Policymakers should put the brakes on the one-sided rapprochement with Cuba

Excellent article from our friend Jason Poblete (@JasonPoblete on Twitter) at DC Dispatches:

Cuba Smiles, All the Way to the Bank

The President has demonstrated since December 17, 2014 that he is willing, even if it means ignoring the law, to press forward on the U.S.-Cuba question. Congress has been, mostly, missing in action. While the House moved appropriations product this month, most of it, in the unlikely event that it survives in conference, goes into effect in next year. Nothing has been done to stop the administration this year.

If Congressional had moved swiftly in early January to respond to the President’s December 17 proposed policy shift, it could have mounted a successful effort to keep Cuba on the state sponsors of terror list, where it belongs. Yet once that domino fell, without even a credible response, it gave the administration the green light it needed to proceed on several fronts to deconstruct U.S.-Cuba relations as well as the law and regulations that underpin it.

Thanks to US policy, before December 17, 2014 Communist Party hardliners were whistling past the graveyard. Now it has much-needed life support.

Meanwhile the Cuban Communist Party has been very busy racking up successes. In six months, with the assistance of the Obama administration and its legions of K Street lawyers and lobbyists, Cuba (1) was removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list; (2) opened a much-needed U.S. bank account; (3) eased U.S. sanctions in ways not seen since the late 1970s; and, most importantly for Cuban Communist Party leaders, (4) is well on its way to securing diplomatic recognition or, as Raul Castro likes to say, respect, from a long-time political foe.

And yesterday, as expected, Moody’s issued a press release stating that Cuba’s removal from the state sponsors of terror list was “credit positive” and, somewhat inexplicably, rates Cuba Caa2 with a stable outlook. Cuba has also reportedly reached an agreement with the Paris Club on its sovereign debt. The regime is just getting started and when the money and new financing begins to flow (a regional lender has already promised it may lend money), it will virtually guarantee a neo-Communist thugocracy for a few more years. This will make it much more difficult for Cuban resistance leaders to make a difference on the ground and it will afford fugitives from U.S. law, including terrorists, safe haven.

The new U.S.-Cuba reality has afforded the Cuban Communist Party breathing room in Cuba and around the world, especially in the Western Hemisphere. With the state sponsor of terror Scarlett Letter removed, Communist Party leaders have wasted no time making the most of its new found fortune. It was its green light it needed for the neo-communists to consolidate power, scramble to secure investors and financing, crack down on Cuban civil society, and violate human rights with impunity in ways not seen in Cuba in decades. The Russian and Chinese governments also see many new opportunities for mischief in the largest island of the Caribbean.

Contrary to what Cuba’s legions of beltway supporters argue, the mainstay of U.S.-Cuba policy is, as is stated in the law, remains and should be peaceful transition. The sanctions have been extremely effective even if they’ve been enforced half-heartedly by both Republican and Democratic administrations. We have a statutory roadmap in place, with clear benchmarks for Cuba that the President and the Congress are ignoring and, in some cases, using new regulations and attempting to pass new laws that will weaken the existing framework.

What is truly perverse about the last six months is how U.S. interests and values have been forgotten or ignored by the President and the Congress. Americans are owed billions of dollars by the Cuban regime for unlawfully confiscated properties, debt obligations, and recent judgments against Cuban officials for human rights abuses and, yes, murder and torture of Americans. With respect to human rights abuses, we are no longer engaging in the ‘support for the Cuban people’ as the law intended it to be.

Policymakers should put the brakes on the one-sided rapprochement and focus on putting U.S. interests ahead of sound bite politics. And U.S. companies that are allowed to do business in Cuba, should also pitch in by setting new standards of engagement– a voluntary Code of Conduct — that are consistent with U.S. better guarantee worker rights and defend property rights.

RFK Jr. Throws Dead Kennedys Under the Obama-Cuba Bus

kennedys

The title of the piece is “We have so much to learn from Cuba”.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. opens his latest op-ed, this one regarding the Obama administration’s diplomacy-warming of a U.S.-Cuba relationship by embargo change, by putting blame on two of his own relatives…

In early December, President Barack Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than five decades of a misguided policy which my uncle, John F. Kennedy, and my father, Robert F. Kennedy, had been responsible for enforcing after the U.S. embargo against the country was first implemented in October 1960 by the Eisenhower administration.

RFK Jr., I guess, thinks shaking his head and finger at his father and uncle, AND pointing out his privileged visit to the island, solidifies his views that the embargo is broken and must be scrapped, or something. He manages to basically scold the Castro regime for being bad communists.

However, his belief is the U.S. embargo was behind the Cuban government’s reasoning and justification for treating Cuba’s people like starving prisoners and keeping the country’s economy down. Yeah, we made them do it.

It is almost beyond irony that the very same politicians who argued that we should punish Castro for curtailing human rights and mistreating prisoners in Cuban jails elsewhere contend that the United States is justified in mistreating our own prisoners in Cuban jails.

Imagine a U.S. president faced, as Castro was, with over 400 assassination attempts, thousands of episodes of foreign-sponsored sabotage directed at our nation’s people, factories and bridges, a foreign-sponsored invasion and fifty years of economic warfare that has effectively deprived our citizens of basic necessities and strangled our economy.

No, what’s ironic, Bobby Jr., is the conspiracy theory of Castro’s alleged involvement in your POTUS Uncle JFK’s assassination. But, eh…

The Cuban leadership has pointed to the embargo with abundant justification as the reason for economic deprivation in Cuba.

The embargo allows the regime to portray the United States as a bully and itself as the personification of courage, standing up to threats, intimidation and economic warfare by history’s greatest military superpower.

It perpetually reminds the proud Cuban people that our powerful nation, which has staged invasions of their island and plotted for decades to assassinate their leaders and sabotaged their industry, continues an aggressive campaign to ruin their economy.

Yeah, he said that. The same-old same-old claptrap that has been heard for years. Sort of flies in the face(s) of half a century of countless Cubans climbing into dangerous, leaky rafts to sail deadly shark-infested waters to get here to the great Satan … Doesn’t it?

Oh, and I found this one priceless…

Unlike other Caribbean islands where poverty means starvation, all Cubans receive a monthly food ration book that provides for their basic necessities.

But you read and judge.

A week ago A.J. Delgado wrote, “Arguing with idiots about #Cuba”, where she counters many of the anti-embargo talking points liberals, such as RFK Jr., are constantly regurgitating. The fact is Barack Obama’s new age plan for changing diplomacy with Cuba is yet another one of his foreign policy decisions granting trust where trust is not deserved … and is already evident.

#Cuba #SOS Opposition leaders Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez” & Yris Pérez Aguilera violently arrested

antunez

The Castro dictatorship continues violating the human rights of its citizens, and its policy of violence and intimidation against peaceful dissidents.

From The Directorio, (my transalation)

Placetas, Cuba, 11 de June de 2014. Directorio Democrático Cubano. In early hours this morning, 11 de June de 2014, the opposition leaders Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antunez” and his wife Yris Pérez Aguilera, both of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Cívica Orlando Zapata Tamayo, were arrested with violence and their house was raided in the city de Placetas, Villa Clara province.

Continue reading the Directorio press release in Spanish.

A Venezuela update with Fausta Wertz & Luisa Ravelo

We spoke about Venezuela with Fausta Wertz, editor of Fausta’s Blog, & Luisa Ravelo, coordinator of RECIVEX- REsistencia CIvil de Venezolanos en elEXterior (Civil Resistance of Venezuelans Abroad) Dallas Chapter.

 

 

Engagement with Cuba and those “reforms”

Engagement with Cuba, via trade and tourism will create a middle class, which in turn will create the necessary conditions for democracy.

In spite of all evidence to the contrary, that mindset is endlessly espoused within articles and comments about Cuba in the media. It seems entrenched doctrine when it comes to U.S. Cuba relations, and not just among those actively promoting the regimes interests, but also among many well-intentioned but misinformed folks hoping for normalization with Cuba.

Years ago, Val posted a list of things Cubans cannot do in order to illustrate the reality of life for Cuban’s living under the boot heel of state control. With the onslaught of stories heralding all the so-called reforms in recent years, I think it is useful to revisit that list to see what if anything, has really changed in Cuba.

What Cubans Cannot Do
• Travel abroad without government permission – Well, the bigger the scam, the bolder the lie.

• Change jobs without government permission – No change

• Change residence without government permission No changeThe law known as Decree 217 limits the internal freedom of movement of Cubans.

• Access the Internet without government permission (the Internet is closely monitored and controlled by the government. (Only 1.67% of the population has access to the Internet). – Internet access remains under 5%. See Freedom House Report.

• Send their children to a private or religious school (all schools are government run, there are no religious schools in Cuba).- No change

• Watch independent or private radio or TV stations (all TV and radio stations are owned and run by the government). Cubans illegally watch/listen to foreign broadcasts. – No change

• Read books, magazines or newspapers, unless approved/published by the government (all books, magazines and newspapers are published by the government). – No change

• Receive publications from abroad or from visitors (punishable by jail terms under Law 88) – No change

• Visit or stay in tourist hotels, restaurants, and resorts – Poverty is also a method of control, and these still are off-limits to average Cubans striving to survive on state controlled wages.

• Seek employment with foreign companies on the island, unless approved by the government – No change

• Run for public office unless approved by Cuba’s Communist Party – No change

• Own businesses, unless they are very small and approved by the government and pay onerous taxes – No change and he told you so.

• Join an independent labor union (there is only one, government controlled labor union and no individual or collective bargaining is allowed; neither are strikes or protests) – No change

• Retain a lawyer, unless approved by the government – No change

• Choose a physician or hospital. Both are assigned by the government. – No change

• Refuse to participate in mass rallies and demonstrations organized by the Cuban Communist Party. – No change

• Criticize the Castro regime or the Cuban Communist Party, the only party allowed in Cuba. – No change

Draconian laws imposed by the Castro dictatorship prohibits the Cuban people from engaging in foreign commerce, and the Cuban military’s complete control over all tourism to the island is a blockade that prevents the kind of normal tourism and commerce that could result in benefits for the Cuban people.

Some thoughts about Gabriel Garcia-Marquez & Fidel Castro

Victor Triay, author and college professor, joins me for a chat about the Latin American left.   We will also hear from Michael Prada.

We will look at the death of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, the well known author of the Spanish language, who died in Mexico City.

My concern is that Mr Garcia-Marquez is another one of those Latin American intellectuals who loved Fidel Castro more than the Cuban people.  How else do you explain his fascination with Castro?  Why the selective indignation?

 

“Dialogo” without holding Maduro accountable for the deaths is wrong

(This is my new American Thinker post about Venezuela)

There are talks underway in Venezuela, as reported by The Washington Post:

“Venezuelan opposition leaders began a late-night meeting with President Nicolás Maduro and his cabinet Thursday in a possible first step toward ending two months of anti-government protests and street clashes that have left at least 41 dead.

The meeting was broadcast live on Venezuelan television and radio, at the insistence of the opposition, and was attended by mediators from Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and the Vatican. The representative of the Holy See in Venezuela, Aldo Giordano, opened the meeting by reading a written statement from Pope Francis urging both sides to put aside differences and summon the courage to reach an agreement.

Maduro followed, speaking for more than half an hour, and insisted that the encounter was a “dialogue,” not a negotiation. “I’m willing to debate all of the country’s problems,” he said. “But we need to join together in condemning violence as a way to force political change.”

With 11 members of the opposition and 11 members from the government side scheduled to speak, it appeared likely that the meeting would stretch well past midnight. Both sides indicated that future meetings would be required to work out the biggest sticking points between the two sides, especially the fate of jailed protesters. Henrique Capriles, the opposition standard-bearer who narrowly lost to Maduro in last April’s president election, was the most prominent figure on the anti-­government side.

While the encounter allowed opposition leaders an unusually open platform to speak directly to a national audience and the president himself, it was also notable for the absence of the opposition’s more hard-line anti-Maduro wing.

That’s the branch that has been in the streets battling national guardsmen and blocking traffic with flaming barricades, and it may be unwilling to heed any agreements that emerge from the talks with Maduro.

María Corina Machado, the congresswoman who has emerged as the most prominent opposition voice in recent weeks after the arrest of fellow anti-Maduro hard-liner Leopoldo ­López, boycotted the event, saying no meeting with the president should be occurring while protesters and opposition leaders remain in jail.”

I’m OK with a dialogue but the opposition should demand several things:

1) Who will be held responsible for the deaths?  43 people are dead and that is unacceptable.  Who gave the order to shoot people peacefully protesting?

2) When will the government allow a free press and media?  It’s a shame that the world has learned about the atrocities from the people on the streets using social media.  Venezuela must restore the vibrant media that it had years ago.

There are probably other issues but those are my two starting points.

The Maduro administration has lots of blood in its hands and it’s time to demand explanations.

P. S. You can hear my chat with Mr Cazorla in Venezuela here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.

 

Carlos Eire discusses Pres Correa’s visit to Yale University

Like many of you, I woke up Friday morning and read Carlos’ post about President Correa at Yale University.  We discussed that visit and what it means……please click below and listen to the interview:

 

Cuba: Dr. Oscar Biscet brutally beaten, arrested – Updated

biscet

Dr. Oscar Biscet, physician, winner of numerous human rights awards, including the 2008 Presidential Medal of Freedom, was arrested and brutally beaten earlier today.

Just in on Twitter, from Dr. Biscet’s wife Elsa Morejon:


Translation: OscarBiscet was brutally beaten by the political police when they arrested him, I do not know where he is.

Update, good news:

@ElsaMorejon Thanks to God and supportive friends, my husband @OscarBiscet just called from the Infanta Street, says he is on his way home.

Cuban opposition leader Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez” arrested, whereabouts unknown

While Alfy and other morally compromised individuals are busy making deals with the murderous Castro regime, in Cuba, those who disagree and dare to stand up for their human rights suffer violent repression and arrest.

Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez” along with family members were arrested Wednesday. His whereabouts is unknown at this time.

Various posts Twitter:

“Oye compay, que semana”: We talk Cuba with Jorge Ponce!

Jorge Ponce and I looked back at this big “semana” of Cuba news.

It started with the handshake, talk of Dr Gross, calls for lifting the embargo, to more of Alberto’s posts about human rights violations in the island.

Even Elian made the news this week.  Wonder if someone told Elian that his mother died to bring him to the US?

It was quite a week!  We spoke with Jorge Ponce about it.

Listen here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2013/12/14/us-cuba-issues-the-embargo-handshake-and-the-status-of-mr-gross

 

Obam(ACA)re* Looks A Lot Like CastroCare

ObamaCare architect Zeke Emanuel will now explain to you unwashed dolts exactly why you cannot keep that doctor you have been seeing for years and years, and trust with your medical history, (real) healthcare, and life…

Got that, dummies?

1) Because Obama did not say you could have unlimited “choice”. Where the Hell did you get that idea? (That’s just for aborting babies without restrictions.) Sheesh, you people are dumb!

2) Hey, if you really want to keep your doctor you have to pay Obama more, suckers! It’s the Chicago extortion way.

Furthermore, what makes you think you can just check into the country’s top hospitals?

Americans who are buying insurance plans over online exchanges, under what is known as Obamacare, will have limited access to some of the nation’s leading hospitals, including two world-renowned cancer centres.

Amid a drive by insurers to limit costs, the majority of insurance plans being sold on the new healthcare exchanges in New York, Texas, and California, for example, will not offer patients’ access to Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, two top cancer centres, or Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals in the country.

Experts say the move by insurers to limit consumers’ choices and steer them away from hospitals that are considered too expensive, or even “inefficient”, reflects the new competitive landscape in the insurance industry since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare law.

It could become another source of political controversy for the Obama administration next year, when the plans take effect. Frustrated consumers could then begin to realise what is not always evident when buying a product as complicated as healthcare insurance: that their new plans do not cover many facilities or doctors “in network”. In other words, the facilities and doctors are not among the list of approved providers in a certain plan.

Under some US health insurance plans, consumers can elect to visit medical facilities that are “out of network”, but they would probably incur high out of pocket costs and may need referrals to prove that such care is medically necessary.

Cuba here we come…

cuba hospital

MORE:

Dr. Betsy McCaughey @ IBD (who knows this law inside-out): “Another ObamaCare Lie: Protecting Those With Pre-Existing Conditions”

MSNBC host “Prof.” Melissa Harris-Perry equates ‘Obamacare’ with N-word

ObamaCare created a Medicaid time bomb

George Will addressed the coming Medicaid “HEll” that will be exploding very soon.

Previous Posts here and here.

Lies of Obamacare: False choice edition

You’re damn straight we’re talking about Obam(ACA)re … and getting punished for it (here and here).

*FOOTNOTE:

A few weeks back the White House and the MSM decided to “rebrand” ObamaCare by returning to calling it the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in order to deflect Obama’s ownership of the horrifically failing and rapidly-growing opposition to the unpopular law, and his falling approval. So, at that time I decided to begin spelling “ObamaCare” thusly:

Obam(ACA)re

Why? Because it’s STILL in there.