Friday, May 27, 2016

Cuba-U.S.-Russia

Diplomatic Chess Matches!!~
     Miguel Diaz-Canel is in Moscow this week at the head of a top-level Cuban delegation. The photo above, taken on May 25th, shows Diaz-Canel, third from the left, directly across the conference table from Russian President Vladimir Putin. It has been reported in Moscow that Putin personally invited Diaz-Canel and asked a pertinent question: "How is the detente with your neighbor to the north progressing, Miguel?"
       Miguel Diaz-Canel had a birthday on April 20th. He was born 56 years ago in Santa Clara, Cuba. Since 2013 he has held the coveted title of First Vice-President, the second most prestigious position in Cuba.
       The date has been set when Diaz-Canel will become the first non-Castro leader of Cuba since 1959. That date, established by President Raul Castro, is August 24th, 2018, but the transition may be sooner. 
          It is believed that Fidel Castro, who turns 90-years-old on August 13th, approved the designation of Miguel Diaz-Canel, but only after he had first suggested a woman, presumably Josefina Vidal. He reportedly let go of that suggestion only after she insisted "I can better serve Cuba as a diplomatic defender." 
       Tourism from the U. S. to Cuba has boomed since President Obama eased some travel restrictions that had been in place since 1962. The Ismael Francisco photo above shows Kevin Darrow arriving in Havana Tuesday, May 24th. Mr. Darrow is a restaurant owner from Pasadena, California. Although the U. S. reportedly is allowing the convenience of credit cards and travelers checks on the island, that transition is still evolving. Mr. Darrow complained about having to carry too much cash and the Cuban government is complaining that America's "Cold War" financial restrictions continue to plague the Cuban economy.
     Josefina Vidal, Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs and, supposedly, Fidel's First Choice as the next leader of Cuba, recently hosted the third so-called U.S.-Cuban Bilateral Commission in Havana. She says the 4th session will be held in Washington in September. Vidal has negotiated many remarkable advances in U.S.-Cuban relations with the Obama administration but, wary of a Republican U. S. president beginning in January "to team" with a Republican U. S. Congress, Vidal hopes to make progress by September on three of her lingering priorities: {1} Serious discussions on further erasing "punitive" aspects of the blockade/embargo; {2} ceasing "congressional funding and creation" of dissidents on the island; and {3} "intelligent dialogue" concerning the return of Guantanamo Bay. While feeling "ecstatic" over advances since President Obama "opened doors," Vidal says that normalizing relations "is still a work in progress."
     In her four diplomatic sessions with Roberta Jacobson and her three bilateral meetings with Kristi Kenney, Vidal has stressed these points regarding what she terms the U. S. "theft" of Guantanamo Bay:  {1} When the U. S. "stole" Guantanamo Bay in 1903 it was because "it could" after the 1898 Spanish-American War resulted in the U. S. becoming the "new imperialist dictator" of Cuba; {2} the U. S. Naval Base on plush Cuban soil is nothing more than "a superfluous and revengeful playpen" because of the U. S. military bases in Puerto Rico and the southeast U. S. as well as ships and submarines "toting nuclear missiles" in seas all around Cuba; {3} the continuing U. S. occupation of Guantanamo Bay is merely to appease "a few of the most revengeful Cuban-Americans" in Congress; and {4} "it is shocking to me that the theft of Guantanamo Bay is allowed to demean the image of the United States democracy on a daily basis all around the world."
U. S. flag being raised at Guantanamo Bay in 1903.
It is still controlling Guantanamo Bay today.
U. S. flag flying high at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Obama can't close Bush-era prison at Guantanamo Bay.
       Barack Obama has twice been elected America's President, partly because he promised to close Guantanamo, which Americans realize is an image that severely and unnecessarily hurts the U. S. and democracy worldwide. He has been severely and unfairly criticized for not being able to accomplish that goal. Yet, his skillful and bold use of Executives Orders has sliced markedly into other punitive -- against Cuba but also against America -- laws easily and routinely mandated by a dysfunctional, Batistiano-directed U. S. Congress. Those criticizing Obama for not being able to close Gitmo tend to forget the advantages a mere handful of two generations of anti-Castro zealots from Miami have in the American Congress.
     Mario Diaz-Balart, the U. S. Congressman from Miami, is emblematic of the congressional dictation of a U. S. Cuban policy that most Americans, most Cuban-Americans and America's best friends around the world abhor. He is one of five Cuban-Americans, including his older {Havana-born} brother Lincoln, who have represented Miami in the U. S. Congress. All are rich and powerful anti-Obama zealots although polls confirm that most Cuban-Americans even in Miami favor Obama's Cuban policy, not theirs. The Diaz-Balarts are sons of Rafael Diaz-Balart, a key Minister in the Batista dictatorship who fled the Cuban Revolution and became one of the richest and most powerful anti-Castro zealots in the history of South Florida. Mario recently celebrated the easy ploy of slipping a bill into a "must pass" multi-billion-dollar bill designed to make sure that neither Obama nor anyone else can alter the U. S. occupation of Guantanamo Bay.
      Leaving America's Cuban policy in the hands of a few anti-revolutionary zealots leaves the above image of the United States embedded deeply in world opinions. It is a congressionally painted and Bush-era image that President Obama has tried mightily to correct but neither the intimidated/incompetent U. S. media nor the pusillanimous/propagandized U. S. citizenry cringe enough about this very sad image.
Is it America's "Pearl" or Cuba's "Pearl?"
   "One thing we will never negotiate is our sovereignty, which the revolution gave us in 1959. The blockade and the theft of Guantanamo Bay infringe on our sovereignty." {Vidal: Cuba's top diplomat and negotiator}.
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