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 :