‘Disco Duck’ and 1976 want their foreign policy back


(My new American Thinker post)

Let’s go back to October 1976.  The # 1 song in the country was “Disco Duck“.

On a more serious note, the USSR and Cuba were working together to attack the U.S. in Africa and Central America.

It sure feels like 1976 all over again and I am not talking about dancing ducks.

I mean that Russia, the one we used to call the USSR, is now down in Cuba talking to Raul Castro, the one who is running the island after his brother Fidel had to step aside for health reasons.

We learned this week that the Russians are coming back to Cuba. To be fair, Russia is not going to subsidize Cuba the way that the USSR did from 1962 to 1992. At the same time, Russia is looking for an anti-U.S. angle and they found one in Cuba.

This is from Sputnk News via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Speaking to the paper, Vladimir Karjakin, a professor at the Military University of the Russian Defense Ministry of Defense, suggested that reopening the Lourdes SIGINT facility would significantly improve Russian radio intelligence, whose effectiveness is low compared to that of the U.S.

“In its own time, the intelligence center at Lourdes kept virtually the entire Western Hemisphere in its view, monitoring the U.S. at a depth of several thousand kilometers,” the retired Air Force colonel recalled.

We are not suggesting that this is 1962 when the USSR put missiles in the island. It sure looks like the 1970s when Cuba and the USSR worked together to hurt U.S. interests.

So why didn’t we warn Castro and Cuba? Why didn’t we say that the embassy and trade deals would be cancelled if the Russians discussed opening the intelligence center at Lourdes?

I guess that President Obama really wanted to make that Cuba deal. Just like he really wanted to make that Iran deal.

From Cuba to Iran and now Obama Care, the question is the same: How does this help the people of the U.S.? It doesn’t but that’s for # 45 to worry about.

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

Obama helping the Castro regime, again


(My new American Thinker post)

You will soon be able to bring Cuban cigars back to the U.S.

Cheers for Cuban cigars.  I will always remember my father’s stories of visiting his bank clients in the cigar business.  They were some of the hardest-working entrepreneurs in old Cuba.  They sold cigars like H Upman, Partagas, and others that your grandfather probably remembers.

Thumbs down for a U.S. administration participating in the merchandising of products made by workers not allowed to join a labor union.

Remember that all of those Cuban cigars were once rolled by Cubans who worked for private companies and were free to join a union.  All of those companies were also confiscated from the men and women who built them.

Maybe this is why Democrat senator Menendez expressed his outrage about the administration’s latest moves:

Once again, the Administration has it wrong about what’s right for the people of Cuba. Today, the Administration has announced new regulations that blatantly violate the laws of the United States in a legacy-attempt to further normalize relations with Cuba in the next 100 days, supposedly to benefit businesses, but the only beneficiaries of the Administration’s legacy-largesse are the Castros themselves.

Since the announcement of the change in American policy toward Cuba nearly two years ago, the Castro regime has only grown stronger. It has continued its policies of repression, has continued to jail the Ladies in White, has continued to suppress the freedom of expression, and the promotion of anything resembling democracy.

Today’s regulatory economic changes from the White House not only benefit state-owned Cuban businesses and bolster the coffers of the Castro regime, but mark a profound shift away from our own commitment to the rule of law and the processes of democracy as we have always known them.

The new regulations simply and blatantly violate both the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 and the Cuban Liberty and the Libertad Act of 1996, which codified the embargo against Cuba, and indicate that the United States government will now actively ‘authorize contracts and violations currently prohibited by the embargo.

Yes, it’s the law of the land.  It’s a law based on two important principles: respect for property law and concern for the human rights of the Cubans on the island.

Am I the only person who believes that the U.S. should stand for property rights and human rights?

In the meantime, think about it the next time you light up a Cuban cigar.  Maybe your conscience will drive you to get one from Jamaica or the Dominican Republic.  Those two countries are not perfect, but at least their workers are allowed to form unions.

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

1960: Nixon and Kennedy talk Cuba in the debates


We are watching another two presidential candidates debate in 2016.   Let’s go back to 1960 and remember how Cuba was discussed in that debate between Senator Kennedy and VP Nixon.

In the second debate (October 7, 1960), Cuba became a very hot topic, as we remember from this transcript:

“The reporters are: Paul Niven of CBS, Edward P. Morgan of ABC, Alvin Spivak of United Press International, and Harold R. Levy of Newsday.

Now the first question is from Mr. Niven and is for Vice President Nixon.

MR. NIVEN: Mr. Vice President, Senator Kennedy said last night that the Administration must take responsibility for the loss of Cuba. Would you compare the validity of that statement with the validity of your own statements in previous campaigns that the Truman Administration was responsible for the loss of China to the Communists?

MR. NIXON: Well first of all, I don’t agree with Senator Kennedy that Cuba is lost and certainly China was lost when this Administration came into power in 1953. As I look at Cuba today, I believe that we are following the right course, a course which is difficult but a course which under the circumstance is the only proper one which will see that the Cuban people get a chance to realize their aspirations of progress through freedom and that they get that with our cooperation with the other organi- of the states in the Organization of American States. Now Senator Kennedy has made some very strong criticisms of my part – or alleged part – in what has happened in Cuba. He points to the fact that I visited Cuba while Mr. Batista was in power there. I can only point out that if we are going to judge the Administrations in terms of our attitude toward dictators, we’re glad to have a comparison with the previous administration. There were eleven dictators in South America and in Central America when we came in, in 1953. Today there are only three left including the one in Cuba. We think that’s pretty good progress. Senator Kennedy also indicated with regard to Cuba that he thought that I had made a mistake when I was in Cuba in not calling for free elections in that country. Now I’m very surprised that Senator Kennedy, who is on the Foreign Relations Committee, would have made such a statement as this kind. As a matter of fact in his book, The Strategy for Peace, he took the right position. And that position is that the United States has a treaty – a treaty with all of the Organization of American States – which prohibits us from interfering in the internal affairs of any other state and prohibits them as well. For me to have made such a statement would been in direct uh – opposition to that treaty. Now with regard to Cuba, let me make one thing clear. There isn’t any question but that we will defend our rights there. There isn’t any question but that we will defend Guantanamo if it’s attacked. There also isn’t any question but that the free people of Cuba – the people who want to be free – are going to be supported and that they will attain their freedom. No, Cuba is not lost, and I don’t think this kind of defeatist talk by Senator Kennedy helps the situation one bit.

MR. McGEE: Senator Kennedy, would you care to comment?

MR. KENNEDY: In the first place I’ve never suggested that Cuba was lost except for the present. In my speech last night I indicated that I thought that Cuba one day again would be free. Where I’ve been critical of the Administration’s policy, and where I criticized Mr. Nixon, was because in his press conference in Havana in 1955, he praised the competence and stability of the bicta- bict- Batista dictatorship – that dictatorship had killed over twenty thousand Cubans in seven years. Secondly, I did not criticize him for not calling for free elections. What I criticized was the failure of the Administration to use its great influence to persuade the Cuban government to hold free elections, particularly in 1957 and 1958. Thirdly, Arthur Gardner, a Republican Ambassador, Earl Smith, a Republican Ambassador, in succession – both have indicated in the past six weeks that they reported to Washington that Castro was a Marxist, that Raul Castro was a Communist, and that they got no effective results. Instead our aid continued to Batista, which was ineffective; we never were on the side of freedom; we never used our influence when we could have used it most effectively – and today Cuba is lost for freedom. I hope some day it will rise; but I don’t think it will rise if we continue the same policies toward Cuba that we did in recent years, and in fact towards all of Latin America – when we’ve almost ignored the needs of Latin America; we’ve beamed not a single Voice of America program in Spanish to all of Latin America in the last eight years, except for the three months of the Hungarian uh – revolution.”

My father, like many other Cubans, followed this debate with incredible interest.  It was clear by the fall of 1960 that Castro was not going to hold elections or follow up on all of those promises about “pluralism”.

Cubans in the island, and those preparing outside for the liberation of Cuba, must have been very impressed by the comments that they heard in this debate.  It’s obvious that both candidates in 1960 communicated their concern about the communist dictatorship consolidating in the island.

Sadly, it all fell apart 6 months later at The Bay of Pigs!

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

Why Trade With China And Not With Communist Cuba?


Daniel Ruth of the Tampa Bay Times is puzzled with the fact that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is enjoying mai tais on a goodwill/economic development trip with China, while turning his back on Communist Cuba where he could be raising Mojitos and smoking Cohiba cigars. (See http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/ruth-tampa-mayor-courts-china-stiff-arms-cuba/2295156). While the argument seems logical at first glance, it is more complicated when delving deep into the facts.

Every politician is worried about one thing only – getting elected and re-elected. Mayor Buckhorn must be looking at the number of Cubans and Chinese in the Tampa area before taking a stand on the foreign policy that he will embrace. According to data from the 2000 Census, there were 14,674 (4.8%) Cubans versus 724 (0.24%) Chinese in Tampa. Moreover, Florida has a U.S. Senator in Marco Rubio who supports taking a hard-line in the U.S. relations with Communist Cuba. Thus, it seems a safer bet for Mayor Buckhorn to side with the conservative, Cuban community in Tampa.

There are good reasons to trade more openly with China than with Communist Cuba. For starters, it comes down to dollars and cents. The Cuban economy cannot be compared with the Chinese economy where China has become the U.S.’s second-biggest trading partner. China’s market economy has been growing since the mid-1980s – promoting faster market growth and expanding the personal freedom of millions of Chinese. In comparison, the Castro regime has not been willing to liberalize the economy and create a free market economy. Free enterprise continues to be highly restricted, while foreign investors are forced to conduct business with the Castro’s regime.

There are other valid reasons for the U.S. policy on Cuba. Cuban officials have granted “political asylum” to several U.S. criminals like Joanne Chesimard who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper. Moreover, the Cuban Government still has not compensated the $7 billion in today’s dollars it owes to U.S. companies and U.S. citizens for confiscating their properties.

I would hope that the U.S. Government looks after the well-being of its citizens first.

Hillary Clinton and freedom for Cuba

(My new American Thinker post)

Newsweek had a story last week alleging that Trump Inc violated the law in Cuba back in the 1990’s. Naturally, the Clinton campaign has criticized Mr. Trump of violating the law.

Let me be clear that the embargo should be enforced or the law changed. Therefore, I call on Democrats to tell us where they stand with respect to the embargo and Cuba.

My friends at Capitol Hill Cubans have a suggestion for Mrs. Clinton and President Obama:

First of all, it’s great to see Hillary finally recognize that business with Cuba’s regime contradicts U.S. law and values. Moreover, that it flouts and contradicts the national interests of the United States.

She should immediately send a memo to The White House.

More importantly and consistently, Hillary should immediately demand that President Obama fully enforce Cuba sanctions and not allow American business and travelers to flout U.S. law.


Akin to the accusation against Seven Arrows, Hillary should immediately seek OFAC enforcement against all American travelers lying on their affidavits on regularly scheduled flights to Varadero, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Largo, and staying at the Cuban military’s all-inclusive beach resorts. These trips violate U.S. law.

Hillary should seek OFAC enforcement against Starwood Hotels management deal with the Cuban military’s, Gaviota, S.A., which is contrary and inconsistent with U.S. law, traffics in stolen American property and violates international labor law.

Hillary should seek OFAC enforcement against Stonegate Bank and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico for issuing credit cards that provide financing of transactions through stolen properties, which is in direct violation of U.S. law.

Of course, all of this is an issue because Florida is a key swing state and Cubans a major voting bloc. Also, Cubans are the Hispanics who vote…. no turnout problem!

Mrs. Clinton has a major problem with Cuban-Americans because she supports President Obama’s decision to open up Cuba, an opening that has done nothing to improve the people in the island or help the U.S. citizens who had their property stolen by the communist regime.

So let’s come clean on Cuba.

Mr. Trump, to his credit, wants to hold the Cuban regime accountable for its lousy human rights record.

Where is Mrs. Clinton on this? So far she’s dancing around the issue!

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

Cuba and the lessons of socialism

(My new American Thinker post)

Over time, I have learned two lessons about socialism: first, it does not work, and second, some people just don’t want to believe that it does not work.

The story of Cuban communism, or socialism, is a good case in point.

I’ve run into people over the years who praise the Cuban health care system or the so-called improvements in education.

Every time I challenge them, they refer to some report from the Cuban government or something a college professor told them.

It is refreshing to see someone again tackle the myths of Cuba, the self-proclaimed island paradise that is more like an island prison with a couple of bearded brothers sitting on top.

So thumbs up to Vanesa Vallejo, a Colombian economist and columnist:

Almost 60 years later, the results of the Castro dictatorship are appalling. Millions of Cubans have been forced to flee the island. Thousands have died defending their political ideas, while many others have spent decades in prison, or have been persecuted and harassed by Castro’s security services.

In the economics, the picture is no less devastating. The destruction of private property and free trade have had no other effect than to tear down the country’s productivity. And the few areas that look prosperous, such as tourism, only serve to ensure, using foreign currencies, the continuity of the regime’s coercive apparatus.

Castro’s followers insist that the terrible results Cubans face are compensated by an alleged welfare state that guarantees all kinds of social benefits to its citizens. In addition, they say Cuba is a true socialist utopia that, despite the opposition of the “empire,” serves as an example for the rest of Latin America.

To support their opinion, they mention its health and education systems, and even the achievements of its athletes. The blame also falls on the “embargo,” with accusations that the United States prevented the paradise island from being even more idyllic.

One of the challenges of dismantling the myths of “Fidel’s paradise” is the absence of reliable statistics. There is no independent validation for the extraordinary coverage and quality indicators of health on the island, which progressives often use for propaganda.

It would be very naive to believe that in a country where there is no free press, and where people cannot express themselves against the government without going to jail, a serious audit of the figures of the health system are allowed.

The last point is critical.  There is no objective report of any of Cuba’s health care or anything else.  What you get is a summary written by the people who don’t allow you to challenge anything.  There is no free press demanding government documents.  There are no investigative reporters or any other reporters since every one works for the state media.

Change will eventually come to Cuba.  We are off to a rough start because the Obama approach has done nothing but to consolidate the people running everything.  Nevertheless, change will come someday, and the truth of the Castro regime will be revealed.  It will be an embarrassing moment for the many carrying Castro water all of these years.

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

So Raul Castro is now dictating our aviation rules?

(My new American Thinker post)

Let’s add another chapter to the one-sided U.S.-Cuba deal.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has just sent a letter to President Obama demanding a few answers to some rather troubling questions:

During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last week, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Deputy Administrator, Dr. Huban Gowadia, confirmed that there are currently no federal air marshals on commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba.

This admission contradicts earlier claims by your administration that the federal air marshal agreement was finalized and they would be on commercial flights.

Simply put, your administration has been caught in a bold-faced lie that has put American lives at risk.

Who decided that U.S. flights to Cuba would not have carry air marshals?

So why are there any flights? Shouldn’t we tell passengers to Cuba that these flights do not carry an air marshal? Why was this hidden from U.S. citizens flying to the island on the assumption that the aircraft is operating under normal aviation rules? All of this comes after we heard that the U.S. has not vetted Cuban airport workers and security procedures.

Frankly, the whole thing is embarrassing and further evidence that the Obama administration is either totally incompetent or determined to do a deal with Cuba at any cost.

Let’s hope that this topic comes up in the first Clinton-Trump debate.

Mr. Trump is signalling a shift by saying this:

We are also going to stand with the Cuban people in their fight against communist oppression.

The President’s one-sided deal for Cuba benefits only the Castro regime. But all of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next President can reverse them — and that is what I will do, unless the Castro regime meets our demands. Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people.

Let Mrs. Clinton defend the Cuba deal, or at least explain to U.S. voters what she thinks of flights without air marshals or not U.S. vetting of safety procedures at Cuba’s airports. She should also comment on the embargo.

In 2012, Governor Romney lost Florida by 30,000 votes out of 8 million. President Obama never said to Cuban-Americans that he was negotiating to restore relations with the Castro regime. Instead, he took a hard line.

Let’s hear from Mrs. Clinton today now that we know a few things about this U.S.-Cuba deal that were never disclosed in the rush to put an embassy in Havana.

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

Rouhani meets Fidel & Raul


(My new American Thinker post)

We just learned that Iranian President Hassan Rouhan visited Cuba. My guess is that he is not scouting any Cuban pitchers for an upcoming Iranian baseball league.

This is from the Global Times:

Cuban leader Fidel Castro and visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani talked about bilateral cooperation and challenges on Monday, according to a government statement.

“In a fraternal exchange, the distinguished visitor expressed satisfaction with his visit to Cuba and made clear his admiration for the struggle, achievements and assistance of the island to other nations,” said the statement.

The two leaders also discussed the “complexity” of the international situation.

“Fidel and Rouhani agreed on the analysis of food production in a world threatened by climate change, the relentless growth of the world population and dangers that threaten the preservation of peace,” it said.

The pair concluded the friendly meeting with a sincere wish for collaboration between Iranian and Cuban people, it added.

Rouhani met with Castro at the latter’s residence in western Havana prior to a meeting with his brother and President, Raul Castro.

Rouhani arrived in the Cuban capital earlier in the day for a short visit to boost economic cooperation between Tehran and Havana.

He kicked off the visit after participating over the weekend in the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Venezuela.

Admiration  for the struggle, achievements, and assistance of the island to other nations? Wonder if he called for the U.S. to return Gitmo and pay reparations for its isolation of Cuba?

The Rouhani trip comes at an interesting time in U.S.-Iran and U.S.-Cuba relations.

The Iran nuclear deal has emboldened Tehran. Just check out what Iranian boats are doing in the open seas. It looks like the lesson of the Iran nuclear deal is that the U.S. is a paper tiger that will actually pay for the return of hostages. And, will not retaliate when its Navy ships are confronted in international waters.

The U.S.-Cuba relationship is looking more and more like a one way street benefiting the communist regime, even from the Washington Post:

If you think the president’s policy will “empower” the fledgling Cuban private sector, as opposed to the overbearing state, think again. Easy money from expensive visas is a relatively minor example of the regime’s so-far successful efforts to reap direct benefit from the new relationship with the United States.

Even more important is the fact that the Cuban armed forces own the country’s dominant tourism companies, and those firms are expanding their role in anticipation of an American influx.

So Fidel, Raul, and Rouhani are celebrating U.S. weakness. The word is out that President Obama is down to 120 days and it’s time to get whatever you can.

So far, Iran and Cuba are doing just that! Iran gets closer to a nuclear bomb and the Castro regime gets an infusion of U.S. cash that no one was willing to lend to them.

Remember the one about people following the strong horse? A strong horse we are not at this point in the presidency of “hope and change”!

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

Fidel Castro arrived in New York in the middle of the 1960 presidential election



Fidel Castro arrived in New York on this day in 1960:

“In September 1960, Castro led a delegation to New York City to address the United Nations General Assembly. He and his entourage caused an immediate sensation by deciding to stay at the Theresa Hotel in Harlem. While there, Castro met with a number of African-American leaders, including Malcolm X from the Nation of Islam and the poet Langston Hughes.

On September 26, Castro delivered a blistering attack on what he termed American “aggression” and “imperialism.”

For over four hours, Castro lambasted U.S. policy toward Cuba and other nations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The United States, he declared, had “decreed the destruction” of his revolutionary government.

Castro’s visit and lengthy public denunciation marked the final breaking point in relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

In January 1961, the Eisenhower administration severed all diplomatic relations with Cuba.”

Cuba also became a hot topic in the Kennedy-Nixon debates.   Kennedy took a very tough posture toward Castro.

Unfortunately, President Kennedy did not support the men of Brigade 2506 at The Bay of Pigs.   It turned into a huge victory for the Castro regime and the invasion was followed by severe repression against anti-Castro Cubans in the island.

The Missile Crisis followed 18 months later!

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

The Cuba deal was about Obama, not to benefit the US or the Cuban people


It was about 22 months ago that President Obama announced a change in US policy toward Cuba.    What do we have for reversing the policy of every president, from John Kennedy to George W Bush?

What did US citizens get out of this?

Will they be compensated for the millions of dollars that the regime stole?    It is estimated at $ 7 billion!   So far the answer is no!

Or will Castro be forced to return the killer of a New Jersey state trooper enjoying life in the island for almost 2 decades?   So far the answer is that they are talking about it!

What did the Cuban people get?  So far nothing!   It’s the same old repression and torture that they’ve had since this corrupt regime took over and destroyed the island.

Indeed, some Americans will get to travel to Cuba and enrich the Castro family.       Overall, this does not look like a good deal for anyone who loves freedom.

The best explanation is at the editorial page of The Washington Post:

If you think the president’s policy will “empower” the fledgling Cuban private sector, as opposed to the overbearing state, think again. Easy money from expensive visas is a relatively minor example of the regime’s so-far successful efforts to reap direct benefit from the new relationship with the United States. Even more important is the fact that the Cuban armed forces own the country’s dominant tourism companies, and those firms are expanding their role in anticipation of an American influx.

Who has benefited?

First, President Obama now has a post presidency story that he can tell anti-US audiences around the world.     He can say that he ended wars, signed a nuclear deal with Iran, closed GITMO and opened relations with Cuba.  It will bring anti-US audiences to their feet but won’t do much to help the US.

Second, the Castro brothers can now remind the world that President Obama is as weak as they come.   In other words, they got everything they wanted without having to make concessions.

What about the Cuban people?   They are now ruled by a dictator who just got a cash infusion from the Obama policy.

What a disgrace like so much of the Obama foreign policy.

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