Thursday, December 24, 2015

Trumpeting U.S.-Cuba Ties

As Businesses Battle U. S. Congress
{Updated: Christmas Day, December 25th, 2015}
Photo courtesy: Yamil Lage/The Houston Chronicle.
            This week -- Dec. 22-2015 -- the Houston Chronicle published a long Editorial. It was entitled: "END EMBARGO AGAINST CUBA: Even A Majority Of Cuban-Americans Believe It Is Time To Resume Trade With The Island." The Editorial used the above photo of a Cuban trumpeting U.S.-Cuba ties to illustrate its pertinent message aimed at the U. S. Congress, which callously defies sanity, decency, and world opinion to keep in place a hideous embargo first imposed in 1962 for {according to declassified U. S. documents} the stated reason of depriving and starving Cubans on the island for the purpose of inspiring them to overthrow Cuba's revolutionary government. Both the embargo and its premise have failed miserably, except to punish millions of innocent Cubans on the island as well as smearing the image of the U. S. and democracy in the eyes of the world. Such U. S. laws, essentially dictated by revengeful elements of the ousted Batista-Mafia dictatorship, have used nuances within the U. S. Congress to codify and legalize a bevy of U. S. laws designed to sate the revenge, financial, and political motives of a few while harming all others in a discriminating condescension that is totally unprecedented in the annals of the American democracy.


        Cuba, dominating the Caribbean, is due south of Florida. Its strategic location has vast implications for America, the world's dominant nation and democracy. The efficacy of working with Cuba vastly outweighs hostility. It's proximity to the United States commands that, in the Global Warming era, the two neighbors cooperate extensively concerning environmental issues. The Dec. 22-2015 Houston Chronicle Editorial stated: "Texas A & M's Corpus Christi campus is embarking on new research endeavors with Cuba as the United States works to ease relations with the country. The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, one of the few organizations authorized to work in Cuba, is launching new cooperative research work with Cuban scientists and students, focusing on environmental protection. Harte researchers have worked with the Cuban scientific community since 2002, but plan to expand their work now that the U. S. is re-establishing diplomatic ties with the island. Working with Cuba can help provide a better understanding of environmental change in the Gulf, including water quality, sea level rise, and ocean acidification."
       The Dec. 22-2015 Houston Chronicle Editorial, which pleaded for normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States, also stated: "The two largest airlines that carry the most traffic in Houston -- Southwest and United -- want to start regular commercial flights to Cuba." Houston is now the fourth most populace city in the United States.
       Earlier in this month of December, 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, on the left in the above photo, led a huge contingent of Texas officials and businesses to Cuba. The photo is courtesy of Desmond Boylan/Associated Press and it shows Governor Abbott making his case to Cuban officials to consider Texas, with one of the largest economies in the world, as a prime future trade partner. The Cuban officials were cordial during Governor Abbott's three-day visit, but the island is leery of such overtures form the U. S. because, historically speaking, it does not trust its motives.
   Cristina Escobar -- Cuba's young, dynamic, and influential news anchor -- has grudgingly supported rapprochement with the U. S., at least up to this point. But going forward she says, "As long as the U. S. Congress funds regime-change programs that the American people are unaware of, this island should emphasize business and diplomatic dealings with our friends, not with a nation that is still trying to impose its will on us. We are not lacking for friends and, in fact, the whole world supports our positions on the blockade, Guantanamo Bay and other assaults on our sovereignty. If the U. S. ends the blockade, ends the regime-change programs, and returns our port at Guantanamo Bay, then we should go forward with the normalization process with America, but not till those things are earnestly discussed. The USA has unique power and wealth to influence every nation, yet it can acquire the support of just one nation in the world to support its Cuban policy. What does that say about the USA? And about Cuba?"
        Sarah Stephens, the democracy-loving founder and director of the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas, has -- along with President Obama -- led the fight to normalize relations with Cuba. Her Cuba Central segment on the Center for Democracy in the Americas blog each Friday is the best weekly update on U.S.-Cuban relations. In her last posting, she mentioned that yet another poll out of Miami shows a strong majority of Cuban-Americans now support President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. She wrote: "As support among Cuban-Americans for the President's policy has gone up, the fear-factor -- by which we mean the old style, scorching hot opinion emanating from Miami and New Jersey which exerted relentless pressure on policymakers to keep the old policies in place -- has subsided substantially." I believe Americans should re-read that long, pertinent sentence by the democracy-loving Sarah Stephens. Sure, the mainstream U. S. media  -- especially the Talking Head-saturated Cable News channels -- does not have enough guts to air Ms. Stephens' definitive statements regarding Cuba. But "...the fear-factor...emanating from Miami and New Jersey..." has, for sure, dictated America's Cuban policy since the 1950s. Sarah Stephens believes democracy deserves a reprieve. Ms. Stephens ended her last CDA comment with these words: "TEARS OF JOY CELEBRATING DECEMBER 17TH." December 17th, 2014, was the day President Obama went on television to inform the world that he was trying to normalize relations with Cuba. "...the fear-factor...emanating from Miami and New Jersey..." It took courage for Sarah Stephens to write that exact sentence.
        Peter Kornbluh is the democracy-loving Cuban expert at the Washington-based National Security Archive. On December 17th, 2015, Mr. Kornbluh penned an article entitled: "WHY US-CUBA NORMALIZATION IS ACCELERATING." He wrote: "One year after the historic breakthrough, rapprochement has overwhelming support -- including from the business community. More than 70% of Americans support lifting the embargo -- and they're voting with their feet, by traveling there." You can go online and read Peter Kornbluh's entire December 17th article.
        Peter Kornbluh's insightful article included this Ramon Espinosa/AP photo that shows a Cuban flag side-by-side with an American flag in a barbershop on the island. These Cubans in Cuba are America's friends, not enemies. 
         Peter Kornbluh's incisive December 17th article also used this Editorial Cartoon to illustrate three of the hard-line Cuban-American members of Congress from Miami and New Jersey furiously trying to block President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. But in essence, they are blocking the will of many innocent people.
Most Americans approve this brave handshake.
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