florida's 21st district.

   As nearly the entire world has recognized, the U.S. embargo against Cuba should end.  Long after the end of the Cold War, over a decade after the attempted kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez, tensions remain between the two countries.  It really isn't necessary, Cuba has reiterated its willingness to have discussions with the United States.  But the prerequisite Cuba places is too much for Washington to accept at this time.  What is Cuba's prerequisite? To be treated respectfully.

   Cuba isn't alone in its insistence of a prerequisite for talks.  The U.S. believes that it has some sort of moral authority to decide if Cuba has met the artificial requirements that the U.S. has decided to place as conditions to holding talks.  It's pure arrogance on the part of my country, the United States. 

   History's irony has landed Mario Diaz-Balart in the position of U.S. Representative for the 21st District of Florida.  He is the congressman with the most direct ties to the Batista regime which was removed by the triumph of the Cuban revolution.  His father worked directly for Fulgencio Batista and obviously couldn't accept the revolution that removed his ruling circle.  But the most ironic historical fact is that Mario's aunt had been married to Fidel himself and with him, had a child, Mario's cousin.

   Opinions of Cubans living in the U.S. are drasticly different than they were a few decades ago.  Cubans living here are now very interested in maintaining family ties with relatives on the island.  Many are apolitical or are just plain tired of  the politics of the past.  Diaz-Balart couldn't care less.  His personal frustrations about Cuba's independence trump the desires of much of the public he is supposed to represent.  He has refused to speak with constituents who oppose his policies choosing instead to be sure that people like the old terrorist Posada Carriles, who have spent much of their lives dedicated to policies that are meant to cause suffering, can smile to each other even though their circle is getting smaller and weaker as the days pass.

   His personal ambitions of impressing to most extremist elements in South Florida outweigh the respect of family that his own political party like to tout (although it is just a lot of political posturing).  His most recent claim to fame is the fact that he is attempting to turn back the laws regarding travel to where they were during the infinitely terrible Bush presidency.  His proposal is to prevent people from traveling to the island more than once every three years.  Of course in the twisted logic of an anti-Cuba politician, this proposal is supposedly for the good of the Cuban people. 

   Candidate Obama made a lot of promises.  To me, the most easy to accomplish of all was his promise to eliminate restrictions on travel for people with relatives on the island.  This opinion was so popular that he was able to receive applause while speaking to the Cuban American National Foundation during the campaign.  The Bush policy was extremely upsetting to many and a change was more than welcomed.  Now if Mario Diaz-Balart's  proposal makes its way through all of the wrangling in Congress, it will be up to President Obama to stand by his word and veto this madness.  Will he?  Will this provision even make it that far?  That is to be seen.  But either way, the President must realize that allowing this kind of thing to make its way into law will be an insult to the idea of family, a defeat for justice. 

   It is to be expected that Hialeah's representative stands for destructive, counterproductive policy.  It is expected that a son of the Batista dictatorship has no regard for the Cuban people, neither those one the island nor those he is supposed to represent.  Congressman Jose Serrano from the Bronx represents the immigrants from Cuba better than Mario Diaz-Balart.  What a shame that such a man, such a hateful ideology still seems to find a way to cause so much hurt. 

   Let"s find a replacement for the folks like Diaz-Balart in 2012.  Let's move towards the future in a way that avoids the obvious mistakes of the past.  Let's respect our fellow nations and let us truly respect the idea of family.  Throw away this hurtful provision and go further.  End the travel ban on Americans to Cuba and the entire embargo.  Let's not let the small man from Florida's 21st district destroy the only positive pieces to the puzzle of U.S.-Cuba relations.

Miami and D.C.; Axis of Propaganda

   Jose Azel.  Just one of the many whose articles or opinion pieces on the subject of Cuba should be considered as nothing more than litter.  His writings add nothing of any intelligence to the debate about US policy towards the island.

   As opposed to taking an honest opinion about the subject, his most recent piece attempts to clutter the minds of the readers.  Iran is a touchy subject here in the US, especially within the context of our political discourse which heavily relies on fear mongering.  Talking heads and politicians alike have exploited the terrorist attacks in 2001 to justify every military action, every torture, every secret prison, and every sacrificed civil liberty.  Political candidates and office holders are almost frozen by their fear of appearing weak so that they march to the drum beat of the military industrial complex which profits from war whether it is a quagmire or a relatively simple drone strike to apply the death penalty on a perceived enemy without showing the strength and confidence of due process.

   By associating Cuba with Iran, Mr. Azel is counting on readers to imagine a new "axis of evil" which threatens the US.  He continues attempting to portray Cuba in a bad light for supporting Iran's right to peaceful nuclear power.  Iran is a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty, and by that measure, Iran is within its rights to carry on with its nuclear activities.  Washington has disregarded the spirit of so many treaties, why would it be expected to treat Iran's rights as a signatory to this one any differently?  

   Everyone on earth is aware that the reason Washington is concerned about Iran having nuclear power has nothing to do with its own security but that it would neutralize Israel's monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region.  Only a purely arrogant attitude can suggest that Iran has no right to defend itself.

   But that's all part of the game Mr Azel plays.  His entire argument attempts to claim that we need to be concerned about "rogue" type nations.  We should be, but "rogue" by his standards is one that isn't dominated by Washington or Europe.  Cuba has not been willing to follow the dictates of Washington since 1959 and therefore the arrogant people in power believe it should be considered a problem.
Azel's argument though, is being made at a time when growing numbers of Americans want to move beyond the senseless embargo and are becoming more vocal.  Even more troublesome for Mr. Azel is that the same trend can be found amongst Cubans living in the US.  The mighty power of the anti-Cuba groups has been waning in recent years so it is natural that they employ tactics like Mr. Azel chooses to employ.

   Mr.Azel states that a relationship between Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela is "perplexing".  The three countries have different economic systems and religious beliefs.  Should this be a stumbling block for respect between nations?  Of course not.  What brings these countries together?  Mutual interests.  Mutually beneficial trade.  Mr. Azel would like our imaginations to come to the idea that the mutual interest shared by these countries is something like the destruction of the US, but that is a political game meant for the people who are unwilling to think clearly.  Cuba and Iran suffer from sanctions and it is natural that they would seek to find ways to benefit from trade between each other.  Washington can sanction those two countries all it wants but it clearly can't prevent them from trading with each other.  Necessity will trump economic and religious ideologies, why else would Washington be so friendly with Saudi Arabia or China for a couple of examples?

   Mr. Azel knows that people can understand that it is normal for these countries to do business, but true to his anti-Cuba form, he slips into his analysis the charge of illicit business going on between them.  Extremists like him always feel the need to make things appear more sinister than they actually are.  He says that we would be mistaken to view their dealings through our "western" perspective.  What is special about our perspective?  Is not every country seeking to better itself economically?  Ahh, but his arrogance reveals itself.  "They" according to him are different.  If he can convince us of that, then we can imagine them to be inferior, proclaiming ourselves more enlightened, more benevolent.

   Thinking that he himself is more enlightened than the rest of us, Mr. Azel goes into some nonsense about the unifying factor is the hostility of these countries towards the US, once again looking to cause reason to worry.  He can't except that Bolivia and Ecuador also don't follow the rules of the Northern giant, so he deduces that they too are under the influence of the Iranian government or Castro (the ultimate vulgarity for a man who works in the University of Miami's Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies).

   What this pseudo-intellectual is unwilling to admit is that there is a tremendous popular awakening in Latin America and a wave of elections being won by candidates who aren't anti-American but pro their people.  These anti-imperialists are speaking in a way that irks the dominant powers of yesterday who are more likely to try to slander them than respect them.  That is why he feels the need to suggest that we fear South-South friendships that run counter to the status quo.  He pushes the idea that we should fear them and our foreign policy should be more aggressive, lumping all countries who strive to make their own future free from foreign domination into the sinister camp.

   It's time for thoughtfulness to defeat Mr. Azel's and others' arrogance and story telling.  Cuba has no history of aggressive actions towards the US.  In fact, it has been an victim of over 50 years of aggression and economic warfare by Washington and the extremists in Miami.  The rest of the world is aware what kind of dangerous stories are created by extremists in the US.  Just look at what our lies led to in Iraq.  Mr. Azel is just one more creative mind trying to present to us an alternate reality, one in which we should be fearful of countries taking their own paths, that they threaten our tranquility.  His silliness needs to be recognized for what it is, one more story meant to portray revolutionary Cuba as the boogeyman 90 miles away.

You can read Jose Azel's newest addition to Miami's axis of propaganda at :

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Choice of Words

   The ideological battle between the left and right, socialism and capitalism, is alive and well even though around two decades ago it had supposedly been settled.  Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States has extended its influence over the globe.  As the capitalist system has extended itself, the world has not seen less wars nor has the market provided answers to things such as hunger and housing.  In fact those problems have intensified even within the U.S. itself.

   In the country that boasts of the freedom to protest, we have seen protesters beaten and pepper sprayed and removed from the sites of the gatherings.  In the past few years people have been forced from their homes while bankers have made enormous profits after being subsidized by the people who are supposed to tighten their belts.   At the same time that people protest the unjust situation, the "free" press which is mainly corporatist, lectures the people about the wonders of entrepreneurs, as if the people are upset with entrepreneurial activity and not the fact that the largest corporations and Wall Street firms write our legislation for their sponsored politicians to make law that runs against the interests of the majority of the people. 

   In Cuba, the socialist government has been undergoing a process of implementing changes to the structure of the economy.  The economy, for the most part, was designed in a time when a socialist camp of countries existed and provided an alternative to the capitalist model.  Since this is no longer the case, Cuba has decided to proceed in a way which makes it possible to preserve the advances it has accomplished, yet at the same time become more functional in the world it lives in.

   It is no secret to the  politicians in Washington that the policy of maintaining the embargo against Cuba is useless.  There are various business groups which are clamoring to find ways to convince Washington that it is time to rethink the wrong-headed policy.  More people to people bridges are built between the two countries despite the attempts at economic isolation.

   Recently there have even been op-ed articles promoting the idea of IMF loans to Cuba. There are almost daily articles about the return of capitalism to Cuba.  The press seems to be more and more searching for ways to help  the stubborn Washington politicians to find ways to justify an about face in regards to Cuba. 

   Look, as far as viewing the changes in Cuba's economic system through the eyes of a believer in capitalism goes, it's understandable that the changes can be considered a turn towards capitalism.  But through the eyes of many believers in socialism, it should be viewed as a way of eliminating many of the bureaucratic obstacles and inconveniences that people faced on the island.  Also, it must be recognized that Cuba is intentionally maintaining the achievements it has made since its revolution in 1959.  There will not be a reappearance of homelessness, malnutrition, nor lack of medical care or an educational system which requires people to amass a debt in order to get a degree.   These are some of the things allow Cuba to be socialist.  The investments coming from abroad are all being directed towards projects that will not only grow the economy but will do so to expand and improve on the benefits that the country provides for its people. 

   Yes, there are similarities in how businesses in a capitalist society operate and how businesses in socialist Cuba do.  But that isn't what gives a country the capitalist character.  Capitalist countries allow a disproportionate amount of wealth to be accumulated in a few hands.  It does so to the detriment of many as it doesn't attempt to truly remedy the problems they face.  Minor adjustments are made because of a certain amount of pressure by the people who really do yearn for more equitable circumstances.  But always there are screams by the proponents of free markets against such measures.  They, along with their corporate sponsors spend a great deal of effort trying to convince people that the problems are actually a result of intervention in the market.  It is actually an attempt to explain why it is better for the rich to get richer while the rest get poorer. 

   Things in any type of system must be produced, sold, and bought.  That is what blurs the line between capitalism and socialism.  What differs socialism drastically from capitalism is how the society decides to make an economic system work for the benefit of the entire population.  Socialism strives for growth that is sustainable and avoids the exploitation of the workers for the profits of a few. 

   In some ways the society which Cuba aims to achieve is very similar to what the protesters all over the world are demanding for themselves.  To the dismay of the capitalist preachers, they know that the people of the world are looking for an alternative to their sermons.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Alternative Example

   The International Monetary Fund has a history of being a tool of the powerful countries to take control over less developed ones.  Over time, the IMF has been actively trapping countries into positions of owing so much money that it becomes impossible to pay without new loans.  These new loans often come at a price.  The price of these loans isn't only the interest a country must pay, but also a restructuring of the country's economy so that large portions of public services end up in the hands of foreign corporations.  What is supposed to be a helpful hand turns out actually being an economy subjected to foreign interests.  This situation is so extreme at times that people wind up not owning their own water sources.  Governments are forced to cut social services and programs for their people just to pay the interest on unpayable loans.

   As the people of the rich nations are facing hard economic situations and austerity measures in their own countries while watching the banks and financial institutions get bail outs, many have taken to the streets to protest the growing inequalities in wealth within their own societies.  Although these are the very countries that proclaim to be the most democratic, it seems quite obvious that some voices are heard over others.  While the vast majority will be forced to swallow the poison pill, the tiny elite who control most of the world's wealth are accumulating riches at levels never before seen. 

   These measures, we are told by our "democratic" governments, are necessary to create a better economic situation for all.  The "trickle down" economic theory has spread across much of the world.  But is it really the way to a more equitable and stable economic future?

   The answer to this question may be found in the most interesting of places.  The IMF's International Monetary and Financial Committee's September 24, 2011 report contains a section on Argentina.  In it it states:

:In the past decade, Argentina’s economy has undergone an unprecedented structural

transformation. Since the 2001/02 crisis, Argentina has recorded eight consecutive years of

growth, a sequence that has not been witnessed since the 1963-1974 period. Between 2003

and 2010, average annual economic growth was almost 8 percent, but the outstanding aspect

of this unprecedented growth period is that it was achieved together with a noticeable

reduction in poverty, unemployment, and inequality. From the point of view of the

Argentinean experience, growth must be broadly shared in order to build a more mature and

sustainable economic and social structure."

"Argentina follows a solid path that sustains high rates of growth as a result of the policy

framework followed by the country since 2003. It is based on a sound macroeconomic

policy framework supported by continuous twin surpluses, external and fiscal, a disindebtedness

process with no precedents, responsible fiscal and monetary policies, a floating

exchange rate regime, and the accumulation of foreign reserves. In this regard, the historical

pattern of stop and go that has characterized the Argentinean economy since the post-war

period was avoided. Key components of the model are job creation, fairness and social

inclusion and income distribution. In the past eight years, the average income per capita

grew by 60 percent in real terms and public expenditure per capita increased tenfold during

the same period. 3.5 million jobs were created, with unemployment decreasing from 18 to 7.3

percent, while the average real wage climbed 37 percent. Improvements in the minimum

wage, as recently occurred, benefit both the functional and the personal income distribution.

We share the view that equality is an important ingredient in promoting and sustaining

1 Social and political stability supported economic stability, and social participation

was preferred to social repression. Argentina has also been particularly successful in

guarding the most vulnerable sectors of its population, as well as its producers from the

recent episodes of volatility in international commodity prices."

"We believe it is necessary to

continue to rethink the role played by credit rating agencies through concrete policies aimed

at reducing dependence and enhancing supervision."

   Is seems that the fact that Argentina decided to reject the usual prescriptions by these international lending institutions led them out of the crisis they were facing and on to a solid future.  This is a point that should be realized by the countries dealing with enormous debt and also by the countries who may in the future consider listening to the ideas of the IMF.

   Perhaps ways other than what the elite bankers of the world would like countries to follow are more rewarding.  Perhaps countries are going to have much different relations with these institutions in the future. 


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Silly Promises and a Promising Future

   I am often baffled by the level of willingness that many Americans have to find excuses for the actions of the U.S. government.  There should be little confusion about the fact that although this country has democratic systems in place, there exists a situation in which many people feel like their voices aren't represented by those who have been elected.  We are close to entering the fourth year of Obama's presidency and there has been plenty of disappointment with what he has accomplished, or more appropriately, what he hasn't accomplished.

   Back when Bush was still president and the 2008 election was in full swing, Obama was able to take away the Democrat party's nomination from Hillary Clinton's seemingly probable role.  This was possible due to the positions each had taken in regards to the war Bush decided to start in Iraq.  Hillary Clinton attempted to pretend that her vote to give Bush the power to wage war without Congress giving him the the authority to do so, was done believing that war wasn't necessarily going to be pursued.  She supported the war, regardless what she tried to say during the campaign.  Obama put himself on the side of the people's sentiment against the war.  He was immune to having to defend himself as Hillary tried since it was a vote he never had to cast.  It was an easy position for him to take and it impressed more voters.  Obama cruised to victory at a time when most people would have chosen almost anyone who seemed to offer a break from the ignorant policies of the Bush administration.

   The new president came in appearing as a man who would finally do the people's business instead of working on behalf of the powers that had already become one with both political parties.  His bold beginning was to order the closing down of the black hole like torture chamber in occupied Guantanamo Cuba.  But hindsight is 20/20.  The prison remains, as does the occupation of that part of Cuba.

   He then decided to seem like he was going to go farther than anyone else had and create a health care system that was dedicated to allowing health care to be reached by all Americans.  But quickly it became obvious that he had no intentions in eliminating the main obstacle to such a system, the insurance companies.  We are told by those like the president that we have to do what is possible and although we know that there is no way to defend the fact that this health care system is one designed for profit and since it is so, people are refused necessary care and those who are covered by insurance are often financially ruined by the prices that are unpayable.  We are expected to rationalize what we know is wrong.  We are supposed to believe that his health care accomplishment, which gives more business, more profits to the very companies that hold people hostage to policies that would be laughable if they were actually a joke and it wasn't such a despicable arrangement, is a major victory for the people.

   "Bush's War" quickly became Obama's war and he decided to hide behind "what the generals think" as if his civilian presidency wasn't actually able to tell the generals what was good for the country.  We are supposed to imagine that because he campaigned as if he was against the war, we are somehow waging one in a way that it wouldn't have been waged had John McCain won the election.  That actually isn't even the point. 
   The point is that he was elected because people had come to realize that the war was a mistake and the United States shouldn't be there anyway.  As if his decisions weren't insulting our intelligence enough, Obama's administration throughout this year had been trying to find ways for the Iraqi government to allow our troops to remain at war in that country beyond the deadline that Bush had set along with his Iraqi counterparts (if they can be truly considered as such).  His administration's efforts were unsuccessful.  But apparently leaving Iraq according to Bush's timetable (while leaving the largest mercenary force in existence behind) will undoubtedly be presented to us as Obama fulfilling another campaign promise.  (That sentence should end with an exclamation point but I feel a period is more suitable since it is so serious of an insult to the Americans who can't stomach being involved in the war any longer and the Iraqis who will continue to suffer from this situation.)

   The "change" that so many people had hoped for in 2008 only materialized in rhetorical terms.  Obama's administration has sat by and allowed record numbers of Americans to lose their homes thanks to a Wallstreet scheme which was able to be hatched thanks in large part to laws created, or eliminated, during the previous Democrat hero's administration, Bill Clinton. 

   Bill Clinton, the man who is now coordinating relief for the country of Haiti, stood before the unlucky people of that country and said that he felt bad about the results of some policies that he had supported that had caused more harm than good in Haiti.  Bill Clinton mastered the art of showing empathy.  Maybe one day he will apologize for how almost two years after the earthquake, Jimmy Carter plans on reporting to the U.S. that the only rebuilding he has seen during his visit to Haiti is the rebuilding of mansions for the rich.  I guess if we are to follow the line of thought of a certain Christian evangelist we can imagine that this misfortune has something to do with a punishment for voodoo practices.

   With protests springing up all over the country, it should be obvious that change hasn't come with the election of Obama.  The big shots on Wallstreet have become richer than ever and new poverty statistics show that there exists more poverty than we were previously led to believe.  But there is more freedom, no really there is, more freedom of money to influence our politics.  Surely that should make up for all of the freedoms that have been twisted and abused during the past decade or so!  "Only in America" as Don King, the boxing promoter, or puppet master, likes to say with a smile.  Yes, only in America is the incumbent president's goal of raising a billion dollars for a campaign viewed as an admirable record to be proud of. 

   We can feel good about showing off to the world what our freedom to protest looks like.  We see thousands of arrests and veterans being shot at with projectiles as less than embarrassing.  We like to talk a good game when we pick and choose which country to lecture about human rights, but I know we are talking to ourselves.  When we interfere in the internal affairs of a country in Latin America while claiming that Chavez is doing so without any evidence, we do so because we tell ourselves that we are better, more just. 

   The people of this country are beginning to realize that the promise of change will not come simply by voting for the politician who makes the beautiful promises that we feel comfortable hearing.  People are tired of the silly gimmicks of political campaigners such as Romney's saying that he will eliminate much of the foreign aid that this country pays for.  That quite simply wouldn't be likely to happen.  Most of what we hear as being foreign aid goes eventually to aiding U.S. corporations operating in foreign countries.  The "economic hit man" John Perkins clearly explained the situation of Indonesia.  U.S. investment in that country went to build everything necessary for the oil companies to conduct business.  The oil has been extracted, billions of dollars were made for the investors, and a few powerful Indonesians became rich too.  The vast majority of Indonesians have gained virtually nothing from the natural resources of their country.  They have been subjected to Washington backed strong men for decades with no way out.  Strong men, dictators, anything we'd like to call them, it doesn't matter.  They all are working more for their personal fortunes at their people's expense.   It is all just fine with the U.S. since those strong men work in the interests of capital.

   The lofty claims about human rights that the U.S. presidents and others officials in the government ring hollow.  The U.S. power only finds problems with leaders of countries willing to buck the trend of U.S. dominance.  The most clear example is the country of Cuba.  Having fought for its independence from Spain, it ended up having to live with a constitution written while under U.S. occupation.  After the former colonizer was cut out of the equation, the mighty power to its north took the place of master on the island, retaining the right to intervene militarily when it felt that its interests were threatened.

   So it was like this until 1959 when Fidel Castro's revolutionaries with the support of the people took control of the island's destiny.   In one of his first visits to the United States, Fidel made it clear that the independent nation of Cuba wasn't looking for handouts from the U.S., only respect.  At the same time our government realized that this wasn't an ordinary power grab, but a move to actual independence.  From almost the first day and ever since, Washington has tried almost every trick under the sun to erase this independently minded government that has become an example of a country that resists imperialism. 

   There is no doubt that the lives of the Cuban people have been made more difficult due to the punishment handed out in the form of the embargo, a punishment for choosing independence.  But there is no doubt that in many areas thanks to their independence, their lives are better than in most underdeveloped countries that have opted for the path of being a client state.  Decades of dictatorships imposed on Latin America by Washington has led to societies that suffer from violence, hunger, homelessness, and exploitation of natural resources by American corporations.  Death squads trained by American military specialists have left thousands dead.  Attempts at democracy were crushed time and time again by assassinations. kidnappings, and bribery.  The people of Latin America over the past few short years have been electing governments which are trying to break the chains that have held back the dreams of the continent for centuries.  Never has there been more unity in Latin America than there is at this moment in history.  The countries are forming new alliances to develop themselves in ways that will ultimately help their forgotten majorities live better lives. 

   All of this to me is quite inspiring.  Much is made of what we refer to as the "Arab Spring" here in the U.S.  But this rejection of puppet dictators began over a decade ago in Latin America with the election of Hugo Chavez.  Now the leaders of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, along with Cuba are working together in harmony.  Of course to Washington, this is a disaster.  Not all of the leaders are as outspoken as Chavez, who has earned the spot of enemy #1 in our corporate press, but all are implementing programs to help the people who had been left out of the plans of past governments who were happy to follow the orders from the north.

   It took a long time for those people to accomplish such a feat.  It seems that the American people are showing symptoms of growing tired of governments which work at the service of mighty corporations while making life more difficult for the majority of working people.  In cities all across the United States, people are finding ways to at least voice their disappointment with the status quo.  We are certainly not bold enough yet to take the chance of voting for a candidate who isn't bought and paid for by the corporations, but if the regular politicians don't find the backbone to go against their wealthy sponsors, eventually a candidate who isn't supposed to win, similar to how Chavez was elected in Venezuela, will be chosen by the people.  At that point the country will be able to begin the process of making a society that actually matches the rhetoric that we too often pretend to believe out of convenience. 

   As much as we like to tell ourselves that we are an example for the world to follow, I think that the world has provided some great examples for us to take note of.  It's Shameful that we accept living with the knowledge that we have to choose the lessor of two evils.  The people of Latin America have shown us that a better future is possible and the voices that were once drowned out by the powerful can be heard.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"We Are Powerless"

   "We are powerless in a foreign country."  This was the response from the U.S. representative of the embassy in Israel to the jailed American reporter who was aboard one of the boats that tried to enter Gaza.  The ambassador didn't come to visit the fellow American, only a representative from the embassy.

   Roberta Jacobson told senators during her confirmation hearing that the administration, through diplomatic channels, would do whatever it could to get Alan Gross released. 

   What makes the U.S. government believe, or pretend, that without official diplomatic relations with Cuba, it would be in any position at all to secure the release of Mr. Gross?  According to the response given to the jailed American reporter in Israel, with which the United States has a seemingly unconditional friendship with, including financial and military ties, the U.S. is powerless in a foreign country!

   If the United States wanted to, it could see Mr. Gross back home with his family quickly.  He is no more human than the five Cubans who have been imprisoned for over a decade after what the U.S. claims with a straight face as being a fair trial in Miami. Mr. Gross has even expressed a desire for himself  to be traded for the five Cubans.  Instead, the U.S. finds him to be a convenient excuse not to change its stance towards the island.  The excuse is more necessary than ever since while President Obama's claims of not seeing any change on the island is contradicted by Freedom House's most recent published report (Freedom House is one of the groups that takes our tax dollars to come up with unfavorable reports based on interviews with ordinary Cuban people on the island) and the remarkable comment by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, William Burns.  Burns said "Cuba appears to have taken a positive step by allowing its citizens to buy and sell homes," which is an admission of things changing and recognition  of something positive. 

   OK.  I know that by reading the inside of my passport I am subject to the laws of the countries that I visit.  I also know that there are political issues that affect the U.S.' willingness or unwillingness to help its citizens being held in other countries.  For that reason I am willing to state that I find it unbelievable that the U.S. is doing what Roberta Jacobson claimed during her confirmation hearing.  Any observer, whether it be the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles or a congressman who probably doesn't support the embargo, would agree that a swap for the Cuban five for Alan Gross could happen.  The problem isn't that the United States is powerless, it is that is lacking the political will to break free from the influence of the extremists in Miami. 

   Once the clownish extremists are brushed aside as they should be, the people of the U.S. and Cuba, as well as their respective governments, can begin a cooperative relationship that is mutually beneficial and could potentially  have a positive impact for the people of the entire hemisphere.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Has Obama Heard of Freedom House?

   Recently, President Obama said to the press that " we've got to see significant changes from the Cuban government and we just have not seen that yet.”.  At the time that he said that, the Sixth Party Congress in Cuba had already announced the most drastic alterations to the country's structure since the 1960's.  President Obama was being willfully ignorant of that fact.

   Now, just a few days ago Freedom House, the "independent" group which receives funding from the U.S. government that Obama supports and signs off on, released a new report on findings of a survey it conducted in Cuba.  Freedom House found that 79% of the respondents have indeed noticed changes in the country over the last six months and 63% have favorable views of the reforms. 

   Now I;m not a supporter of the U.S. government spending millions of dollars every year on ways to subvert Cuba's sovereignty.  Nor do I believe that the United States has any right to determine how Cuba decides to do things, or any other country for that matter.  What I do find curious is that how can the president be taken seriously about not noticing any changes when the reports he decides to sponsor with our tax dollars clearly show a disconnect between what he sees and what is really happening?  He shouldn't be taken seriously at all. 

   Could it be that Freedom House is just unable to conduct a thorough survey?  If that is the case then surely they won't be expected to continue their work on behalf of the U.S. government.  Maybe the busy president is aware of Freedom House.  Maybe he hasn't heard of the surveys they conduct in Cuba!

   Freedom House summarized the general sense among Cubans as having adopted a more favorable perception of the situation on the island and as having a stronger sense of progress, and a positive feeling about what the new reforms may bring.  All of this positivity and Cuba still suffers from the most far reaching economic embargo imposed on it by the United States.  Imagine the positivity that they would feel if the United States would end it's embargo, stop trying to undermine its society, and treat Cuba with respect. 

   What is amazing about Obama's strange ability to see things is his ability to  distinguish differences between certain countries in the world.  He sees differences that escape the average person's sight.  For example, he's able to see positive steps by the leader of Yemen, whose people are demanding his resignation.  He even saw that an arms sale to that country at a time when protesters were being killed in the streets with military equipment similar, if not the same, as the kind that was to be sold to that government.  He somehow was able to see that the death of a Libyan protester was more offensive to humanity that a protester in Yemen.  He is able to see what the average person can't when he looks at the repression of the protesters in Chile but complains about the "Ladies in White" are booed and yelled at by fellow Cubans who don't particularly care for them working with the officials at the U.S. Interests Section. 

   President Obama, isn't it time to start looking at things in a genuine way?  Isn't it time to admit that the policy, the embargo against Cuba is wrong?  Isn't it time for a president to lead in a way that demands respect by respecting reality?  All of this nonsense is sickening.  Really.  Ask yourself why you feel that it is OK to let dozens of Cuban children who would benefit from a cardiac plug manufactured in the U.S. called an Amplatzer septal occluder that they can't have it because you believe that you should be the judge of Cuba.  Your stance is disgraceful.  You can see it, if you care to try.

   President Obama, after enduring eight years of a president who lacked the ability to speak clearly, you were a breath of fresh air.  I have no criticisms for your ability to give speeches.  In a bubble, they would be uplifting even.  But unfortunately, most people aren't living in a bubble.  Your eloquence is meaningless without your willingness to actually support the things that so many politicians pretend to stand for. 


Friday, October 28, 2011

A Fake Exile: Marco Rubio

   I've missed a few opportunities to comment on a few things over the last few weeks due to a busier than usual schedule.  But something that I feel like I have to write about is the silliness that Marco Rubio has been in the news for.

   First, it interests me because in some technical way he is supposed to be one of my two representatives in the US Senate.  Second, my intense interest in Cuba and desire to have my country wake up and respect Cuba as an equal nation in this world we live in.

   I am here, literally, because my father came to this country as a child along with his family because my grandfather was looking for a better life.  No, they didn't leave Cuba after the revolution led by Fidel Castro on the behalf of the Cuban people.  They came to this country in 1957 during the Batista dictatorship which was supported by Washington.  Along with Washington's support, Batista enjoyed a warm and personally lucrative relationship with the American mafia, which brought its crime and many vices to the homeland of my father.  Also, he was OK with the fact that the American corporations were exploiting the people of Cuba thanks to a neo-colonial society which was set up to serve the interests of the United States after so much Cuban blood was shed as the people fought for their independence from Spain.  Batista personally fled the island to save his neck with money he robbed from the Cuban people he ruled over until he could hold onto power no longer.

   You see Marco Rubio's family shares a certain similar history with mine.  We recently learned that his parents too decided to leave their homeland to seek a better life in the United States, in 1956 just a year before mine made the trip.  The difference is his story up until now has been that they left to escape Castro and communism.  He failed to mention that they left before the triumph of the revolution.  Why the embellishment of his biography that he now denies as being such?  The answer is simple.  The twisted politics of Florida makes a hero out of anyone of Cuban descent who speaks badly about Castro and the Cuban revolution.  So the role of an "exile" is the one Marco Rubio decided to play.

   By milking this cash cow of anti-Cuban/ anti-Castro politics, he has managed to reach one of the highest levels of power in the US political system and there is even talk of this "young star" being the possible vice-presidential candidate in the 2012 election.  But this ignorant man failed to realize that at that level of the political game his background would be scrutinized in ways that he never worried about in Florida state politics.
   But now we learn that Marco is a fake exile.  "We do have a tendency in modern politics to exaggerate things".  This most recent statement by Rubio might be the most honest thing that has come through his lips lately.

Embellish: Make a statement or story more interesting or entertaining by adding extra details, especially ones that are not true.

Exagerate: Represent something as being larger, greater, better, or worse than it really is.

   Marco Rubio has repeatedly denied embellishing his family history but admits that exaggerations by politicians occur.  However he tries to spin his way out of the web of false history he has woven doesn't change the fact that this less than slick politician found it necessary to change his biography on his website, only after being outed as a liar.  He has chosen to blame the false history on the "stories" handed down by his family as if this were some sort of legend handed down many generations when it is only the story of his parents.

   This Senator Rubio fancied up his family history for no other reason than to gain himself a little street cred, Calle 8 style.  He chose to stoop to a lower level to appeal to the group of extremists in Miami who have a record of hate including trying to make Cubans suffer, even to the point of committing and supporting terrorism.  All of this for personal political gains.

   To me, Marco Rubio is the embodiment of a pathetic and decrepit politician.  He, along with all of the others who are the same, need to be forcefully retired by the public that they deceive and fail to represent with dignity.  Hopefully whatever investigations may be looking into his possible involvement in illegal activities are fruitful and the state of Florida doesn't have to wait all six years for a new Senator.

   As serious as an issue that lying politicians is, I do thank Marco Rubio for providing me with a bit of comic relief over the past few days.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Azel's Opinion: A Common Tragedy

   This is my response to Jose Azel's opinion he titled "Cuba: A Tragedy of Commons".  What truly is a tragedy is the fact that the who have tried to inflict the most suffering on the people of Cuba are people who trace their roots to the island.  They arrogantly try to impose their own ideas on a people they abandoned long ago.

   Is it any wonder that the strongest proponents of the embargo, which has the expressed intention of strangling the Cuban economy, always directly trace the main cause of Cuba's economic woes to actions taken by the Cuban government? As they ignore this fact of the implications of the embargo, although everyone else on earth can clearly see it, do they feel guilt for having such a large hand in the peoples' of Cuba woes? Probably not. They seem to champion all of the amazing results that pre-revolutionary Cuba brought for its citizens.

     In spite of all of those fantastic statistics, the people of Cuba welcomed the expulsion of the previous order. Cuba's per capita income may have been fourth in Latin America, but when you average incomes you find it easy to hide the extremes in poverty and wealth. It may cost more of what a Cuban worker earns than a Costa Rican to buy a box of milk, but in spite of that gap, Cuba not Costa Rica has become the only country in Latin America to have eliminated childhood malnutrition. This may be due to the fact that when you factor in all of the expenses that a Costa Rican faces that Cubans don't, perhaps because in Cuba there are more "commons", many Costa Ricans can't afford the milk after all. Yeah, among the "commons" in Cuba are the lack of wage and purchase power, but also are the benefits like health care. Don't think so? Ask Laura Pollan how much see was set back economically for her acute respiratory illness? I'm sure she won't have to file for bankruptcy as so many Americans have to due to unaffordable health care costs right here in the "greatest health care system in the world".
   Things were so great in the rest of Latin America that since the Cuban revolution, Washington feared the spread of the "Cuban example". Within the first couple of years, Washington felt it necessary to launch new economic programs for the rest of Latin America. After decades, things have remained bad for so many in Latin America that many countries have elected what we call dictators who are looking for ways to include the people who have historically been forgotten or ignored. Although the Cuban example of an armed revolution isn't being followed, similar aspirations of developing societies where a few big gluttonous bellies don't ignore the hungry ones and hide behind economic averages.

   Besides all of the side issues, the one thing that the people who have done everything possible to eliminate the Cuban revolution as well of the intellectuals who can't even find a way to correct the problems of their own countries seem to overlook. It is nobody's place to dictate to Cuba what Cuba has to do. Cuba has the same right to self-determination as any other country should. They may decide to follow the philosophy of Locke, Keyenes, Marx, or Smith. As an expressed enemy of Cuba, the United States isn't even in a position to offer advice. The US will not force Cuba into becoming what the US wants, but if their were at least cordial relations based on respect, the US may be able to offer constructive ideas which would be at least heard. Instead, Washington stubbornly sits from afar offering nothing but slander and insults while squandering any positive possibilities that could be created.      

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Fifty Plus Years And Feet Still Drag On The Way To The Inevitable

   Washington is still drags its feet when it comes to forming a rational policy towards
Cuba.  I think the situation is beyond delusion. There may be a few deluded people
around still, but senility is probably more appropriate of a description if they
hold on to their beliefs from five decades ago.

   After 50 years of Washington's inability to impose its will on Cuba, punishment
can be the only logical explanation for maintaining its policy. It attempts to
delude the public with its silly proclamations from time to time, such as
Obama's recent comments, and with the help of a press that is predominantly
sympathetic towards whatever Washington's foreign policy might be.

   Washington finds it much easier to stick with the status quo than to challenge
it. What Washington needs to find is a way to reverse itself, or at least begin
to, while saving face since it isn't admitting its errors.

   It would love to find a way to get Alan Gross released since it would be
presented as a win for Washington, but for the moment his imprisonment makes a good
talking point for the politicians. Doing anything during a campaign year is
almost impossible because it could easily be twisted into being perceived as a
weakness even though for Mr. Gross and his family it would be a fantastic

   As for all of the attempts to prevent progress on the issue by the usual suspects
in congress, Diaz-Balart, Ros-Lehtenin and co., all of it was quite predictable and
although it can be worrisome, time itself is running against them and they know it
so they scream more loudly.

   Alleviating suffering never seems to be very high on the to-do list in
Washington so appealing to our politicians' emotions won't get anyone anywhere.
The voters in Florida for the most part can't be described as left of center.
This has become a very right wing state over the past decade or so, and I don't
see that there is any difference particular to the registered voters of Cuban

   Unfortunately, many of the people who would like to see a change in policy
within the Cuban community aren't yet registered to vote and many haven't yet
become citizens. If they would like to outnumber those who control the Cuba
issue, they really need to do so or they will likely just have to wait for the
business lobbies to convince the politicians that things must change.

   The oil industry is one that I'm sure will be exerting more pressure than anyone
else at this point even going as far as to ask for a special exception for
itself, which may be a possibility. But even if such a corrupt exception is
ultimately granted, it would signal the beginning of a sure end in our horrible

   Along with that exception, others must be found so as not to look like they are
just caving in to the demands of Big Oil. Possibly an end on travel
restrictions for all Americans after the 2012 election and a solution to the
Alan Gross issue would lead to the overdue removal of Cuba from the list of
terror sponsoring countries. After those steps it would be possible for the
entire embargo to be dismantled.

   Through it all the anti-Cuba crowd would throw a fit, but they would
be powerless to do anything at all. Perhaps Radio Marti would continue with a
few "democracy programs" if only to throw them a bone, but not much else.

   Of course the US would still find it hard to accept a Cuba outside of its
control, but it would at least be able to satisfy the desires of businesses that
would like to just profit in a market that has always been off limits.

   But still for now, the feet in Washington just drag on.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rationality Pauses For Campaign Season

   The 2012 campaign season has begun.  Not that campaign seasons ever truly end in the U.S., but now there are actually faces to be on TV that declare themselves as candidates.  Along comes the customary promises that almost never will be fulfilled and soon will follow the bombardment of political ads that make television more unbearable than it already is.  And let's not forget the likelihood of over a billion dollars hiding under the irrational farce of being considered free speech.

   Politicians, almost all, from the aspiring representative all the way up to the sitting president are carving out positions on issues that they consider to be safe so as not to run the risk of losing ground in the polls.  So much is needed to be done yet for the next year it is unlikely that any politician is willing to do more than talk about what they will do instead of actually doing it.

   For fifty years the government in Washington has spun itself into a web of lunacy in international relations.  The Cold War, post-Soviet Union, the War on Terror, whatever the situation, Washington finds itself creating relationships and avoiding others becoming more hypocritical and inconsistent by the year.  In spite of all of the nice proclamations that are meant to appeal to the hearts of people, the policies of forceful domination remains a constant.  And when domination isn't possible, Washington becomes even more irrational. 

   The 18th congressional district is represented in Washington by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.  Her claim to fame is her infamous irrationality in influencing U.S. policy towards Cuba.  The U.S. has been unable to join the rest of the world in realizing that Cuba is not willing to submit to the demands of others, as no country should, and forsake its own people's interests for the greed and dominance that Washington would like to impose on the world.  Washington can't say with a straight face that Cuba is a threat or a sponsor of terrorism.  Washington can't claim that it is truly concerned with human rights as it has such a rich history of supporting repression if its interests are served.  So why is the U.S. so stubborn when it comes to Cuba?  Cuba has achieved great feats in comparison with many other nations when it comes to health, education, and international cooperation.  All this means nothing to Washington as it continues to ignore anything positive on the island, choosing instead to invent things that can be used to justify its stance.

    There are two issues that have gained a lot of news coverage recently in regards to Cuba-U.S. relations.  One being the imprisonment of Alan Gross which can only be resolved by rational respectful actions on the part of the United States.  Alan Gross was in Cuba, breaking Cuban law, and doing so as part of a U.S. government program meant to destabilize the country.  Cuba is well within its rights to allow Mr. Gross to remain in Cuba for the full 15 years.  If Cuba decides to release him, it can do so too, but why would it at this point given the refusal of Washington to even attempt to negotiate something?

   The other issue is the oil drilling that will begin soon of the coast of Cuba.  Years back, Cuba stated that U.S. oil companies would be welcome to participate in the venture.  Because of the embargo, U.S. companies are forbidden from doing business there.  Do we think that the oil companies don't want a piece of the action?!  Of course they do.  But I'm not here to cry about the U.S. oil industry not being able to make more money than they already have.  But I do wonder what the people of Ileana Ros-Lehtenin's district must be thinking as she leads the charge in preventing any cooperation in the event of an oil spill that could destroy the livelihood of much of her district.  Instead of acting responsibly, she attacks and threatens the companies that will be working with Cuba.  A bi-partisan letter, by a group of congressmen that depends on donations from the old guard extremists in Miami, was sent  to the Spanish company that will be drilling in the attempt to scare them from violating pending legislation.  Pending legislation!  Since when was pending legislation law?  As quickly as the letter was received it was dismissed.  The Spanish company has surely done its homework and will be careful not to violate the hopelessly spiteful embargo.

   Surely Ros-Lehtenin is worried.  Surely she screams louder since she is aware that the majority of Americans , including Cubans living in the U.S., are tired of this situation that has lasted for over five decades.  She has nothing to offer but disgruntled proclamations against Cuba.  She is doing nothing except try to prevent any logical cooperation in the event of an oil spill.  This nonsense is enough though for her.  She will continue to be funded by the dinosaurs in Miami whose wish of controlling Cuba never dies.  She need not sound or act rational, for if she did she would be betraying the only issue she is infamous for.  Besides, it's campaign season, and the president is unlikely to do anything to change the status quo of the embargo.  He too is jockeying for money and support from some of the same people, although he does so at the risk of alienating those who thought that he was smarter than that.

   Ileana can sleep well for the moment, but she will soon be quite distraught when after the election season the oil industry and others will be able to pressure Washington just enough to start the crumbling of the house of cards that the embargo is held up by.  The issue of Mr. Gross will have a chance of being  genuinely attended to and other aspects of the embargo will loosen as well.  The United States is capable of doing the right thing, it just unfortunately takes a while for it to do so.  We will get a chance to witness Ileana screaming and kicking while the world ignores her nonsensical rhetoric and she looses the only issue that has kept her career in the spotlight.  When that time comes, she will see how quickly her relevance vanishes and the Cuban and American people can be friends and respect each other, learning from each other and sharing in this thing we all share, life.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Blind Justice

"Justice is blind" "Free press"
The Cuban 5

In this case, justice seems to live up to that notion of blindness.
Unfortunately, the press cost money. How can justice continue to be blind to
the fact that the press was paid for? Willful blindness? Press that is free to
sell itself? And sold to those sworn to uphold the Constitution?

These terms were twisted into forms that are unrecognizable. Just the fact that
this trial was allowed to proceed in Miami is enough to question the willingness
on the part of the government to hold a fair trial.

To make matters worse, we later learned that the government was busy making sure
that at least some of the press was willing to act in a way to further pollute
the jury pool in a city that has a known bias in regards to matters dealing with

Now the US finds itself stuck in a situation of its own making. It stands in
defense of a process that is supposed to be fair but by its own actions and
decisions made it impossible. If two wrongs don't make a right, five certainly
don't either. Make that six if we include Rene Gonzalez having to serve three
years of probation in Miami.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Efforts and Achievements

   The world has 146 million children suffering from malnutrition according to UNICEF.
 There is not a country or politician who doesn't say that this is a terribly difficult and
 unfortunate fact.  If wars are easy to make, a solution to the problem of malnutrition seems impossible.

   UNICEF has said that Cuba is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean
 to have solved this horrible problem.

   Cuba has many difficult issues. Every country has difficult issues. But what
stands out about Cuba is its serious commitment to these types of problems.

   Once again, Cuba presents the world with evidence that a concentrated effort
with just goals can lead to solving problems that in other countries are simply
considered just an unfortunate fact of life.

   It hasn't the natural resources nor the size to ever be considered a superpower,
but it has the will, determination, and resolve to see to it that it can perform
in a manner that seems to elude the countries that claim themselves to be
examples of what's right.

   All of the children in the world who go to bed or wake up with hunger in their
bellies, most certainly couldn't care less about what the stock markets are
doing today, they simply need something to eat.

   Cuban children may not get to decide if they want a Pop Tart or a Happy Meal
with a cute toy inside, but they don't suffer from something so fundamentally
awful, malnutrition.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Carlos Montaner, the Economist?

   The "free market", if there ever really was one, offers no answers for anything. The fact that corrupt politicians in so-called democracies, depend on so many contributions from the powerful industries, therefore skewing the Keynesnian ideology, doesn't mean that it isn't better than what ,let's say Milton Friedman proposes. If the working public has to sit around starving while they wait for the market gods to bless the business cycle with an upswing, what happens to them? Free marketeers will say that people will become creative and that is incentive to start a new business. How many people will actually start a new business? Some, but not the majority. The rest just have to imagine that aid will come from the goodness of people who are more fortunate and wait.

    I wish that the ex-president you dined with had a name to go with his admitted corruption. I'm sure he was friendly with the governments of the world that partake in the plundering of the public's wealth. When a person is elected and chooses to try and do right for his people, Evo Morales for example, and doesn't go along with the status quo allowing the public's wealth to be syphoned off by the usual suspects, the industrialized world cries foul. Why? Because the most entrenched systematic corruption can be found in the halls of the capitols of Washington and European nations. With all of the power possessed by the hypocritical supporters of the free market system and democracy, They, along with people like you Mr. Montaner, exert a tremendous amount of pressure through economic blackmail and violence to try to ensure that a president who you call a friend can be reinstalled in the place of the honest man.

    I'm sure that your "opinion" has more to do with the political drama of the United States than it does with other countries, but your support for regimes that rob from their people flies in the face of any argument you might have in opposition to the Keynesnian ideology. Over the past thirty years the transfer of wealth from workers to the elite, thanks in large part to the trickle down theory made famous by Reagan, has left people in the US in an extremely weak situation. It is long overdue, but the politicians of both political parties have almost abandoned any ideas based on Keynes. Unless of course we want to speak about the highly profitable military industrial complex, which is an unfortunate example that would help prove Keynes theory correct. If only half, if not more of what is spent on an industry that thrives on death and destruction, were to be spent on projects that build instead of destroy, there would be numerous examples to help prove Keynesnian theory much more sound than the hopeful free market religion. When the public's money is invested properly in the economy, it is the first domino in a line of businesses that compliment the original expenditure. It is not hard to comprehend.
   The reason that people are tired of government spending is that so much of it is done as favors for powerful contributors. The allocated money is not well planned and often wasted. The people loss faith, not in an economic theory, but in the ability of the elected officials to make rational use of the public's money. People often curl into a sort of survival mentality and would, out of emotional frustration, rather the government stop spending. People are easily tricked into believing things like social security is a wasteful Ponzi scheme by either dishonest politicians playing on their fears.

   Why is it that the Social Security fund has enough money that it can be lent to the general budget yet it is the target of fiscal irresponsibility? Wouldn't the general budget, the one from which the actual money is passed to the fat cat contributors be a more logical example of where government waste can be eliminated? If the public had a better understanding of the situation, the demands of the government would be different. But as an extension of the "free market", the corporate media is the main source of information for the rightly disgruntled public. We somehow confuse free press with honest reporting, and although much reporting is honest, it is what is left out of the conversation that causes the lack of an informed public. Of course the corporate media has a an agenda, its own. It needs rating for for advertising dollars and so on and so on. There is no reason for a corporate media to go against its interests and explain the whole situation to the public. The public would react in ways that are likely to chip away at the powers that the giant political donors enjoy, the media conglomerates included.
   So once again Mr. Montaner, you use your pulpit to argue against the truth. This time about economic theory instead of the usual misrepresentations and slanders against Cuba, Venezuela, and other nations that won't follow the dictates of the self-proclaimed rulers of the hemisphere.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Political Refugees from Cuba?

   There is a lot of controversy here in the United States about the fact that so many Cubans who have taken advantage of the chance to be given political asylum often travel back to Cuba.  The idea of granting political asylum to people is based on the assumption that they were persecuted in their country.  This is something that can be granted to anyone from anywhere if the US believes that the claim of persecution is true.  Sometimes it is. 
   But a special situation has been given to Cubans arriving in the US without going through the visa process.  Because of the US' insistence that Cuba is a repressive country along with the strong anti-Cuban lobby here in the US, this policy has been maintained even though it is found to be baseless by the fact that Cubans are welcomed to travel freely to the country that supposedly had been persecuting them.  Certainly if the persecution really existed, these people wouldn't be so quick to travel back worry free. 
   Now there are congress people who want to prevent these Cubans from travelling to Cuba without obtaining their US citizenship first, which would mean that they would have to wait years before visiting their families.  Do the anti-Cuba politicians really want to prevent these visits?  Of course they do.  They want everyone to cut personal ties with their families on the island.  They would much rather do this than address the real issue of the refugee status.  Why?
   The reason the issue of refugee status won't be addressed is because when we find out that almost none of those who took advantage of the purely political "refugee" advantage given to Cubans and Cubans only, then what? The US would be left trying to explain its way out of the situation that it has almost created by itself.
    This is a policy that exists for the sole purpose of creating the myth of extreme persecution in Cuba. In the past, there were certain times of persecution and the leaders of Cuba have admitted this. There was a time where anything that questioned or opposed the Revolution was quickly accused of being counter-revolutionary. At times those "counter-revolutionaries" were in fact working for foreign governments and other times they were simply not. It is an unfortunate thing that happens in one way or another in every country, not only in Cuba. The US is no exception.
    There is no reason to grant asylum to most people coming from Cuba. Our government knows this well. The people we hear about, from the Ladies in White to the hunger strikers who are heralded in our press  as heroes are all working in conjunction with either the officials at the US Interests Section or their support groups with ties to Washington in Miami. This is not propaganda, but a fact that has been revealed by wikileaks and undercover Cuban agents who have infiltrated the ranks of these people.
    If the US seriously would like the "civil liberties" aspect of Cuba to improve even more than it has already, it wouldn't continue with its expensive and wasteful projects that don't respect the sovereignty of Cuba. As I said above, when a public feels threatened by a foreign menace, it unfairly lumps entire groups of people together and targets them. The US spies on its own citizens and always has to one degree or another. The CIA and NYPD have recently been exposed for working together to infiltrate mosques and monitor street vendors and cab drivers simply because of their religion. Is that program not supposedly justified here because of the War on Terror? Many individuals are unfairly being targeted for having a particular religion.
    So by maintaining this wet-foot/ dry-foot policy and granting a special political asylum to Cubans, the United States is trying to create facts. Statistically we can show how many people request political asylum from Cuba, but in reality it is hard to explain the lack of persecution when they are more than happy to return to visit family on the island. They are welcomed to return and can do so whenever they'd like.
    By saying that the persecution issue is blown tremendously out of proportion doesn't mean that I'm saying that life is perfect or easy on the island for everyone. I'm simply stating that in the absence of the Soviet influence excuse and the "exporting revolution" excuse, the US is stuck trying to rationalize its embargo against Cuba. The democracy issue is a subjective opinion, not an objective one. No country has figured out how to actually implement true democracy, so each country finds a form of it that it feels works best for its particular circumstance. An argument can be made that a parliamentary system like many European countries have is more democratic than a representative republic in which there is no recourse for an unpopular representative, except to wait for the next scheduled election to vote in a new person. There are many views of democracy which are not limited to either this or nothing.   So the excuse is now "a lack of democracy" in Cuba, as if the US is the final judge as to what constitutes democracy.  That is why the US sticks with the incorrect wet-foot/ dry-foot policy and is helpless to prevent the reality of the false political persecution from being exposed by the Cuban immigrants to this country themselves.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bill's Blunder

   The press had been heavily speculating on Bill Richardson's trip to Cuba and the possibility of him pulling off the unlikely, returning with Alan Gross.  If Mr. Gross is actually a bargaining chip, as the media portrays him, then Cuba has no reason to release him at this time. Has the US offered anything?  In fact, President Obama just renwed the embargo against Cuba. Also, just as Mr. Richarson sat and waited in Havana, the US announced that Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5 who is scheduled to be released in October, will be expected to serve three years of probation in South Florida for no other reason than to be spiteful.  The irony is that he will not be able to be around any known terrorists.  If he is to serve those years of probation in Miami, the he will more than likely be somewhere near to Luis Posada Carriles, hero of the Miami mafia, and the most notorious terrorist in our hemisphere.  I suppose Rene Gonzalez may need to call ahead to make sure that Posada isn't eating in one of the Miami restaurants before he decides to patronize the place!

   Bill Richardson, who according to his representatives, was invited to Cuba, certainly had in his mind that he would at the very least get to visit Mr. Gross during his time in Cuba.  He was tight lipped in the beginning of his trip, but soon turned to the tactic of trying to pressure Cuba into allowing a visit by making statements to the press referring to Mr. Gross as a "hostage."  Also Mr. Richardson decided to announce that he wouldn't leave the island until his demand was met.  Bill's blunder was to assume arrogantly that Cuban officials would buckle to his attempts to pressure them.  He had to be reminded and explained that Cuba is a sovereign country and is not willing to meet the demands of an attempted blackmail.  So he left without Mr. Gross and even without a chance to visit him.

   Countless US officials over the decades have repeated the mistake of not treating Cuba with respect.  If there is to be any progress at all in creating a new atmosphere for dialogue between the two countries, the US must understand that Cuba is an equally sovereign nation.  It is a non-starter to treat Cuba as a lesser nation than the US.  Washington may be able to get away with this type of attitude with countries that have governments that are heavily dependent on the folks in Washington, but Cuba isn't one of them.  Cuba's independence is total.  It would certainly like to have a better relationship with the northern neighbor, but it is only willing to do so as a respected nation.  If the people in Washington still, after five decades, haven't figured this out, then it is their own problem to work out.  Cuba would benefit from bilateral trade and so would the US.  But Cuba has been able to create a descent society which protects individuals in ways that many others haven't, without a relationship with the US.

   Until Washington is willing to respect Cuba, the relationship will not progress much.  Sooner or later though, someone will come along and decide to do the right thing.  It may come from a person with principle or it may be forced upon the leadership in Washington by the business community that is currently sidelined but is itching to become a part of the international community already enjoying doing business with Cuba.

   A change in US attitude is much needed.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Joe Cardona Supports Jim Cason! (Of Course)

   Still we have the usual suspects attempting to convince people that there is no reason to acknowledge the obvious, that the US policy towards Cuba is useless. These people are as rational as the 2% of the scientific community that chooses, after careful analysis, that global warming isn't real. They are made up of a tiny and ever shrinking group who decides to ignore reality. Somehow they get to hold up progress on an important issue that directly affects the well-being of a great number of people.

    These people have a strange idea of freedom and democracy. Here in the US, the freedom of money to direct government policies and the scheduled elections of those who are dependent on wealthy donors, elections which often times get less than 50% of the voting age public to even participate, is a system in which so many who even do participate feel as if they must vote for the lesser of two evils. That is why Mr. Cardona finds it hard to determine right from left anymore.

    It is simple to understand the distinction of "totalitarian" that Mr. Cason and Mr. Cardona use to differentiate Cuba from other Latin American countries. They feel that a government, sovereign and unwilling to allow the power of the multinational corporations to decide the its course, unwilling to cede its authority to the desires of Washington, should be labeled as such. If a dictator like Mubarak in Egypt or Pinochet in Chile allows the freedom of foreign capital to plunder his country, robbing the people of their dignity, well they may be dictators but at least we don't call them "totalitarian.

    Had Mr. Cason really gotten to know the people of Cuba while there, he would have realized that most of them do not appreciate or support the policy the US has continued to enforce against their country. Had he gotten to know the Cuban people, he would have realized that they don't take his "humble" friends seriously.  
    OK, so we are to believe that his "humble" friends were not at all interested in monetary gains for working with him and the US Interests Section. The recently released cables show that his successor certainly faced a different situation as he asked for thousands of dollars and even euros to be given to them. Are we to believe that this wasn't the case when he was in charge? What on earth was all of the money allocated by Washington and championed by Mr. Cason's boss, President Bush for?

    Mr. Cardona chooses to imagine those "humble" friends of Mr. Cason were victims. The real victims of this terrible situation were the millions of Cubans on the island and those who live abroad who were intentionally separated from each other by the "harder" method employed by his boss' administration. At what time in history was a "softer" method even attempted? Never. Since day one of Batista's removal, the US has tried to undermine the government of Cuba. Simply allowing more travel and remittances while continuing to subvert and strangle Cuba doesn't constitute a "softer" policy. But for those scientists who challenge the notion of global warming, they probably consider trying to keep our air cleaner some sort of backwards concession to the tree hugger tyrants of the world. Only through the eyes of the blind, can one see the success of the US policy towards Cuba

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Ping-Pong with Frank Calzon

This is my response to Frank Calzon's plea to remain ignorant in the Miami Herald.

   "Just sending athletes to Cuba to engage in some “Ping-Pong Diplomacy” won’t change Cuba." Your right about that. What will change Cuba, but not in the way you or your cohorts would hope, is the ability to sell goods to the largest consumer market in the world. Ending the embargo and all of the supplemental laws that tighten and expand the policy to other countries will give Cuba an opportunity to grow, something which the US has intentionally tried to prevent for a half century.
    You speak of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking against segregation in the US. Do you choose to leave out his belief that the US should respect the people of Cuba? Would you call him a communist as others called him back then? Would you try to marginalize him even though the majority of Americans think it is time to change our policies towards Cuba?
    Do we know about the increased repression? I certainly know that the US is still openly trying to undermine a sovereign country, Cuba. I certainly know that the video of four women standing for 30 minutes in front of the capitol building in Havana showed a camera man cheering them on almost by himself while others, ordinary Cubans walked by and laughed off the staged spectacle. After thirty minutes the women were taken to the patrol car without violence. I know that the creators of the video and their sponsors were frustrated by the fact that they couldn't provoke a violent response, but in spite of what the video shows, they still try to perpetuate the lie.
    "A single glimpse often leads to false conclusions." Right again. Americans should travel to Cuba many times, so that they can see for themselves the disservice the propaganda machine with its Miami headquarters has done by keeping American policy decades behind the rest of the world. Remember, the same press you say was duped into believing the "fresh fruits" trucks in the Soviet Union is the same press that seeks comments from people who meet regularly with the officials of the US Interests Section in Havana and receive compensation for much of their "independent work" on the island. This is the same press that sheepishly allowed the previous US administration lead us into a war in Iraq based on lies by the supposed "good guys."
    Those African nations which were aided by the Cuban people in their fights towards independence still remember to publicly appreciate the Cuban people for the support given at a time when the US was on the side of those against their independence. Is that what you call "documented anti-Americanism?" Would you say Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was also anti-American because he called our government "the greatest purveyor of violence?" Would you punish Dr. King's supporters and try to keep them separated from the rest of the world? Some arrogant people believe that not following the imaginary rules that are set in Washington is anti -American. So Washington refuses to respect the sovereignty of Cuba and continues to try to undermine it and punish the Cuban people.
    The US is increasingly marginalizing itself in a world that views its policies as being cruel and hypocritical. The "hard-liners" are finding themselves in a weakened position as they try to jockey for the sympathy of the American people and comically attempt to represent the aspirations of the Cuban people who they have intentionally caused to suffer unnecessarily for decades.
    Mr.Calzon, the end is near, you feel it, it burns. You and others know full well that you are in a race you can't win and won't. The Cuban people are making their own changes and the longer the hard-liners try to punish them for doing so, the less space their will be for them in Havana and Washington in the future.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Example of Manipulation in the Free Press

   This is what I think about the over-hyped media creation of the "dissident" movement in Cuba and how the supposed "free press" chooses to report about it.
   This statement by the Church has disappointed the dissidents receiving financial support from the US government and extremists in Miami, but they have to smile and bite their tongues and sound happy about it. They are looking to create the impression that something similar is happening in Cuba to what is happening in the Middle East. What they face is not government repression, although it is possible that sometimes police as anywhere else  may be too rough with them. They face a public which, if they even are aware of them, view them as pawns for the US and rightly so.
    "The mobs are made up of members of pro-government groups" states the woman who is the spokesperson for the Ladies in White. Does she deny that there are people on the island who support the government? Does she suggest that Cuban people, ordinary Cuban people, who oppose her need the government to organize them to oppose her group? What kind of irrational person believes that the Cuban government doesn't have any support? Populations are easily emotionally charged when they believe that there are people working on behalf of foreign powers to subvert their sovereignty? Even if one chooses to look to Freedom House's reports about Cuba, one would see that their is a good number of people on the island that support and trust the government in Cuba.
    “Any other way of looking at Cuba’s reality that could affect peaceful coexistence and break down the nation’s well-being cannot find any support among those of us who have a Christian vision of the world,” the statement from the Church added. “It is not necessary to ask for the church’s opinion,” he said. “It is well known, and we have reiterated it various times, that violence of any kind against defenseless people has no justification.” They are right.
    But what these Ladies, and a few men, are looking for is not an opinion. They are looking for a way to further the slander and media manipulation about Cuba. Their group was wisely not mentioned in the Church's statement. As the statement said,“In the past few days journalists have asked for the church’s opinion on incidents in which the wives of some former prisoners . .. had been mistreated, according to their own declarations." Journalists were the ones being offered a response, not the Ladies in White. As Mr. Tamayo points out, the statement was carefully written. The Church officials are certainly no fools and they are intentionally avoiding elevating the stature of this particular group, not out of fear, but out of knowing that it would be irresponsible to perpetuate the notion that they are independent actors.
    Nothing will come out of this. Cuba is moving ahead with the reforms that they believe will improve the country. People are finding new ways of employment. People still live in one of the safest countries. Children still go to school then go home and laugh and play. People still have free health care, including the "dissidents" who decide to go on hunger strikes or are allegedly bruised by the authorities or angry neighbors. As much as some people wish to see scenes in Cuba similar to those in Egypt, they will be perpetually disappointed.
    Isn't it strange that those who are often quoted in our press are the ones who make regular visits to the Interests Section? Why does that detail always manage to be absent from the articles presented to us? If these people have such fantastic stories, why would that be left out? Do the reporters here like Mr. Tamayo, feel that if that was a known fact by Americans, we too would be as cynical as ordinary Cubans as to their "independence". Of course if our press were to tell us that these people meet with the American diplomats, receiving money, materials, and gifts these people would simply be laughed off as stooges. But our cherished free press is free to report things however it likes even if it isn't the full story. It is quite a disservice to those seeking to learn about things.

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There is another article in the Miami Herald that covers the same topic.  In the other article written by Paul Haven, the typical anti-Cuba slant can be seen, but to his credit, he chooses not to use quotes from the "dissidents" and even points out the possibility that they are untruthful.  This article is an example of how a reporter can maintain the anti-Cuba idea without stooping as low as Juan Tamayo by quoting obvious lackeys of the US and extremists in Miami. Mr. Tamayo can't find it in himself to report that these women may be phoning false information into "exile" radio and TV stations.

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