Reports from Cuba: New embassy for an old dictatorship

By Miriam Celaya in Translating Cuba:

New Embassy for an Old Dictatorship

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Inauguration of the Washington embassy with officials from Cuba and the US

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 22 July 2015 — The reopening of the Cuban embassy in Washington finally took place amid extravagant fanfare, and, judging by the profuse media coverage, with catchy headlines and photos on the front pages of almost all the newspapers, it seemed that there was nothing more relevant taking place in the world.

The (re)opening of the Cuban embassy was the recipient of movie star treatment in some of the news media: photo galleries with pictures of before and after, instant ones — not as offensive — of the first opening of the building during the Cuban Republican era, a construction worker, proudly posing outside the newly renovated headquarters, showing off his Che Guevara arm tattoo, an indoor plaque to be unveiled at the time of the opening, and the flag hoisted on the mast; just like all flags at embassies around the world … Undoubtedly, the Island’s proverbial vanity was on a high.

A large official delegation traveled from Cuba, at public expense, to attend the merriment that joyfully celebrated the Castros’ capitulation and which – with that skill for euphemisms — the government discourse coined as a “victory of the Revolution.” These included several representatives of the government “civil society” who offered the embarrassing spectacle of rallies of repudiation orchestrated during the last Summit of the Americas in Panama, who now were awarded a trip of encouragement to the Empire of Evil which provides so many goods.

Not to mention the national news report that aired on Cuban TV which, for the first time in 56 years, turned into a surprising tribute to the northern nation, with laudatory references to the beauty of its landscapes, its natural wealth, its robust economy, its productivity, its strong cultural heritage and the values of its people. If TV viewers had not been able to develop a natural defense against cynicism over decades, they would have convulsed. Combat veterans of the long war against the imperialist enemy have definitely lost their job content.

The opening of embassies have been termed “historical” and they are, indeed, after more than 50 years of confrontations and broken relations. However, beyond the pompous adjectives and the symbolic event of the hasty restoration of the old building that (until recently) was the Office of Cuban Interests in (until just yesterday) the enemy capital, few are asking these questions: “What will really change for Cubans “abroad” and “in Cuba”? How positively will the lives of the common citizen reflect this metamorphosis?

Media comments have not been few about the alleged expectations that have surfaced among the people in Cuba with the opening of both nations’ embassies. Obviously, there is no consensus on the criteria of those who have been questioned about the matter and all who stand for the same interests. For example, artists and academics who benefit from cultural exchange programs are optimistic, and so are those who have relatives living in the United States and look at the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington as a chance for the viability of immigrant entry permits.

But as “normalization” makes its strides in diplomatic circles, there is concern that US visas will eventually be limited. There are those who are convinced that there has been a drastic reduction in the number of visas issued by the United States Interests Section in Havana. Whether this is true or hypothetical, what is real is that the more tangible expectative of the controversial Obama-Castro romance has to do with the wishes for trips and not with the hope that Cuba’s internal situation will show an improvement.

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Canadians in Cuba lament arrival of Americans horning in on their pleasure hellhole

Of all the people from different nations who have wickedly exploited the Cuban people and enjoyed great pleasures on the island at the expense of the ruthlessly enslaved population, Canadians are by far the worst offenders. Canada has sent everything to Cuba from profiteers to pedophiles, all of them looking for illicit treasures and pleasures they could never find in a country where the rule of law is respected and the people are protected from predators. To those Canadians, Cuba is one big human pie they can gorge on and they are not looking forward to sharing it with anyone else.

As an interesting side note in the following article, observe how even expat Canadians living in Cuba are reluctant to share their last names. Just like the Cubans they exploit and prey upon, they have learned to be submissive and fearful of the vicious regime, which can make them disappear at any moment if they step out of line.

Via Newsday:

While Cubans ready for American visitors, Canadians in Havana roll their eyes

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When a fleet of yachts and schooners from Key West, Fla., sailed into sunny Havana Harbor on May 20, the American flags they flew waved at Cubans lined along the slimy seawall. The Cubans not only waved back but also whistled and flashed two-finger victory signs.

High above in a powder-blue sky, a man in a motorized parasail continuously circled the watercraft like a bird of prey. Only this winged wonder buzzed along with an American flag trailing in the wind, the ultimate one-man welcoming committee.

“This is awesome,” Rio O’Bryan said, shaking his head from the deck of the After Fish, a 36-foot cruiser carrying a crew of 15. “This is so awesome,” the Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood” look-alike repeated.

“This is awesome,” Rio O’Bryan said, shaking his head from the deck of the After Fish, a 36-foot cruiser carrying a crew of 15. “This is so awesome,” the Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood” look-alike repeated.

For the first time since the early days of the Cuban revolution of 1959, the American flag waved in the harbor in which Christopher Columbus and crew once docked. A lovefest between the Cubans and Americans had erupted.

However, not everyone loves Americans in Cuba, especially other foreigners. Canadians and Europeans make up the bulk of visitors to the island long forbidden by the government of the United States. And these outsiders would like to keep it that way.

“There is tremendous resentment toward Americans by foreigners here,” said a man in his 60s named George from his perch in the Pasteleria Francesa, a French bakery in central Havana. Somewhat gaunt and with a good head of grayish hair, George preferred to give his opinion rather than his surname.

The retired educator said he has been speaking with other Canadians, Europeans, and South Americans in Havana over the last 28 years. He sits at his favorite table, from which he surveys everyone at other tables on the patio, and discusses events of the day. The current topic is how President Barack Obama on Dec. 17 announced a plan to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and reopen the embassy. This paves the way for Americans to experience that which Canadians, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, Venezuelans, Ecuadorans, Australians, Chinese and Japanese have been enjoying for the last 55 years: heavenly tropical beaches, pristine fishing waters, sublime seafood, original Latin rhythms, sultry senoritas, sweet rum and the best cigars in the world.

Continue reading HERE.

Photos of the day: Some paradise!

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Dissident Martha Beatriz Roque emailed some information and photos today.

All one can say in response is “Ahhh.  Long live the Revolution.  Long live equality in income and status!”

Gladys (“Cuca”) Galvez lives in Guira de Melena in the province of Artemisa, near Havana.   She is mentally disabled and her sole income is a monthly government check of 200 pesos ( seven and a half US dollars).

Up until this week, Cuca was living alone in a wooden shack.  She is now homeless, because a rain storm caused her hovel to collapse.

Government officials aren’t helping her find a new home and none of her neighbors feel they have enough resources to take her in, due to her special needs.

All this, after 56 years of egalitarian communism.  Yeah.

And this is the “charming” country that Time magazine calls a “paradise.”

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Michael J. Totten: In Cuba there is neither bread nor freedom

Michael J. Totten in World Affairs Journal:

In Cuba, Neither Bread Nor Freedom

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I’ve only visited Cuba once, in late 2013, so it’s hard to say for sure what kinds of changes Raul Castro has brought to the island since he took the wheel from his brother Fidel, but it appeared at that time that little had changed. Aside from a refurbished old quarter, Cuba looked like it was described in the 1980s or even the 1950s–though surely the urban decay is much more advanced now than it was in the 1950s.

James Bloodworth has been more than once, though, and says hardly anything has changed in the last five years. Here he is in The Daily Beast:

Perusing the drab shop fronts in Havana, resplendent with fly-blown posters of Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and other “heroes of the revolution,” I alighted on the self-evident problem with communism: Communist economies produce not what the worker needs but what a government bureaucrat has decided to make available for purchase.

The last time I visited Cuba, in 2010, the country was supposedly on the cusp of great change (at least if you were listening to the regime’s apologists in the Western media). Yet five years later and the “reforming” Cuba of Raul Castro looks almost identical to the country ruled despotically for almost half a century by his older brother. The Soviet-style shortages persist, listless youth continue to mope everywhere on street corners and the octopus-like tentacles of the state still reach into every corner of Cuban life.

[…]

Yet despite the increasingly cordial relationship between Raul Castro and Obama, the supposed changes in Cuba are almost entirely cosmetic. Indeed, on the streets of Havana the only discernible sign of transformation is the increasingly visible presence of a small but newly minted petit-bourgeoisie, tolerated by the Castro regime because (for the moment at least) it is unwilling to challenge the Stalinist center. Apart from this (though you wouldn’t know it from listening to White House press conferences) Cuba remains, as the revolutionary-turned-dissident Carlos Franqui once put it, “a world where the people are forced to work and to endure permanent rationing and scarcity, where they have neither rights nor freedoms.”

Dissidents are still sent to jail, but they don’t spend as much time there. Instead they are released earlier and sent home to live under total surveillance. It’s an improvement, I guess, but the nature of the regime hasn’t changed an iota. It’s not going to change as part of American-Cuban normalization, either.

The US normalized relations with Vietnam despite the lack of political freedom there, and it normalized relations with China back when Mao was still in charge. Nothing bad happened to the United States because of it, and nothing bad will happen to the United States as a result of normalizing relations with Cuba.

One could make the argument that everyday Cubans will benefit if the economy improves—it’s better to have bread without freedom than to have neither—but I’m not convinced that Raul Castro is ready to embark on a Vietnam- or China-style liberalization of the economy. Not if virtually nothing has changed while he has been in charge, and he has been in charge now for seven years—enough time to transform the economy drastically the way the Vietnamese have if he wanted to.

Bloodworth isn’t convinced either.

Havana is “opening up” because it wants hard currency and access to markets; the only ideology underpinning the Cuban revolution these days is self-preservation and replication, and for that the regime needs an injection of cash. This means that, as in the past, the Castro regime appears to be visibly loosening the screws; however, it is doing so with a wrench firmly in hand, ready to tighten them again once the economic storm has passed.

One thing that will change as a result of normalization, however, is that the government will no longer be able to blame the United States for the scarcity brought about by its own economic imbecility.

Despite no improvement, Obama gives Cuba’s slave masters an ‘A’ for effort, takes them off Human Trafficking List

Belen Marty in the PanAm Post:

“A for Effort” Gesture Takes Cuba Off Human-Trafficking Blacklist

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One week has passed since Cuba opened its embassy doors in Washington, DC, and the communist nation is no longer on the black list of countries lacking significant efforts to comply with minimum standards in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

On Monday, July 27, the US Department of State revealed the Trafficking in Persons Report 2015. According to the report, each country is ranked onto a four-tier system based “more on the extent of government action to combat trafficking than on the size of the country’s problem.” Among other nations, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, Russia, and Iran are ranked in lowest tier for not making significant efforts to eradicate human trafficking.

Cuba, ranked in lowest tier three for over 10 years now, has moved to the Tier Two Watch List — one up from the lowest and alongside Costa Rica, Bolivia, and Jamaica. This means that the country does not comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards to fight this crime, but the regime “making significant efforts” to reach compliance.

Luis Enrique Ferrer, international representative at the dissident Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), commented to PanAm Post that the fact that the United States made this determination is due to “economic interests, and among many other things, is politically-driven.”

He maintains that from the time when secret conversations began between US President Barack Obama’s administration and the Castro dictatorship, the direction has been pointed towards Cuba “washing its face” and selling an image of greater tolerance.

“The US government has been taking steps towards this. First, by eliminating Cuba from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, now with this report on human trafficking. We know the dictatorship will welcome anything that will bring some type of economic or political benefit. [They are] a group of mafiosos willing to do anything,” he stated.

In terms of the human-trafficking situation, Ferrer stated that the present economic situation drives 14- and 15-year-olds to prostitution.

“The Cuban regime puts many of these jineteras (prostitutes) in jail to show they are trying to put a stop to the problem. On the other hand, there are high-end prostitutes in tourist resorts that they don’t go after, precisely because they need them to attract more sex tourism and to continue seeing money from that.”

He also said that the Cuban regime is a “specialist” in fraud and manipulation: “they use an image of improving conditions for Cubans in propaganda campaigns, when what they truly want is to keep their grip on power.”

Continue reading HERE.

Sen. Marco Rubio: Hillary Clinton making grave mistake on Cuba

Via The Hill:

Rubio: Clinton making ‘grave mistake’ on Cuba

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is taking a preemptive strike against Hillary Clinton, calling her expected decision to back lifting the Cuba embargo a “grave mistake.”

“After Secretary Clinton’s failed ‘reset’ with Putin, now she wants to do a ‘reset’ with Castro. She is making another grave mistake,” Rubio, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, said in a statement.

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton must learn that appeasement only emboldens dictators and repressive governments, and weakens America’s global standing in the 21st century.”

Rubio’s comments come after the Clinton campaign said Wednesday that she would speak at the Florida International University in Miami on Friday and call on Congress to lift the decades-old embargo.

During the campaign stop she’s expected to “highlight that Republican arguments against increased engagement are part of failed policies of the past and contend that we must look to the future in order to advance a core set of values and interests to engage with Cubans and address human rights abuses,” according to the campaign.

Congressional Republicans, and some Democrats, have criticized the administration’s decision to reopen the U.S. embassy in Havana, and pledged to block any ambassadorial nomination from President Obama.

The Obama administration also wants Congress to lift an embargo; something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has suggested is unlikely to happen.

“I think the administration will have a hard time getting those removed. This is a policy that there is substantial opposition to in Congress,” he told “Fox News Sunday” earlier this month.

Rubio and other Republican presidential contenders have pledged to close the embassy in Cuba, as well as roll back the restoration of diplomatic relations with the country, if they are elected to the White House.

The Florida Republican doubled down on his opposition to the administration’s policy Wednesday, saying that “as president, I will stand with the Cuban people and only support an end to the embargo that is accompanied by real democratic reform.”

Hillary dusts off Bill Clinton’s 1990s Cuba policy, ready to embrace Castro regime and its weekly violent attacks against women

First, we had America’s first black president, Barack Obama, embracing Cuba’s notoriously repressive apartheid regime. Not to be outdone, we now have Hillary Clinton, who lusts to be America’s first woman president, announcing her embrace of that same notoriously repressive apartheid dictatorship, which also violently attacks the peaceful women of the Ladies in White every single Sunday. Say what you will about liberals, at least they are a never-ending comedic source of contradictions and ironies.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

A Redux of Clinton’s Cuba Policy

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On Friday, Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, will give remarks in South Florida, where she will call for the lifting of the U.S. embargo towards Cuba.

Of course, this isn’t a surprise, as Hillary already revealed her Cuba policy position in the book, “Hard Choices.”

But it does merit a look back at Cuba policy the last time a Clinton served in The White House:

In 1993, President Clinton intervened at the last minute to scrap a federal indictment against General Raul Castro, then Minister of Defense (MINFAR), who in conjunction with 14 other senior Cuban regime officials, was the head of a major cocaine smuggling conspiracy.

In 1994, President Clinton succumbed to Castro’s migratory coercion and began secret talks with senior Cuban regime officials in Toronto, Canada.

In 1995, as a result of these secret talks, President Clinton adopted the infamous “wet-foot, dry-foot policy,” whereby catching Cubans before they reach a U.S. beach became a perverted sport.

(Why was it acceptable for President Clinton to label Cubans as “wet-feet”? Isn’t that just as insulting as calling Mexicans “wet-backs”? Same derogatory concept, different body part.)

In February 1996, President Clinton failed to support the historic gathering of Concilio Cubano, a coalition of over 130 dissident groups, which had successfully been garnering opposition against the Castro regime. On February 24th, during a major gathering of the coalition, the Castro regime began a nationwide crackdown on Concilio Cubano. To divert attention from the crackdown, the Castro regime scrambled MiG fighter jets to shoot down two civilian aircraft over international waters, killing three Americans and a permanent resident of the United States.

In March 1996, President Clinton refused to tighten sanctions against the Castro regime. While compelled to sign the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (“LIBERTAD Act”), as the least aggressive response he was presented for the shoot-down of two American civilian aircraft by the Castro regime, Clinton waived the main section tightening sanctions. As such, the LIBERTAD Act codified the embargo and authorized funding for democracy programs, but did not tighten sanctions.

In 1996, President Clinton refused to classify the shoot-down of the two civilian aircraft by Cuban MiG fighter jets over international waters, as an “act of terrorism” under U.S. law.

In 1998-1999, President Clinton eased travel sanctions towards Cuba and created the “people-to-people” travel category, whereby tour groups hosted by the Castro regime lead salsa, baseball and cigar tours of the island, while frequenting the Cuban military’s 4 and 5-star tourism facilities.

In 2000, Clinton contemplated lifting tourism travel restrictions towards Cuba, which was Castro’s main source of income. Cuba charter companies even hired the President’s brother, Roger Clinton, to lobby him. In anticipation, Congress preemptively codified the travel ban to prevent any further Presidential expansion of travel.

In 2000, President Clinton pushed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA), which authorized the sale of agricultural and medical products to Cuba. Due to Congressional intervention, a caveat was included that these sales must be cash-only. Since then, nearly $5 billion in agricultural products have been sold to Cuba — all to Castro’s food monopoly, Alimport. Not one penny has been transacted with regular Cubans.

In 2000, President Clinton sent armed U.S. Marshals into the Little Havana home of Elian Gonzalez’s family, in order to forcefully return him to Cuba. Rather than having an impartial family judge decide what was in the best interests of the small boy, whose mother died for his freedom, Elian’s fate was decided by President Clinton. Today, Elian is a young Communist militant, paraded for propaganda, while hailing Fidel Castro as “his God.”

By the end of 2000, the Castro regime had effectively eradicated Concilio Cubano and most other dissident groups — under the willful blindness of President Clinton. Sadly, it took years for the Cuban opposition movement to regroup.

As Cuban democracy leader, former prisoner of conscience and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, wrote last year, “President Clinton missed a historic opportunity to pressure the end of the Castro regime in the 1990s, amid the profound crisis it faced from the end of its Soviet benefactor.”

Instead, he did the opposite.

Today, amid a similar crisis resulting from the downward spiral of Castro’s Venezuelan benefactor, Obama (and Hillary) are keen to make the same mistake.

But perhaps it’s not fair to judge Hillary on her husband’s record.

Thus, let’s do so based on her own record as Secretary of State.

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Cuba-USA: Embassies and average Cubans

By Ivan Garcia:

Cuba-USA: Embassies and Average Cubans

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Norge imagines himself sipping Cuban coffee at the Versailles restaurant in Miami on July 20 as officials of the Castro regime in white guayaberas and Americans in jackets and ties listen to their national anthems being played and watch flags being hoisted at their respective embassies in Washington and Havana.

For a couple of months he has been planning an illegal escape from the northern coast of the island with a group of friends. Days before setting off to sea in a metal boat outfitted with a diesel engine, Norge consults his Santeria priestess to see if luck is on his side.

The woman throws several snails onto a wooden board and says, “Now is the time.” The rafters then accelerate their plans.

“Once diplomatic relations are reestablished between Cuba and the United States, the Cuban Adjustment Act’s days will be numbered. I don’t have family in the yuma* and it isn’t getting any easier here. As usual, things keep going downhill, so I hope to be playing dominos in Miami on July 20,” Norge says optimistically.

He and his friends have played their last cards. “Some sold their cars and other valuables to raise money so we could build the safest boat possible. We’ve gotten GPS and some members of the group also have maritime experience,” he notes.

No sooner had President Obama and General Castro concluded their respective speeches on December 17, 2014 in which they announced their decision to reestablish diplomatic relations than Cubans who had been thinking about emigrating, legally or illegally, to the yuma began speeding up their plans.

If you talk to people who have been waiting since dawn in a park across the street from the future U.S. embassy in Vedado for a consular interview, you will find that the new diplomatic landscape has made them more dubious than happy.

A significant number of Cubans are planning to leave permanently or are applying for temporary visas before the United States turns off the spigot.

“I can already see it coming. For every ten people interviewed for tourist visas, nine are turned down. I think that, after relations are restored on July 20, they’ll only approve family reunification trips. Temporary visas will be reserved for government officials and dissidents,” claims Servando who, in spite of being twice denied  a visa to visit his daughter, keeps on trying.

The numbers speak for themselves. According to the U.S. Immigration Service almost 19.000 Cubans have entered the country by sea or overland from Mexico since the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, a figure equivalent to the total for the previous year. Since the diplomatic thaw was announced, the figure is two-thirds that.

The increase in the number of undocumented Cubans arriving in the United States due to the resumption of diplomatic relations is so high that social service agencies in Florida cannot cope. They are near collapse, with two month-long waiting lists, as press reports indicate.

Read more

New York’s Gov. Cuomo not as keen on Iran’s mullahs as he is on Cuba’s communist dictators

It appears New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has no interest in leading a trade mission to Iran once President Obama is has completed his surrendered and dismantles all the sanctions on the terrorist country. On the other hand, the governor was certainly quick to board a plane to Cuba with a delegation of businessmen eager to exploit the island’s slave labor and had a grand old time as a VIP guest of the apartheid Castro dictatorship. Although Iran has a much larger economy and is much richer in resources, tor Cuomo, Cuba presents the best opportunity. Oh, and it may be worth noting that the Castros  present no problem to him when it comes to the all-too-important Jewish vote in New York.

Via the New York Observer:

Unlike Cuba, Cuomo Won’t Lead a New York Trade Mission to Iran

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo today told reporters he would not make a trade visit to Iran if the Obama administration-brokered peace deal passes and economic sanctions are dropped—a departure from the trip he took to Cuba in April after the United States renewed relations with the island nation.

The governor briskly brushed off a question from a reporter about whether he would lead a state economic envoy to Iran, with which the Western world hopes to restore contact in exchange for a decade-long pause in the former pariah state’s nuclear program. The Islamic theocracy is larger, more populous and more resource-rich than the communist Caribbean isle.

“No,” he said quickly after speaking at an unrelated event in Lake George. “We’re going to be looking at Italy, China, Israel, I believe are next. I have to run, guys!”

Besides Cuba, the only foreign nation Mr. Cuomo has visited while in office is Israel, where he flew last summer with other state leaders in a show of solidarity with the Jewish state. Israel at the time was engaged in a war with Hamas militants in the Gaza strip.

“Israel is under siege,” said Mr. Cuomo. “Our message is clear: we stand with Israel and we support Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Mr. Cuomo enjoys strong support from New York’s conservative religious Jewish community, due to his support for Israel and for state initiatives benefiting private schools. Many leaders in that demographic group have come out against the passage of the agreement.

Congress will be able to vote on whether to accept the deal, but if they reject it, President Barack Obama will be able to veto their decision—and it is unclear if there is sufficient opposition to override the veto.

Ah!–But THIS murderer of cute little lions is the toast of the Smart-Set!

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Innocent! Cute! Snuggly! Lion murdered for machista gratification!– by a hero to millions of leftists!–who flock to the murderer’s shrine in Castro’s Cuba! (for a hefty fee, of course)–A shrine to this racist, misogynistic drunkard and his murder of hundreds of Innocent! Cute! Snuggly! animals right out of Disney cartoons! .. Where’s the OUTRAGE??!

Maybe since this lion-murderer was also a major fan of human-murderers Fidel Castro and Che Guevara he gets off scot-free in the court of world opinion.

That he was also a full-fledged KGB agent never hurts in the court of world opinion either.

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(On left) BAD! BAD! BAD! (on Right) Cool! Cool! Cool!
So Dr Walter James Palmer (on left), here at Babalu we offer you this free advice. Here’s a SURE cure for your current public relations woes:

*Start hailing Obama’s “diplomatic breakthrough!”
*Visit Cuba!
*If at all possible take some pics with Fidel or Raul–smiling, shaking hands!
*VOILA!!! You’re absolved!

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And what’s with Hemingway’s fetish for hanging his hunting trophies on his wall?

As well known hereabouts, TRUE hunters wear them on their heads!

U.S. concessions to Cuba not justified

By Sebastian Arcos, Associate Director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University in The Miami Herald:

U.S. concessions not justified

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Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson

And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?

Hot ashes for trees?

Hot air for a cool breeze?

Cold comfort for change?

“Wish You Were Here,”

Pink Floyd

Seven months after Dec. 17, President Obama’s process of normalization with the Castro regime seems as unstoppable as a runaway freight train. The new policy was heartily embraced by pundits, the media, and public opinion, and neither the warnings nor the informed arguments from seasoned experts have been able to curb their enthusiasm. This is certainly baffling, because all that supporters have against a wall of reasonable arguments is hope, mostly based on incorrect assumptions and unfounded expectations.

The old policy of containment did not work — they argue — and it is time to try something new. But they forget that, with all its flaws, it was the old policy that brought the Cubans to the negotiating table to begin with. Furthermore, the new policy of engagement is not really new. It has been tried and tested by the Canadians and the Europeans for over 25 years with no results whatsoever.

The new policy — supporters argue — will better foster U.S. interests such as the promotion of human rights, and will empower a rising class of Cuba entrepreneurs. Before Dec. 17, we conveyed our disapproval of the regime’s human rights violations via a diplomatic “statement of concern” from the Department of State. Now we will be able to do exactly the same from our embassy in Havana. How is the latter more effective than the former? Will Cuban entrepreneurs, created and regulated by the regime, be able to expand into a middle class capable of forcing regime change? Of course not. It hasn’t happened anywhere else, simply because in a totalitarian setting, entrepreneurs are as incapable of expanding political freedoms as politicians are of creating wealth. The same goes for American tourists.

What then, explains this irrational exuberance? There is no question that hope is a powerful positive feeling, but as Henry Kissinger said recently, diplomacy is not an exercise in good feelings. Rather, it is an ad hoc mixture of pragmatism and fundamental values, tailored to the needs of each case. Forsaking one for the other is never a good idea. In the case of Cuba, we have abandoned fundamental values inherent to our entire foreign policy in exchange for a fruitless pragmatism.

Continue reading HERE.