Monday, August 13, 2012

Ryan on Cuba (Updated)

Herald political reporter Marc Caputo says the Ryan pick could be a “sore point in Miami-Dade” notwithstanding the assertions by Cuban American big shots that Ryan was “educated” and changed his position on Cuba.  And in El Nuevo, the headline is that Romney will “break tradition” today by visiting Miami and going not to Versailles on Calle Ocho, but to a very nice-sounding place called El Palacio de los Jugos. (Update: more from Sergio Valdivieso at Cafe Fuerte.)

Obviously Ryan will support the pro-embargo Romney position and my bet is that he will have to find a public opportunity to do so.  Politics being politics, he will put his convictions in storage and swallow words such as these from 2002, when he argued in the House for unrestricted travel to Cuba:

Mr. Chairman, the greatest antidote to totalitarianism is an informed mind. I would like to read a quick passage from an independent journalist, a dissident in Cuba, Oscar Espinosa Chepe:

“The passage of the House amendment last year to end the travel ban reflects a public opinion that every day understands more clearly that the effort to isolate Cuba has only increased the suffering of the Cuban people and strengthened the positions of the most recalcitrant elements in the Havana regime. Experience demonstrates that isolationism breathes life into totalitarianism. It helps it exercise control over citizens subjected to its power and to reinforce its monopoly over their minds. On the other hand, contact between peoples free individuals from falsehoods and from the lies without dignity to which they are obliged to lead.”

Mr. Chairman, it has been the American policy from Republican presidents and Democrat presidents that we engage; it has been in the American policy that we engage the Soviet Union, that we engage China, that we, just a few minutes ago, voted to engage Vietnam.

We should do the same with Cuba. The simple reason is that it has been a bedrock principle of American policy that travel is a device that opens closed societies. American travelers are our best ambassadors. They carry the idea of freedom to people from communist countries. There is no reason to make this exception for Cuba.

We want Americans to go down and exchange ideas, to show them the taste of freedom, to know what kind of brutal totalitarian regime they are living under. A people cannot rise up and ask for alternatives if they are not acquainted with those alternatives.

We are simply saying this 42-year practice of turning our backs, of looking inward, of being hypocrites while we go to China and Russia and Vietnam, must be ended.


Anonymous said...

and the winning time for Ryan's flip flop on cuba is 30 seconds. not bad, thought it wouldn't take that long

his 2002 comments at least had the basis for rationality, but as usual those who think flooding cuba with american tourists will change things in cuba are wrong. in fact it would most likely change things in washington. if millions of americans were allowed to see cuba for what it really is (the good and the bad) then all the 50 years of negative propaganda would finally have context, and i suspect many would question why the US has been punishing cuba for 50 years. anyone who thinks the cubans are not sophisticated about the outside world, and all it offers, is naive. and that's why americans are NOT allowed to visit cuba, the hard right would lose control of its message of the evil regime in cuba. americans would then be able to make up their own mind, and without doubt the majority would see cuban people looking for change, understanding their situation, and wanting an end to americans siege. and that the right wingnuts want to prevent at all costs
so good luck mr ryan, your heart might have been in the right place even if your head wasnt. and now they own your mouth.

Anonymous said...

Phil do you have the courage to share this in your blog?

Anonymous said...

I commend Paul Ryan for uttering those words in 2002. It shows that his heart was in the right place and I consider this a merit in his favor.

However, I feel the cost and benefits for a democratic transition of unlimited American tourism to Cuba must be weighed carefully before it is allowed.

I believe that the present policy of permitting unrestricted Cuban American visits and expenditures in the island while restricting those of other American citizens and residents is politically sound because it promotes democratic reform.

However I am not sure this pragmatism is legally justified because it obviously (and very humanely) gives one segment of the American population preferential treatment with regards to visits to Cuba disregarding the legal principle of providing "Equal treatment under the law" for everyone.

For me an elementary and totally subjective cost benefit analysis shows that the expenditures made by Cuban Americans in their visits to Cuba have much less weight than the ideological harm that their presence causes the totalitarian government of the island by showing their relatives and friends that another type of life is possible for Cubans like them.

However, in the case of the visits of other Americans, I feel that this advantage does not hold.

I consider that the benefits the Cuban governments receives from receiving additional foreign exchange far outweigh the ideological damage caused by the presence of other American tourists because most of them cannot communicate with the island's population in Spanish and because Cubans will not associate their presence with their future aspirations.

For this reason, I would like to use the increased presence of American tourists to the island, as a negotiating incentive for Cuban government democratic and free market reform measures.

But this is of course affected by my Cuban American desire to better my fellow Cuban's future and of course will not coincide with the wishes of other fellow Americans who assign more weight to their own desire to visit the island.

Whether the promotion of this goal of democratizing Cuba justifies the temporary application for all American citizens of unequal treatment under the law to regulate visits to the island is something that the US Supreme Court to decide.

I recognize the quandary and am quite willing to let it be resolved by the US legal system.

Anonymous said...

In 2003 Paul Ryan was unencumbered by the politics of a Presidential Race. He now has to show support for his ticket and his candidate. There have also been other developments in Cuba since then. The transfer of power from Fidel to Raul, and the renewed friendship of the Castros with Vladimir Putin. Putin has Military ambitions of putting a Russian Naval base in Cuba. After the news that at least 1 Russian Submarine (That we know of) has been patroling undetected in the gulf of mexico, we now have the added complication of a real and credible national security threat 90 miles south with direct sea access to Washinton DC to consider. More work must be done Diplomatically and militarily before we can just "Open the gates" and let US Citizens flood into Cuba. our enemies see our tourists abroad as effective hostages and /or targets when things go badly.

Anonymous said...

Castro never attract america castro did throw off all cuba's island what was the american corporations that was seemingly manipulating cuba's economic instability. Castro then allowed 2 incorporate russia economics strategy. Unfortunately russia placed missile sites in Cuba. Kennedy stopped this action and because it involved in an socialist communistic economic island an embargo on Cuba's island. It would be very interesting to learn if these corporations that were on the island of cuba were main contributors to financial campaign to the american political partlies!

Ironically is going past 20 years and now america trades and borrows from communist china what's wrong with this picture?

Anonymous said...

What a sahme that the anonymous who comented on August 13, 2012 3:21 PM has not lived in Cuba for at least a year like a normal Cuban. It would do him/hr a world of good to see socialism and the oppressive Cuban regime up close. Maybe a few months under communism will change his mistaken perception that the folks in Cuba's regime are great and do gooders and wake up to the reality of a communist regime with all the oppression, abuses, and wrong doings that have characterized these types of regimes throughout history.
You sir, need a well deserved 1 year stay in Cuba like a mormal Cuban with all that this implies, with all the inconveniences,the shortages, the abuses, and the repression, to see if you can improve on your history and your politics.