Galleta sin Mano.

Note: I felt the need to change the title of this post from “The White House” to the present above after a discussion in the comments. Val

Blanca González, Mother of Cuban Political Prisoner; (Miami,Florida)
Blanca González is the mother of Normando Hernández González, a political prisoner suffering under the regime of Fidel and Raul Castro. In 2002, Blanca González fled Cuba and applied for political asylum in the United States; she now resides in Miami, Florida with her husband. While in Cuba, she was a human rights activist and was harassed by the Cuban regime. Her son, Normando Hernández González, is a writer and independent journalist and was arrested on March 18, 2003, in his hometown of Camagüey, Cuba. Normando Hernández González was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment for reporting on the conditions of state-run services in Cuba and for criticizing the government’s management of issues such as tourism, agriculture, fishing, and cultural affairs. Hernández received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in April 2007, an award that recognizes international literary figures who have been persecuted or imprisoned for exercising or defending the right to freedom of expression. He has also been recognized by the Costa Rican legislature. His health has deteriorated due to a severe, chronic, and untreated gastro-intestinal disorder which causes constant diarrhea, headaches, intermittent fever, and poor gastro-intestinal absorption. He has lost at least 35 pounds. Normando Hernández González remains in prison.

Ive stated this before, but it bears repeating:
This simple gesture by the President of the United States and the First Lady is worth a thousand posts at Babalu Blog or any other blog or webpage or news article. Inviting the mother of a Cuban Political Prisoner to the president’s last State of the Union Address is an incredible act of solidarity, a slap in the face to the castro regime, and a moral lesson for the world and the media that covers it. Come tomorrow, thousands upon thousands – if not millions – will have heard the name Normando Hernández González and will have been acquainted with his dire circumstances.

27 thoughts on “Galleta sin Mano.”

  1. It is a positive moment, when any world leader mentions the plight of political prisoners anywhere. I pray that they all may be released sooner than later. But it will take more than mentioning their names and giving audiences and medals, especially in a political season.
    It is in my opinion, sophisticated pandering, when the mention of the political prisoners is made but nothing is effectively done to actually help them. President Bush refuses to negotiate to improve the lot of those prisoners and obtain their release. On the contrary, he exercises policies that the Cuban government uses for an excuse and justification for their imprisonment.
    So in return for the political and financial support our community gives him and the Republican party, this is a hollow payback of sorts. The tragedy is those poor fellows and their families continue to suffer, but don’t worry our present policies with Cuba will obtain their freedom, somehow someday…
    Hopefully, the next President will actually be smarter and wiser than what we have had. Adios President Bush. Enjoy your retirement in Crawford TX next year.
    At least as Val points out, the issue of political prisoners will be highlighted for another brief but important moment.

  2. I’ll give the President credit for calling attention to the prisoners’ and their families’ plight, especially when there is no electoral advantage to doing so. I truly appreciate his efforts. However, if he really wants to stand on the side of Cuban freedom, then repeal Wet Foot/Dry Foot. Show the Cuban people that you are truly on their side. Unfortunately, with today’s anti-immigrant hysteria, that is difficult, as most think all immigrants are the same – regardless of origin and reasons for leaving.

  3. I applaud this gesture from the President even thought I agree that President Bush had plenty of time in his presidency to do more to help the cause of a free Cuba.
    Looking in perspective the painful fact and honest truth is that either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would not do what this President will be doing tonight even if they were in his shoes today.
    Definitively they would not try to bring the ply of those incarcerated in Cuba under inhumane conditions and all the suffering that the Cuban people had to endure for all these years under the rule of the Castro brothers to the American public in any way shape or form, at least this President is trying in some small way by taking this step.
    You can criticize our President all you want but I guarantee you that these Democrats would be much worse than him on the issue of a free and democratic Cuba.
    These current leaders of the Democratic Party do not have in their hearts the values or integrity necessary to make these types of gestures. Instead they would try to embrace the Castro bothers in any way shape or form possible like the Hollywood idiots or the MSM or some stupid members of Congress currently do.
    Have we forgotten that it was Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter the ones to shake Fidel Castro’s hand?
    Regardless the fact that the Castro brothers still rule Cuba today, and that they have not being removed from power during a Republican administration, whoever thinks that a Democratic White House under either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will improve the chances of a free Cuba is living in Fantasy Island and ignoring the last 49 years of history and the record of the Democratic Party in regards to our cause.

  4. Gabriel or Claudio or whatever name it is youre using today,
    Why is it that the President of the US must be the one to negotiate? The US does not need Cuba for anything. You may call this political pandering, subtle or not, but the fact remains that the government of Cuba only has to do one thing to bring the US to the bargaining table: admit they have political prisoners and release them. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.
    I also find it INCREDIBLY disingenuous to blame the fact that there are ideological porisoners in Cuba and the plight of the Cuban people on US policy. that is an OUTRIGHT FALSEHOOD and one INSTIGATED and PEREPETUATED by the Cuban government. The only proof you need is the fact that Cuba has business ventures and trades with EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD and NOTHING has changed in Cuba. That certainly aint US policy, my man, that is Cuban policy.
    You can blame Presidnet Bush for many things, but not being a friend to Cuban political prisoners is not one of them.
    I must once again state “be careful what you wish for” when you ask for the repeal of the wet foot/dry foot. While I agree that its a ridiculous policy – thanks Bill “Democrat” Clinton! – from an American perspective, the argument can be made that Cubans arent really seeking political asylum, if after 366 days in this country they immediately travel back to the same country they supposedly fled from and thus their “special” treatment would end right then and there with ALL Cubans being repatriated. Cant have our cake and eat it too, especially considering the immigration issues this country is facing at the moment.

  5. Isn’t it pathetic that the most powerful man in the world, one who owes his presidency to DIRECTLY to Cuban-Americans, can’t do more?
    Yes, it could be worse. But isn’t that even more pathetic an argument?
    It is only when you compare what a US president CAN do when he really wants something done that the contrast becomes beyond pathetic. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and on and on. Special envoys, pressure at the UN with real money behind it. What is being pledged for the West Bank again? What are we sending Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, Jordan again? Did they get Bush elected?
    We negotiate with Lil’kim and get results. We meet with Iran and get some results, we even meet with Hammas and at least there is a chance of results. It’s not about getting all we want, its about getting enough of what we want to move the battle forward.
    That said, yes, I agree with Val. Like the plantation slave with nowhere to go, thanks Massa George. From the heart. Better than nothing.

  6. And yes, I voted for Bush twice and will vote for whoever the Republican candidate is in November, for the alternative is unthinkable.
    I’ll do it, just don’t ask me to be happy about it.

  7. Cheo,
    You have a chip on your shoulder of epic proportions and I suggest you think twice about directing another ad hominem towards me.
    That said, I find it particularly mind numbing how those like you that complain about President Bush not doing “enough” or not doing “anything” never really pony up a plan as to what it is the President should be doing. By your remarks here you want the President of the United States to meet with the castro government. Is this correct? or you want the US to send whatever it is you say we’re sending to thse countries mentioned? You want the US to invade Cuba? Sit down and parley with raul and company?
    Please tell us in no uncertain terms and without doble sentido or any other verbal bullshit. What do you want the US to do? Waht do you want US policy towards Cuba to be?
    And please, if you state lift the embargo and dialogue or “try a different approach”, please do let us dumbass slaves how exactly it is that these would work using some kind of realistic given and approach. Point to somewhere in the regime’s history that will at least give us an inkling that such a stupendous plan would have even a remotely reasonable chance or working.
    Spell it out for us dumb ole slaves, massa.

  8. Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick. One would think that after a half century of being let down by every single US Presidential Administration vis a vis Cuba, that some folks would have at least a fairly logical and realistic expectation from same.
    Look, people, No US President is going to invade Cuba. No US president is going to refuse to sign the title III of the helms burton waiver every six months. No US President is going to ever allow another mass exodus of Cubans ala Mariel. No US president is going to blockade the island of Cuba. No US president is going to prevent states from dealing with Cuba.
    And this goes for DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN. So, I suggest that those of you who will be voting choose your presidential candidate based on more than their rhetoric about Cuba.
    Cojones, caballeros, stop bitching and jump off the fucking tree already.

  9. The plantation slave was me, Val. Not you.
    You are a leader and you are happy with the status quo. Bush, the leader of the free world, is powerless, and his hands are tied – it could happen. Unfortunately for me, I’m not that happy or accepting. Sorry.
    I (plantation slave) don’t have answers. Only questions and one vote. My apologies if I refuse to say: Gracias Bush…Vamos Bien!

  10. Cheo,
    Unfortunately for me, I’m not that happy or accepting. Sorry.
    You made my point exactly. Your – and other’s – negativity takes the focus away from an unprecedented action by a US President, in solidarity with a Cuban Political Prisoner, and turns it into one big complaint. Accept this act for what it is: a standing US President having the mother of a Cuban languishing in jail in Cuba, sitting next to the First Lady on his final State of the Union Address as President. It aint chopped liver, folks. It is something and it is positive. Why are we going to criticize it with such ferver?
    Dont mistake my calling this a great thing because Bush is doing it. It dont matter to me if it was Bush, Barrack, Hillary, McCain or anyone else from any party. This is a State of the Union Address, recorded into history and it makes an incredible statement, for now and for tomorrow. Add to that the fact that thousands of people will see that woman tonight, ask who she is and possibly, maybe, perhaps even do a little Googling or other research and find out why she’s there, who her son is, where her son is, why her son is where he is, etc..
    It is a pretty damned good diplomatic bitchslap to the castro regime, too.

  11. My take on this issue:
    Since last year the President has been giving an increasing focus to the Cuba issue starting with the speech at the State Department and afterwards meeting with the wife of Elias Biscet.
    I’m certain that he has more detailed information from the intelligence services and probably is trying to set up the right conditions (including preparing US public opinion and awareness of the issues in Cuba) so when the time comes that Fidel Castro finally dies and his passing is announced by the Cuban government he’s ready to act.
    I’m sure that when that happens the US government has several options available without resorting to having to invade Cuba. The US can avoid bloodshed in Cuba with the range of options available if implemented properly. The people in Cuba have already suffered too much paint for the last 49 years and they don’t need more.
    The implementation of these options (with US public opinion backing) will speed the regime’s demise if the cards are played right, that’s the key point.
    If this president is still in power when that happens he’ll play his cards right and we could witness profound changes in Cuba that we never thought possible in our lifetime.
    I guarantee you that if a Democrat is in power at that moment it would be a missed opportunity (as usual) and they will definitively play all the wrong cards.

  12. Val, mi nombre es Gabriel. And the President does not have to do anything. If the cause of political prisoners in Cuba is so important he should sit down and negotiate to improve their lots or obtain their release. You have it backwards. If you were acting in a manner against people I care about, I would go to you and speak with you. At first you would tell me to mind my own business, but if I had something you wanted, well maybe you would at least listen to what I had to say. The Cuban government claims they are mercenaries of the United States because we send money to Cuba and fund the subversion of the government there. So as far as Cuba goes, they do not have to do anything. So if it is important to us to do something about it, we have to go to the bargaining table. But the truth is those prisoners sadly, are not a priority.
    But Bush will never sit down or do anything meaningful than talk and give his office space, give a medal, and primetime airtime to mention their plight. Pretty nice payback for all those votes and all that money eh?
    I would bet that Obama would actually do something constructive to improve their situation instead of all this disparate that continues.
    You even said it yourself Val, the President is never going to do anything. So just what the heck is point of what we are doing with Cuba? Nuestras familias estan comiendo mierda en los dos lados chico, sufriendo y aislado. Es bastante que el barbudo lo hace, pero nosotros estamos haciendo dano a nosotos mismo con esta politica loca.
    You think its a good diplomatic bitchslap? Where have you been? We keep getting bitchslapped in the diplomatic community time and time again for our policies with Cuba.
    I pray nonetheless that the mention of these political prisoners leads to something good. At least Bush cannot screw that up.

  13. I appreciate that President Bush has chosen to showcase the plight of Cuban dissidents by having the mother of a Cuban Political prisoner, as a guest at The State of The Union address!
    Like Val stated, this is an incredible act of solidarity on his part!
    Gabriel, you stated: “I would bet that Obama would actually do something constructive to improve their situation instead of all this disparate that continues.”
    Take the time to google “Raila Odinga”, who claims to be Obama’s cousin(through his mother). Odinga is the opposition leader in Kenya … he was educated in communist Germany (East Germany); he describes himself as a “Social Democrat”, He named his oldest son “fidel”,after the Cuban dictator, fidel castro! So this should shed some light into what type of “social democracy” Odinga admires. Should Obama make it to the White House, let’s hope & pray that he does not decide to tap on his distant cousin Odinga for US-Cuba Policy!!
    I wish you well 🙂 Melek
    “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great person is one who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”~ Emerson

  14. Gabriel:
    I find your choice of words very interesting:
    “So if it is important to us to do something about it, we have to go to the bargaining table.”
    What shall we offer the regime when we sit down at the bargaining table with them? What can we offer castro, inc. that would induce them to relinquish the power and wealth they have accumulated over the past 5 decades? Or, how much money do we have to give them, or better said, how big of a bribe would convince raul, fidel, and the long list of parasites that depend on the dictatorship for their existence to allow the thousands of political prisoners they are holding to go free and in effect, put the most vocal and active opponents of their regime back on the streets?
    What you and the many out there who continually advocate “dialog” with this despotic regime fail to realize is that you cannot negotiate with someone who is not interested in negotiating the one thing you want. Out of the dozens of countries that do business with Cuba, not one, not even one has ever been able to demand human rights reform as a condition to do business. Why? Because they know castro will never negotiate his power away. He will negotiate the slave labor of the Cuban people, he will negotiate the use of stolen public property, he’ll negotiate anything that can bring him more wealth and secure his hold on power. The one thing he will not negotiate, and has never, ever, negotiated, is his power.

  15. Thankfully Castro will meet his maker hopefully sooner than later.
    But that aside, the negotiation begins with asking questions. Would it be worthwhile to find out specifically what they would want in exchange for releasing those suffering prisoners? But I do not think the question has ever been officially asked. President Bush does not speak with our adversaries.
    As in any negotiation, it works when both sides have something each wants and is willing to give up to obtain.
    The human rights precondition to do business is not consistent on our part and does not always work as we do business with the likes of Saudi Arabia, China (hell China has Most Favored Nation status), and other countries whose human rights record are as or more pathetic than Cuba.

  16. Gabriel,
    Youll have to forgive my misunderstanding and refering to you as Claudio. It’s just a coincidence, I suppose, that both Claudio, who sent me an email complaining about my co-editor, and you share almost identical email addresses and the same IP’s.
    I see by your latest missive here that you have a serious case of Bush Derangement Syndrome, a maladay which, unfortunately, has no cure. And as such, since I recognize the disease and the more than obvious symptoms, I’ll not respond to your latest strawman.
    I will say this though, dont sock puppet this blog. Every person entering, reading and commenting leaves a distinct footprint which can be tracerouted and, if need be, have same published on the blog.
    You may not like what is said here and you may have issues with our contributors, but I can say this in no uncertain terms: their sincerity and integrity is never in doubt. You always know where they stand on every issue and you always know , exactly, whom your communicating with. Right now, I dont know if Im communicating with Gabriel, claudio, TJMarti2007 or tjmarti2007a.
    No vengas a bailar en la casa del trompo, asere.

  17. So what questions should we ask, Gabriel? How much for those political prisoners in the window?
    You obviously have missed out on the last 49 years of history because you haven’t the faintest notion that for the Cuban regime (that includes fifo, raul, and the thousands of minions that will do anything to maintain their power), their stranglehold on power is not negotiable.
    Cuba has nothing to offer the US. Saudi Arabia has oil, China has cheap goods, Cuba has… cigars.
    The US has no obligation to do anything with Cuba, let alone what they do now. I wish they would do more, but that is just not going to happen. So, your insistence in negotiating with a regime that has never given up one iota of power and has nothing to offer the US is complete fantasy.

  18. Everything has a price and a value, whether material or moral. I would like to know what Cuba would want from the United States to release those prisoners now. What is the exchange they would seek to free those people. That is a legitimate question to ask. I am sorry you belittle the sincerity of the intent of my question. But as far as I know, we have not officially asked the question. Are you afraid to have the question asked? I mean we all feel for our compatriots suffering or do we not?
    And the last time I checked, Cuba is haven to a number of American fugitives. Cuba also has oil now besides rum and cigars.
    And using your criteria, because Saudi Arabia has oil and we need that oil, we look the other way and have no precondition on human rights even though they mistreat their people and women?
    We cannot have it one way for one country and a different standard for another. It makes us hypocritical and impotent to make such demands on other countries.
    I respectfully do not accept your rationale.
    “For every lock there is key.” – Chinese Proverb
    The stranglehold of their power will eventually implode. But I would like to get our people in prison freed in the interim.

  19. Gabriel, I’m serving on a jury, so I am late to this discussion. You want the US to negotiate with Cuba to gain the release of political prisoners.
    You haven’t been paying attention, didn’t you hear? There are no political prisoners in Cuba.
    Remember this from last summer?–5-5–.html
    The Cuban “government” dismisses claims of politcal prisoners as unfounded and says there are no political prisoners on the island, only “mercenaries” on the payroll of its longtime ideological foe, the United States.
    And thats the end of the regimes discussion on the matter. So please tell us what groundbreaking negotiating strategy you have. The ghost of Chamberlain and I await your announcement.

  20. Ziva:
    Apparently, Gabriel has found the “key for the lock” we have all been missing so long. Turns out all we have to do in order to get the non-existent political prisoners in Cuba released is just ask.
    We have been wrong these past 49 years. All the history, all the previous deceptions by the regime, all of the lies and murders committed by them has nothing to do with it. It seems we just have to ask.
    Nicely, I suppose.

  21. Ziva – we know and Cuba knows what they are, despite their pronouncements.
    We have not officially asked the questions?- what it would take, what do you want, etc. that those people would be freed now.
    But our policy is, we do not even speak with our adversaries.
    And if we really cared about their plight we would at least open a discussion as to how and what it would take to get them freed or wouldn’t we?
    As to your equating the prisoners’ situation to Chamberlain, the Sudetenland, and appeasement, try again.

  22. Yes Alberto, we ask. If you had something I wanted, even if I despised you ( I do not ), and I wanted it bad enough, I would ask you, and for my first move, nicely, politely.

  23. You really should brush up on your Cuban history Gabriel. The regime has already answered that question hundreds of times.
    They want an immediate lifting of the embargo. They want an immediate payment of $282 billion dollars for the losses they claim the embargo has caused them. They want the US to stop feeding dissent on the island. They want credit–lots of it that they never intend to pay back. They want a piece of the $400+ billion the US doles out to Caribbean nations every year in foreign aid. They want the US to release to them all the funds frozen in US banks that don’t belong to the regime.
    Oh, and by the way, they want all of this before they will even consider sitting down at a table and discussing this fantastical notion the US has that the dictatorship has political prisoners.
    That is not negotiation Gabriel. That is extortion.

  24. Alberto – that is called posturing.
    If the subject matter is prisoners, that should be the focus. You really believe they want all of that you listed in order to free those people? We have never had a conversation on the subject. Only two sides that posture.
    That is the question, can we know what the exchange would be for their freedom? Is there something wrong with asking the question?

  25. They really want all those things, and they have no intention of admitting, let alone releasing any prisoners by our request. They will release them cuando les de las ganas.
    You obviously have an agenda to push here because you have continued with your circuitous arguments while totally disregarding history and facts. I have nothing more to discuss on this issue because in all honesty, this conversation ceased to be interesting a while back ago.

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