Obama throws Cubans to the sharks



We are just starting to live with the change implemented by the Obama administration. It’s a whole new game for people coming from the island.      There is even confusion at airports, as we’ve seen reported in these pages.

This is from the Augusta Chronicle:

Obama said in a White House statement that Cuban migrants now will be treated “the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”

Really? Like the migrants who practically cartwheel across our porous border with Mexico every day? The difference is, Cuban refugees face certain political persecution upon their return to Cuba.

This is amazing.

Over the last few years, the Obama administration has watched thousands of people walk over the border without penalty.    We were told that it was in our humane tradition to take people looking for a new opportunity or running away from cartel violence in Central America.

I guess not sending them back to Guatemala is humane but people from Cuba should go back.   Really, Mr. President?

My sense is that this is a cheap shot against Cuban Americans, who put Donald Trump over the top in Florida.   

President Obama’s embrace of the Castro dictatorship did not go over well and Cuban Americans decided to vote GOP!       

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.


Obama’s timing on Cubans raises some questions

mckee cuba obama you drive a hard bargain

(My new American Thinker post)

Over the last few years, many of my Latin American friends have asked the same question: Why do you Cubans get preferential treatment?

The answer is complex but it is based on the reality that we come from a communist dictatorship devoid of any human rights. In other words, things may be bad in Mexico but they have multiparty elections and a free press. Mexican immigrants are usually looking for economic opportunities not political freedom.

Also, to be fair, it is also true that Cubans are concentrated in Florida, a state with the third largest electoral votes on the map.

On Thursday, President Obama decided to cancel the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy that has allowed Cubans to claim legal status if they make it here.

My initial reaction was twofold:

First, why now? We will have a new president in a week. Why make this decision at this stage of the transition? Was Mr. Trump consulted?

This decision puts president-elect Trump in a difficult position. He can accept the decision and irritate the Cuban-Americans who put him over the top in Florida, or he can restore special treatment of Cubans and risk attacks that other immigrants are being treated differently.

Second, can President Obama even do this? Can a President reverse an immigration policy? Didn’t his executive order about “the dreamers” run into a wall last year?

What happens now? My guess is that some human rights group will challenge the decision because no one knows what will happen to the Cubans returned, as Senator Marco Rubio indicated.

Also, did President Obama get any concessions from Raul Castro that these Cubans won’t be treated like “traitors” when they go back? In the past, returning Cubans have been targeted by the regime.

My hope is that President Trump reverses Obama’s decision and calls on Cuba to make some concessions, such as a guarantee that these Cubans will not be targeted. It could be part of a new deal with Cuba that is based on helping the Cuban people rather than making a deal for the sake of making a deal.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

The Goodbye that Really Isn’t

On Tuesday night, President Obama said goodbye or did he really? It looked a lot like a campaign rally than a farewell speech. Some in the crowd were even screaming “four more years.”

We confirmed later that President Obama’s goodbye was rather long:

Clinton spoke for 7 minutes, 25 seconds; Reagan spoke for 20 minutes, 42 seconds; and George W. Bush spoke for 13 minutes, 7 seconds. Obama spoke for 51 minutes, 10 seconds, nearly 10 minutes longer than the other three put together.

Obama also broke from the tradition of delivering his final speech from the White House. Clinton and Reagan both spoke from the Oval Office, and George W. Bush spoke in front of a small audience in the White House East Room; the Obama administration distributed public tickets for his speech at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago.

Obama spoke to a crowd of 18,000.

On balance, it was Obama being Obama. President Obama was in Chicago, which was a bit bizarre since he won’t be going home for his post-presidency.

He flew over the last eight years, reminded us that he killed Osama, got everybody health insurance and saved the world from a Great Depression. I guess that he and I have different memories of the last two terms. Maybe that’s why the Democrats are in such bad shape or why his popularity never elected anybody.

Obama’s goodbye won’t be any goodbye at all. He will be living about a mile from the White House and there is no shortage of “in the tank” reporters who will be dropping by to get his reaction to any of President Trump’s decisions.

So it’s goodbye but he will be around!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

US-Cuba trade numbers hard to follow


(My new American Thinker post)

According to the Obama administration, there is a lot of trading going on with Cuba.  After further review, there is not a lot of trading at all.  In fact, the difference may be somewhere between the $6 billion that the Obama administration is projecting and about $380 million in real commerce going on.

This is from The Miami Herald:

The Obama Administration has said that trade with Cuba could reach up to $6 billion under its new policies, but U.S. companies in fact exported barely $380 million worth of goods to the island since the beginning of the thaw in bilateral relations two years ago.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said early last year that her department had issued 490 licenses to companies trying to do business with Cuba valued at $4.3 billion. More recently, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that since late 2014 “more than $6 billion in trade has been initiated between Cuba and the United States since then, which obviously has an important economic benefit here in the United States.”

Experts said the administration is exaggerating, and that those numbers must be put in better context.

Well, put me down as one who never bought this nonsense that Cuba and the U.S. were doing $6 billion in trade.

First, let’s understand that these are the people who told us you could keep your health care policy if we wanted to.  How did that one work out?  Not hard to be skeptical after that or the nonsense about ISIS being the J.V. team!

Second, as the article confirms, Cuba’s economy is not growing.  Cuba’s GDP grew by 0.9% in 2016.  Cuba’s GDP is $81 billion.  How can the U.S. and Cuba be doing $6 billion in trade?

Third, Cuba does not have the liquidity to pay for all of these U.S. goods or services.  This is because no one is lending Cuba any money, and the US embargo cuts off access to credit lines in the U.S.

Fourth, the article points out that U.S. exports to Cuba, food items such as chicken, soya, and corn, actually fell since the Obama administration eased sanctions on Cuba.

So be cautious with all those expectations about how opening up Cuba would lead to all of those opportunities on the island.

In other words, there are no opportunities, unless you want to build a hotel to fly in U.S. tourists.  Of course, such investments require you to have the Cuban government as your partner – the family business, that is!

How can you expect a country with very little purchasing power to buy anything?

We say it again: the Obama policy toward Cuba has not really benefited U.S. companies or the Cuban people.  It has been pretty good for the Castros and the thugs who protect them.

In time, a free Cuba could return to the economic relationship it had with the U.S. before 1961.  It won’t happen anytime soon as long as the aforementioned family is running the island for its own gain.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Happy ‘Dia de los Reyes’


(My new American Thinker post)

Over the years, many of us celebrated January 6 as “El Día de los Reyes,” or the day the Three Wise Men visited the baby Jesus.  The story comes from the New Testament:

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

For centuries, children in Spain, France, and other countries with a strong Catholic influence got gifts from their families on this day.  It is one of the greatest traditions.  Spain brought this tradition to Latin America.

As a kid growing up in Cuba, I remember that this day became the equivalent of what Santa Claus is in the U.S.

For example, we would write letters to the three kings (we called them kings, not wise men) and request presents.  In fact, kids would write a letter to their favorite king.  A few days before Christmas, my father used to take our letter and promise to mail it.

On a commercial level, the retail stores would have displays of the three kings.  Kids would go with their parents and take pictures, the same way we do with Santa Claus.  I remember one place in Cuba that had real camels the kids could approach and touch.

On the night before, we went to bed early and waited for them to come by and drop off our presents.  We would leave grass and water for the camels.  Our mom would always leave a cake for the kings.  It was amazing to us how the camels and the kings always consumed everything.  It was even more remarkable to talk to the kids in the neighborhood and hear that the kings and camels ate everything they had left, too!

The kings even had a “repair service.”  One year, our little sister left her doll outside a week before, and it was delivered with a new dress and hair.

In Cuba, the tradition and Christmas were outlawed by the communist regime.  They were brought back in 1997 before Pope John Paul II visited the island.

Unfortunately, 30 years without Christmas gave us a generation that did not understand the holiday or the traditions I knew.

This beautiful tradition continues in much of Latin America, although Santa Claus has become a bigger part of the season.

In some countries, they share food with friends and neighbors, as we read from Carolina Moreno:

Reyes festivities come in different shapes and sizes across the globe from community parades to three-day celebrations at Disneyland.

In Mexico, thousands gather every year to taste a mile-long “Rosca de Reyes” (Kings’ Bread) while others simply make the holiday staple at home honoring the tradition to hide a baby jesus figurine within the bread — the person whose slice has the figurine must prepare tamales for everyone on the Day of the Candles on Feb. 2!

In our case, we usually share something with each other.  Years ago, my parents would always tell our sons that the kings paid a special visit to Texas and left them a gift.

Say “Feliz Día de los Reyes” to your Cuban friends today!  It will probably remind them of a great tradition we grew up with.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Happy # 72 to Tito Fuentes


Rigoberto “Tito” Fuentes was born in La Habana, Cuba and signed by the Giants as a free agent in 1962.  We believe that Tito Fuentes was one of the last players to leave Cuba before the doors were shut.

He broke with the Giants in 1965 at 21.   He was an infielder and enjoyed some good seasons with San Francisco, San Diego and Detroit.

In 1976, Tito made news when Detroit paid him $ 90,000 as their first free agent.   It was in Detroit that he earned a reputation for being a bit flashy and giving the media some great quotes:

“”They shouldn’t throw at me…I’m the father of five or six kids.”

His numbers were decent:   .268 batting average, 1,491 hits and a .307 on base pct.

Fuentes became a baseball announcer after playing.   He works in the Giants’ Spanish network.

1961: US broke diplomatic relations with Cuba


On this day in 1961, the US broke diplomatic relations with Cuba.  It was a sign that the US had lost patience with the Castro regime.

It happened at the end of the Eisenhower administration. We assume that it had the consent of the incoming Kennedy team.

My father, who passed away a year ago, told me that most people were very disillusioned at this point with Castro.   No elections.   Political prisoners.   And we know that many were getting ready to confront him in April 1961.

Also, the Kennedy-Nixon debates a few months before had raised some expectations about a change coming to Cuba soon.

Relations were broken, opportunities were missed at The Bay of Pigs and The Missile Crisis.   The sum of it all was misery for the Cuban people, specially the ones who stayed behind.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

A tough year for Latinas of the left in Latin America



(My new American Thinker post)

Let’s add former president Cristina Fernandez to the list of “Latinas of the left” in huge political trouble in Latin America.

We learned that Argentina will reopen the 1994 case of the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

Frankly, it’s the right thing to do.  This is a summary from Daniel Politi:

The original case was filed by Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor whose mysterious death in 2015 convulsed the country.

Three judges on the Court of Cassation, Argentina’s highest criminal appeals court, voted unanimously to reopen the criminal complaint, which accused Mrs. Kirchner and her foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, among others, of sealing a deal with Iran to cover up the role Iranian officials were said to have played in the bombing of the Jewish community center, which killed 85 people.

An appeal to the Supreme Court by Mrs. Kirchner is possible, but legal experts say it could face challenges because the Court of Cassation did not issue a final ruling on the case, but rather called for a new investigation.

“Of course we are going to appeal,” said Alejandro Rúa, Mr. Timerman’s lawyer. “This case has been plagued with violations of constitutional guarantees. And if we run out of local instances of appeal, we are going to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.”

In reality, this may just be the beginning of other worse charges of corruption.  She also will have to answer for massive corruption involving public works.

I believe that this is more damaging for two reasons.   First, it’s more recent.  Second, it has to do with pocketing money or taking care of friends, a couple of issues that have many in Argentina referring to the former president with names that I can’t repeat here.

Another “Latina of the left” is already out of power – i.e., Dilma Rousseff.  She was impeached and removed last summer as president of Brazil.

The third Latina is President Bachelet of Chile.  She faces a few corruption problems of her own, but she is not likely to be forced out of office.

Her biggest mistake was messing with Chile’s economy, the envy of Latin America.  She had to please the anti-Pinochet left and ended up getting the middle class angry at her.  After all, why mess something that works?

What do these ladies have in common?  They governed as left-center presidents who ended up betraying all the promises of transparency and decency they made.

Let’s hope 2017 brings down a few of their lefty brothers in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

2017: ‘Muy malo’ for Cuba


(My new American Thinker post)

For 10 years, Raul has benefited a lot from having Fidel around. Fidel always showed up at the big celebrations or wrote a column.

Forget that. It won’t be pretty in 2017, as we see in this report from the AP:

Castro must manage these twin economic and diplomatic challenges during a year of transition. The 85-year-old general has promised to hand over the office in early 2018 to a successor, widely expected to be Miguel Diaz-Canel, a 56-year-old official with neither the Castro name nor revolutionary credentials. The change will occur without Castro’s older brother Fidel, the revolutionary leader whose largely unseen presence endowed the system he created with historical weight and credibility in the eyes of many Cubans before he died last month at 90.

“Even if those two events hadn’t taken place — Trump’s victory and Fidel’s death — 2017 was going to be a very difficult year for Cuba,” said Cuban economist Omar Everleny Perez, a visiting professor at Keio University in Tokyo.

Cuba publishes few credible economic statistics, but experts expect the country to end this year with gross domestic product growth of 1 percent or less. It maintained a rate close to 3 percent from 2011-2015.

By the way, it’s nice to see an analyst admit that Cuba produces very little credible economic data. This is why so many have been skeptical of health care or literacy gains boasted by Cuba.

Back to the economy.

Indeed, there are tourists but it does not seem to help the Cuban economy. This is because Cubans have very little to gain from these hotels or restaurants where tourists are spending their dollars.

Add to this the mismanagement of Cuba’s economy and you have profits that end up in the Castro accounts rather than the pockets of the Cuban people.

We are not saying that this is new. Cuba has always been for the benefit of Castro and the gang that protects them. However, this is the first time that they are going to do without a USSR subsidy, EU loans, cheap Venezuela oil, or a U.S. president willing to go around the embargo.

It will be Raul vs reality in 2017 and the Cuban elites don’t have a clue of what will hit them. There is no one waiting to bail them out anymore.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.