U.S.-Cuba In The New Year

Advances vs. Roadblocks
{Sunday, January 10th, 2016}
      Marselha Goncalves Margerin has devoted her life to human rights, especially for women and children. A graduate of American University in Washington, her first job was with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Then she worked for the United Nations, especially earning plaudits for yeoman efforts in Haiti. Since August of 2014, Marselha has been Amnesty International's Advocacy for the Americas. On Jan. 7-2016 the Associated Press had a major article on human rights in Cuba written by the AP's Havana correspondents Andrea Rodriguez and Michael Weissenstein. Regarding Cuba's treatment of dissidents, Marselha was quoted with this succinct, one-sentence reply: "The reforms that have to be made in terms of restrictions of liberty must come from the Cuban government, not from the government of the United States." It was a very simple and forthright reply, but one that very few knowledgeable and informed Americans have the courage to make. Instead, proselytized or politically correct Americans routinely answer or suggest that the United States, not Cuba, should mandate and judge human rights in Cuba. The Rodriguez-Weissenstein AP article that quoted Marselha also stated: "Cuba's dissidents are viewed with skepticism by many ordinary Cubans who question their backing and motivation." NO KIDDING!! Most Americans who actually live or work in Cuba, including journalists, are surprised at the relatively small number of dissidents despite all the well-funded U. S. regime-change programs. YET, as the AP article in January of 2016 indicated, many skeptical "ordinary" Cubans "question their backing and motivation." In other words, the plethora of tax-funded regime-change programs routinely and lavishly funded by the U. S. Congress backfire time-and-again in Cuba, repeatedly making the pugnacious island more determined than ever to be a sovereign nation. Even hints of U. S. support or financing of dissidence in Cuba boosts the revolutionary government and leaves the normal influence of the U. S. government a non-factor. Americans for decades have been propagandized to base their opinions of Cuba on what Miami extremists or other biased politicians, journalists or bloggers tell them. But the aforementioned AP update from Havana reveals why Americans would be smarter to depend on what unbiased experts say. Regarding changes in Cuba, Amnesty International's rational is correct:
                "The reforms that have to be made in terms of restrictions of liberty must come from the Cuban government, not from the government of the United States."
        Andrea Schneider is a Law Professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee. She and two other law professors at Marquette are taking 25 of their students to Cuba for a week. Ms. Schneider told WISN 12 News in Milwaukee, "I think it's a real opportunity for students to learn about the people we've kind of seen as the other for so long in U. S. diplomatic relations." Ms. Schneider is among a fast-growing segment of Americans anxious to take advantage of President Obama's historic overtures to Cuba, slicing into six decades in which Americans, even in the world's greatest democracy, have been dictated to on the topic of Cuba. One of those dictates not only dissuaded Americans from traveling to Cuba to judge it for themselves but actual U. S. laws SINCE 1962 have long prevented everyday Americans from visiting one place on this planet -- Cuba. This helps Cuban-exile extremists to more easily proselytize Americans regarding their points of view about the nearby island. Andrea Schneider, and others...thanks to President Barack Obama...prefer having the freedom to judge Cuba first-hand as opposed to being at the mercy of having force-fed, biased opinions rammed down their throats.
      Sarah Stephens is the democracy-loving chieftain of the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas. Because she is a democracy-lover who happens to know more about U.S.-Cuban relations than anybody else, don't expect to see her on American television "news" programs discussing U.S.-Cuban relations. That's left up to anti-Cuban zealots like pundit Ana Navarro and the two Cuban-American presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Yet, when it comes to Cuba, she has had far more influence on President Obama than all those pundits and Cuban-Americans in the U. S. Congress combined. Each week on the Center for Democracy in the Americas website, Ms. Stephens posts a "Cuba Central" summary that is the best update, each and every week, on U.S.-Cuban relations. Her insightful article this second week of January is entitled: "Cuba and the U. S. -- The State of the Reunion." She wrote:
               "During the first days of the New Year, we got to see first-hand the benefits of the Obama policy when we joined a trade delegation led by Virginia's Governor Terry McAuliffe -- a visit that produced cooperation agreements between the Cuban and Virginia Port Authorities, and between Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Havana. McAuliffe, who delighted onlookers by driving a 1956 pink Chevrolet Bel Air named Lola around Havana, concluded his visit to Cuba by previewing an appeal he promised to make to Paul Ryan, the House Speaker; Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader; and the members of the House and Senate across the political aisle." Ms. Stephens said that Governor McAuliffe told Congressional leaders Ryan and McConnell: "2016 needs to be the year that we move our relationship forward, that we end the embargo and we do the right thing for the citizens of the United Sates of America and the citizens of Cuba." 
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at Cuba's Mariel Port.
Governor McAuliffe making his case for improved U.S.-Cuban relations.
       But Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan -- the two leaders of the 535-member, Republican-controlled U. S. Congress -- tend only to merely grin and smirk when people like Governor McAuliffe plead for sanity and decency to prevail in America's Cuban policy. McConnell and Ryan only take their Cuban orders from self-serving benefactors of a failed policy that has existed since the 1950s. And that simply won't change.
       Which brings us back around to Sarah Stephens, the democracy-loving American who heads the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas. In her January 9th CDA website update, she wrote: "What's exciting to us is that the administration continues moving forward on efforts to broaden and deepen the reforms. REUTERS broke an exclusive story this afternoon saying the U. S. government is finally considering putting an end to the program that lures Cuban doctors and nurses off their foreign postings with promises of easy entry into the United States. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and more than a dozen colleagues urged the administration to cancel the program, especially after lauding what Cuba had done to fight the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa." Ms. Stephens added that the U. S. effort to induce Cuban doctors to defect to the U. S. was "conceived under President George W. Bush as a brain-drain effort" and was not "consistent with Obama's new, long overdue direction."
       Rep. Rosa DeLauro, praised by Sarah Stephens for trying to end the "brain drain" of Cuban doctors, is emblematic of Americans tired of America's Cuban policy that, for decades, has been dictated by extreme elements from the ousted Batista dictatorship in Cuba aligned with self-serving acolytes such as the Bush dynasty. Most Americans, Cuban-Americans, and citizens of the world agree with Congresswoman DeLauro but, when it comes to Cuba, the U. S. democracy rarely considers the majority. YET, that doesn't mean that democracy-lovers like Rosa DeLauro...and Sarah Stephens...will give up trying to make things right.

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