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.

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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.

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.

Undermining the integrity of the Trafficking in Persons report: Obama’s Orwellian standard on Cuba

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Undermining the integrity of the Trafficking in Persons Report of the State Department

Obama administration’s Orwellian standard on Cuba


The Obama administration apparently is continuing to pay off the Castro regime for agreeing to normalize diplomatic relations by whitewashing the dictatorship’s record first on terrorism and now on human trafficking by the State Department is upgrading Cuba’s status after 12 years from tier 3 to tier 2 in its Trafficking in Persons Report. Melysa Sperber, director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (Atest) expressed concern:

“We are very surprised by this year’s report, which seems to be making blatantly political decisions that we consider will have a really detrimental impact on both the integrity of the report and progress in the global fight to end modern slavery.”

Kimberly A. McCabe in her book “The Trafficking of Persons: National and International Responses” wrote the following on Cuba:

“Cuba is a source country for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced child labor and has been identified as a destination for sex tourism. Cuban adults and children are also trafficked for forced labor in commercial agriculture, such as tobacco farming. There are also reported cases of Cubans being trafficked to the United States for debt bondage. Cuba’s thriving sex trade caters to thousands of tourists every year from Europe, Latin America, and North America and involves not only the young boys and girls who are victims of abuse but also the state-run hotel workers, cab drivers, and police officers who may identify the commercial sex areas for those interested in participating in sexual exploitation. There appears to be little in terms of governmental help or nongovernmental organization initiatives to end human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, in Cuba. Again because of the closed nature of the government, the prevalence of human trafficking is unknown.”

The Castro regime has been directly linked to exporting slave labor to the Curaçao Drydock Company in a court of law (outside of Cuba) in 2008.Conditions inside of Cuba for workers are not much better.

The Politics of Prevention: Cholera in Cuba

Prof. Sherri L. Porcelain from the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies:

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The Politics of Prevention: Cholera in Cuba

Even before the scheduled opening of the US Embassy on July 20, 2015, there were advertisements, blog posts, tweets, and news feeds welcoming U.S. residents to Cuba for cultural, religious or educational opportunities. Cuba remains a popular destination for Canadian and Western European tourists with its rich cultural arts, gracious hosts and Caribbean beaches. However, a growing interest in U.S. approved trips must consider Cuba’s lack of safe potable water, sanitation and sewage issues along with housing challenges. This is important because while it is unreported, cholera transmission exists within Cuba.

Cuba’s lack of transparency in health outbreak reporting is in question again. Laboratory confirmed cases continue to be shared with the international community about tourists returning to Canada, Latin America, and European countries after taking home more than sun and fun from a Cuban vacation. Cuba consistently asserts that the cholera outbreak of 2012 was quickly controlled within the country.

Where is the United States government on this issue today?

While a U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cholera watch in Cuba has recently been removed from their website, (1) there is still evidence that cholera is transmitted there. CDC travel notices consists of three levels:

A “watch” level 1 informs travelers to use usual precautions, an “alert” level 2 calls for enhanced precautions and a “warning” level 3 advises travelers to avoid nonessential travel to an area where the risk is high. These travel notices are important because the CDC notification system is widely used by travelers as well as clinicians for up-to-date international travel information.

Since 2013 there have been cases of confirmed cholera after visits to Cuba. (2) In January 2015 the Canadian International Health Regulation reported a case of a returning traveler, (3) as well as Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on their Epidemiologic Update Report (4) documented this as the only case of cholera in Cuba for 2015. This assumes only travelers and no locals have been infected. It is more likely that the Cuban government does not share this information with the international community, and is only compelled to cooperate after scientific proof is disseminated.

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What ‘Made in Socialism’ means to Venezuelans

Venezuela is learning the hard lesson Cuba learned decades ago. They could have easily avoided this if they listened to those who warned them, but they refused to believe they could fall into the same trap. “Chamo, we’re not like you Cubans,” one Venezuelan friend told me a decade ago. “If Chavez pushes it too far,” he confidently proclaimed, “we’ll kick his ass out.” Fast forward to today, and here we are.

As it is often said, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Andrea Rondon Garcia in PanAm Post:

What “Made in Socialism” Means to Venezuelans

The Brand That Marks the Path of Economic Destruction

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Shortages and misery are always the consequences of socialist policies. (Ríete del Gobierno)

Socialism is any system that restricts or infringes upon the free exercise of human action or entrepreneurial role, and that is justified in the popular, political, and scientific discourse as a system capable of improving society and accomplishing a set goals and objectives that are considered to be good— Jesús Huerta de Soto

Socialism is not what it claims to be. It is not the pioneer of a better and more beautiful world, but rather the destroyer of what thousands of years of civilization have painfully created. It builds nothing and  demolishes everything. If it were to triumph, it should be named destructionism, because it is, in essence, destruction. —Ludwig von Mises

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“Made in Socialism”

“Made in Socialism” is a Chavista slogan stamped on Venezuelan products that points to a dysfunctional system: while the company that manufactured the good nominally has a private owner, he has no control over it.

In Venezuela, a company can no longer freely dispose of its own assets when, pursuant to the Organic Labor Law, the government decides to occupy it “temporarily.” Instead, a new Board of Directors composed of government officials runs the firm.

As a result of direct intervention, consumer goods become scarcer, even though they continue to be produced by the same company.

Shortages in Venezuela amplified after last year’s seizures. Even then, many now-occupied companies already suffered from the government’s exchange and price controls. By definition, controls create distortions in the economy, such as scarcity.

Behind the “Made in Socialism” label lies a long list of companies that have fallen under this regime and whose products have become harder and harder to find.

The hostile economic conditions turned them into victims, forcing them to either halt production or reduce them to a pace from over a decade ago.

The socialist regime’s desire to plan and control everything is clear in the countless measures enacted over the years, such as price and foreign-currency controls, increased taxes, restrictions on foreign investment, and labor laws.

As Rey Juan Carlos University professor Jesús Huerta de Soto is fond of stressing, this is a fool’s errand. The day-to-day operation of a company cannot be learned overnight. The entrepreneurial knowledge needed for such a task is practical in nature and dispersed among economic agents. It’s not a form of information that can simply be gathered and transferred to a government entity.

In a free market, entrepreneurial knowledge as well as innovation are constantly evolving. Therefore, it is impossible to seize it, sum it up, and hand it over to some government officials.

As a Venezuelan, I can tell you one does not need a full grasp of leading anarcho-capitalist theories to understand the current state of affairs.

What all Venezuelans witness every day serves to show socialism does not work: long lines outside stores; the shortage of basic consumer goods; spiraling inflation; not being able to shop when one needs to but rather when the government allows you; resorting to barter (for instance, trading shampoo for coffee); having to buy from bachaqueros (middlemen) on the black market, and so on.

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Among thieves, who robs whom?

Yixander Doimeadios in Translating Cuba:

Among Thieves: Who Robs Whom?

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Hablemos Press, Yixander Doimeadios, Havana, 25 July 2105 – Theft is institutionalized in Cuba. It is a pseudo-culture, endured and practiced from one end of the Island to the other, and the excuses for it are: “I have to live, life is hard….” as if the parasitic “living” were something that must be accepted.

The fees tacked on to products sold in the hard currency stores* are insulting. Discounts on them, even hours before their sell-by dates, are notable in their absence.

And what to say about the private-sale merchandise added to the inventory by the shopkeepers? Nothing is direct from the producer or manufacturer, and everything has a shady provenance because it comes in “under the table.”

In Cuba, the merchant is asked if he has any under the table cooking oil in stock, or the butcher if there is any chicken available that was obtained through the same supply route – that same route where the dollars go that fall into the hands of the bus driver, or through which the lard is filtered that doesn’t make it into the rationed bread.

The issue here is a mutation in the evolution of the Cuban species, where only the most capable and strongest survive. You either get used to it, or you die, and if you can’t beat them, you must join them.

Everyone seeks a way to recover what the other has stolen from him.

The inspectors extort the self-employed, the housing bureaucrats receive a “gift” for the paperwork they should put through at no cost whatsoever, and anyone who is not generous or open-handed will suffer the consequences of having what should be a simple process take six months or more to complete.

While the winds of change blow above, down in the underworld of the ordinary Cuban, all we can smell is the same flatulence as always, and the only change in the air is for the worse.

Therefore, there is only one way out: if you can’t beat them, join them.

*Translator’s Note: The official name of these stores is “Hard Currency Collection Stores” – meaning that their purpose is to collect, via the sale of highly overpriced goods, the cash from the remittances sent to Cubans from their family and friends abroad. 

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Obama White House crafting secret plan to have president visit apartheid Cuba

When you consider that America’s first black president has become the first American president to fully recognize and strongly embrace Cuba’s viciously repressive apartheid dictatorship, it is only appropriate that he becomes the first American president to visit that nation as a VIP guest of the apartheid regime.

Via the Washington Examiner:

Secretive White House meeting reveals Obama’s plan to visit Cuba in 2016

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The White House declined to talk about the meeting, and referred questions about the meeting to the State Department. (AP)

A secretive White House meeting on Cuba last week revealed that President Obama plans to visit the island nation early next year, and also discussed the controversial idea of the Cuban government opening consular offices in Miami.

After hailing embassy openings in Washington and Havana last week, the White House held an off-schedule, private meeting on Thursday with U.S. officials involved in the administration’s Cuba policy. Nearly 80 activist members of the Cuban-American community from Florida and across the United States — mostly Democrats — were also there.

Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s closest advisers, was on hand, along with White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes and Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary of State for the western hemisphere.

The White House declined to talk about the meeting, and referred questions about the meeting to the State Department. A State Department spokesman then referred the same questions to the Cuban embassy, which was already closed for the day.

According to sources familiar with the meeting, Rhodes told the group that President Obama is considering visiting the island nation early next year, depending on progress in U.S.-Cuba relations.

While that historic visit would likely help Obama cement his legacy as the president who started to open up bilateral relations, it could be marred by or even delayed by Cuba’s arrest of dissidents. Those arrests have continued despite Obama’s gestures to Cuba, and could put Obama at risk of appearing to be too friendly with a country that often arrests members of political or religious groups dozens at a time.

Eduardo Jose Padron, the current president of Miami-Dade College who came to the U.S. as a refugee at the age of 15, used the White House meeting to ask about the state of human rights in Cuba, and State Department officials acknowledged that it is a dangerous time for dissidents on the island, one participant told the Examiner.

Andy Gomez, a retired assistant provost and dean of the University of Miami’s School of International Studies, said that so far, the Castro regime doesn’t appear to be changing its ways. Gomez previously served on the Brookings Institution’s Cuba Task Force from 2008 to 2010, and told the Washington Examiner Cuba needs to demonstrate a stronger commitment to human rights before Obama travels there or the U.S. agrees to allow it to open a consulate in Florida.

“Up until now, the Cuban government hasn’t even brought Cuban coffee to the table … I don’t see any signs of the Cuban government loosening up their control,” he said.

Continue reading HERE.

Cuba, Iran, and Russia: ‘Springtime for America’s enemies’

Springtime for America’s Enemies

Dangerous and short-sighted U.S. diplomacy has empowered no one except state sponsors of terrorism and fascistic regimes.

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There has never been a better time in history to be an enemy of the United States of America. While America’s traditional allies in Europe and the Middle East express confusion and frustration, Obama’s White House delivers compliments and concessions to some of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. In the span of a single week, the U.S. has restored diplomatic relations with Cuba, pressured Ukraine to accept Vladimir Putin’s butchering of its eastern region, and brokered a deal to liberate Iran from sanctions.

These actions would represent a tremendous series of diplomatic triumphs if they improved human rights in these repressed nations, saved lives in conflict regions, or improved global security. That is, in fact, what the White House says these deals will do, despite copious evidence to the contrary. These negotiations represent willful ignorance of the fundamental nature of the regimes in question, especially those of Iran and Russia. Cuba is a political hotspot in the U.S. and remains a potent symbol of totalitarianism, but despite its regional meddling, especially in Venezuela, it isn’t on the scale of the global threats represented by Iran’s terrorism and nuclear ambitions and Putin’s nuclear-backed expansionism. Regardless of the wishes of the Iranian and Russian people, their leaders have no interest in peace, although they are very interested in never-ending peace negotiations that provide them with cover as they continue to spread violence and hatred.

The vocabulary of negotiation is a pleasant and comforting one, especially to a war-weary America. It’s difficult to argue against civilized concepts like diplomacy and engagement, and the Obama administration and the pundits who support it have made good use of this rhetorical advantage. In contrast, deterrence and isolation are harsh, negative themes that evoke the dark time of the Cold War and its constant shadow of nuclear confrontation. No one would like less a return to those days than me or anyone else born and raised behind the Iron Curtain. The question is how best to avoid such a return.

The favorite straw man of the “peacemongers” is that the only alternative to appeasement is war, which makes no sense when there is already an escalating war in progress. The alternative to diplomacy isn’t war when it prolongs or worsens existing conflicts and gives the real warmongers a free hand. Deterrence is the alternative to appeasement. Isolation is the alternative to years of engagement that has only fueled more aggression.

Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a Communist country that I cannot so casually ignore the suffering of the people being left behind as these treaties are signed. Ronald Reagan was called a warmonger by the same crowd that is praising Obama to the skies today and yet Reagan is the one who freed hundreds of millions of people from the Communist yoke, not the “peacemakers” Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

Diplomacy takes two while capitulation is unilateral. Diplomacy can fail and there is real damage, and real casualties, when it does. Putin’s dictatorship was immeasurably strengthened by the catastrophe known as “the reset,” an Obama/Hillary Clinton policy that gave Putin a fresh start as an equal on the world stage just months after he invaded Georgia. Years that could have been spent deterring Putin’s crackdowns and centralization of power while he still needed foreign engagement were instead spent cultivating a partnership that never really existed. Time that could have been used to establish alternate sources of gas and oil were squandered, leaving Europe vulnerable to energy blackmail.

By 2014, Putin had consolidated power at home completely and, with no significant domestic enemies left and sure he would face little international opposition, he was confident enough to invade Ukraine and annex Crimea. The thousands of dead and hundreds of thousands of displaced people in Ukraine are Putin’s victims, of course, but they must also weigh on the conscience of the bureaucrats, diplomats, and leaders whose cowardice—well-intentioned or not—emboldened Putin to that point.

As recent days and past decades past have shown us, it is easy to paint the critics of nearly any diplomatic process as warmongers. Again, the language of peace and diplomacy is soothing and positive. If we just talk a little longer, if we just delay a little more, if we just concede a little more… To make the peacemonger position even more unassailable, every outbreak of violence large or small can be blamed on the failure of the diplomats to talk, delay, and concede more. And sometimes, to be fair, acceptable compromises are reached and, if not win-win, mutually satisfactory lose-lose agreements can defuse conflicts and avoid bloodshed. Diplomacy is supposed to be the modern way, the civilized way, and it should always be considered first—and second.

Continue reading HERE.

Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Rubio (R-FL) blast Obama’s politically motivated upgrade of human traffickers Cuba and Malaysia

Via Roll Call:

Menendez, Rubio Critical of ‘Political’ Human Trafficking Report

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Two senators say politics are at play in the State Department’s announcement that the human trafficking situations in Malaysia and Cuba are improving.

On Monday, the State Department released its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, bumping both nations from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List, allowing Malaysia to stay in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., pushed hard throughout the recent fast-track trade debate to strengthen human rights requirements against prospective trade partners, including Malaysia. Trade Promotion Authority, also known as fast track, passed with a provision denying expedited congressional consideration of any trade deal with a country listed in Tier 3.

“The administration has turned its back on the victims of trafficking, turned a blind eye to the facts, and ignored the calls from Congress, leading human rights advocates, and Malaysian government officials to preserve the integrity of this important report,” Menendez said in a statement, who noted his “profound disappointment” that the administration “elevated politics over the most basic principles of human rights.”

The report states that while Malaysia “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” it is “making significant efforts to do so.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also took issue with the report. The Cuban-American and 2016 presidential hopeful has been an outspoken critic of the Castro regime and of President Barack Obama’s thawing of relations with the island.

“It is important that this report be a true reflection of the trafficking situation on the ground and that a country’s rating not be determined by political considerations but by the country’s record on this issue,” Rubio said in a statement. “I find it difficult to believe that Cuba has been elevated this year from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List solely based on the Cuban regime’s record.”

Menendez has also been critical of Obama’s policies towards Cuba and vowed to use all of the tools at his disposal to “challenge these upgrades.”

“Upgrades for Malaysia and Cuba are a clear politicization of the report, and a stamp of approval for countries who have failed to take the basic actions to merit this upgrade,” Menendez said. “As the State Department’s own report recognizes that there has been no progress on forced labor in Cuba, any upgrade of the country’s ranking challenges common sense.”

In yet another surrender to Cuba’s apartheid regime, Obama proclaims Havana’s slave masters are no longer slave masters

In yet another unilateral concession (or better said, surrender) to Cuba’s vile apartheid regime who has enslaved an entire nation, President Obama has instructed the State Department to upgrade the Castro dictatorship on the human traffickers list. What did the dictatorship do to earn this upgrade? Absolutely nothing. Cuba continues to be a favorite destination for sexual predators and child rapists who find the “services” and “merchandise” offered by the Castro regime to be both cheap and desirable. The Castro regime also continues to enslave millions and sell Cuban forced labor on the international market to the highest bidder. But facts such as these have no role to play when an American president is desperate to create a legacy.

What Obama does not (and probably will never) realize, however, is that he is indeed building a legacy; a legacy that will haunt him and both Cubans and history will never forget.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

In Clear Side Deal, Obama Upgrades Cuba in Trafficking Watch List

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Dictators hate to be placed on watch lists. It scorns their zeal for legitimacy.

Thus, the long-standing obsession of the Castro regime to be removed from the U.S.’s “state-sponsors of terrorism” list.

In order to be removed from that list, the Castro regime simply coerced the Obama Administration.

It made it very clear (and public) that it was more than willing to hijack Obama’s legacy of establishing diplomatic relations, unless it was first removed from the terrorism watch list.

And the Obama Administration complied.

In April, the State Department proceeded to remove Cuba from the terrorism list — despite recognizing that Cuba continues to harbor one of the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Terrorists and members of U.S. classified Foreign Terrorist Organizations (“FTO’s”).

The removal was based solely on “assurances” that Castro would behave better in the future — and accepting a lie that it has “never supported terrorism.”

Today, the same has taken place with the U.S.’s human trafficking watch list.

The Obama Administration has decided to upgrade Cuba from the lowest tier — despite recognizing that Cuba remains a major source country for sex trafficking and forced labor.

The upgrade is based solely on “assurances” that Castro is making efforts to address trafficking issues — and accepting its lie that forced labor is not a problem within Cuba.

Never mind that the Castro regime itself is the source and beneficiary of Cuba’s vast human trafficking infrastructure.

Its practices have been widely documented to violate nearly every major international forced labor, trafficking and human rights covenant.

There’s absolutely nothing that merits Cuba’s upgrade in the trafficking watch list — other than some side deal as part of its ongoing negotiations.

It’s simply another unmerited, unilateral concession.

Unfortunately, as in the case of Iran, the Obama Administration is not only proving to be misguided in its policy — but also untrustworthy in the process. 

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: Upgrading Cuba to Tier 2 Watch List of Trafficking Report an insult to Cuban people

From the offices of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

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Upgrading Cuba to Tier 2 Watch List of Trafficking Report Is An Insult to the Cuban People

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement after the State Department upgrading Cuba to the Tier 2 Watch List from Tier 3 of the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“It has become clear that the White House’s willingness to bend over backward to appease the ruthless dictators in Cuba knows no bounds. As the Department of State announced today the release of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2015, Secretary Kerry penned a letter on State’s website stating ‘Trafficking in persons is an insult to human dignity and an assault on freedom.’ However, it seems like Cuba is an exception to these words as the State Department has insulted the people of Cuba by upgrading Cuba to Tier 2 Watch List.

“It is well known that the Castro regime not only supports sex tourism, but it profits from it. In February of this year, Ladies in White leader Berta Soler testified before Congress that the Castro regime promotes child prostitution in Cuba. At a Congressional hearing, she stated that young women in Cuba are ‘preserving themselves for when American tourism arrives so they can sell themselves to American tourists.’ This is the reality of what occurs in Castro’s Cuba that has been ignored by the State Department for its own political reasons.”