13.4.09

Obama serves it into Cuba and Latin America's Castro side of the Court

No, this is probably not like Richard Nixon's China Ping Pong diplomatic initiative in 1971. Hopefully it's a real break from the past and human rights will not take a back seat this time.

As major newspapers (WSJ, WP, NY Times) report today that Obama has ordered the lifting of restrictions on Cuban Americans wanting to visit their native land, the uncensored Cuban exile online media reported that a Puerto Rican (and therefore U.S. citizen) was violently arrested 2 days ago in Holguín, Cuba. Her crime was to publicly question Ricardo Alarcón regarding the constant violation of human rights by the tyranny and the illegitimacy of the constitution imposed on the Cuban people. Alarcón is the president of the Castro regime's so called 'National Assembly'. The US or other international media has yet to report on the Puerto Rican's arrest or his whereabouts.
Why should anyone believe that Cuban Americans traveling to Cuba and daring to question the regime's legitimacy and repression will experience a different fate than said Puerto Rican American? Now that the Obama Administration has lifted restrictions on Cuban Americans traveling to Cuba from the U.S., what will it do if any are arrested for doing what this Puerto Rican American has done?

In addition, how and what will most of the world know if Cuban Americans traveling to their native land are subsequently imprisoned for political dissent? What response can they expect from the US and international media?
Oh, that's easy, the Wall Street Journal has now reported that the "...Obama administration will allow U.S. telecom companies and other providers to apply for licenses to do business in Cuba, including setting up television and mobile phone service..."
Does that mean that the same US and international media that has not reported even bothering to visit Antuñez and the other dissidents will keep US and world public opinion informed? Does it mean that the same media which hundreds of millions access through Google's news and blog search engine is henceforth going to prioritize human rights, even if it's only about Cubans?

Does it also mean that Cubans on the island, the majority of whom live on salaries of US $15 per month will soon be able to afford access to the Internet? Does it mean that the regime will not block Internet sites or TV stations with information that oppose it or question its legitimacy?

Furthermore, will all Cubans be allowed in by Castro (or just those that will keep silent)?
It almost certainly does not mean any of the foregoing.

Meanwhile Antúnez and the 4 dissidents in Placetas presumably under a state of siege by state security and prevented from access to liquid nutrients have reported that one of them is in a precarious medical state. Accordingly they have requested that a physician selected by them be allowed to assist her while expressing their fear and objection to any physicians that might be provided by the regime.
CREDIT FOR OBAMA
One must recognize that unlike some US Congressmen the Obama Administration has been cautiously responding to internal and international pressure to 'normalize' relations with Castro (like Truman and Eisenhower did in 1952-1959 with Batista). Fulfilling his promise to Cuban Americans, his administration has consistently insisted that prior to normalizing relations, political prisoners must be released, free speech and civil rights guaranteed and genuinely democratic elections held.

But what else does 'normalizing relations' mean? How can relations with a regime accused of grave crimes against its people ever be 'normal'? Is the Obama administration somehow preparing to join the chorus of Latin American presidents led by Lula (Brazil) and Chavez (Venezuela) and pursue a policy of obstruction of justice in Cuba? Is it going to implicitly recognize 'Castro' as 'Cuba' and thereby tragically reinforce the precedent of normalized relations with future tyrannies that may yet emerge (in Latin America or Cuba)?

Will it expect like so many others that Cuban Americans just accept that the Castros may have committed (and continue to do so unabashed) whatever crimes and yet be not only protected by US and Latin America presidents from any accountability but be engaged as agents of just change and even pillars of justice? Are Cubans expected to approve of the legitimization of criminals just because as a result of the totalitarian state imposed upon them they have not been not able to bring them to trial yet? Is this what some mean by 'reconciliation'?

Surely this is not Obama's project but what then does the The Washington Post mean when it contends that "... as a candidate, Obama promised to seek closer relations with Cuba, and ...as president, he has signaled that he intends to move toward a greater openness...."

No, the WP has it wrong, I don't believe that Obama intends to become the regime's accomplice even as the temptation and pressure to succumb to a false fix is being blatantly broadcasted everywhere; except of course in that portion of the Cuban community exiled for political reasons and in the legitimate non-violent opposition protesting bare handed within.
SHIFT IN STRATEGY THAT BEGAN WHEN?
The Cuban American National Foundation recently published an intelligent and practical proposal that suggests, for the most part, a more coherent path to future US-Cuba relations; one that allies the US government with those Cuban people pushing for democracy and not with criminals posing as liberators and revolutionaries or its supporters.

While the proposal could be improved, its recommendation for a shift in the US policy since 1959 is a step in the right direction and it is this that the Obama Administration appears to be listening to. I would suggest that the shift must go further back, that is, it must also change the course taken in 1952 and in 1898. The people of the US and Cuba need to build the basis for a true, lasting, just and mutually respectful friendship, not one between legitimately elected leaders in one and a tyrant in the other; not one where the more powerful party in the relationship capitalizes on the vulnerability of the other. Hopefully that day is on its way.

It should go without saying that the same applies to Latin America, Canada, Spain and the rest of the world, for unlike the Obama Administration and with few exceptions (e.g. Eastern Europe), they have turned their back on the Cuban people and joined forces with the illegitimate unelected regime which continues to pretend to permanently enslave us.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Cuba's constitution was approved in 1940, consolidating it as a sovereign democratic republic, requiring separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers and guaranteeing all of the civil liberties that have been denied by the current totalitarian state for the past 50 years. This constitution was violated by Batista through a coup in 1952 but only 15 days later Harry Truman normalized relations, recognizing him as Cuba's legitimate leader and Eisenhower continued with this policy until he was forced to abandon it.

Batista was ousted by a massive popular uprising coordinated by a student movement, urban dissenters and Fidel Castro's armed 26 of July movement. After its success, while recognizing Cuba's constitution, Castro immediately and treacherously began violating it. He unconstitutionally appointed presidents, imprisoned revolutionaries who had fought by his side, repressed civil liberties and freedom of the press, installed government informers in every corner and thereby by 1976 had consolidated a communist totalitarian state.

First tens, then hundreds of thousands fled while thousands were executed and imprisoned. Over two million citizens or 33% of Cuba's 1959 population eventually were forced into exile; however the first generation of these has died and the second is close to Castro's age. The remaining exiles are a mix that includes those who were exiled as children in 1960 (and their descendants) as well as thousands who were born in Cuba after the birth of Castro's 'revolutionary' totalitarian state and subsequently either fled or were sent abroad for propaganda purposes. Tens of thousands are estimated to have died in Caribbean shark infested waters attempting to flee.

With his totalitarian state consolidated, a substantial portion of the population in exile and all media under his control, Castro claimed that a new constitution had been almost unanimously approved in 1976. It was later modified by his regime in 1992, 2000 and 2002. Attempts to modify it by other Cubans have been regularly ignored for under said new 'constitution', the regime's 'National Assembly' is the only one with the right to do so, even though they are not legitimately elected by the Cuban people (including exiles).

Yet Venezuela's elected president Chavez, evidently hoping to pressure Obama, recently asked the world: "Why does Cuba continue to be left out of the Summit of the Americas, if Cuba is a friend of Latin American and Caribbean countries?"
Who is 'Cuba' for you, President Chavez? Who is the one leaving the majority of the Cuban people out if not you and your ilk?
UPDATED APRIL 14 AT 12:50 A.M FROM ARGENTINA

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