Monday, May 16, 2016

U.S.-Cuba Tangle Today

Huge Meeting in Havana!
       If indeed there is to be "a new era" in U.S.-Cuba relations, a diplomatic session in Havana today might go a long way to determine whether or not such a monumental epoch actually occurs. Bilateral commissions of top diplomats from Cuba and the U. S. will huddle in Havana today to access the progress of President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, which he and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in simultaneous telecasts on December 17th, 2014. Much progress has been made, including the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana for the first time since 1961 as well as remarkable openings in U. S. tourism and commerce with the nearby island. But Obama has only a few months left in his two-term presidency and he has been the only one of the last eleven U. S. presidents with both the courage and intelligence to make inroads into the right-wing Batistiano dominance of U. S. relations with the nearby Caribbean island since 1959 when the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship was overthrown but quickly reconstituted on U. S. soil with a new capital -- Miami, commonly referred to as Little Havana. Despite vast commercial and social ties already in place thanks to Obama, there are eight Cuban-Americans in a mostly bought-and-paid-for U. S. Congress determined to turn-back all of Obama's overtures to Cuba. And that will be accomplished if Obama is succeeded by a Republican president.
           Cuba's brilliant Minister of North American Affairs, Josefina Vidal, will, of course, be the island's top diplomat for today's dialectic and iconoclastic discussions in Havana. This is the third of the so-called Bilateral Commission sessions that were arranged when Vidal and her U. S. counterpart Roberta Jacobson held four diplomatic meetings -- two in Havana and two in Washington -- following President Obama's decision to sanely engage with Cuba for the first time in many decades. Two preliminary bilateral sessions were held back in November, 2015 -- one in Havana and one in Washington. Now at the more important one today in Havana, Vidal says, "The agreements and assessments reached in the first two meetings will be reviewed and the results since then will be analyzed to determine where we are and where we are going." 
         The American delegation in Havana today will be led by Kristi Kenney. Like Vidal in Cuba, Kenney is a brilliant and dedicated veteran diplomat for the United States. She was born 60 years ago in Washington and got her Masters at Tulane and her Bachelor's at Clemson. She has been America's first female Ambassador to both Thailand and the Philippines. She is married to career diplomat William Brownfield who is now the U. S. State Department's chief in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. 
Kristi Kenney, top U. S. diplomat in Havana today.
       Roberta Jacobson and Josefina Vidal skillfully represented their countries in the four historic diplomatic sessions that made gigantic strides in normalizing relations between America and Cuba.
           The above photo should be studied by any American with even a slight patriotic concern for the United States. It shows Marco Rubio -- the first-term Cuban-American U. S. Senator from Miami -- displaying brazen disrespect for a great American patriot, Roberta Jacobson. When she represented the U. S. in the four historic diplomatic sessions with Cuba's Josefina Vidal, Ms. Jacobson was America's Minister of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and a brilliant one. Then President Obama appointed her to the vital position of U. S. Ambassador to Mexico. No decent and patriotic American could be expected to oppose that appointment, but in the dysfunctional U. S. Congress Rubio put a hold on it out of sheer childish, spiteful, unpatriotic and cowardly resentment of her superb representation of the U. S. in the Cuban diplomatic sessions. Rubio, of course, is well aware that Cuban-American anti-Castro zealots from Miami can get away with any punishment of innocent Cubans or innocent Americans who don't readily abide by cruel Batistiano dominance of America's Cuban policy -- with the airplane bombing of Cubana Flight 455, the car-bombing of the caring Miami newsman Emilio Milian, the cruelest and longest embargo in history, and a resounding and alarmist 191-to-2 yearly UN vote being mere microcosms of how Cuban-American extremists since 1959 have been allowed to reshape the image of democracy and the United States. Many decent members of the U. S. Congress railed against Rubio's blockage of Jacobson's appointment because she was surely the most qualified and because topical events on America's southern border demanded that the U. S. have an ambassador in Mexico City...especially to combat drugs, etc., and the thousands of Cubans currently bedeviling all South American nations as they flock to the U. S. border with Mexico to touch U. S. soil as greedy human traffickers tell them Obama is about to end the special Wet Foot/Dry Foot privileges available only to Cubans. After many months of being blocked by Rubio, Jacobson was finally appointed U. S. Ambassador to Mexico. But do study the above photo. It shows that Rubio and the other seven Cuban-Americans in the U. S. Congress...moderate Cuban-Americans are not eligible, you know...never have to worry that the American people or the U. S. media will hold them accountable regardless of what they do to sate their Cuban agendas, which most Cuban-Americans oppose but such opposition has no input.
         Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the two first-term Cuban-American U. S. Senators -- were serious Republican presidential candidates until they were wiped out by non-politician Donald Trump, reflecting a fact that Americans may finally be tired of bought-and-paid-for politicians. Rubio and Cruz arrived in the Senate running for President without remotely accomplishing anything meaningful in Congress -- except for threatening to shut down the government and vowing to reverse every positive Obama accomplishment regarding Cuba starting their "first day" in the White House. While the Rubio-Cruz extremism and other fatal money-and-power-hungry flaws eliminated them in the 2016 presidential race, they are already massively campaigning for the 2020 election and beyond. They have just one identical qualification: They will sell-out to any conservative, right-wing or Jewish billionaire on the planet. And that's why, though briefly portrayed as victims of the Trump phenomenon, they are already making media-exploitative speeches and resuming their lavish courting of billionaires with their White House sights firmly set on 2020. While there are literally scores of highly qualified Cuban-Americans, Rubio and Cruz are the last things Americans, Cuban-Americans, and citizens of the world need in America's White House.
Meanwhile:
       A cacophony of early results of President Obama's New Cuban Policy can continue to move forward if today's bilateral meeting featuring Cuba's Josefina Vidal and America's Kristi Kenney is successful.
       The unparalleled Obama-led process of Restoring Diplomatic Relations with Cuba is just as vital to the U. S. as it is to Cuba. After all, America's luminescent Cuban policy since the 1898 Spanish-American War and especially since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 has shamed the United States and democracy in the eyes of the world while also paradoxically garnering huge international support for Cuba.
       President Obama's easing Legal Travel to Cuba for U. S. Citizens has already been monumental and that's even before commercial airplane flights from the U. S. to Cuba, banned since 1962, begin this fall with up to 110 daily flights. Prior to Obama, everyday Americans for over half-a-century had been the only people in the world without the freedom to visit Cuba. Minus hyperbolic exaggeration, that alone established a glowing and symbiotic legacy as a touchstone for President Obama's unique guts and patriotism.
Yes, Obama's U.S.-Cuba New Era has arrived.
The entire world wants the Cuba Embargo to end.
    A few crooked nosed, cross-eyed, and greedy Americans aligned with a few greedy and revengeful Cuban-Americans have self-servingly dictated The Blockade of Cuba for more than a half-century.
          This is the Image of America -- jaundiced with greed and beady-eyed with desire -- that the rest of the world has of the U. S. as it gazes southward at its island neighbor, little helpless but lush Cuba. No other American policy has ever for such a sustained period shed as gruesome an image of the U. S. as its Cuban policy, which the American people have gutlessly and guilelessly allowed to persist decade after decade.
       Today in Havana at a crucial bilateral meeting, America's unjustifiable Cuban policy comes up against the diplomatic astuteness of Josefina Vidal. She saved Cuba as a sovereign nation in 2002 when the George W. Bush administration had turned its Latin American policy over to anti-Castro zealots and it appeared that coups against first Venezuela and then Cuba were very much in play. A decade-and-a-half later, taking advantage of the far more decent Obama administration, Vidal is trying to save Cuba again.
        The sheer genius of Vidal, working with reasonable elements within the Obama administration, has already achieved far more than the miscreants in the U. S. Congress said was possible. Her first line in the sand was the pernicious Batistiano-directed designation of Cuba as a Sponsor of Terrorism, which she got erased. She then got embassies reopened in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961, plus openings for trade, tourism, and commerce between the two nations that had been verboten since before Vidal was born. But let it be known that today in Havana America's top diplomat Kristi Kenney will learn that Vidal "will never agree to full normalization of relations" unless three more of her demands are met: {1} The embargo, in place since 1962, must end; {2} the U. S. must enter into serious discussions about the return of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba; and {3} the U. S. must cease funding and creating dissidents on the island. The Cuban-American hardliners in Congress laugh at those three Vidal demands, just as they laughed when she demanded that Cuba be removed from the Terrorism list. Also, Cuban-Americans regularly and stealthily attach anti-Cuban bills onto massive so-called "must pass" multi-billion-dollar defense, transportation, etc., bills and they then become legal U. S. laws that greatly harm Cubans, Americans and everyone else...while recent "slippers" like Mario Diaz-Balart and Ron DeSantis grin & smirk. So, in addition to battling the strongest nation in the world, Vidal must deal with a dysfunctional U. S. Congress that is at the beck & call of Cuban-American hardliners. Thus, she's a billion-to-one underdog but both her and Cuba have been similarly underestimated for decades. That, in fact, is a key part of the Cuban mystique.
      The mammoth United States and the island of Cuba have confronted each other in Cold and Hot wars since the 1950s. Each day Cuba has been a billion-to-one underdog. It still is. But....it's still there.
       America's gutsy two-term President, Mr. Obama, has officially proclaimed: "Cuba does not need to fear a threat from the United States." BUT, unchecked Cuban extremists have proven they can obtain enough Jesse Helms, Dan Burtons, Robert Toricellies, etc., in Congress to craft whatever anti-Cuban and pro-Cuban American laws they desire, with the Congress-approved pipelines of tax dollars steadily flowing from Washington-to-Miami to back-up those laws. And, of course, a Republican might succeed Obama in the White House within a few months. Yes, Cuba does not need to fear a threat from the United States as long as Mr. Obama is President. BUT after he leaves office, there will be "a threat."  And Vidal knows it.
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