Questions for Obama

I continue to be fascinated with Barack Obama’s speech in Miami on Friday, or rather to the reactions it has elicited. So I’ve decided to take a closer look at the text of speech, specifically the parts about Cuba, and have a few questions for the Senator.

Throughout my entire life, there has been injustice in Cuba. Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy. This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century – of elections that are anything but free or fair; of dissidents locked away in dark prison cells for the crime of speaking the truth. I won’t stand for this injustice, you won’t stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba.

Senator, join the club. I too have lived my entire life in freedom while those in Cuba suffered under oppression. The difference is that I’ve been thinking about it for a lot longer than you have been running for president. Still I must congratulate you on recognizing something that many in your party have refused to recognize. That’s admirable but it doesn’t change the fact that you are a Barry come lately to the issue of Cuban freedom.

Now I know what the easy thing is to do for American politicians. Every four years, they come down to Miami, they talk tough, they go back to Washington, and nothing changes in Cuba. That’s what John McCain did the other day. He joined the parade of politicians who make the same empty promises year after year, decade after decade. Instead of offering a strategy for change, he chose to distort my position, embrace George Bush’s, and continue a policy that’s done nothing to advance freedom for the Cuban people. That’s the political posture that John McCain has chosen, and all it shows is that you can’t take his so-called straight talk seriously.

Yes it’s true that politicians tell Cuban-Americans what they want to hear, particularly around election time. I guess my question to you is what makes you any different? Why should I believe your promises? You say that President Bush’s policy has “done nothing to advance freedom for the Cuban people” yet you don’t specify how your policy would be appreciably different.

My policy toward Cuba will be guided by one word: Libertad. And the road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba’s political prisoners, the rights of free speech, a free press and freedom of assembly; and it must lead to elections that are free and fair.

Nobody can argue with that goal, not even President Bush who reiterated such a goal in the White House on Wednesday. So again the question is how will you achieve it?

Now let me be clear. John McCain’s been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I’m looking for a social gathering. That’s never what I’ve said, and John McCain knows it. After eight years of the disastrous policies of George Bush, it is time to pursue direct diplomacy, with friend and foe alike, without preconditions. There will be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. And as President, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people.

Well you have said that you would meet raul castro without preconditions and now you are hedging by introducing the idea of “careful preparation”. Can you explain exactly what the differences are between preconditions and “careful preparation”? And I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that it’s not just president Bush that refuses to meet the castro brothers, 9 previous presidents also felt that such a meeting would bestow undue legitimacy on that regime which you now seem to realize is a terrible dictatorship.
Consider the fact that the President of the United States, the leader of the free world would be sitting across the table from the man whose face is circled in this picture:
Yes, that’s your would-be negotiating partner strapping a blindfold on a man who is about to become acquainted with “revolutionary justice” on the wrong end of a firing squad. Are you going to convince this man who is now in his late 70s to abandon his entire life’s work implementing the totalitarian system which you now seek to change? Pardon me if I’m doubtful that your considerable oratory powers could be so convincing.

I will never, ever, compromise the cause of liberty. And unlike John McCain, I would never, ever, rule out a course of action that could advance the cause of liberty. We’ve heard enough empty promises from politicians like George Bush and John McCain. I will turn the page.

Yes but how? As I said pardon my skepticism about talking murderous tyrants out of their murderous ways. Is there some other magic arrow in your quiver?

It’s time for more than tough talk that never yields results. It’s time for a new strategy. There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans. That’s why I will immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island. It’s time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It’s time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.

You will immediately revert to a policy we had four years ago. Is that the cure for Cuban communism? Really? Why should we think that such a tweak will lead to the goal of an end to the repression and bring about democracy? How does making families less dependent on the castro regime bring us closer to democracy? I didn’t go to Harvard so I’m a little slow. Seriously, how does that work? U.S. policy regarding family travel and remittances has been more liberal in the past than than it is today. That didn’t work then, why should it work now? Is that the “new” strategy?

I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That’s the way to bring about real change in Cuba – through strong, smart and principled diplomacy.

First of all Senator, the embargo has been codified into U.S. law. Removing it would require an act of congress, so saying you’ll keep the embargo is a little disingenuous. Besides, in 2004 you opposed the embargo. Now, speaking to an audience of Cuban-Americans you say will not remove the embargo. Isn’t that suspiciously like those politicians you claim to be different than? The fact is that the embargo, as it currently exists requires freedom of the political prisoners and steps towards democracy before sanctions can be lifted. Again I ask how your position is appreciably different than that of 10 presidents before you and your opponent?

15 thoughts on “Questions for Obama”

  1. Henry,
    The more Berraco Hussein (the bullshit artist) Osama talks the least I trust in his words.
    He’s done more flip flops than an Olympic gymnast as he has changed his positions more often than a chameleon hiding from his enemies.
    He just talks for the shake of opening his mouth thinking that this Cuban-American exile community is going to buy his blatant bullshit act.
    He does not simply understand that we Cuban-Americans where taken by the master bullshit artist himself Fidel Castro 49 years ago and learned a very painful lesson.
    Obama better stick with the African-Americans, the college crowd and some naive Americans for support instead of wasting his time and energy coming here thinking that we’ll be so stupid to believe in his bullshit..

  2. Menachem Begin was not only a murderer but a terrorist yet not only did we talk to him, we actively supported him. The Anastasio Somoza killed but our complaint was that Jimmy Carter did not let him kill enough…and we were right. Pinochet was a murderer but let’s be honest if he came back to life and visited Miami we would make him the King of the Carnival…and don’t get me wrong I’d be there too.
    The US will do what is best for the US and what is best for the US is a stable Cuba. Obviously they prefer one less repressive but stability comes first. Did the Castros win…yes in certain respects they did. But ultimately victory will be ours because the future and history will condemn Fidel and Raul not absolve them. The cause of freedom will emerge triumphant despite their efforts. That the US talks to Raul will not change squat…what are you worried about? That it will prolong the regime?
    I would prefer that there be no contact with any Castro but it is not the end of the world.

  3. Henry –
    Well stated.
    I now look forward to reading your questions for John McCain and how his rhetoric — which is very similar to what we have heard from President Bush for eight years with not much to show for it — will lead to the results we all want.

  4. Marc,
    I don’t have to ask mccain anything. For one thing he’s not the one trying to convince me that dialogue with raul and more money in castro inc’s coffers will hasten “libertad” in cuba.

  5. Hey Eddy,
    The relatives of FARCs kidnap victims consistently ask for dialogue between Colombian government and FARC. That doesn’t mean a) it would change the nature of FARC and b) would result in freedom for their loved ones. In fact it could be argued that it would result in the opposite. The more concessions you make the more you are rewarding them for their past behavior and encouraging them to continue. I understand the impulse of the ladies in white but that doesn’t make it the right choice for the American President.

  6. Reference the Damas. If Oscar Chepe is Ms. Leiva’s husband, then we better be skeptical of her endorsement of Obama. I hate to trash someone who’s been a political prisoner, but my undertsnading of Chepe is that he was a ‘true believer’ who was bitten in the ass by the Revolution. Some would say his vision of Cuba is “Castroism w/o Castro.” He supports deomocracy because it’s the only way he can express his alternate views without getting the shit beat out of him, but his writings reveal a hidden respect for the Revolution. I’m wondering if Leiva speaks for all the Damas, or just her own personal views of what policy/person is best for Cuba. I’d hate to find out a few years down the road that she and her husband had been co-opted by Cuban Intelligence. The Cuban regime would Love to see Obama in power.

  7. Mambi, I think you misunderstand the meaning of “democracy”. Democracy and freedom would allow Mr. Chepe the ability to express alternative views “without getting the shit beat out of him”.
    Isn’t the ability for Cubans to express alternative views without the risk of incarceration or physical harm what we all wish for Cuba? Or is it you are only interested in fighting for Cubans who think just like you?
    The Damas de Blanco have done more to spread the word of Castro’s tyranny than arguably anyone else. They deserve respect. I for one admire them for their courage as they know full well the consequences of speaking out against the Castros.
    My advise is to keep the discussion on the merits of Obama’s speech and his proposed policies.
    Roly Masferrer

  8. Rolmas: You’re way off track in questioning my statement, in fact, I’m not sure what the heck you’re talking about. READ Very Carefully – I love democracy, but dislike those who abuse it, or use it as a cover for dessiminating ideological tenets that help to destroy it. Read again — Chepe was (maybe still is) a COMMUNIST, who supported a totalitarian dictatorship until it turned on him. He can say whatever the hell he wants, but I’m going to call him out when he deserves it. His credibility is shot given his background, at least in comparison with real fighters like Marta Roque and Oscar Biscet. They don’t pander to those bastards on or off the island that would ensure that monstrous system stays in place. I’m going to call a spade a spade everytime I can, because I’m tired of the gutless wonders on both sides of the straits that are apologists for that sick regime. Secondly, I questioned Leiva, not all of the Damas. In fact, if you’d bother to read my comments you’d realize my concern is that she may not speak for all of them. Next time, get your facts straight before you go after someone!!

  9. My facts are straight. It is real tough of you to sit in the US and type that Leiva is part of a Cuban government conspiracy. Get off your ass and do something about it if you so desire. My problem with people like you is your inaction. Marta Roque asked President Bush for the same thing as Leiva. She asked President Bush to ease the travel restrictions, but maybe you missed that. Im sure now Roque is a communist just like Leiva.
    Democracy is a funny thing, it allows everyone a voice. That includes conservatives, liberals and communist. What gives you the right to speak for Leiva or anyone else? True democracy gives a voice to everyone, not just people that agree with you.
    Roly Masferrer

  10. Ziva, Robert’s clarification, while relevant, means very little to me. I am not here to discuss the validity of anyone’s opinion on Obama. I can think of nothing worse for the US than having Obama as President,
    I am just sick and tired of people dismissing the dissidents in Cuba when it is convenient. Mambi (or the majority of the readers/commentary on this blog) have not been in the position of Leiva or Chepe. For him to sit there and pass judgement on either because they may or may not think as he does is ludicrous. Chepe has been in the belly of the beast, has Mambi?
    This isn’t about Obama’s policies, it is about accountability. Leiva, Chepe and the Damas have done more for the Cuban cause than almost anyone. Stop the bullshit, it only weakens the cause.

  11. Rolmas: You can shove your assinine rant! As for doing something for the cause, why don’t you talk to the US GOV about the restrictions we have on us to be truly aggressive against the regime. And BTW, how the hell do you know I’m not doing what I can for the freedom of Cuba? You arrogant loud-mouth. BTW, your argument is the same one that unduly protects political idiots like John Kerry or John Murtha just because they served in Vietnam. All of sudden we can’t question their stupid war policy prescriptions just because they wore a uniform. Dean Rusk was the Sec of State who actively supported pulling the air strikes against Castro’s air force during the Bay of Pigs. That decision was a disastorous military call that doomed BDE 2506, and it was made by a former ‘Army COL in WW II’, i.e. Rusk. The same goes for the dissidents. You can take your ignorant comments and shove it, bacause common sense doesn’t seem to register with you.

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