Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

U.S-Cuba Relations and the Long Road to Nowhere. “Regime Change is on the Table”

March 18, 2015

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Will Obama’s Cuba Initiative Lead to Peace and Prosperity or an Orchestrated Coup?

By Timothy Alexander Guzman

The much anticipated U.S-Cuba talks continues this week as Reuters reported “Cuba and the United States meet for talks on restoring diplomatic relations on Monday, seeking more progress toward an agreement while not allowing differences over Venezuela to impede their historic rapprochement.” The meeting will be held in Havana between Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson and the Cuban foreign ministry’s chief of U.S. affairs Josefina Vidal that will continue into mid-week.

Excuse me for being pessimistic, but all of the talk about “normalizing relations” between the U.S. and Cuba will be a major disappointment for those who were rather more optimistic about the Obama administration’s new approach to the Cuban government.

In the end, it will be business as usual for Washington. The Obama administration’s announcement to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba last December is about regaining a foothold on the island-nation. The U.S. wants Cuba to change its political and economic structure for its own interests, therefore regime change is on the table.

These new diplomatic overtures to the Cuban government in the last two-years of the Obama’s Presidency seems like an attempt to undermine Cuban President Raul Castro. Many of Obama’s supporters still hope that he can fulfill his remaining campaign promise to restore ties between the U.S. and Cuba. At this point in time, Obama has nothing to prove. His true colors are out in public. People around the World see Obama’s foreign policies similar or even worst than his predecessor George W. Bush. Obama has two-years left. He is not up for reelection, so for Obama the gloves are off.

Obama seeks a new war powers bill from congress so that he can declare war against ISIS and other terrorist groups in the Middle East. It would also allow Obama to authorize the U.S. military and its intelligence agencies to implement regime change or military action against governments he deems necessary. Secretary of State John Kerry had previously said that the War Powers bill Obama was seeking “will provide a clear and powerful signal to the American people, to our allies and to our enemies” according to USA Today. Reuters noted that the Obama administration declared that Venezuela is a “national security threat” in a statement by White House spokesman Josh Earnest who said that

“Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems.”

Venezuela is a threat to U.S. national security?

Let me get try to get this straight. The U. S. has the largest and most expensive military in the world armed with nuclear weapons, drones and high-tech surveillance capabilities with bases and CIA black sites in more than 130 countries and still has Puerto Rico, the last remaining “colony” in Latin America under its “sphere of influence.” So who is the threat? Cuba will offer its “unconditional support” to the Maduro government making talks with the U.S. more difficult.

The Obama administration knows very well that Venezuela and Cuba are staunch allies. It is a well-calculated effort to destabilize Venezuela’s economy. They want to replace President Nicolas Maduro with someone that would cater to U.S. interests. If President Maduro is removed from power and replaced with a pro-US president, it would only mean that Cuba and every other Latin American nation who oppose U.S. hegemony on the continent would be targeted for regime change or even a military intervention.

Washington’s has several conditions for the diplomatic relations to work. and so does Cuba. Cuba wants to be taken off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Reuters noted one of the conditions set forth by Washington in a report last month ‘Exclusive: U.S. pressing Cuba to restore diplomatic ties before April – officials’ and said:

To finalize Cuba’s removal, Obama would need to submit to Congress a report stating Havana had not supported terrorism-related activities for six months, and that Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support terrorism in the future. Cuba would be automatically dropped from the list 45 days later.

This demand seems like Cuba would be admitting to the world that they are guilty of terrorism. But Let’s look at the terror networks Washington has historically supported straight out of Florida in an effort to destabilize the Cuban government. Cuba experienced various terrorist attacks since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion which has been orchestrated by the CIA, for example in 1997; an Italian tourist was killed due to a terrorist attack on Cuban hotels committed by Anti-Castro groups.

According to numerous reports, the terrorist attack was traced back to Miami, Florida where Luis Posada Carriles, a Bay of Pigs veteran who worked for the CIA, financed criminals from El Salvador to carry out the attack. The story does not end there. Mr. Carriles had been held for the Cubana airliner bombing in 1976 in a Venezuelan prison which killed more than 73 people with help from Jorge Mas Canosa, a Miami businessman who was the head of the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF). In 1977, Posada and Freddy Lugo (a Posada affiliate involved in the bombing) escaped from prison.

Posada fled Venezuela to El Salvador, where he organized terrorist attacks against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua to support the Contras under U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Oliver North. Posada also worked with another known terrorist from Miami named Orlando Bosch, an associate working for the CIA but was convicted in the US for his involvement in a bomb attack on a Cuba-bound freighter. Both worked in Venezuela to coordinate terrorist attacks against Cuba. However, Bosch himself was considered a “mastermind” of the Cubana airline bombing and was responsible for more than thirty acts of terrorism according to FBI records. Bosch was granted a presidential pardon in 1989 by the George H.W. Bush which was influenced by Republican and Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush and South Florida Cuban-American leaders.

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Washington wants a U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba wants Guantanamo Bay Returned

One of the other demands put forward by Washington is for Cuba to open a six-story U.S. embassy in Havana. Reuters also reported that “Converting the six-story U.S. interests sections in Havana into a full-fledged embassy after 53 years would require ending restrictions on the number of U.S. personnel in Havana, limits on diplomats’ movements and appointing an ambassador. It would allow the U.S. to renovate the building and have U.S. security posted around the building, replacing Cuban police.” I could just imagine the type of operations that would be carried out at the embassy to destabilize Cuba. Cuba has its own demands as BBC News reported earlier this year that Raul Castro wants the U.S. to return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba to begin a normalization process which will lead to better relations for both countries. The article titled ‘Castro demands Guantanamo Bay in return for US-Cuba diplomatic deal’ and said:

His brother Raul, who succeeded him as president in 2008, made his demands at the summit of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in Costa Rica. “The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalising bilateral relations,” he said. “But this will not be possible while the blockade still exists, while they don’t give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base.” The land on which the base stands was leased to the US government in 1903 by Cuba’s then-rulers.

Both demands will be difficult to achieve. The U.S. wants a military presence in Cuba with Guantanamo Bay as a post and a six-story embassy in Havana with its “unrestricted” personnel that will travel freely throughout Cuba. What agencies would operate in the U.S. embassy? Will it be the CIA, USAID, DHS or even the FBI? Or maybe newly funded terrorists straight out of the Middle East who look like Latinos? That is a tough task to swallow for the Cuban government especially after their experiences with the U.S. behind the terrorist attacks that occurred in their territory over the last five decades. It will take a very long time to build trust between both nations before any of these demands are met.

U.S-Cuba Diplomatic Relations R.I.P. 2016

There is distrust between both nations. Does Cuba trust Washington? I don’t think so. The Cuban government and the people are not oblivious to the fact that the U.S. government’s numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, the CIA backed ‘Bay of Pigs invasion’ or the economic embargo despite Obama’s promise to end it, is a part of history that is hard to forget. Obama’s offer to end the embargo comes with tough conditions. Cuba is extremely cautious with U.S. foreign intervention policies which is now directed towards Venezuela. The decline of oil prices clearly orchestrated by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. was to weaken the economies of both Venezuela and Russia who do rely on high oil prices.

Russian President Vladimir Putin once said that “we all see the lowering of oil prices. There’s lots of talk about what’s causing it. Could it be an agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to punish Iran and affect the economies of Russia and Venezuela? It could.” It makes all the sense now for the U.S. to aggressively use sanctions against Venezuela.

Cuba still receives its largest oil imports from Venezuela. I can assure you that if Maduro is overthrown and replaced with a new pro-US figure, the oil contracts will dramatically change or would even come to a stop and that would most likely have a devastating effect on the Cuban economy.

The U.S. would hope that it will strangle the Cuban economy to the point where the people would get angry at the Castro government causing civil unrest. The Cuban people have endured a lot of pain and struggle since the revolution began and I believe that they will overcome any hurdle that comes their way. But I do not see a breakthrough for Cuba or the U.S. despite the fact that legitimate Cuban and American businesses, farmers and the tourism industry would benefit each other. But the U.S. wants Cuba to become a corporate haven filled with fast food companies, GMO foods and casino’s filled with prostitutes run by organized crime and corrupt politicians similar to the Batista era before 1959.

Demands from both the U.S. and Cuba will not be met by the end of Obama’s term. If a Jeb Bush, or a Hillary Clinton or any other future candidate who is “selected” (Yes, I meant “selected” not “elected”) for the Presidency because he or she would most likely be hawkish on foreign policy. Most of the candidates for 2016 Presidential elections are war mongers whether Democrat or Republican including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Any candidate who becomes president would be bad for U.S-Cuba relations.

Either way, all I see is a long and dangerous road that will lead to nowhere. The obvious is that Obama is more aggressive in his foreign policy by calling out Venezuela as a threat to U.S. national security. It is a sign that the Obama administration’s last two years in office will create more instability and war. Venezuela is sure on the list for regime change, once again. If that happens, Cuba will prepare its military and intelligence apparatus to repel any attempt by the U.S. to destabilize its country.

The talk about U.S-Cuba relations warming up will get cold pretty fast, because it is just talk. If Obama was serious about closing Guantanamo Bay’s torture chamber, he would use his executive powers (which he constantly uses for domestic purposes) to immediately shut down the facility, but he won’t, nor will the next President. Its time to face the possibility that the new U.S-Cuba talks will fail until trust is rebuilt between the two nations and that is something that is extremely hard for the Cuban government to do. Who can blame them?

http://silentcrownews.com/wordpress/?p=3982,

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The election results and U.S. policy toward Cuba

November 9, 2014

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Jesús Arboleya •
ProgresoWeekly

HAVANA — In the days prior to the midterm elections, a media campaign was launched, urging President Obama to change U.S. policy toward Cuba.

It is obvious that the promoters of that campaign could foresee that the results of the election would translate into a Republican victory, as indeed they did. So, the question arises:

How could the Republican victory influence this dynamics?

As I see it, very little. Before the Democrats lost control of the Senate, everybody knew that the President could not count on Congress to modify U.S. policy toward Cuba, so they were asking Obama to make use of his executive powers, something that they will continue to do in the immediate future.

In fact, as Álvaro Fernández and others have commented, the issue could become simpler for Obama, because of the weakening of pressures within his own party, given the replacement of Democrat Bob Menéndez as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Now, Obama’s main enemies will be the Republicans, but that will be a constant in all of his government’s actions. Therefore, the topic of Cuba is inserted into the political polarization that has characterized Obama’s administration and everything will depend on his willingness to act in this scenario.

For a long time now, Obama seems to have forgotten his intention to become “the president of all Americans” and seek some accommodation with the Republicans. Now, his options are more drastic: either he decides to act against his adversaries — with the political implications that this carries — or subordinates himself to their designs and becomes a “dead weight” in the nation’s politics, as some analysts predict.

The President’s level of unpopularity is seen as responsible for the electoral disaster suffered by the Democrats. It is true that this happens quite regularly in second presidential terms, but Obama’s case has other connotations because of the social impact his election originally made.

It remains to be seen if, aware of his historical responsibility, Obama is willing to revert the situation and wage battle, at least on the issues that define his “legacy” — not many of them, for sure.

Within this logic, the Cuban issue acquires some relevance. I say “some” because, compared with the enormous domestic and foreign problems facing U.S. policy, the topic of Cuba is of lesser importance.

However, it has a symbolic value that exceeds its real connotations and could help the President improve an image that has been seriously impaired by the lack of determination he has shown in many instances.

In fact, a policy change wouldn’t be a difficult decision, because

even Republican sectors would support it;
a new policy would be welcomed by the international community, especially by Latin America, where the Summit of the Americas will be held next April with Cuba in attendance; and
a new policy would have a special impact on the state of Florida, with a view to the 2016 elections, something that constitutes a priority for the Democratic Party.

According to exit polls on Nov. 4, a majority of Cuban-Americans supported the Democratic candidate for governor, Charlie Crist (50-46 percent), which confirms a trend that was expressed in the 2010 presidential election.

Most analysts attribute that support to the differences between the contenders regarding the Cuban issue. In a comparison with the 2010 results, Republican Gov. Rick Scott lost 20 percentage points among Cuban-Americans and lost in all counties with a high concentration of Cuban-Americans. This could also be an indicator favoring the Democrats in the 2016 elections.

Although a Crist victory could have helped propel a change in policy toward Cuba, his defeat does not substantially alter the equation prior to the elections. The same happens in the case of Rep. Joe García (D-Fla.)

In the end, the opponents are the same as before, and it is doubtful that their influence will increase substantially thanks to the Republican victory.

Even more importantly, the Republican triumph does not alter the objective factors that justify the criticism aimed at the current U.S. policy toward Cuba.

It is a tired policy, incapable of achieving the objectives for which it was designed, counter to the United States’ own interests, and rejected by a majority of U.S. public opinion, including Cuban-Americans.

Nor does it alter the fact that Obama is the president who has been in the best position to change it, and probably the president who will benefit most by so doing.

To quote the title of an old Cuban radio series: “Fate is in his hands.”

Obama’s Sanctimonious Human Rights Argument Against Cuba

September 23, 2014

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Unbalanced Law?
Obama’s Sanctimonious Human Rights Argument Against Cuba
by MATT PEPPE

Raúl Castro, President of Cuba, said that he wants to start relations with the U.S., but first the U.S. must provide health insurance to all 46 million people who lack it; stop extrajudicial assassinations in sovereign countries through drone attacks; make higher education affordable for all; reform the prison system which has by far the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, with a drastically disproportionate amount of prisoners being minorities; grant Puerto Rico its sovereignty as required by the U.N. Charter, U.N. Declaration on Decolonization, and the popular referendum in Puerto Rico in 2012; halt the economic blockade, which has been ruled illegal for 22 straight years in the U.N.; close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility and return the land to Cuba; turn overterrorists living freely in Miami who have bombed Cuban civilian airplanes, hotels and fishing boats; and free the three political prisoners who were investigating these groups to prevent further attacks.

Actually, he said: “We don’t demand that the U.S. change its political or social system and we don’t accept negotiations over ours. If we really want to move our bilateral relations forward, we’ll have to learn to respect our differences, if not, we’re ready to take another 55 years in the same situation.”

President Barack Obama has said Cuba: ”Has not yet observed basic human rights … I and the American people will welcome the time when the Cuban people have the freedom to live their lives, choose their leaders, and fully participate in this global economy and international institutions.” But he added: “We haven’t gotten there yet.”

Presumably Obama means when Cuba agrees to relinquish their right to self-determination, as guaranteed in the U.N. Charter, to join the U.S.-imposed neoliberal order. When Cuba to gives up state control over industries like banking and telecommunications and opens them up to foreign investment, so more money can be shipped off the island instead of staying in the local economy and invested in the Cuban people. When Cuba agrees to “free trade” agreements, which would prevent labor and environmental safeguards while forcing local businesses to compete on an uneven playing field with multinational corporations that receive government subsidies, allowing them to undercut the price of local products. In short, when Cuba decides to respect private profit over the social welfare of its population.

U.S. calls for “democracy” and “human rights” in Cuba have an important historical connotation, which in reality has nothing to do with representative government nor human rights. The term is nothing more than a propaganda tool, instantly elevating the accuser to a superior moral status and subjecting the accused to an indefensible position regardless of the real facts, history and context.

The U.S. is not suggesting that Cuba should be judged by established human rights and international humanitarian laws – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which the U.S. has never ratified); and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which the U.S. took more than 20 years to ratify); the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the U.S. has never ratified; and many others. It is suggesting Cuba abide by the criteria the U.S. sets out for them and sees fit to interpret itself.

The reality is that the United States does not get to serve as judge and jury for other countries’ internal affairs, just as they would laugh in the face of anyone who tried to do the same to them. To pretend that your demands are more important than the law that governs the international system is beyond condescending.

Incidentally, there is a United Nations Committee that impartially reviews compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, one of the few treaties which the U.S. has both signed and ratified. The committee, in its most recent annual report, found the U.S. non-compliant in many areas.

To start, they found that the U.S. “has only limited avenues to ensure that state and local governments respect and implement the Covenant, and that its provisions have been declared to be non-self-executing at the time of ratification,” which serves to “limit the legal reach and practical relevance of the Covenant.”

Among the many matters of concern is accountability for “unlawful killings during its international operations, the use of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in United States custody.”

The committee also noted numerous domestic problems, including “racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” “racial profiling,” “excessive use of force by law enforcement officials,” “criminalization of homelessness,” “National Security Agency surveillance,” and even “voting rights.”

Obama’s sanctimonious remarks about Cuba demonstrate his disregard for the law that applies to both countries equally, and his unwillingness to be held to the same standard that he preaches to others.

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog (http://mattpeppe.blogspot.be/,)
His writing has appeared in CounterPunch, MintPress News, Latino Rebels, Countercurrents and other outlets.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/23/obamas-sanctimonious-human-rights-argument-against-cuba/,

Professor from San Francisco State University Felix Kury Sends Letter to President Obama

September 4, 2014

Felix Kury specializes in mental health policy issues facing Latinos in the U.S. He has taught at San Francisco State University (SFSU) since 1988. Mr Kury teaches Latino Health Care Perspectives, Latino Family Narratives, Latino Mental Health, Cuba: Health, Education & Culture, Community Organizing, and other courses. Professor Kury established the SFSU Cuba Educational Project in 1996, the first such academic exchange between Cuba and SFSU, taking over 350 students to Cuba on the study-tour. Felix Kury is Program Director and Founding Faculty Adviser for the Clínica Martín-Baró SFSU-UCSF in the Mission District of San Francisco. Clínica Martín-Baró serves uninsured, low-income persons who would otherwise have limited or no access to healthcare on a regular basis.

September 5, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

I am writing as a Professor in the Latino Studies Department San Francisco State University (SFSU). This September will mark 16 years of unwarranted imprisonment of the Cuban Five, whose only crime was to prevent terrorist acts in Cuba from right wing para-military Cubans in Florida who have operated with impunity for the last fifty years. During these years, hundreds of my students at SFSU who have learned about the Cuban Five have also joined the call for their release.

The Cuban Five have never posed a threat to national security of the US. When they first were arrested, they spent time in solitary confinement, isolated from family and friends – a clear violation of their human rights, cruel and unusual punishment, and no doubt a form of torture. Two of the five, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, have both returned to Cuba, having served their sentences.

Mr. Obama, I urge you to use the power of your pen to commute the sentences of Gerardo Hernandez, serving double life sentences in USP Victorville, California, Antonio Guerrero, serving 22 years in FCI Marianna, Florida, and Ramon Labañino (known as Luis Medina), serving 30 years in FCI Ashland, Kentucky.

As President, you are dealing with many challenges and controversies, such as the humanitarian crisis of Central American children, and the police brutality of the citizens of Ferguson. You promised change when you were elected. I have not seen any change in the foreign policy towards Cuba. Making such a humanitarian gesture by granting clemency will enhance the credibility and moral authority of your administration that has deteriorated as a result of listening to the wrong advisers.

As I write this letter to you I reflect on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Sincerely,

Félix Salvador Kury
Program Director & Faculty Advisor
Clínica Martín-Baró, SFSU-UCSF
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
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Remember: On Friday September 5th, call Obama and demand the freedom of the Cuban 5

CALL THE WHITE HOUSE TO JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND
FOR THEIR FREEDOM.

By phone:
202-456-1111 (If nobody answers the phone leave a message)
If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code
+ 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111

By Fax: 202-456-2461
If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area
Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461

To send an e-mail: president@whitehouse.gov

To send a letter:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
United States

To learn more about the Cuban 5 visit: http://www.thecuban5.org,

President Obama, let the heroes go!

September 3, 2014

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By James Thompson

President John F. Kennedy wrote a landmark book called Profiles in Courage. He studied the lives of a number of political leaders in the United States who stood up to negative forces and did the right thing even though it may not have been in their best political interest.

President Obama is reportedly an admirer of John F. Kennedy. President Obama is also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

It is puzzling to many why the president has not responded to the mass movement demanding the release of the Cuban 5 (a.k.a. Miami 5). The mass movement is very large and is international in scope. Many high-ranking celebrities and political leaders both in the United States and around the world have united with a single demand “Free the 5!”

The Cuban 5 are five heroes who came to the United States to gather information on right wing terrorists located in Miami who were plotting violence against Cuba. Indeed, they carried out many attacks on this sovereign nation and killed many people and destroyed much property. The Cuban 5 were successful in gathering crucial information which they supplied to the Cuban government so that they could prevent these violent attacks. These courageous men fought international terrorists toe to toe and saved many innocent lives.

On September 12, 1998, the Cuban 5 were arrested. They received a trial which many maintain was unfair and they received astronomical sentences compared with others convicted of similar charges. One of the 5 completed his sentence in 2011 and was released and returned to Cuba. Another completed his sentence and returned to Cuba in 2014. Three remain in prison and have been there since 1998.

A US government operative, Alan Gross, was apprehended by the Cuban authorities for attempting to incite Cubans to overthrow their government. He has been languishing in prison for many years now and has been ignored by the Obama administration. The Cubans appear eager to make a swap of the three remaining Cuban 5 for Alan Gross. However, the effort of the Cubans has fallen on deaf ears.

President John F. Kennedy was faced with a similar situation when he took office. A high-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), Henry Winston, had been apprehended during the McCarthy era and was imprisoned for a number of years before Kennedy took office. There was an international outcry at this injustice and there were demands to release Mr. Winston. On June 21, 1961, President Kennedy granted Winston executive clemency and he was released. This was at the height of the Cold War and there was great reactionary pressure to leave Mr. Winston in prison in spite of his serious medical problems. President Kennedy demonstrated his courage and fairness in reversing this injustice even though it was not in his best political interest.

In a few days, we will reach the 16th anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban 5. This would be an excellent time for President Obama to demonstrate to the world that he has the courage that President Kennedy had by releasing the 5 and arranging for a swap for Alan Gross. The world could then see that President Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner not only in name but also in action. He could follow this courageous act by working with Congress to end the blockade of Cuba and lift travel restrictions so that US citizens could travel freely to one of our country’s closest neighbors. President Obama campaigned for office on themes of “Change” and “Progress.” Mr. Obama, show us some Change and Progress!

OBAMA’S ARROGANT INTERFERENCE IN VENEZUELA AND RESISTANCE BY A PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY

February 22, 2014

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by Arnold August

On February 19, 2014, at a Press Conference by President Obama, President Peña Nieto (Mexico), and Prime Minister Harper (Canada), in Toluca, Mexico, Obama stated:

“In Venezuela, rather than trying to distract from its own failings by making up false accusations against diplomats from the United States, the government ought to focus on addressing the legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people. So, along with the Organization of American States, we call on the Venezuelan government to release protestors that it’s detained and engage in real dialogue. And all parties have an obligation to work together to restrain violence and restore calm.” http://www.whitehouse.gov

How can Obama say that the accusations against U.S. diplomats for interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela are false? The above three-sentence statement exclusively on Venezuela uttered by the U.S. president consists in itself as an arrogant attempt to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs. The “legitimate grievances” of the Venezuelan people were addressed by the Bolivarian Revolution in numerous ballot box contests since December, 1998. These electoral gains precisely target the U.S.-dominated economic and political system existing from 1958 to 1998. The voting includes the April 14, 2013 presidential election won by Nicolás Maduro and which the U.S. refuses to recognize; by negating the results recognized by the whole continent, Obama had planted the seeds of the current violence carried out by the pro-U.S. elements in the country. The candidates of the Bolivarian Revolution’s Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela. (PSUV) also won the majority of municipalities, mayoralties and the popular vote in the December 8, 2013 municipal elections.

Furthermore, who is Obama to declare that the U.S. – dominated Organization of American States (OAS) is the reference point for Venezuela, while the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is not considered? The latter excludes two of the three countries represented at the above-cited press conference in Mexico, that is Canada and the U.S. This is so precisely because of their historical role in the south as gendarmes and plunderers of natural resources. Moreover, by what right does the U.S. define the vandals and their leader Leopoldo López as “protesters” and representatives of the “Venezuelan people,” as if they have no history of U.S.-driven violent coup attempts against the Hugo Chávez and then the Maduro legitimate governments? Does Venezuela not have the right to arrest and put on trial individuals who have been responsible for the violence? Obama urges “all parties” to “restrain violence.” He thus places the perpetrators of violence on the same footing as those who are trying to calm the situation, restore order and protect public and private property from the vandals. Furthermore, by calling for “real dialogue” he thus condemns the government for failing to consider grievances while painting a picture of the “protesters” as innocent victims of the Maduro government. However, despite the provocations, Maduro was and is calling for dialogue with the opponents. http://venezuelanalysis.com

This “opposition promotion” is part of the U.S. plan to create a pretext for a coup d’état in that oil-rich country. The role of the media in turning truth on its head and thus invent excuses for intervention in Venezuelan is pointed out in a timely article by Professor Steve Ellner (who since 1977 has taught at the Universidad de Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela). https://www.greenleft.org.au Despite the combined forces of the oligarchy’s international and local Venezuelan media, as well as the U.S.-financed and inspired democracy promotion groups, the first battle was won by Venezuela’s participatory democracy. On February 18 the Bolivarian Revolution, let by its government and Nicolás Maduro, displayed a show of force. A massive demonstration was held by mainly oil-industry workers in Caracas. This sector has been the source of forces to overthrow the legitimate constitutional regime and open up a path for the re-colonisation of Venezuela. This demonstration temporarily put the pro-U.S. forces in Venezuela on the defensive. It is only when the people are empowered and are effectively part of political power could this victory have taken place. These successful inroads into the pro-U.S. imperialist camp can come about because of Venezuela’s new experiments in participatory democracy under way since Hugo Chávez won the election in December 1998. Thus, on April 19, the day after the “Chavista” counter-offensive, the situation was relatively calm.

However, to counter the April 18th victory and the ensuing relative order prevailing on April 19, it was no accident that Obama came to the rescue. The above quoted February 19, 7:25 PM Obama statement encouraged Washington’s allies in Venezuela to restart their violent activities in Venezuela and create a climate of chaos. Thus, the next day, on February 20, violent incidents erupted once again, inflamed by Washington’s support, in various parts of Venezuela. On-the-spot reporting by Venezuelanalysis testifies to the nature of the violent opposition protests and the growing desire at the grass roots to take the streets back from the proponents of violent regime change. http://venezuelanalysis.com, http://venezuelanalysis.com

Thus Obama’s statement in Mexico on February 19 confirms what I wrote on February 17, 2014: Washington and the Obama administration are directly responsible for encouraging the fascist groups and opposition leaders in Venezuela. http://www.democracycuba.com

The international media including the liberal CNN played their usual role. http://www.cnn.com However, it is very refreshing to hear Maduro telling the CNN that if it does not cease its “war propaganda”, it “will have to leave Venezuela.” http://www.telesurtv.net

The U.S. and their Venezuelan media allies are blaming the Venezuelan government for the violence in that country, while it is supposedly the “pro-democracy” groups that are causing it. The U.S. expansionist goals toward Latin America and the Caribbean go all the way back to 1778 during the War of Independence. U.S. mainstream political parties, now known as Republicans and Democrats, have always been involved in direct and indirect military intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean; in fact the Democrats actually scored better than their Republican with more – not less – military interventions. http://www.democracyintheus.com

In order to increase the U.S. policy of domination over the southern part of the hemisphere, much of which has been in revolt against U.S. control, a new face was needed for U.S. ambitions; this new image was necessary in order to close the international and domestic credibility gap created by the Bush years. This is the role of Obama; his image of “change” was, and is, consciously promoted by Obama himself and the Chicago marketing specialists. http://www.democracyintheus.com

Obama’s arrogant interference in Venezuela constitutes the latest example from among the long list of U.S. presidents who adopt and actively sponsor the original seventeenth century evangelical notion: the U.S is a chosen people, the beacon on the hill for the world to look toward for salvation. Herein lays the pompous nature of Obama which can only be smashed in Venezuela through the channels of participatory democracy fashioned by the Bolivarian Revolution. One must also add that the solidarity of other countries and peoples especially in Latin American and the Caribbean, but also the world, is a key ingredient.

Where heads of state, nations, academics and social activists stand on Venezuela is the litmus test of being progressive. Some academics and their associations in the U.S. and elsewhere are starting to stir. Among the academic circles, Ellner points out that “political scientist and Venezuelan specialist David Smilde of the University of Georgia, who is not pro-Chavista but rather even-handed in his analyses, has stated that the Venezuelan government has nothing to gain by the violence.” http://venezuelanalysis.com It is desirable that other academics and intellectuals do not follow into the Obama trap of “opposing violence” by “all parties.” It is preferable that these circles take a stand against the amply-documented media war (to which all academic circles have easy access) and U.S. intrusion. Tipping the balance in favour of allowing the Maduro government to settle the issues, without outside interference by the Obama administration, will help restore order and respect for constitutional legality in Venezuela.

http://www.democracycuba.com/Obama_Interference_Venezuela_Resistance_By_Participatory_Democracy.html,

U.S. policy change on Cuba stalled – by Obama

February 6, 2014

_1-cuba_usa

By David Adams and Daniel Trotta
MIAMI/HAVANA

(Reuters) – U.S. relations with Cuba are at their best in almost two decades, but President Barack Obama seems unwilling or unable to confront a well-organized anti-Cuba lobby and push for further progress.

Obama suggested change was coming at a Miami fundraiser in November, saying “we have to be creative, and we have to be thoughtful, and we have to continue to update our policies” on Cuba, and yet he has withheld using his executive power since last easing Cuban travel restrictions in January 2011.

Many Cuba experts and policy analysts say a fundamental revision of Cuba policy is overdue and that greater U.S. involvement could promote the market-oriented reforms under way on the communist-ruled island since Cuban President Raul Castro took over for his ailing brother Fidel in 2008.

The Obama administration says Cuba must first improve human rights and release imprisoned U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who was sentenced to 15 years for attempting to establish an illegal communications network on the island.

“Cuba would make it a whole lot easier if they would just release Alan Gross,” said one U.S. official who is knowledgeable about Cuba policy and asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the issue.

“Whenever you move on Cuba policy there is always fierce opposition from some members of Congress. There’s never a good time to do it. And it’s not clear that the benefits outweigh the negatives,” the official said.

Officials from both countries have told Reuters that U.S.-Cuban relations have taken on a more serious and pragmatic tone in recent months. They have cooperated on drug interdiction, oil-spill mitigation and immigration. Cuba experts say bilateral relations have not been this good since the 1990s, in U.S. President Bill Clinton’s first term.

The most vexing problem is the detention of Gross.

Cuba has shown no interest in releasing him without first seeing a U.S. gesture, such as releasing the “Cuban Five” agents arrested in Florida in 1998 and convicted in 2001 for spying.

That puts the burden on Obama to create a solution. U.S. officials have refused to swap the four Cubans – soon to be three – remaining in prison for Gross. One option would be for the U.S. State Department to remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, which carries economic sanctions on top of those from the U.S. economic embargo in place since 1962.

Any concession would provoke howls of protest from the influential anti-Castro lobby, which demands changes within the one-party state before it would ease its hard line. Havana clearly wants improved relations but is unwilling to make concessions just to please Washington.

THE HANDSHAKE

When Obama shook Raul Castro’s hand in South Africa at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in December, it followed a series of improvements in ties between two countries separated by just 90 miles of sea but half a century of hostility.

In his State of the Union speech last month, Obama promised to act alone when Congress refuses. But so far he has given little indication that Cuba policy is a priority.

Obama cannot lift the economic embargo without Congress, where there is serious opposition from both parties, but he could further liberalize travel restrictions and promote more cultural exchanges, as he first did in 2009.

Cuba analysts who advocate a greater opening argue that Obama should not wait for Cuba to act, that he can loosen remittance policy and support Cuba’s growing private sector by allowing U.S. businesses and investors to deal more directly with Cubans. Although U.S. law blocks most commerce, Obama could pursue a national-interest or presidential waiver, experts say.

“The question should be, ‘Does it advance U.S. interests?’ and the answer is yes,” said Richard Feinberg, a former National Security Council aide to Clinton who visits Cuba regularly and has briefed the Obama White House.

THE REST OF THE WEST

The European Union is on the verge of reengaging Cuba in economic cooperation talks, and Latin American countries continue to deepen ties with Cuba.

“The present foreign policy of Cuba is becoming more and more realistic in searching for economic partners in order to go ahead with the updating of the economic system,” said Carlos Alzugaray, a retired former senior Cuban diplomat, noting the inauguration last month of a Brazilian-financed upgrade of the port at Mariel, near Havana, designed to boost trade.

In part because of the U.S. embargo, Cuba’s current trade policy is focused on its socialist allies, notably oil-rich Venezuela, which provides Havana with cheap oil.

“Raul (Castro) is concerned that the Venezuelan ATM machine is not going to be there forever,” said Paul Hare, a former British ambassador to Cuba.

Across the Florida Straits, the influence of the anti-Castro forces in Miami is legendary, but it is also waning with generational change. Exit polls showed Obama won close to half the Cuban-American vote in Florida in 2012 and took the state’s much larger non-Cuban Latino vote handily.

Despite the changing politics, Obama appears unwilling to confront intense Republican opposition or alienate New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat and Cuban-American who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a fervid supporter of the embargo.

For the last decade the Cuban exile lobby has poured money into targeted congressional races and created a solid block of bipartisan support, including almost 90 Democrats.

“We have made sure to have our presence felt in campaigns around the country getting like-minded people elected,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, which lobbies for a strict embargo.

Claver-Carone said his political action committee has put $5 million into congressional campaigns since 2003.

“We are now the single largest foreign policy PAC in the country,” he said, “and by far the largest Hispanic PAC ever in history.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/06/us-usa-cuba-idUSBREA150WV20140206,

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Another straw in the wind?

November 9, 2013

150373_Obama_AmLat

John McAuliff — Nov 9, 2013

President Obama is in Miami and said nice things about dissidents (filtered through Juan Tamayo’s usually hostile to Havana interpretation in the Miami Herald
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/08/3740997/with-charlie-crist-as-guest-president.html,), but also suggested more is coming on US policy change:
Obama told two of Cuba’s leading dissidents in South Florida that he admires their sacrifices, a rare White House recognition of the peaceful opposition on the communist-ruled island.
“The most important thing here was the recognition by the president of the United States, the most powerful democracy in the world,” dissident Guillermo Farinas said minutes after the meeting.
Obama also referred to his administration’s decision to relax travel restrictions on Cuba and said, “we’ve started to see changes on the island,” adding the U.S. needs to be “creative and thoughtful” and continue to update out Cuba policies.
If memory serves, Farinas sits on the pro-travel restrictions pro-embargo side of the dissident community although he has obviously profited from both countries’ liberalization.
The President’s comment on his travel initiative could be read as a refutation to Farinas and explain Farinas language about “the most important thing here”, which implies Obama said things he was not so happy about.
John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Links and resources
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances by Mark P. Sullivan, Specialist in Latin American Affairs An invaluable annual report published by Congressional Research Service (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL31139.pdf,)

taken from http://thehavananote.com/2013/11/another_straw_wind,

Letter for Barack Obama from Workers Gran Caribe Hotels, Cuba

October 9, 2013

_1-FIFTEEN YEARS IT'S ENOUGH

Havana, October 4, 2013

To: President Barack Obama

Mr. Obama, Nobel Peace Price and President of United States of America, you might ignore the paramount role Cubans played in your country’s Independence War, since the liberation of the thirteen colonies from the English colonialism.

The war that began in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence of Philadelphia, lasted up to 1783 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed by Great Britain thus recognizing the independence of the United States.

In 1781, when George Washington lacked money to continue to fund the independence war, Cuban women surrendered most of their jewels as a contribution to the cause. They raised one million eight hundred reales altogether so that Washington could face and defeat the Englishmen in Yorktown, in the coast of Virginia. This is a story that is hardly mentioned.

In Yorktown battle, troops from Haiti and Havana provided an invaluable contribution; however, today there is no even an indication there to remind us of that feat. This was the first time that Cubans left his land to fight for the independence of another country.

Havana became a supply source for US freedom fighters. Military equipment that arrived in Cuba from Mexico and the Coruña was re-embarked in Havana for the rebels. As a result, trade grew between the Cuban capital and Philadelphia.

Two months after Spain declared war to England in June, 1779, the Spanish General, Bernardo Gálvez, advanced in Florida. He led an army constituted by Cubans that won battle after battle. He defeated the enemy in Manchac, Panmure and Baton Rouge between September 7th and September 21st they reinforced their battalion troops of mestizo and black people of Havana, and with this reinforces they attacked and seized Mobile on February 12th, 1780.

In 1781, Galvéz besieged Pensacola, and once more, troops from Havana joined the effort. This time, the leader was the Cuban General Juan Manuel Cajigal, who was the first one to enter the city. They both secured the margins of the Mississippi river so as to guarantee the supply for the rebels and to ruin the English plans of fencing the pro-independence armies from the west.

General Cajigal’s aid was the then Lieutenant Colonel Francisco de Miranda, a noteworthy Venezuelan during the seizing of Pensacola. He acted as a liaison between General George Washington and Havana with respect to the funds raised by Cuban women. Francisco de Miranda was later a General of the Bolivarian army during the independence war in his country. He was also internationally recognized.

The victories had other strategic aspects:
They were able to boost the confrontation between Indian troops and the Englishmen.
The route of the Bahamas Canal was disrupted.
English lines in the West Indian coast of North America and the Golf of Mexico disappeared.
The enemy was forced to use a significant number of troops; consequently, its operational capacity was diminished.

Cubans have had strong confrontations with the different US administrations for many years, but not with the US people, the nobility, diligence and industriousness of which we acknowledge.

During the XIX century, many Cuban patriots were received by the US people, including Father Varela. Moreover, José Martí founded there the Cuban Revolutionary Party and organized the Guerra Necesaria (the necessary war) in 1895.

On the other hand, the Cuban people remember affectionately US citizen Henry Reeve, born in Brooklyn, who in 1869 joined the Cuban patriots during the Independence war as an expression of internationalism. Due to his talent and courage, he achieved the military rank of Brigadier in the Ejército Libertador and died in the battle Yaguaramas in 1876. He was only 26 years old.

The Cuban Medical Corp that helped countries stricken by natural disasters is named after the glorious name of Henry Reeve.

At the same time, many US personalities have lived in Cuba and they have made themselves at home, the most relevant case is probably that of Ernest Hemingway, for our country was the inspiration to write a significant part of his most renowned works.

As Fidel Castro said, Americans will feel safer and most respected in Cuba rather than anywhere else. Never their flag, or any other flag, has been insulted.

The US cultural groups and sport teams are welcomed in Cuba with hospitality and their good performances are praised by the Cuban audience. The same occurs when Cubans perform in the United States.

The US people have reacted against the provocations by the Miami Mafia and, by the way, our athletes have responded according to their principles.

The US people have defended unjust causes, but they have been deceived first. Notwithstanding, when they learn the truth; they side with it. This is the case of the Viet Nam War and more recently Elian Gonzalez’s kidnapping, when more than the 80% of the US people demanded his return to Cuba. This was a gesture of good will that we will never forget.

Furthermore, when the truth come out in regards to the case of the Cuban Five, breaking the walls of silence and misinformation, the US people will support this just cause.

If what these Cuban young men did– to avoid the attacks of terrorists groups against the Cuban and US people- would have been done by US youth instead, they would have been regarded as Heroes and would have been accorded with honors.

Mr. Obama, as president of the United States, you can free these anti-terrorist young men and lessen, somehow, the insult and shame suffered.

OBAMA, PLEASE GIVE ME FIVE!

In spite of the mountains of calumnies against Cuba, the number of Americans that support the lifting of the blockade and the normalization of our relations is ever-growing.
Despite the restrictions for the US people to take a first hand look at the Cuban reality, there are more and more people travelling to our country, in defiance of the laws imposed by the Nazi-fascist extreme right-wingers, thus diminishing their rights.
Honor and Glory to the fighters for the Independence of the people!

Long live the friendship among peoples!
Workers Gran Caribe Hotels, Havana, Cuba.


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