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.

While in Florida Paul Ryan Stresses His Stance on Cuba

You can read the full report for Ryan’s comments on Medicare and the future of NASA here

During his interview with FLDemocracy, Ryan sought to reassure Cuban-Americans in South Florida that despite voting to lift the embargo against Cuba in 2001 and 2004, he has since changed his position on the issue.

Ryan, who opposed a measure that would have weakened the embargo in 2007, said he and Romney would maintain a hardline against the Communist regime.

Ryan pointed to his friendship with some of Florida’s most prominent Cuban-Americans as evidence of his commitment to seeing an end to the Castro regime.

“One of my best friends in Congress is Mario Diaz-Balart. I’m also good friends with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. And, I’ve had some great meetings with them — briefings from them — over the last number of years about how important it is to make sure we stare down the Castro regime and we do nothing that helps embolden the Castro regime.”

During an appearance on Miami’s Radio Mambí last week, Romney explained that Ryan changed his position on the embargo after meeting with Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen.

Says He Would Have Backed Rubio’s Immigration Plan

Ryan, who voted against the Obama-backed DREAM Act and has opposed amnesty for most illegal immigrants, said he supported — but hadn’t endorsed — the immigration reform efforts of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

“I’ve been impressed with Marco Rubio’s leadership on this issue,” he said. “Marco Rubio was on the cusp of introducing the bipartisan solution to immigration problems. President Obama preempted that with what many people think is an unconstitutional move and denied the ability to have a bipartisan solution to these legitimate immigration issues that we have to solve.”

Today in Cuba News: Boxing, Jubans and radio censorship

Britain’s Stalker, Cuba’s La Cruz suffer shock defeats in Olympic boxing quarterfinals
Yamaguchi Falcao of Brazil also upset top-seeded Cuban light heavyweight Julio La Cruz 18-15 in an eventful final day of quarterfinal bouts.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/upset-central-britains-stalker-cubas-la-cruz-stunned-in-last-olympic-boxing-quarterfinals/2012/08/08/b3f527f8-e1ad-11e1-89f7-76e23a982d06_story.html
Cuba says tourism income up 12.8 percent in 2011
In an undated report posted recently on its website, the National Office of Statistics said tourism income was $2.5 billion in 2011, compared with $2.2 billion the previous year.
In all, the island hosted 2.7 million visitors, up 7 percent from 2.5 million in 2010.
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-09/cuba-says-tourism-income-up-12-dot-8-percent-in-2011
Cuban pole vaulter snaps pole at Olympics
Borges had his pole break in half while he was beginning his ascent into the air in the Olympic pole vault final, sending fiberglass flying in different directions. Luckily, he was OK and not injured.
http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/56910532?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7COlympic%20Sports%7Cs
Injury forces Cuba’s Robles out of 110m hurdles final
Robles, the defender of the title obtained in Beijing four years ago and the fastest in the world for the event with a time of 12.87 seconds, could not retain the crown due to an injury in his right thigh that forced him to stop after the fifth hurdle.
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/sports/2012/08/08/injury-forces-cuba-robles-out-110m-hurdles-final/
Cuba lifts radio ban on Anti-Castro artists
Though the Communist authorities do not acknowledge it, for five decades state radio stations have blacklisted musicians who abandoned Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution and/or spoke out against it, the BBC reports. Now, that may be changing.
http://rbr.com/cuba-lifts-radio-ban-on-anti-castro-artists/
Foreign business in Cuba: Beware the dangerous embrace
So a strange incongruity exists in Cuba today: Havana is bending over backwards to attract foreign currency at the same time it is imprisoning some of its biggest Western investors. For all Cuba’s reforms, this Castro appears to be as intent on maintaining an iron grip on the country as the last one.
http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/08/08/cuba-risky-business/
Navigating humanitarian deliveries to Cuba is tricky for Miami terminal operator
International Port Corp., which offers maritime service from the Miami River to Cuba, is finding the Cuban government is picky about which items it will accept in humanitarian shipments. New Cuban Customs fees could also complicate the business.
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/07/2940671/navigating-humanitarian-deliveries.html
Summer Nights: Cuban ‘Jubans’ In South Sudan
In Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, there’s a small corner of Havana. A number of Jubans who studied in Cuba have tried to recreate some of the atmosphere of the Caribbean island in their southern Sudanese homeland.
http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/158448841/summer-nights-cuban-jubans-in-south-sudan

NEWS

Britain’s Stalker, Cuba’s La Cruz suffer shock defeats in Olympic boxing quarterfinals

Yamaguchi Falcao of Brazil also upset top-seeded Cuban light heavyweight Julio La Cruz 18-15 in an eventful final day of quarterfinal bouts.

Cuba says tourism income up 12.8 percent in 2011

In an undated report posted recently on its website, the National Office of Statistics said tourism income was $2.5 billion in 2011, compared with $2.2 billion the previous year.

In all, the island hosted 2.7 million visitors, up 7 percent from 2.5 million in 2010.

Cuban pole vaulter snaps pole at Olympics

Borges had his pole break in half while he was beginning his ascent into the air in the Olympic pole vault final, sending fiberglass flying in different directions. Luckily, he was OK and not injured.

Injury forces Cuba’s Robles out of 110m hurdles final

Robles, the defender of the title obtained in Beijing four years ago and the fastest in the world for the event with a time of 12.87 seconds, could not retain the crown due to an injury in his right thigh that forced him to stop after the fifth hurdle.

Cuba lifts radio ban on Anti-Castro artists

Though the Communist authorities do not acknowledge it, for five decades state radio stations have blacklisted musicians who abandoned Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution and/or spoke out against it, the BBC reports. Now, that may be changing.

Navigating humanitarian deliveries to Cuba is tricky for Miami terminal operator

International Port Corp., which offers maritime service from the Miami River to Cuba, is finding the Cuban government is picky about which items it will accept in humanitarian shipments. New Cuban Customs fees could also complicate the business.

Summer Nights: Cuban ‘Jubans’ In South Sudan

In Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, there’s a small corner of Havana. A number of Jubans who studied in Cuba have tried to recreate some of the atmosphere of the Caribbean island in their southern Sudanese homeland.

OPINION

Foreign business in Cuba: Beware the dangerous embrace

So a strange incongruity exists in Cuba today: Havana is bending over backwards to attract foreign currency at the same time it is imprisoning some of its biggest Western investors. For all Cuba’s reforms, this Castro appears to be as intent on maintaining an iron grip on the country as the last one.

Today in Cuba news: Alan Gross wants ribs, a Cuban wrestler becomes a legend, Yoani remembers el maleconazo

NEWS

Olympic triathlete Manny Huerta lives immigrant’s dream

He was born in Havana and speaks with a Cuban accent, but he is an American at heart and was proud to march with the U.S. team in in the opening ceremony.

American man in prison in Cuba dreams of freedom, going to Cuban baseball game, eating ribs

Bonnie Rubinstein, the sister of Cuban prisoner Alan Gross, was in Washington Monday for a weekly demonstration in front of Cuba’s equivalent of an embassy.

In an interview afterward, she said her 63-year-old brother is a Washington Redskins football fan who has grown interested in Cuban baseball because his jailors watch games.

Cuba’s Mijain Lopez repeats as Olympic champion

Lopez is the third wrestler to win multiple golds at 120 kilograms, joining Russian legend Alexandre Karelin and Alexander Koltschinkski of the former Soviet Union.

Opinion

Heartbreak in Havana

The Suspicious Death of Catholic Lay Leader Oswaldo Paya and a Vibrant Young Colleague

Cuba: 18 Years After a Short-Lived Uprising (by Yoani Sanchez)

But on the morning of August 5 of that year, the Malecón became a battlefield. Around the ferry dock to Regla people were gathering, encouraged by the hijackings of several boats throughout the summer. An extended sensation of the end, of chaos, of “zero hour” was palpable in the atmosphere.

RELEASES

From Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: As A Dozen Former U.S. Foreign Policy Makers Endorse Document Rejecting Commercial Ties With Cuba While Castros Remain In Power, Ros-Lehtinen Congratulates Them For Putting Freedom First

(see the release below the fold)

Read more

The weekend in Cuba news: Cheesehead wrestler, migration spike, judo gold

NEWS
Wisconsin wrestler to face Cuban opponent in opener
Olympic wrestler Ben Provisor drew the No. 17 spot and will face Alexi Bel of Cuba in the opening round of the Greco-Roman 74-kilogram weight class at the ExCeL Arena on Sunday.
http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/165021846.html#!page=0&pageSize=10&sort=newestfirst
Cuban emigrant interdictions skyrocket
The number of Cubans being stopped at sea before entering the United States is the highest it’s been in almost five years, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.
http://www.keysnet.com/2012/08/04/468813/cuban-emigrant-interdictions-skyrocket.html
Cuban Ortiz wins women’s heavyweight gold
Cuba’s Idalys Ortiz improved on her bronze medal of four years ago to win the women’s Olympic heavyweight judo title on Friday, ending the title holder’s five year unbeaten run in the process.
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-03/sports/sns-rt-us-oly-judo-juw79kbre8721de-20120803_1_78kg-category-judo-heavyweight-gold
Key political risks to watch in Cuba
Cuba is moving along with reforms aimed at boosting its economy, but has also laid out new taxes that angered many and pose a threat to the growth of small businesses critical to the government’s economic plans.
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/03/cuba-risks-idINRISKCU20120803
OPINION
It’s up to Cuban-Americans to save Hispanics from las mentiras, or the lies of the Dem left.
Ted Cruz’s victory in Texas, as well as the success of Marco Rubio, put Cuban-Americans on the front page of American politics.  These wins also give us an opportunity to craft a message to Hispanics — a message that emphasizes individual freedom, self-reliance, a skepticism of the state, and the value of family in our culture.
We hear it over and over again that Cuban-Americans are different.  We are often called the “other” Hispanics.  The media calls us “reactionaries” or “right-wingers” or makes fun of our disdain for communism.
http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/08/its_up_to_cuban-americans_to_save_hispanics_from_las_mentiras_or_the_lies_of_the_dem_left.html
Guest Commentary: Time for U.S. to end the Cuban embargo
Most folks don’t know it, but there is now a legal way for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. It is called the People to People Program, and it is available through a select number of U.S. travel groups. Among them are the Grand Circle Foundation, ElderTreks, Friendly Planet, and National Geographic Expeditions.
http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_21221143/guest-commentary-time-u-s-end-cuban-embargo
HISTORY
Ocala Rifles head off to war in Cuba
The saga of F.D. Pooser, the former county tax collector who resigned after being denounced by a Marion County grand jury for failure to collect taxes and for shortages in his collections, wasn’t quite over by the end of 1897.
http://www.ocala.com/article/20120805/COLUMNISTS/120809878

NEWS

Wisconsin wrestler to face Cuban opponent in opener

Olympic wrestler Ben Provisor drew the No. 17 spot and will face Alexi Bel of Cuba in the opening round of the Greco-Roman 74-kilogram weight class at the ExCeL Arena on Sunday.

Cuban emigrant interdictions skyrocket

The number of Cubans being stopped at sea before entering the United States is the highest it’s been in almost five years, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.

Cuban Ortiz wins women’s heavyweight gold

Cuba’s Idalys Ortiz improved on her bronze medal of four years ago to win the women’s Olympic heavyweight judo title on Friday, ending the title holder’s five year unbeaten run in the process.

Key political risks to watch in Cuba

Cuba is moving along with reforms aimed at boosting its economy, but has also laid out new taxes that angered many and pose a threat to the growth of small businesses critical to the government’s economic plans.

OPINION

It’s up to Cuban-Americans to save Hispanics from las mentiras, or the lies of the Dem left.

Ted Cruz’s victory in Texas, as well as the success of Marco Rubio, put Cuban-Americans on the front page of American politics.  These wins also give us an opportunity to craft a message to Hispanics — a message that emphasizes individual freedom, self-reliance, a skepticism of the state, and the value of family in our culture.

We hear it over and over again that Cuban-Americans are different.  We are often called the “other” Hispanics.  The media calls us “reactionaries” or “right-wingers” or makes fun of our disdain for communism.

Guest Commentary: Time for U.S. to end the Cuban embargo

Most folks don’t know it, but there is now a legal way for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. It is called the People to People Program, and it is available through a select number of U.S. travel groups. Among them are the Grand Circle Foundation, ElderTreks, Friendly Planet, and National Geographic Expeditions.

HISTORY

Ocala Rifles head off to war in Cuba

In Marion County, the focus in early 1898 was on the revolution taking place in Cuba. Most of the Cubans who had populated Marti City, the cigar manufacturing district in West Ocala, were gone. They had moved to Ybor City at Tampa, where they had been promised more than Ocala could ever offer, to continue making cigars and continue fundraising drives to assist the Cuban rebels.

JFK and The Cuban Cigar Crisis

JFK smokin

Talk about insider trading, huh? JFK got his before he slammed the door shut with the Cuba embargo…

President John F Kennedy ordered an aide to buy him as many Cuban cigars as he could just hours before he authorised the U.S. trade embargo – which subsequently made them illegal.

Kennedy asked his head of press and fellow cigar smoker Pierre Salinger to obtain ‘1,000 Petit Upmanns’ on February 6, 1962, so he could have them in his hands before they were deemed contraband.

Then, seconds after he was told the next morning that 1,200 of Cuba’s finest export had been bought for him, he signed the decree to ban all of the communist state’s products from the U.S.

The re-surfacing of the story, initially recounted by Salinger to Cigar Aficionado magazine in 1992, comes with the passing of the 50th anniversary of the embargo yesterday.
JFK, he said, called him into his office and said he needed ‘some help’ to find ‘a lot of cigars’. He wanted ‘1,000 Petit Upmanns’ and needed them by ‘tomorrow morning’.
Salinger added: ‘I walked out of the office wondering if I would succeed. But since I was a solid Cuban cigar smoker, I knew a lot of stores. I worked on the problem into the evening.

‘The next morning, I walked into my White House office at about 8am, and the direct line from the President’s office was already ringing. He asked me to come in immediately.
‘How did you do Pierre?’ he asked, as I walked through the door. ‘Very well,’ I answered. In fact, I’d gotten 1,200 cigars. Kennedy smiled, and opened up his desk.
‘He took out a long paper which he immediately signed. It was the decree banning all Cuban products from the United States. Cuban cigars were now illegal in our country.’

Read more…

I guess Jack wanted to make certain to have plenty on hand with a lovely 19 year old intern around the Oval Office.

Cuba’s Baseball Pickle

antonio-castro

Wow! Must really suck having your best ballplayers defect to other countries so that they can actually be paid for busting their asses to perfect their skills and talent on the diamond … and count their professional contract and paycheck as their own in a professional league as free men in a free market system. It also must suck finally realizing Communism fails as an economy (among other things), but the government simply just can’t let go of its people so that they can strike out on their own and become successful and productive businessmen and workers in order to build an economy that works. Also sucks, despite the belly-aching of the left in America, that the US embargo on Cuba still hangs on and Cuba can’t “farm-out” its brightest baseball players as exported slaves to the USA in the MLB so they can send home those big professional American bucks for the commie castro coffers …

[…]

Over the last two years, major league teams have spent more than $75 million on Cuban defectors for whom a life with new cars and sparkling jewelry and freedom was too much to ignore. Nearly half the sum went to Aroldis Chapman, who in his first season with the Cincinnati Reds threw the fastest recorded pitch in history and showcased the highest-end talent available in Cuba.

Chapman’s defection, along with that of shortstops Jose Iglesias (Boston signed him for $8.2 million) and Adeiny Hechavarria (Toronto signed him for $10 million), has compelled Cuba to reconsider its policy on restricting players from plying their trade professionally elsewhere. The Baseball Federation of Cuba, headed by Fidel Castro’s son Tony, is discussing a plan that would allow baseball players to leave the country in exchange for a proportion of their salary going to Cuba, according to two sources familiar with the proposal.

Ideally, one source said, Cuba would send players to the major leagues and circumvent the spate of defections that have embarrassed the country. Such a plan, the source said, is currently a non-starter. Though MLB would welcome Cuban players, the arrangement would in effect pay the Cuban government for players, a violation of the United States’ 50-year-long embargo on Cuba. That is unlikely to thaw for baseball. While the U.S. government has allowed Cuba to play in both World Baseball Classics, Cuban players were the only ones not given the prize money handed out by the International Baseball Federation.

For now, the idea is for Cubans to go to Japan, South Korea, Mexico or Europe, like doctors and entertainers who make money elsewhere, then return home eventually. Because of working agreements with the first three countries, MLB would not take defectors from them. And baseball in Europe is played at a significantly lower quality and salary, likely keeping the top-end Cuban talent from playing in the Netherlands or Italy.

Accordingly, the defections probably will continue unabated. In November, Yasiel Balaguer, a 17-year-old on the Cuban Junior National team, defected to Nicaragua. Whether Balaguer is anything more than a marginal talent seems not to matter, as MLB teams’ intrigue with Cuban players continues despite the deep risk involved with their signings. Eleven Cuban players made major league debuts in the last three seasons and 35 have done so since 1995.

[…]

Even if they’re busts, there have been enough Cuban successes in the major leagues to feed the defecting marketplace. The Angels’ Kendry Morales is among the best hitters and the White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez is among the best-fielding shortstops in the American League. Shortstop Yunel Escobar is poised for a breakout season with Toronto, and pitcher Yunesky Maya joins Washington’s rotation this season, and outfielder/first baseman Leslie Anderson could crack Tampa Bay’s opening day roster.

Despite the dozens of players who have left over the past two years, Cuba remains No. 1 in IBAF rankings. Major league teams still covet Frederich Cepeda and Yulieski Gourriel and Alfredo Despaigne and even Lazo, who, at 37 and sporting a paunch, can fire fastballs and forkballs like his old teammate in Pinar Del Rio. […]

What Embargo? It’s Christmas in Havana

Christmas in Havana
(In this Dec. 16, 2010 photo, Wilfredo Martinez Jr. of Miami writes the word ‘Fragile’ on a television set he is taking on his flight to Cuba at Miami … More photos @ AP including worship at the Shrine of Saint Lazarus 2010)

r3777047611

Cuban-Americans visiting Cuba are hauling in the mother lode of goods …

HAVANA – In Cuba, Santa’s sleigh is a Boeing 737.

Thousands of Cuban-Americans are heading to Havana this holiday season carrying everything from electronics and medicine to clothing and toiletries to help relatives back home supplement monthly salaries averaging about $20.

Not only are Cuban-Americans visiting the island in far greater numbers since President Barack Obama lifted travel restrictions last year, they are bringing more stuff. One carrier says the average bag weight per passenger is up 55 percent — and many Miami-Havana flights are shadowed by a separate cargo plane just to haul the load.

“They bring you things for the family,” said Paulo Roman Garcia, a 45-year-old Havana native who makes $9.50 a month selling fruit at a market in the city’s historic quarter.

Roman Garcia was looking forward to a visit in the New Year from his older brother, who lives in New Jersey and will be coming down with stocking-stuffers such as clothing and treats, as well as big-ticket items including a stereo.

“My son has asthma, and he’s bringing inhalers for his asthma,” Roman Garcia said. “Medicines are very important. Some don’t exist here, or they’re hard to find.”

During the administration of former President George W. Bush, Cuban-Americans were allowed to visit only once every three years and were limited to $100 a month in remittances. Those restrictions ended in April 2009, although most non-Cuban Americans are still barred from traveling to the island.

Cuba watchers and charter flight operators say travel between the United States and Cuba skyrocketed after the change and continues to climb steadily.

“About 1,000 visitors are arriving a day from the U.S., and they expect somewhere close to 400,000 by the end of the year,” said Kirby Jones, president of Alamar Associates of Bethesda, Maryland, a consulting firm that works with American companies looking to do business with Cuba.

“The U.S. is now sending the second-most visitors to Cuba than any other country,” after Canada, Jones said.

The great majority are of Cuban heritage, and the rest are non-Cuban Americans traveling for officially sanctioned activities such as academic, cultural and sports exchanges. The figure does not include the small but growing number of Americans who sidestep the travel ban by flying in through Canada, Mexico or other countries, risking a stiff U.S. fine if they are caught.

Traffic is even greater during the busy holiday season, when charters add additional flights that quickly fill up. Miami airport officials said 55 flights are scheduled to depart to four Cuban cities this weekend, among the heaviest travel days leading up to Christmas.

At Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport, Cubans crowded up against a low metal fence last week, straining to watch for loved ones as they emerged from customs pushing carts piled high with shrink-wrapped luggage, kitchen appliances, televisions, stuffed animals and cardboard boxes bursting at the seams. (Read in full)

Best Line Ever From A Flick Fits Perfectly Here

Yes, the entire 2:21 clip from The Thing fits perfectly as a metaphor for what follows below … God help us:

The Obama administration got a new “shellacking” this morning, this one entirely voluntary. In the name of improving America’s image abroad, it sent three top officials from the State Department to Geneva’s U.N. Human Rights Council to be questioned about America’s human rights record by the likes of Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.

This was the first so-called “universal periodic review” of human rights in the U.S. by the Council, which the Obama administration decided to join in 2009.

The move represents a striking departure from prior American foreign policy, which has been to ratify selected human rights treaties after due consideration and submit American policy-makers to recommendations based on well-conceived standards accepted by the United States.

But in the three-hour inquisition which took place this morning, Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor responded with “thanks to very many of the delegations for thoughtful comments and suggestions” shortly after Cuba said the U.S. blockade of Cuba was a “crime of genocide,” Iran “condemned and expressed its deep concern over the situation of human rights” in the United States, and North Korea said it was “concerned by systematic widespread violations committed by the United States at home and abroad.”

According to the Council’s procedure, all U.N. members are given carte blanche to comment and make recommendations to the state in the docket. But since only three hours are allotted per state, the practice has emerged of allowing approximately only the first sixty to speak.

This morning fifty-six countries lined-up for the opportunity to have at the U.S. representatives, many standing in line overnight a day ago in order to be near the top of the list. Making it to the head of the line were Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and North Korea.

Recommendations to improve the U.S. human rights record included Cuba’s advice to end “violations against migrants and mentally ill persons” and “ensure the right to food and health.”

Iran – currently poised to stone an Iranian woman for adultery – told the U.S. “effectively to combat violence against women.”

North Korea – which systematically starves a captive population – told the U.S. “to address inequalities in housing, employment and education” and “prohibit brutality…by law enforcement officials.”

Libya complained about U.S. “racism, racial discrimination and intolerance.”

In response to the many Guantanamo-related criticisms, the State Department’s top legal adviser, Harold Koh, blamed the failure to close the facility on others: “President Obama cannot close Guantanamo alone. That also involves our allies, the courts, and our Congress.”

The U.S. delegation was at pains to impress the international crowd. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organizations, told the assembled: “it is an honor to be in this chamber.”

She was referring to the meeting place of the U.N. Human Rights Council – the new and improved lead U.N. human rights body created by the General Assembly in 2006 over the negative vote cast by the United States. In this very chamber the Council has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 UN member states combined. Calling the chamber home, for instance, are Council members Libya, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China.

The Obama administration has until Tuesday to decide if it accepts or rejects the recommendations. The whole list of criticisms and recommendations, as well as the U.S. response, will be put together in a document distributed globally by the U.N. for the future edification of America-bashers around the world.

Administration officials are attempting to spin the exercise as one of justifiable and cathartic mea culpa on the world stage. But the impression they really left was one of moral and cultural relativism in which American leadership has been squandered to the detriment of victims suffering egregious human rights violations worldwide.

I … have really had enough.

Let The U.S. Dollars Flow

cuba1

AFP: Cuba to allow first US dollar home rentals in 50 years

Cuba is to allow some houses to be rented in US dollars for the first time in 50 years as well as the opening up of small businesses as it seeks to shed 500,000 public jobs, state media said Friday.

“From October, the ban on renting accommodation in the Cuban convertible peso (equivalent to the dollar) will be lifted,” the daily Granma said.

The move will apply to “people who have permission to live abroad, or those who live in Cuba, and leave the country for more than three months,” the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist party said.

Those people will also be allowed to rent out their cars, it added.

Cuba has been under a US economic embargo for almost five decades. And the communist authorities only permit those Cubans who are married to foreigners or who have work contracts abroad to leave the island and return when they want.

Those people who have been given state housing since 2001 or who have carried out repairs on their homes will also be allowed to rent them, but with time limits.

Cuba is preparing to embrace the free market the hard way by laying off hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in the next six months.

Cuba’s main labor organization said Monday it expected 500,000 jobs to be eliminated from the public sector by March 2011 “along with a parallel increase in the non state sector.”

Our Cuban Neighbors Deserve Human Rights

Let me count the ways  money hungry anti-embargo activists can say Human Rights for Cubans do not matter. Brig. Gen. John Adams and David Jones are pigs.

From Capitol Hill Cubans:

How About Reconciling With Hitler’s Germany?

In today’s Roll Call, retired Brig. Gen. John Adams and David Jones, a former fundraiser for Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York and now lobbyist for Vigilant Worldwide — whose clients seek to do business with Cuba’s dictatorship — argue in favor of unilaterally lifting sanctions towards the Castro regime.

However, they do so by making the following odd analogy:

U.S. reconciliation with Germany took about a decade after that terrible war introduced words such as “genocide” and “Holocaust” into the global vocabulary and claimed the lives of more than 400,000 U.S. military personnel.

By helping Germany transition from occupation to sovereignty, we kept the peace in Europe and established a beachhead against expansionary communism that ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and reunification of the two Germanys just one year later.

U.S. reconciliation with Vietnam took 20 years after Americans were stunned by news footage of men and women clinging to helicopters making their flight to freedom from rooftops in Saigon. In an act of political foresight, President Bill Clinton, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and then-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) skillfully navigated the emotional wreckage left by that war and its 58,000-plus U.S. casualties and restored diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1995.

This not only produced an invaluable economic and diplomatic presence for our nation in Southeast Asia, but enabled Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to visit Hanoi in July to commemorate the 15th anniversary of normalization and to express our concern about the human rights record of our former adversary on its own soil.

If we can reconcile with Germany and Vietnam, why not with our neighbor Cuba?

Let’s help them put their concern to rest.

Undoubtedly, the U.S. should (and will) quickly reconcile with a post-Castro democratic Cuba, as it did with a post-Hitler democratic Germany.

However, they should ask themselves the inverse question:

Should the U.S. have reconciled with Hitler’s Germany?

Of course not.

As for Vietnam, despite Secretary Clinton’s commendable remarks regarding that regime’s human rights atrocities, our policy of unfettered business ties has done nothing to improve the plight of Vietnam’s courageous pro-democracy movement — to the contrary, it has helped condemn it to secondary obscurity.

We believe our Cuban neighbors deserve better.

The big con

 The first thing that caught my eye in today’s Cuba news feed is a speculative article about Hillary Clinton traveling to Cuba to help gain the release of Alan Gross. You can bet this rumor is just a tickler put out to ensure that when the actual event takes place it will have the correct “buzz,” and you know the MSM will make certain that it does.   So there you have it folks, the final act in this years big con.

One thing about  the old cadaver, he’s possibly the best grifter ever.  Why he’s got his victims working overtime to hand over the cash.  I know it’s a given that con men can always count on greed to help them along, but this is, as Humberto would say “unbelievable.”

The team:  Ortega and the Catholic Church, the Spanish Government, the U.S. Government, the official so-called Cuba Experts, and the MSM.

 The pawns:  54 Cuban “dissidents”, the official political prisoners, and Alan Gross.

 The mark:  The U.S., and the European Union.

 The job:  An end to U.S. trade sanctions and billions of dollars to castro inc.

Collateral damage: The Cuban people, and the suffering is incalculable as they face a future of brutal enslavement without even the appearance of an ally.

 The grifter’s only adversary, the marginalized Cuban exiles; they exposed the con at each step of the game, and predicted the payoff, but I doubt they have the power to stop it.

 It’s a hell of a world we live in friends.

The rumor is here.

A Fourth of July message about Cuban-American hardliners

I do not support dialog with, negotiation with, or any action that aids or appeases the castro regime. I personally do not knowingly engage in any activity that supports or finances the dictatorship. I do not travel to Cuba, I do not spend money on movies, music, art, or attend concerts or cultural events that benefit the dictator.  I believe that to do otherwise would make me complicit with a mass-murdering monster responsible for the enslavement and exile of the Cuban people, and the destruction of their homeland. As a patriotic American, this is the only morally correct position when dealing with tyrants.

The following post from Capitol Hill Cubans absolutely nails it:

On the eve of July 4th — and with all the high-flying rhetoric resulting from the recently intensified debate on U.S.-Cuba policy — we thought it would be appropriate to reproduce the following opinion editorial:

Are Cuban-Americans “Hard-Liners”?

by Mauricio Claver-Carone
The Washington Times
May 21, 2008

The nation’s mainstream media and political pundits rarely miss an opportunity to attach the label of “hard-liner” to Cuban-American critics of the dictatorship.

That begs a question: Are Cuban-Americans fairly labeled as “hard-liners”?

Indisputably, the Cuban-American community has maintained its uncompromising support for complete political freedom and democracy in Cuba. Cuban-Americans have consistently and ardently opposed any political or commercial engagement with Cuba’s regime until it meets conditions set out in the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act passed by Congress in 1996. Those essentially are: Immediate release of all political prisoners; recognition and respect for fundamental human rights set out by international accords; and legalization of opposition political parties, an independent news media and independent labor unions.

HBO’s popular new TV series, “John Adams,” about our nation’s Founding Father and second president, offers some significant historical perspectives on what “hard-liners” can achieve.

The enlightened and inspiring debates of the Second Continental Congress of 1775 included the likes of such “hard-liners” and “radicals” — as some historians now refer to them — as John Adams of Massachusetts and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Adams and Jefferson, who became our third president, adamantly rejected all negotiations with the British monarch until the God-given freedoms of the American people were fully recognized.

Those early debates also provide some perspective about the “moderates” of the time, such as John Dickinson of Pennsylvania and John Rutledge of South Carolina. They advocated dialogue and reconciliation as embodied in the “Olive Branch Petition” — also known as the “Humble Petition” — to King George III. The petition sought only limited economic and political concessions, rather than absolute emancipation. The British monarch’s rejection of the petition allowed the “hard-line” views of Mr. Adams to prevail and led directly to the democratic underpinnings of this great society.

During the course of the American independence movement, a “hard-line” approach also developed and became the basis for the 19th Century abolitionist movement that sought the immediate and absolute emancipation of all slaves. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who founded the abolitionist periodical “The Liberator” in 1839, was white and drew upon his deeply religious convictions. Frederick Douglass, who founded “North Star” in 1847 was a former slave, who drew upon personal tragedy and a lifetime of resolute resistance. While the two only differed in their backgrounds and the source of their inspiration, both were vitriolic in their opposition to slavery and uncompromising in their support for emancipation.

Douglass summarized his political philosophy as follows: “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.”

Garrison concluded: “With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.”

It is inarguable that after Fidel Castro took control of Cuba, his tyranny trampled the fundamental human rights of the people of Cuba. Today the Cuban people do not have the benefit of free press that Garrison and Douglass placed at the service of the abolitionist cause. Neither do the Cuban people have the ability to somewhat gather as America’s Founding Fathers did to debate the form of government and rally popular support for independence. Yet Cubans share the same goal and desire for freedom and political rights.

Americans of all origins should find it fair and easy to conclude that not only are Cuban Americans uncompromising “hard-liners” on the issues of freedom and full emancipation of Cuba but also that there is no reason to back away from that hard line.

It is, after all, a most American tradition.

H/T: Pitbull

Visions of a post-embargo Cuba

It seems that the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba is the constant thread of the narrative here at Babalu Blog and wherever the issue of Cuba and its dictatorship is discussed. It feels like every day someone new comes along and says, “well it hasn’t worked in fifty years so isn’t time to try something new?” The purpose of this post is not to discuss the origins or intent of the embargo, we’ve discussed that ad nauseam, but rather to look into our crystal ball and see what a post-embargo Cuba would look like without the regime first making any significant changes to its economic and political systems. In other words, giving the castro brothers exactly what they have been asking for since the Soviet Union collapsed.

Tourism
The first implication of lifting the embargo is that Cuba will be legally open to U.S. tourists for the first time in half a century. Now it’s interesting to ponder the fact that the castro regime’s creation myth begins with Cuba as a tourist playground for wealthy Americans who frolicked on Cuba’s beaches and gambled at tables of Cuba’s casinos while a dictator oppressed the Cuban people during the 1950s. Certainly it was not U.S. tourists that “liberated” Cuba from Batista. But now somehow American tourists possess some magical power to bring about change, at least that’s what embargo opponents would have you believe.

So what would a Cuba full of American tourists look like? Not too different than Cuba today. How can I say that with such certainty? Well because Cuba plays host to more than 2.3 million international tourists annually today, far more than ever went to Cuba during the 50s. The fact is that hotel capacity is currently limited to about 2.5 million visitors per year so the influx of American tourists will only increase the total number of visitors marginally. What it will do however is drive the price of hotel room nights up as demand temporarily outstrips supply.

So you’ll have a few more tourists visiting Cuba with all of them paying a premium to do it. What will they do there? Well certainly they’ll be staying at all-inclusive resorts like this one where the employees are selected by the regime and paid a fixed wage of roughly $20 a month by law. They’ll also be taking “cultural tours” like this one and enjoying the Jet Skiis and motorboats. They’ll be photographing all of the pre-castro landmarks (because nobody ever comes back from Cuba showing off their snapshots of Soviet Era apartment blocks) and getting drunk. The point here is that all of this already taking place yet the much ballyhooed people-to-people exchanges have not resulted in any significant change in the day-to-day lives of the Cuban people.

Additionally, American tourists will find Cuba’s resorts and hotels to be substandard when compared with other Caribbean destinations. At least that’s what Canadian and European tourists have found. They shouldn’t be surprised that facilities are not maintained and service is shoddy, after all it is a communist dictatorship.

Staying in the arena of tourism, American hospitality companies will be legally allowed to operate in Cuba. Let me clarify, they’ll be legal as far the U.S. government is concerned. They’ll have to meet with the approval of the castro regime, more specifically it’s military apparatus that runs the tourist sector. American companies will have to submit to Cuban laws, just like they must submit to the laws of any country they operate in, with the difference that they usually don’t operate in totalitarian communist dictatorships. So American companies will be forced to comply with Cuba’s labor laws which forbid the formation of independent labor unions and much more. In short, American companies will be business partners with castro, inc. Again, this is nothing new. Companies like Canada’s Sherritt and Spain’s Sol Melía have been engaged in such arrangements in Cuba’s tourism industry for almost two decades. So where are the results?

Trade
The embargo is starving Cuba’s people, or that is what embargo opponents would have you believe. That point is belied by the fact that U.S. is currently Cuba’s largest food supplier. That’s because food and medicine is currently exempted from the embargo as long as it’s paid for in advance by the castro brothers in cash. And therein lies the rub. The castro brothers don’t want to pay in cash. They don’t really want to pay at all. They want a big credit card so they can run up a bill in the U.S. like they have done with every other country they do business with. We should not be surprised when a post-embargo Cuba owes hundreds of millions or billions of dollars to the U.S., after all it’s a communist dictatorship. You might be thinking to yourself that any business that lends money to the Cuban thugocracy, with its track record of deadbeat-edness, deserves to lose its money. Well that would be true except that it’s you and I, the American taxpayers, that will be footing the bill. How do I know? Well because you and I, the American taxpayers, are the ones that fund institutions like the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which according to its mission statement, “assume[s] credit and country risks that the private sector is unable or unwilling to accept.” So in this day and age of taxpayer funded bailouts for failing American corporations we would be subsidizing the operations of a failing Cuban communist dictatorship.

And it won’t just be for agricultural products. The castro brothers will “purchase” all kinds of goods from American businesses, goods that they will re-sell in official government stores at ridiculous mark-ups. How do I know this will happen? Well because it’s what happens now with goods that the castro brothers buy from China, Japan and all the other industrialized countries that haven’t cut Cuba off yet for non-payment. The mark-ups are ridiculous because there’s no private competition permitted in Cuba. It’s a communist dictatorship after all.

So what will the castro brothers do with the sudden but temporary influx of dollars that lifting the embargo would represent? Will they spend it to improve Cuba’s crumbling infrastructure or improve the quality of life of Cuba’s people? No, of course not. The castro brothers will use their windfall to buy weapons, jets for themselves, tools for further repression of the Cuban people and to subvert other countries. How do I know this? Well because it’s what they have always done in the past when they have had the resources to do it. We shouldn’t be surprised, because that’s what communist dictatorships do.

Diplomacy
Lastly are the diplomatic implications of lifting the embargo. In a post-embargo Cuba we can assume that diplomatic relations will be “normalized” between the two countries. That means that for the first time in nearly fifty years the United States would operate an embassy in Cuba and vice versa. The United States would join every other western democracy in that regard. What change can we expect from such a monumental shift in tactics? Well maybe we’ll see a photo op for Hillary Clinton, or maybe even President Obama, standing next to raul castro where the latter will deny that Cuba has any sort of political opposition and that Cuba has no political prisoners. How do I know this might happen? Well, because it’s what we’ve seen before. Remember, it’s a communist dictatorship.

Conclusion
So what’s the common denominator here? Cuba is a communist dictatorship. We can make all the changes we want to American foreign policy and it won’t fundamentally change the nature of Cuba’s government. Only people in Cuba can do that. So we have a fundamental choice. Do we want American tourists soaking up sun on Cuba’s beaches while they prop up the military sector of the communist regime there? Do we want American companies forging joint partnerships with the oppressors of Cuba’s people, facilitating that repression and exploiting Cuban workers? Do we want American taxpayer money strengthening Cuba’s repressive apparatus and going toward subversion of other countries? Do we want U.S foreign policy to close a blind eye to Cuba’s human rights abuses just so that we can say we have “normal” diplomatic relations with a communist dictatorship?

Without a clear answer to how American involvement in Cuba would be substantially different than that of other countries, for me, the answer is no to all of the above. There is simply no evidence that a change in U.S. policy to one that has been adopted by almost every other western democracy will yield any different results. And the downside as I have articulated here is substantially more than one might think at first blush.

Some logic on US-Cuba policy

Capitol Hill Cubans straighten out Senator Kerry’s twisted thinking:

How can Senator Kerry boldly state that U.S policy has “manifestly failed” for nearly 50 years, then qualify the Clinton Administration’s travel and engagement initiatives as “successful”?

Wasn’t Bill Clinton’s presidency within the last 50 years?

Wasn’t Jimmy Carter’s presidency — when tourism and all other travel transactions between the U.S. and Cuba were completely authorized without limitation — also within the last 50 years?
Under this premise, shouldn’t travel and engagement also be classified as a “failure”?

Think about it, in the aftermath to the fall of the Soviet Union, during the most politically and economically vulnerable time for the Castro regime in recent history, the Clinton Administration chose the path of travel and engagement — to no avail.

Read the whole wonderful rebuttal to a twisted liberal mind here.