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Whenever any change in U.S. Policy is considered regarding Cuba, we as a nation must endure the same hypocritical moralizing from extremists. Castro is a terrible ruler. The Castros treat political prisoners badly. We can't appease a corrupt regime.

A round of such inanity was fired this week because President Obama was easing travel restrictions for Americans who want to go to Cuba. This is no bold move, mind you. There is still an embargo on Cuba. We still apply the bizarre wet foot-dry-foot policy for refugees. But now certain organized and authorized missionary and school groups, in licensed charter flights, can travel there, and non-family members can send $500 remittances to people there.

This has been labeled by Fox News as a slap in the face of political prisoners, by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as an undermining of foreign policy and security objectives and by Sen. Marco Rubio as an "unthinkable" enrichment of a totalitarian regime.

Now, let me make clear I do not think Cuba is better off for the fact Fidel Castro was ever born. The accusations against him, while typically relayed in a histrionic fashion, are true. The regime has historically been intolerant of dissent and has done more to disempower people living on the island than it has ever done to empower them.

So why do I find such objections regarding Obama's policies so offensive? Because so little regard is shown with similar despots around the world.

Ros-Lehtinen, now the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, proudly boasted her her credential as a hawk to the St. Petersburg Times, and noted her relentless support of Israel, a nation hated everywhere but America for its ethnic segregation policies and unapologetic smothering of dissenting voices. She has also continued to support propping up a corrupt administration in Afghanistan.

Rubio, while far newer to the foreign policy debate in Washington, just returned from a trip to Afghanistan where he said supporting the regime there was a top priority so that denizens don't see the "bad guys" back in power. As if the drug-peddling, vote-rigging administration of Hamid Karzai is the pinnacle of good leadership. On the campaign trail last year, he suggested America wasn't propping Israel up enough.

It is amazing to me that fiscal conservatives would want America acting as policeman for every wicked regime in the world, but if that is the stand they want to take fine. That said, you cannot scream full-throated about the evils of the Castro regime while propping up governments who are far more corrupt and guilty of more heinous human right violations.

And then there is America's alleged ongoing abuse of its foreign prisoners. In Cuba.

Rubio opposes using the American court process to bring those prisoners to justice and favors military tribunals conducted in a country where American civilians aren't allowed to travel. Ros-Lehtinen went further last year and said the administration it was a waste of taxpayer dollars to provide human treatment to Guantanamo prisoners. "It is time for the president to focus on the security and economic needs of the American people, rather than on the needs of those dangerous extremists who seek to do us harm," she said in a statement last February.

Every politician says the endgame of the Cuban embargo is to force Cuba to be a humane regime, yet they support policies which are inhumane on their face, both for our more questionable allies abroad and for our own military if the mood fits. Even though the Raul Castro regime has been far less onerous than Fidel, the rhetoric of American politicians hasn't changed at all.

If we truly want to end such practices in Cuba, we should start with our own actions there.

Originally posted to Southernlib on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 11:04 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    Please check out my blog Rantings From Florida. Someone has to do it.

    by Southernlib on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 11:04:18 AM PST

  •  Good news: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, Woody, corvo, neroden

    Venezuela will connect Cuba to a high-speed fiber optic cable next month undermining U.S. sanctions prohibiting Cuba's access to nearby underwater lines, the head of the project said on Tuesday.

    A French ship will begin laying the 995-mile submarine cable on Saturday and it is expected to reach eastern Cuba by February 8, Wilfredo Morales, president of Telecomunicaciones Gran Caribe, the Venezuelan-Cuban joint venture that owns the line, said.

    Other brave leaders are not letting the United States stand in the way of further connecting their Cuban brothers and sisters to the outside world.

    Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you what you are.

    by Musket Man on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 11:12:36 AM PST

  •  The US Policy towards Cuba (4+ / 0-)

    has been wrong footed for years. Sadly I do not seeing it changing too dramatically until the old line Cuban American power brokers in South Florida fade into the Sunset.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 11:15:46 AM PST

    •  Tragically, I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo

      But the problem is that the young generation of leaders still has to suck up to the aging power base. That leaves us with Rubio, likely a long-time leader in Cuban politics in Florida, espousing beliefs formed by events in the Kennedy administration.

      Somehow, the cycle has to be broken, but it may take much longer than the timeline you suggest.

      Please check out my blog Rantings From Florida. Someone has to do it.

      by Southernlib on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 11:20:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Continuing the asinine policies on Cuba (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, Woody, corvo, Inspector Javert

    does more to hinder progress than anything Castro could do. This latest meaningless gesture serves gives the Cubans more reasons to mistrust us and our intentions.

    The administration and its State dept. may have missed this, but the nations of South America are moving ahead on their own and leaving us behind.

    And BTW, if Castro had not been born, Cuba would look just like a larger version of Haiti.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 11:22:45 AM PST

    •  That may be true (0+ / 0-)

      But that doesn't change what Castro did for years. I am on the same side as you on what America needs to do, but see no need to defend Castro, whose actions contributed the the creation of an embargo in the first place.

      Please check out my blog Rantings From Florida. Someone has to do it.

      by Southernlib on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 11:41:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  50 fucking years of gusano bullshit. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden, Inspector Javert, farlefty

        Yes, that's deliberately provocative language, but that's all we have heard from the  crybaby so called "Cuban exile community".

        Fidel Castro liberated the Cuban people, or at least the 90% of them who were not the complicit beneficiaries of the corruption of the Batista dictatorship.  We, the US government, obsessed with the Cold War, demonized the Cuban Revolution and Castro, and lionized the upper class and their upper middle class toadie exiles as "freedom fighters", those who picked up their marbles and left in a monumental hissy-fit, upset that the Cuban peasantry, who had been little more than slaves to the Oligarchy, finally stood up on its hind legs and demanded and won a fairer distribution of the pie.

        We could have embraced Castro and helped in liberating Cuba; instead we drove him into the arms of Khrushchev and forced him into a repressive defense of the Revolution. United Fruit/"Chiquita" and its political minions bear much of the responsibility for this short-sightedness.

        We blew it on Cuba, big time, and it is more than time (50 years!) we faced that fact.

        don't always believe what you think...

        by claude on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 12:06:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They committed the sin of overthrowing Batista (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          claude, Inspector Javert

          I'm not even sure it's Cold War obsession.  The US has been remarkably hostile to the popular overthrow of corporate imperialist puppet governments, ever since the US started being the main world sponsor of such governments in the 19th century.  Mexico was recognized as too large to exert total control over, and every other such revolution was further away, so Cuba was the greatest offense to corporatist imperialism.

          Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

          by neroden on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 07:52:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't defend Castro so much as try to (3+ / 0-)

        point out that, very like Hồ Chí Minh before him, he was forced by our government into accepting the Soviet deal.

        Neither of these men wanted their nations to become "client states", but our refusal to compromise on the abhorrent deals "our" corporations tried to force onto them made it the only option.

        BTW, Cuba is still the only nation that never fills the allotted slots to immigrate here. Given the opportunity most Cuban Cubans don't want to live under our system of capitalist servitude, at least in Cuba they get real benefit from their bad system.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

        by Greyhound on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 12:10:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Our foreign policy hurts us (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden

          in ways most Americans don't even realize. It is truly amazing that history continues to repeat itself.

          The screwups made in the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations should not hang over us today. But while we can reverse a health care vote months after the fact, we can never walk back from a poor foreign policy decision.

          True absurdity.

          Please check out my blog Rantings From Florida. Someone has to do it.

          by Southernlib on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 04:19:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  U.S. policy towards Cuba (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, Woody, corvo, Southernlib, farlefty

    is not just hypocritical, it is wrong, it is pathological, it is ineffective in promoting change and effective at punishing the people.

    It staggers my belief that a handful of rich Cuban ex-pats have been able to get Congress to enact laws that are essentially a spiteful means of getting back at Castro.

    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -- George Bernard Shaw

    by Inspector Javert on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 11:29:17 AM PST

  •  Gratuitous Israel-bashing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citydem

    unnecessarily mars your diary.  Castro has his issues, but the embargo is dumb.  Nonetheless, when you out yourself as an Israel-hater and make absurd claims like "Israel engages in ethnic segregation," your diary loses all credibility.  You're urging ignoring Castro's crimes while inventing Israeli crimes.  That's the "Hypocrisy" of your diary.

    •  I don't ignore Castro's crimes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden

      but we aren't conducting an embargo against Israel. I invent nothing there. The treatment of the Palestinians has been awful, and if not for deplorable reaction on the part of the Palestinians over the years, no American would defend the terrible things done in the name on national security in that nation.

      My point is that the policy of hawks doesn't apply its sense of ethical responsibility equally.

      Call me an Israel-hater if you want. All I am saying is we cannot support the actions of one nation, even assist in them, while we condemn the actions of another and punish its people.

      Please check out my blog Rantings From Florida. Someone has to do it.

      by Southernlib on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 04:26:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The embargo keeps Castro in power (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, neroden, Sura 109, Inspector Javert

    I was in East Berlin for 5 days in December 1988 and Western tourists, including Americans, were all over East Berlin. I rode the subway from the West to Frederichstrasse station and walked into the DDR. There were Polish black marketeers selling Kent cigarettes at Alexanderplatz. South American students selling East Marks at 1/20 the official exchange rate. At my hotel I could watch West German TV and even BBC because the East Germans needed Western tourist dollars.The Communists couldn't control the situation. The Wall was becoming a tourist attraction on both sides. On the way out my group of Americans joked with the East border guards about their life in a "Communist slave state". OK something bad happened then- they exposed my film as I'd taken pictures in the station. But, 11 months later it ended. The Wall came down.

    I was in Cuba in '09 and saw no US citizens. There were very polite Canadians and Euros, but no US tourists. If you want to know what Havana looks like watch the first 5 minutes of the movie, "Our Man in Havana " filmed in 1961. Nothing's changed.
    It's estimated 2 million US tourists would descend on Cuba if they could. Can you imagine what 2 million fun seeking US tourists would do in Cuba. For one thing they would challenge money controls and product bans. They would do what they did in East Berlin. Have fun and make a mockery of totalitarian rules. End the embargo and you'll see the end of totalitarianism in Cuba- at least outside of the base at Guantanamo.

    Cities are good for the environment

    by citydem on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 12:24:31 PM PST

    •  Further counterproductive effects of the embargo (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Woody, neroden, citydem, Inspector Javert
      1. It gives the Castro brothers an excuse.  If they can't deliver the goods, if there's not enough food for example, they can always blame it on the gringos.
      1. It denies us real information on what's happening in Cuba.  I see many defenses of Fidel Castro upthread.  Perhaps they're true! but we have little information on real conditions in Cuba that isn't filtered through the Castro brothers.  I no more trust the Castro-controlled media than the Murdoch-controlled media, and for the same reason.  Let us go to Cuba and see for ourselves what it's really like (or if there are government goons directing us to see what Castro wants us to see).

      "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."  The embargo has lasted 50 years.  The Castro brothers are still in power.

      Quidquid id est, timeo Republicanos et securitatem ferentes.

      by Sura 109 on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 12:38:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The pathetic part is when you look at the opinion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, neroden, Southernlib

    of cuban americans toward the embargo support is quickly crumbling. Hardly surprising when you consider a THIRD generation of cuban americans born in this country after the embargo are seeing how ineffective it is.

    "I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your fuckin' mouth." --- Bill Hicks

    by voroki on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 01:31:56 PM PST

  •  Taking away our freedom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, Inspector Javert

    American citizens do not have the freedom to travel to Cuba. Not because it is dangerous to anyone, compared to a visit to North Korea or Iran, but simply as part of a policy made in Washington and maintained to mollify a rich clique of voters in Miami.

    WTF is our government taking away our freedom to travel to a peaceful country. Makes you think that all the political speechifying about 'freedom' is just political speechifying.

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