Apart from that, the Brian Williams question about Fidel Castro’s death in the first debate has continued to frame what has become an odd discussion.
The question focused on what will surely be a big moment in history, but one that I do not believe to be foremost in people’s minds in Cuba, or in Miami for that matter. On Calle Ocho, after all, they celebrated Fidel’s death five years ago only to find that our Maker had a different plan.
Nonetheless, we have had days of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney talking about Fidel meeting his Maker, or not, verging on pop theology.
Here’s Romney at a Miami event on Wednesday: “If I’m fortunate to become the next President of the United States it is my expectation that Fidel Castro will finally be taken off this planet. I doubt he’ll take any time in the sky. He’ll find a nether region to be more to his comfort…We’ve waited a long, long time for the opportunity that is represented by a new president, and by new leadership, or by old leadership finally kicking the bucket in Cuba. And I want to take advantage. I want to be the American president that is proud to be able to say that I was president at the time that we brought freedom back to the people of Cuba.”
With that, Romney also released a policy paper. Lifting a phrase from President Obama, who said in 2009 that freedom in Cuba is “our lodestone, our North Star,” Romney’s paper declares: “The North Star that guides Mitt Romney’s policy toward the island is the realizable dream of a free Cuba.”
Romney sees Gingrich on the issue of travel (back to the Bush rules), Helms-Burton (allow Title III to go into effect), and looking into the possibility of indicting Messrs. Castro, and raises him on a few scores:
· Romney will “fully fund and effectively implement” U.S. government democracy promotion programs
· He will beef up broadcasting, Internet, and social media communications
· He will “publicly identify by name those police officers, prison officials, judges, state security personnel, and regime officials who mistreat, torture, and oppress the Cuban people so they know they will be held individually accountable.”
Gingrich, is you’re still with me, elaborated on his earlier tough talk. From AFP:
Mr. Gingrich was asked to explain comments that if elected, he would “not tolerate four more years of a Cuban dictatorship.”
If the US planes bombed Libya, should they do the same with Cuba?
“If there was a genuine, legitimate uprising, we would, of course, be on the side of the people,”Mr. Gingrich told Spanish-language network Univision.
“In that sense, I don’t see why Cuba should be sacrosanct, and we should say, ‘Oh, don't do anything to hurt’ - you know, we’re very prepared to back people in Libya. We may end up backing people in Syria. But now Cuba? Hands off Cuba. That’s baloney.
“People of Cuba deserve freedom.”
The audience at the Miami venue where Univision held the interview broke into applause.
Ernesto Hernandez Busto, Spain-based editor of Penultimos Dias, is following it all in Miami and attended the Romney event. He liked Romney’s remarks and those of his wife, he found Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen “enthusiastic and predictable,” but found something lacking in the whole lineup and in all the other candidates: “an understanding of the Cuban situation that goes beyond the traditional topics.”
Welcome to the club, Ernesto.