Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cardinal Ortega...Hard to Digest in Miami

   It burns people to admit that there are independent thinkers in Cuba who receive attention besides the chosen ones who rely heavily on support from US government programs and groups in Miami. What people try to do is paint anyone with any ideological similarities or dialogue with the Cuban government as pawns of the government. There are many people inside and out of Cuba who don't support the ideas and policies of Washington and Miami who don't have any stake in anything on the island and show solidarity with Cuba and its people. And there are others who hate the fact that family members on the island are forced to live under the embargo. {Me for example ;) }

   It's not so. Sure their are people who scream loudly in support of the status quo on the island who do so out of convenience...self-interest is powerful and a universal phenomenon. But are we supposed to pretend that there aren't many people who despite the problems that people face on the island support their government? That's utterly dishonest. Even someone not ideologically 100% in line with every decision taken by the Cuban government can be nationalist and feel that they'd support the imperfect situation as opposed to looking for outsiders to determine their country's affairs. Nationalism...also a powerful and universal phenomenon.

   I'm not a big defender of the Church or any other religious institution, but it's obvious the slanderous accusations that Cardinal Ortega has endured, and will continue to, simply for not walking the line that the people in Miami require to be considered an independent thinker. Ironically, in this country (US) in which there are so many opinions expressed (even if they are ignored by our representatives), the most intolerant group of people are possibly the people who hold prominent positions in Miami, a place that has killed off and violently attacked more people in a shorter amount of time for simply not being hard-lined against revolutionary Cuba than almost any other group. Why these people are even pandered to by our Calle 8 coffee sipping politicians and candidates defies logic.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jose Azel...Picapleitos

Jose Azel, trying to explain why the U.S. embargo is justified, resorts to the argument about the expropriations of property by the Cuban government after the revolution. His libertarian theories about private property are fine if this were an honest ideological debate.  But there is no honest debate by the right wing anti Cuba folks.  They skip explanations of history as they criticize every action and decision made by the Cuban government.  They either don't care about the reasons for the Cuban revolution and conveniently ignore them, or they are just ignorants posing as intellectuals propagating on behalf of the ex-plunderers of the Cuban people who never had many rights protected by anyone until Batista was removed and their sovereignty was finally achieved. 

And speaking of property rights, here's a question: Of the expropriated land that you are so concerned about, how much of it was ill gotten, prior to the revolution, by picapleitos? I never hear about that. The people who scream about expropriations by the revolution do so as if time began on January 1, 1959. To them, discussing the absolutely corrupt situation that existed before that date is out of bounds.

How many Cubans who had their land virtually robbed through twisted legalities in a neo-colonial Cuba have ever been included in the discussion about expropriation and why so many of them are easily justifiable in a nation trying to undue a few centuries of wrongs? Never. So cry us a river and try to use your pseudo intellectual abilities to defend a horrific, uncosncionable embargo.

Thomas Paine, two centuries before the Cuban revolution's expropriations, and a century before Karl Marx, wrote about agrarian reforms that he felt were necessary in the newly founded United States to correct the injustices of land acquired prior to its independence.  Trying to fix century old injustices is never perfect, but hooray for those who have the courage to try and do the right thing.

Read more here:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Truth in Advertising

This is my response to Ray Walser's opinion about what the U.S. should be doing about Cuba.:

"Time for truth in advertising" Definitely. I particularly liked the dig at "left leaning think tanks, maybe in reference to the one that just visited the island and has very different ideas than you, the right leaning opinion piece writer. Truth in advertising means we would need the drowning out of the numerous lies about and misleading labels that are put on the island. A good place to start would be removing Cuba from the list of terrorist countries. Even the advertisers can't really explain truthfully why Cuba is on that list.

We may also have to look at the effects that the embargo has had (and still does) on the economic and political situation in Cuba. We can't pretend that all of Cuba's woes are their own fault. Speaking truthfully, even the Cuban government doesn't blame everything on the embargo. They recognize their mistakes and seem to be adamant about changing them. Truthfully, we can't say as much about our government.

Bush's policy was solidarity with Cuba? Really? Ask anyone in Cuba, who didn't prosper from the wasteful government handouts that are part of the Cuba policy, if they felt like Bush was showing any type of solidarity. (You may need to take a trip to the island like the CATO institute to actually talk to regular Cubans though to find out, but truthfully, that would probably go against your excellent standard of ethics .)

Funny thing about the comment about being barred from travelling, especially coming from an individual who pretends to have such fairness in mind, you couldn't make a trip to the island without permission from Washington. You seem so worried about allowing people to travel, one would imagine that you would have been totally truthful about that.

Speaking as if you don't believe that economic reforms are actually taking place, you sound like someone who yourself has no access to the news or internet. If you do have access to the internet, you can look up Freedom House's report on the economic changes and what Cubans think of them. Go ahead, there is a marvelous thing called Google that can help you find the report by the Washington funded group Freedom House. You might be surprised.

And Obama's position up until now has been pretty much the same as Bush's, except for a little solidarity with the people in this country who didn't appreciate not being able to visit their families whenever they wished or needed. He still speaks shackled by the same lack of political courage as most all of his predecessors.

There are plenty of people waiting for "truth in advertising", but unfortunately we are in the midst of an election year, when truth is one of the most elusive things of all.

Read more here:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Montaner Specializes in Nothing

   Carlos Montaner never fails to offer readers a confused perspective of relations in Latin America and of course Cuba.  Since his main target of his ill will is Cuba, it's only natural that Venezuela is also an object of his hate.  Venezuela's relationship with Cuba has been beneficial for both countries.  Since Cuba was facing the world almost entirely on its own after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the helping  hand extended by Venezuela was something which all Cubans on the island have appreciated greatly.  Every single Cuban knows that life would be a lot more difficult without a partner like Venezuela and since the election of Hugo Chavez, more and more countries in Latin America have increased their ties with the island nation.  Even the United States' closest friends in the region are firmly opposed to the policies that Washington stubbornly maintains in attempts to eliminate the Cuban government and replace it with one of its own choosing.

   How absolutely irrelevant is Mr. Montaner's point that a majority of Venezuelans don't want a political model based on Cuba's.  Venezuela isn't Cuba, so why would they?  Besides that, Cuba's system is itself going through changes and nobody can honestly say what it will ultimately look like.  He makes his presumptions, and despite those, he's can't seem to wrap his dishonest mind around the fact that Hugo Chavez remains very popular in Venezuela.  Just a few months ago he was basically predicting that Chavez' opponent in the upcoming election would be  Maria Corina Machado.  How wrong he was! 

    Now he goes out on a limb by stating that the opposition is controlled by the Cubans.  Anyone who pays any attention at all understands that the opposition in Venezuela is closely aligned with Washington's interests and at times is even funded in part through "democracy organizations" in the United States.  Trying to figure out where Carlos Montaner comes up with his nonsense is a delightful exercise!  It comes from his inability to accept how things really are and his hatred for the Cuban revolution.  His wish is for a quick end to anyone and anthing that is helpful to Cuba and by extension, the Cuban people.  So he continues to wish.

   He wishes that if when Chavez is no longer the Venezuelan head of state , even if the next person is pro-Chavez, that they will just stop being so friendly with Cuba.  In all of my visits to Cuba, everyone who has mentioned the Cuba-Venezuela relationship has expressed their deep gratitude towards Hugo Chavez.  If Carlos Montaner really has the best interest of the Cuban people in his heart, he wouldn't overlook their sentiments on the issue.  But alas, he doesn't care one bit about what the Cuban people on the island think.  He just pretends to speak for them.  He is out of touch.  Delusional may even be a better description for Mr. Montaner as he suggested that Salvador Allende and Manuel Noriega were "evicted".  One was simply taken away by the U.S. military after an invasion and the other was overthrown by a U.S. backed coup.  The way in which he said it is to make the reader imagine that the people were fed up and threw out their leaders.

   Cuba is very dependent on the oil it receives from Venezuela.  Nobody denies this.  But unless Hugo Chavez' health takes a turn for the worse, he will probably be around long enough to see who will be the president of the United States in 2017, Raul Castro's retirement, and a Cuba which is much more energy independent if the companies drilling off the Cuban coasts are correct in their assessments.  That will surely cause this man, Carlos Montaner, to renew his efforts at fictional writings with even more vigor than ever.  But things could become even more troubling for Mr. Montaner if the U.S. finally finds a way to reverse course as it latches on to an actual event enough to change its rhetoric and course as far as Cuba policy goes. 

   Carlos Montaner finished his most recent piece by saying "Cuba specializes in losing."  After 50+ years of not being able to do away with the Cuban revolution, Mr. Montaner, what do you specialize in?  Nothing.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jaime Suchlicki Reaches, Stretches, and Invents

   Faced with the dilemma of not being able to ignore that actual changes are
happening in Cuba, the pro-embargo, right-wing extremists are having to
come up with ways to twist the realities into fairy tales to try and justify their
 refusal to understand that they are the ones clinging to ideologies that are
incorrect and outdated, not the Cubans on the island.  Jaime Suchlicki is
claiming that the possible coming change to some obstacles Cubans face to
 travel might actually be a plan for a new Mariel type situation. 

   These people are basically allowing their confused thoughts to be read by

   Now faced with the dilemma of watching their talking points against Cuba
disappear before them, they resort to implying that the Cuban government has
sinister intentions behind positive steps.

   They suggest that economic reforms, which have capitalist market oriented
characteristics, are a clever plan devised to squeeze more out of the people
through taxes and fees. Now, the likely changes in travel restrictions/ hurdles
is a plan to create a mass migration out of the country.

   Suchlicki thinks that if Cubans are allowed to travel more easily to the US,
then the US will be forced to deny visas. Wake up Suchlicki. The US already
denies countless visas, which in turn causes some to feel as if they should test
their luck and find another route and just claim asylum.

   The problem the US will face is not a propaganda campaign pointing to the fact
that visa applications are denied, but what will be done about the silly law we
have allowing political asylum to any Cuban, whether a pizzeria employee/award
winning actor or a mother who can't obtain a visa simply to see her grandchild
in Miami for a week.

The tangled web is one that we designed ourselves. It's our problem to fix and
taking the advice on how to do it by the ones who've led us in to this mess over
the course of five decades isn't a bright idea.

(Note:  Jaime Suchlicki is Emilio Bacardi Moreau Distinguished Professor and Director,
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami.  Distinguished?  Thanks.  Now he is also a funny guy, with an interest in fictional observations.)