Cuban-American Poet in Havana on August 14th

Marti Quote

The Obama administration asked Richard Blanco, the son of Cuban immigrants, to write a poem for the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in “La Obama,” Cuba, on August 14th, 2015. Blanco, who read his poem “One Today” at President Obama’s second inauguration, indicated that this second request “was the hardest and easiest poem I have had to write.”

It is shameful that Blanco has allowed himself to be manipulated by the Obama administration. Perhaps, Blanco is more interested in himself than in the plight of the Cuban people. Indeed, it is ironic that Secretary Kerry refused to invite Cuban dissidents to the official flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. embassy. It is the Cuban dissidents who deserve to read their poems at this official ceremony.

Blanco should be reminded of the words of Cuban Founding Father José Martí regarding visiting an enslaved Cuba:

“To set foot in the house of the oppressor is to justify the oppression. As long as a people have not conquered its rights, he/she who visits the house of those who trample on his/her rights to party and have a good time is an enemy of the people. “

If President Obama’s goal was to bring the Cuban and the Cuban-American closer together, he has failed miserably. Blanco’s actions have set them apart.

See: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2015/08/13/son-cuban-exiles-says-reciting-poem-at-embassy-opening-is-his-easiest-yet/

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.

The Obama/Holder way: Get Menendez but say nothing about Chesimard

On Tuesday, our friend Alberto de la Cruz posted about the Wall Street Journal editorial on Senator Menendez.

It smells really bad, specially coming after Senator Menendez criticized the Obama administration approach to Iran, Cuba and Ukraine.

On the other hand, the citizens of New Jersey should know that the Obama administration has not been banging the table about Joanne Chesimard, a woman who killed a state trooper years ago.   In fact, the Castro dictatorship has said no:

“Cuba said Monday that it has a right to grant asylum to U.S. fugitives, the clearest sign yet that the communist government has no intention of extraditing America’s most-wanted woman despite the warming of bilateral ties.

Gov. Chris Christie has urged President Barack Obama to demand the return of fugitive Joanne Chesimard before restoring full relations under a historic detente announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro last week.

Chesimard was granted asylum by Fidel Castro after she escaped from the prison where she was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 during a gunbattle after being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Asked if returning fugitives was open to negotiation, Cuba’s head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal, told The Associated Press that “every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted. … That’s a legitimate right.”

“We’ve explained to the U.S. government in the past that there are some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political asylum,” Vidal said.

“There’s no extradition treaty in effect between Cuba and the U.S.,” she added.

In a letter to the White House made public Sunday, Christie said Cuba’s asylum for Chesimard, who has changed her name to Assata Shakur, was “an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice.””

So let’s get Menendez but “silencio” about Chesimard.

Am I the only one who thinks that this is a bit strange?

 

 

‘The ship, the ship’

(My new American Thinker post)

In “Fantasy Island“, the old TV series, Tattoo would look up in the sky and say “The plane, the plane”.   It was an announcement that a plane carrying guests was about to arrive.

In the next round of U.S.-Cuba talks, we will hear someone say “the ship, the ship”, or a reminder that Cuba is still smuggling weapons.    

Click here for the post:

http://cantotalk.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-ship-ship-another-load-of-weapons.html

US-Latin America stories of the week with Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

GUEST:  Fausta Rodriguez Wertz, editor of Fausta’s Blog…

we will react to the speech by the Prime Miniser of Israel’s speech……the growing influence of Iran in Latin America…..more on the death of Mr Nisman in Argentina…..the continuing crisis in Venezuela……Colombia and the FARC……the ship with arms headed to Cuba plus the latest in US-Cuba talks…….click to listen:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2015/03/04/iran-in-latin-america-argentina-plus-other-stories

 

Do Younger Cuban-Americans Think Differently Than Their Parents on Cuba?

Art Linares

There are many out there in fantasy land who justify the Obama/Castro Accord of December 17, 2014, by saying that a majority of Americans – and they put special emphasis on the younger members of the Cuban-American community – support the opening. 

Well, here is a speech by the Cuban-American Connecticut State Senator Art Linares (Republican) on his feelings and aspirations for the homeland of his parents and grandparents. He makes Cuban-Americans and freedom-loving Americans very proud. 

Linares dispels the lies propagated by most media outlets whose main interest is propaganda. When it comes to the restoration of freedom and democracy to Communist Cuba, the majority of the Cuban-American community is of one-mind. This is self-evident not only in the election of Cuban-American congressmen who embrace a hardline on Cuban matters, but in the many Cuban-American households who teach their children that there is price to be paid for democracy. 

Linares succeeded ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily for the 33rd Senate District, and, thus, became the first Republican to hold this seat since 1992.  At age 26, he is one of the youngest state senators in Connecticut history. He co-founded a commercial solar energy company, Greenskies, while majoring in entrepreneurship at the University of Tampa. Middletown-based Greenskies recently scored a $30 million contract to install solar panels at 27 Wal-Mart stores in Massachusetts. 

To listen to State Senator Linares’ speech, click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ngf9XVyjKk&feature=youtu.be

 

The Washington Post “tiene los ojos abierto” when it comes to US-Cuba talks

We are happy to report that the editorial board of The Washington Post continues to call it right when it comes to the ongoing US-Cuba talks.

Their latest editorial about “Courting the Castros” is right on target:

“FOR ALL the high expectations, and deep anxieties, that surround the U.S.-Cuba thaw that President Obama announced two months ago, the reality is that the process is still in its very early days.

The two countries have not agreed even on one of the simpler bilateral issues: opening full-fledgedembassies in each other’s capitals.

Cuban President Raúl Castro sounded an ominous note by hinting that complete normalization might depend on such far-fetched demands as the hand-over of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay or reparations for the U.S. embargo.

U.S. political leaders would be well advised not to succumb to, or foster, exuberance about the transformation in economic relations that might be at hand — much less about the pending transformation of the Cuban regime.

Official contacts must not sugarcoat or lend undeserved legitimacy to a dynastic dictatorship that remains one of the most repressive on the planet.”

The bottom line is that the Obama administration has no idea when it comes to negotiation.

The US had all the cards in these talks.   The US could have said this:

1) Release Allan Gross unconditionally;

2) Show me how you plan to compensate US citizens who had their properties stolen; and,

3) Find me the following people who are fugitives of US law, specially that lady who killed a police officer.

Unfortunately, we did not get anything from Cuba.   Now we have to listen to Raul Castro say that Cuba is not changing.

The good news is that Congress has to approve the opening of an embassy or lifting the embargo.

I don’t believe that the Obama administration has the votes today for either one.

Again, thanks to The Washington Post for reminding us of who we are doing business with in Cuba.

 

What Is President Obama So Mad About?

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-image35802585

President Obama kept the U.S. Congress out of the loop for 18 months during his secret negotiations with Communist Cuban officials. Why is he so upset with Speaker Boehner for bypassing the White House by inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress on March 3, 2015? I will be watching the Israeli Prime Minister on March 3. Kudos to Speaker Boehner for making the right call.

I think that it’s time that someone reminds Obama that he serves as president and not as emperor.

1898: Remember The Maine

On this day in 1898, US and Cuba politics came together because of the “Maine”:

“A massive explosion of unknown origin sinks the battleship USS Maine in Cuba’s Havana harbor, killing 260 of the fewer than 400 American crew members aboard……..

Within three months, the United States had decisively defeated Spanish forces on land and sea, and in August an armistice halted the fighting.

On December 12, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed between the United States and Spain, officially ending the Spanish-American War and granting the United States its first overseas empire with the ceding of such former Spanish possessions as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.”

Cubans finally celebrated independence on May 20, 1902.

 

 

 

 

U.S. Senate Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the New Cuba Policy

On February 3, 2015, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere (chaired by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)) held a hearing entitled: “Understanding the Impact of U.S. Policy Changes on Human Rights and Democracy in Cuba.”

The first panel to testify before the Subcommittee was made up of: Roberta S. Jacobson, (Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State) and Tomasz Malinowski (Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State).

The second panel was made up of: Ms. Rosa Maria Payá (Cuban Christian Liberation Movement and Daughter of Slain Dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas), Ms. Berta Soler (President, Cuban Ladies in White), Ms. Miriam Leiva (Human Rights Activist and Independent Journalist, Havana, Cuba), and Mr. Manuel Cuesta Morúa (Spokesperson for Progressive Arc and Coordinator of New Country, Havana, Cuba).

Among the news that came out at this hearing was an announcement by Mr. Morúa that Cuban human rights activists planned to host parallel summits in Havana and Panama for Cuban-Americans and Cubans to air their visions for a democratic Cuba. He indicated that he had met with Cuban-Americans from Miami, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico. Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela stated recently that the doors “are open” for Cuban dissidents to potentially attend a key forum during the upcoming Summit of the Americas, which will be held in Panama in April 2015.

Another news of interest is the differentiation made by the panelists from the U.S. State Department between “the restoration of diplomatic relations” and the “normalization of relations” between the United States and Communist Cuba.

Ms. Berta Soler was the only member of the second panel that spoke in support of TV and Radio Martí.

According to the State Department’s Malinowski, the Cuban Government has undertaken 140 new detentions of human rights dissidents since December 17, 2014.

Senator Rubio’s questions for the first panel are found in slots 49:51 through 58:46 and slots 1:50:48 through 1:55:30. Senator Menendez’ questions are found in slots 1:14:39 through 1:21:37, and slots 2:01:51 through 2:06:26.

The testimonies of the second panel start at slot 2:11:00, while the question-and-answer session starts at slot 3:12:20.

To listen to the hearing, click on http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/understanding-the-impact-of-us-policy-changes-on-human-rights-and-democracy-in-cuba (Note that the hearing starts at slot 23:50).