Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Direct Flight. Tampa-->La Habana

   A little over a week ago I finally got the chance to take advantage of the new direct flights from Tampa to Havana.  At the airport, everything went smoothly and the fact that I didn't have to drive for four hours to Miami before travelling to Cuba made things much more enjoyable. 

   We left pretty much on time and the flight was just barely over an hour.  Just as we were approaching the island, I could see through the window a tremendous cloud which looked sort of like a giant wall.  It was something that would have made a good picture.  It was beautiful.  As we were about to fly in to the cloud the plane turned to the right and started circling.  The pilot announced that there was a storm over the airport in Havana so we had to circle for a little while before we would be cleared to land.

    After about thirty minutes, the next announcement by the pilot was that we were being directed to Miami to land and wait for the storm to pass before being able to land in Cuba.  The ultimate irony.  My first direct flight from Tampa to Havana and I still had to stop in Miami!

  As time permits, I'll describe more of my trip, which was fantastic but a bit on the short side.  One week isn't long enough.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Imperialism, "That's Just Tough."

   The United States.  This is the country that the word democracy is probably spoken more often than in any other place on earth.  It is used as an idea to make us feel as if we the people can determine the course of our destiny.  It is used as an excuse for poor relations with some other countries.  But it is also something that is not respected in the least bit. 

   The government in Washington pretends to promote democracy around the world and even defend it.  Reality is much different.  Washington has interfered with governments around the world overthrowing elected leaders and maintaining governments willing to overlook the wishes of their own peoples to serve the economic interests of the U.S.  It's not a conspiracy theory, it is fact.  There are countless examples to support this assertion.

   Let's go to the words of Duane Clarridge, a former CIA agent, who explains clearly the special right to intervene which the United States feels that it has.  Here is a back and forth between he and another man about U.S. involvement in the overthrow of Salvador Allende and the support for Pinochet:

John Pilger: "It is a time in which almost everybody, in the present situation, regards as a dark time, in which the CIA played a major role."

Duane Clarridge: "That's right.  They played a major role in overthrowing what's his name."

JP: "Uhh, what's his name was Salvador Allende."

DC: "Yeah fine.  OK"

JP: "He was democratically elected."

DC: "Right, OK."

JP: "Is that OK?  To overthrow a democratically elected government?"

DC: "It depends on what your national security interests are."

JP: "Are you denying that Pinochet caused huge suffering in that country?"

DC: "Huge I don't buy.  That he committed crimes, I agree."

JP: "But it's worth it?  Is that what you're saying?  That his crimes are worth it?"

DC: "Yeah. Sometimes, unfortunately, things have to be changed in a rather ugly way."

   Now at this point, isn't it obvious that Washington puts democracy well below its real interests?  The overthrow of Allende isn't a strange case.  It is just one of many examples.  Back to the exchange...

On El Salvador, here's Duane Clarridge:

JP: "According to the truth commission..."

DC: "Oh come on John.  If this is where you're going, you're wasting my time.  That's all bullshit.  Those people all had agendas. "

JP: "So it's bullshit that the Salvadoran military were murdering tens of thousands of people?"

DC: "I bet you can't count more than two hundred in the whole 10-12 years."

   I bet that either he imagines a much different history than the people of El Salvador.  Maybe he does so to sleep better at night.  But given his attitude towards other countries, he probably doesn't lose sleep due to anything that the U.S. has done.

JP: "What right have you, when I mean you I mean the CIA, the United States government, or any foreign power,  what right do you have to do what you do in other countries?"

DC: "National security interests."

JP: "But that's a divine right, isn't it?  Because the people you do it to have no say in it."

DC: "Well, that's just tough.  We're going to protect ourselves and we're going to go on protecting ourselves cause we end up protecting all of you.  Let's not forget that."

   Yeah, let's not forget that little myth that helps us justify in our minds our disrespect for others and the atrocities we support.  Because without that myth, we'd have to wonder why on earth the United States even bothers talking about the need for democracy or the use of it as a pretext for continuous interventions in other nations

DC: "We'll intervene whenever we feel it's in our national security interest to intervene.  And if you don't like it, love it.  Get used to it world.  We're not going to put up with nonsense.  If our interests are threatened, we're going to do it."

   Over the past couple of decades the examples have continued.  Haiti (twice), Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, and Paraguay(probably, but it is still early since the ouster of Lugo) have all suffered coups and coup attempts.  Cuba has been the victim of attempts of subversion for a half of a century.  Other nations such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Brazil have all been pressured by Washington and had to deal with attempts by the media to influence their elections.  Beyond this hemisphere there are many more.

   Another thing about national security interests, are these the interests of the American people, or are they the interests of those who have the attention of the government so much so that ordinary people's interests aren't even considered?  My suspicion is that given the total contempt for democracy, policy makers couldn't care less about acting in the interests of the American people.  They act completely undemocratically with so much disdain for those who try to participate in democracy in other countries that that disdain carries over in to our own country.

Our politicians don't speak like Duane Clarridge, if they did I'm sure that most people would be quick to find other politicians to replace them.  But Mr. Clarridge isn't running for any office so he doesn't worry too much about his words sounding appallingly arrogant.  This is an imperialist attitude.  These are imperialist actions.  For those who desire a better world, these are very frustrating.  Most American people do believe in democracy and wouldn't want to be preventing others from having their own.  Our leaders appear before cameras and speak in ways that try to convince us of all sorts of odd threats that most often times are baseless and even false.  They have to lie to us, with smiles on their faces, to keep employing subversive tactics around the world.  If they were to tell us things like Duane Clarridge does, they would find out that their smiles wouldn't be enough to persuade us that they are supporters of democracy.