Tuesday, October 30, 2007

“Micronesia abstained.”

One could argue that today’s vote in the UN General Assembly declaring the “necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” was a great victory for Cuban diplomacy, or a great defeat for President Bush a week after he called on the world to “put aside its differences” over U.S. policy toward Cuba.

But this is the sixteenth time in a row that the resolution has passed. It is not as momentous as it once was.

To me, what is noteworthy in the vote – 184-4, with Micronesia the lone abstention – is that many U.S. allies used to abstain, and today they did not. Not the Europeans and Australians who spoke during the debate in favor of human rights and the liberation of prisoners, not the Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians whom the President singled out for praise last week. The Israelis voted against the resolution apparently as a courtesy, because they trade with Cuba and invest there.

After sixteen rounds, the drama may be gone, but the vote is a very objective reminder that apart from the United States, Palau, and the Marshall Islands, no country – not even allies who explicitly share the President’s goals of democratic reform – agrees that the United States is right to try to isolate Cuba, much less undertakes policies of its own to that end.

A Reuters report is here.

(Photo of Cuban foreign ministry.)


leftside said...

What a blow to the US and Bush, who timed his speech directly to coincide with this vote, in a desperate hope to avoid this kind of drubbing...

Israel will be rewarded for their hypocrisy the next time the US vetoes a Security Council resolution on their occupation.

Anonymous said...

Bush knew, when he made the speech, that this would happen. His speech was not meant to avoid anything. His speech simply magnified Castro's "victory", almost on purpose.

Anonymous said...

leftside, I see you're the complete package...hate Israel too.

leftside said...

That's right anon, and you fit the pattern of an ignorant right-wing smear monger unable to differeniate one denouncing the hypocrisy involved in being alone in defending occupations and blockades and hating a country.

I'm sure everyone is getting tired of me responding to your ludicris personal attacks.

Juan Cuellar said...

Interesante contraste a lo que alegan los Squealers de la Granja de los Castros acerca del embargo: ver lo que decia el Cerdo Napoleon Orwelliano de Cuba, Fidel Castro, en: Los Squalers (Chivatos) de Orwell en la Granja de los Castros

leftside said...

Jeez, die-hard anti-Cuban Andres Oppenheimer and now Georgie Anne Geyer of the Wall Street Journal have come down hard on Bush's speech and US policy ("interference") in Cuba.

Anonymous said...

you want Oppenheimer and Geyer, leftside? you can have them...in fact, take all the op-ed writers you want; we'll take the policy...

Juan Cuellar said...

Lefty brings lefty Georgie Anne Geyer like something out of this world. The author of "The prince... revolutionary? A interview with Castro. A Fullbright scholar. Is like bringing Mike Duranty oped in the NYT about the wonders of the Soviet Union. Only that later, the Pulitzer Price, was a KGB agent.
Oppenheimer is a chameleon. Nothing serious about him. He is part of the special interest of this nation" Those merchants that want the embargo lifted so they can make Castro's Cuba the China of the Caribbean. And also take the island under their control. the Argentinean is looking for that. He did somenthing like that with Mexico crisis known as "Tesobonos" Simple as that.

leftside said...

I don't want Oppenheimer and Geyer on my side, but I would think you would if you want your bankrupt hard-line policy to go anywere 13 months from now.

Also, everyone should check out this (now English) piece on the "banned" video "Mala Leche" from the popular groups Moneda Dura. The Juventud Rebelde reviewer harshly criticizes the move to stop playing the video, and in fact says the (very critical) song comes from the best Cuban traditions. The piece ends by proclaiming "Changes yes; changes for the good of all."

Juan Cuellar said...

Lefty, whether you want them or not on your side is irrelevant. The fact is you brought them on to this forum to support your anti-Bush agenda. Is like taking seriously what old Walter Lippman say, being as he is, a collaborator of that regimen. Give me a break! Others close by fill that profile.

Since I know Castro's regime has more faces than Eve, Can you tell me how can I have a copy of that article in the Spanish version? in Juventud Rebelde site. I'm afraid is like Cubavision Internacional, they said one thing and it's counterpart (Cubavision) another. One is for the Cubans and the others are for the useful idiots abroad.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, changes -- changes that never seem to come, or that are just as quickly reversed as soon as the people start developing some independence from the regime.

What do you care about changes, anyway, leftside? I thought your opinion was that everything is wonderful in Cuba.

leftside said...

Juan, you seem quite amazed that JR would print an article like this. But after provided the links you requested, I am sure you will find another excuse to dismiss what is plainly another example of opening on the island.

The original Spanish version of that piece on 'Mala Leche' was easy to find. I read it originally in Spanish earlier in the week. I see it was also posted on the La Ventana (a Casa de las Americas site), along with a link to the supposedly banned video on YouTube. The author refers to a robust debate supposedly on some Cuban online forum, which I have not been able to find.

I am all for changes that will help the Cuban people. Certainly more independence of the press and freedom of expression is one of those areas. But I do not believe a capitalist press owned by the nation's elite can be called free either. And I do not beleive the lies exiles and politicians tell us about the state of freedom in Cuba either. A game between journalists, editors and bureaucrats is well underway. I just hope the US does not see these cracks as opportunities to interfere.

Anonymous said...

You're right about one thing, leftside. It is a game....with no consequences for the average Cuban.

leftside said...

I highly doubt the average Cuban thinks it is meaningless when they see their media willing to take on the Government like this.

Anonymous said...

what the Cuban people want is change, not a verbal shell game among the priveleged class. The problem is the regime can't allow that kind of change because it necessarily involves a reduction in absolute control, and without absolute control the whole decrepit enterprise collapses. Get it?

Juan Cuellar said...

Lefty, thanks por el link. But if you read everything that is coming out of Cuba, you will see this article in JR as a "smoke curtain" Every report that they (the regimen) gather from the people is critical. Phil is aware of that.

I suggest you read Yoani Blog "Generacion Y" article "Los hijos devoran a Saturno from cuba.She is right. Shame that Phil does not reflect her thoughts as he does with others.
This is fear from the regimen, not reform. Mala Leche is a sign. They are afraid. Read machado Ventura, Armando Harts, etc.

Funny that you praise this article and did not criticize the regimen for censoring the video, which by the way, it is still officially prohibited

Anonymous said...

Certainly there are many arguments to make for and against the embargo but the fact of the matter is, the UN vote is largely irrelevant, as is the international organization as a whole.

GA votes are bought and sold every day (anyone who has ever worked within the "hallowed halls" of the secretariat in New York can attest to that. Add to this the fact that some of the globe's most egregious human rights violators have enjoyed seats at both UN human rights bodies and you've got a perfect example of hypocrisy and good-'ol boy back room deals.

But when speaking of the embargo, it becomes essential - whether you're for or against - to remember the rationale behind it and why Cubans in exile have historically supported it. The idea of lining the pockets of those very individuals who oppressed them and continue to oppress their families is really quite hard to stomach, especially considering the amount of corruption inherent in the Cuban system. Why should exiles and American-born citizens be forced into financially supporting a reviled regime. Granted, there is certainly a double-standard here. There are plenty of nations whose human rights records are just as atrocious, with whom we trade.

But remember, the U.S. has every right to decide which nations it will and will not trade with. Nothing wrong with that. The UN vote was a waste of time, paper and lung capacity.

-Anatasio Blanco

leftside said...

Who's pockets are lined exactly Blanco? Despite what Forbes claims to guess, the Castro's and most top officials are unique in the world for their modest standard of living.

leftside said...

Cuba is also unique in that money that does come from trade and travel goes straight into the national budget to fund essential services, rather than the pockets of the nation's elite and multinationals.

Anonymous said...

Really leftside? Question: How is the Cuban military kept in line by the regime? Answer: Back in the early 90's following the collapse of Soviet subsidies and the rebuilding of Cuban tourism, one of the smartest (from the standpoint of maintaining power) things the Cuban "government" did was to put the military in charge of tourism dollars. What funds do you think are being used to pay for the newer model VW's, stereos and televisions often given to loyal military leaders?

As far as this statement is concerned:

"the Castro's and most top officials are unique in the world for their modest standard of living."

I can understand how folks get suckered into believing this nonsense but if you'd ever grown up near the Castro family compound in Jaimanitas (located between Havana proper and the town of Santa Fe), you'd know better. The brothers Castro live quite high on the hog. Have you ever actually spoken or met with anyone of any standing in the Cuban military? Seen their homes, the items they possess as compared to "everyday" Cubans? Your response to my comments seems to indicate that you haven't. In the past I had always found it quite amusing that Fidel and Co. parade around in new model Mercedes Benz's while the rest of us could only buy used Muskovitch's only IF we were given PERMISSION by the government to purchase such items. And this permission was only given IF we were in good standing with the party.

Come on leftside, don't be so naive (no offense intended).

Going further, money earned from trade is going directly to buy the truncheons used to beat us into submission, the MININT patrol cars used to hunt down peaceful dissidents and the technology used to spy and said dissidents.

Certain elements of the embargo are indeed misguided but the rationale behind it has always been just - keeping money out of the hands of a morally bankrupt dictatorship.

-Anatasio Blanco

leftside said...

Folks who perform well at most levels of Cuban society are provided with rewards and incentives. Being given VWs, TVs and stereos - in lieu of high salaries - isn't exactly the same as lining ones pockets, which implies corrpuption and enrichment. The Mercedes Benz's are owned by the State and not MINEX or the Castros.

The Castro's home at Punto Cano is quite small - 1700 square feet or something, as are their sons and daughters'. They all don't have a chip on their shoulders and don't expect special treatment. There are stories of Angel and Antonio Castro insisting on paying the entrance fee to jazz clubs and the like. Felipe Roque lives with his wife's parents in a modest home with no telephone, living on $50 a month and driving an old beat up car. Idalmis Menendez, who was married to Fidel's son Alex but now lives in Barcelona, has commented on the austere life Fidel and his family live and how Alex had to save his own money to buy a car. If Fidel has $500 million you would think he would spend some of it on his kids, no?

I could go on, as the anecdotes are endless. You have proven nothing about anyone "lining their pockets."

And who exactly has been "beat into submission"?

Anonymous said...

Revisionist history will get you no where, leftside. I suppose this is like beating one's head into a brick wall. The fact that you ask the question "And who exactly has been "beat into submission" is not only laughable, but a terrifying example of the ignorance still displayed by so many folks in the 21st century. In the age of instant communication, I find it unbelievable that there are still folks who deny the extent of the holocaust, the brutal crimes of the Castro regime (and that of Batista for that matter), ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the true extend of Stalin's purges in Soviet Russia. My jaw has hit the floor.

Those who fail to learn from history are . . .

Good day.

leftside said...

The fact that you were not able to answer the simple questions I've posed back to you (who's pockets are being lined? and who has been beaten into submission?) says a lot. We have police beating people in America every day. We have politicians being indicted for fraud and corruption every week - but in Cuba these things are indeed very rare. Yet folks go around and think they can get away with spreading these notions that Cuba is a corrupt, police-brutality state and get away with it. I say that with respect, because you have been civil and largely well informed.

No one is denying there are abuses in Cuba, like everywhere. But these are not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Well, let's talk about the latest beating - 200 peaceful dissidents arrested in the dead of night a few weeks back when state authorities learned of a protest to be led by Martha Beatriz Roque - over the course of the next few days, a large percentage of those folks who were released, were released after having been beaten.

How about Yuri Martinez Sanchez, a 34-year-old AIDS patient who has been arrested as a "social hazard" on three occasions, the most recent arrest resulting in state security officers kidnapping him and attempting to remove a tattoo on his forehead by burning it off with a hot iron.

How about the arrest of 75 dissidents during the "Black Spring" of 2003 - many of these folks remain in Cuban prisons under atrocious conditions.

How about the 1994 murder by Cuban Coast Guard officials of 37 men, women and children whose only crime was attempting to escape Cuba by boat? No, we, as Hispanics, are undeserving of the freedoms you yourself enjoy. We must be in need of a military strong-man (ie Fidel to keep us in line and literally stuff the bread down our throats). I find it hysterical that sick individuals such as yourself have not qualms with revising history and denying that which happened to the Cuban people, even when the Cuban people THEMSELVES have been shouting out the crimes for 50 years.

I'd like you to read every one of the following names. These were the victims of the 13 de Marzo Tugboat Massacre. You may be of the belief that as a third-world population, we are subhuman and undeserving of your sympathy but, leftside, we breathe, love, live and die just as you. Our blood is still just as red as yours:

Abreu Ruíz, Angel René. Age: 3.
Alcalde Puig, Rosa María. Age: 47.
Almanza Romero, Pilar. Age: 31.
Alvarez Guerra, Lissett María. Age: 24.
Anaya Carrasco, Yaltamira. Age: 22.
Balmaseda Castillo, Jorge Gregorio. Age: 24.
Borges Alvarez, Giselle. Age: 4.
Borges Briel, Lázaro Enrique. Age: 34.
Carrasco Sanabria, Martha Mirilla. Age: 45.
Cayol, Manuel. Age: 56.
Enríquez Carrazana, Luliana. Age: 22.
Fernández Rodríguez, María Miralis. Age: 27.
Feu González Rigoberto. Age: 31
García Suárez, Joel. Age: 20.
Góngora, Leonardo Notario. Age: 28.
González Raices, Amado. Age: 50.
Guerra Martínez, Augusto Guillermo. Age: 45.
Gutiérrez García, Juan Mario. Age: 10.
Levrígido Flores, Jorge Arquímedes. Age: 28.
Leyva Tacoronte, Caridad. Age: 5.
Loureiro, Ernesto Alfonso. Age: 25
Marrero Alamo, Reynaldo Joaquín. Age: 48.
Martínez Enriquez, Hellen. Age: 5 Months.
Méndez Tacoronte, Mayulis. Age: 17.
Muñoz García, Odalys. Age: 21.
Nicle Anaya, José Carlos. Age: 3.
Pérez Tacoronte, Yousell Eugenio. Age: 11.
Perodín Almanza, Yasser. Age: 11.
Prieto Hernández, Fidencio Ramel. Age: 51.
Rodríguez Fernández, Xicdy. Age: 2.
Rodríguez Suárez, Omar. Age: 33.
Ruíz Blanco, Julia Caridad. Age: 35.
Sanabria Leal, Miladys. Age: 19.
Suárez Esquivel, Eduardo. Age: 38.
Suárez Esquivel, Estrella. Age: 48.
Suárez Plasencia, Eliécer. Age: 12.
Tacoronte Vega, Martha Caridad. Age: 35.

Absolutely sickening.


Anonymous said...

And another thing - I could give a good God damn about being "civil" with you - as you say.

I still have a great deal of family on that island - one of who HAS been beaten in recent months for voicing dissent. So, my "friend," take your revisionist history and shove it down your throat.

Latin America has been destroyed by so many dictatorships - from Pinochet to Fidel and back again. You actually think we deserve this nonsense? It certainly seems that way. Climb back up into your ivory tower. How dare you slander the lives of so many people who have suffered so many deprivations by suggesting that none of those murders, beatings and oppressive measures ever happened.

Are you also of the belief that the Nazi machine never exterminated Jews?


Anonymous said...

leftside: you say that corruption and fraud are indeed very rare in cuba.howyou know if the tiranny do
do not publish things like that as wedo here?
where the castros get their fortune they have in foreing banks?

leftside said...

To the latest anonomous: I have read many accounts of fraud and corruption in the Cuban presss, even before recently. Sure, it is handled differently than in the US (usually after the folks have been removed from duty). But the press should not have to catch corruption...

I wonder how many assaults per person there is in America versus Cuba? I wonder how many real cases of State aggression and violence?? Meanwhile, MY GOVERNMENT makes excuses for a Dictator beating real dissidents with real truncheons TODAY...

The Marzo tugboat tragedy must be blamed on the hijackers and kidnappers, not the lowly port authorities who were trying to protect life and property in a terrible storm. The port workers saved half of those who went overboard and the Coast Guard saved 25 more. Even if the port workers were too agressive in their tactics, you can not blame this on something called the Castro government.

This AIDS patient who was apparently abducted by unknown persons in a Lada is another false notion of State abuse. This, simply is not the way the State Security forces work. Why would they ever engage in such a dispicable act.You can not blame such acts on the regime without proof.

The 200 you claim were recently arrested in the dead of the night is totally untrue. None of the 30 or so who were actually brought in to answer questions and then released within 24 hours - were ill-treated, unless you count the scratch on Roque's arms because she resisted orders to disperse - AFTER the Government received her letter and promised a resolution.

Similarly, none of those 75 arrested for their links with the US Government or Miami groups were beat. The most they have alleged, as far as I know, is one or two cases of rough treatment by a bad-empered guard or inmate... and bad food.

Cuba does not beat people, does not torture, while the US suports most who do.

Anonymous said...

My jaw just hit the floor, leftside. Never in my life have I witnessed such a shocking display of ignorance, revisionist history and disinterest in the lives of innocent human beings.

To call those on board the 13 de Marzo "hijackers" is unforgivable, as is the effort to completely whitewash the fact that the craft was sunk through the use of water canons - deliberately.

I am perfectly serious when I say I tremble at the idea that their are still individuals such as yourself in the world - that such callous disregard for the lives of others can still exist. The U.S. ignored the brutal crimes of Pinochet for years, so many still support my people's subjugation, the world has still failed to act concretely against continuing abuses in Darfur. To think that folks like you continue to support this sort of nonsense is indeed sobering.

You'll forgive me if I bow out of this conversation now. I am simply saddened to the core.

Human beings are deserving of the right to forge their own destinies, I fail to see how the Cuban people are any different. We aren't animals, leftside, we are human beings.



leftside said...

I said the Marzo incident was a tragedy, and it was. That does not mean it is a State sponsored tragedy. There would have been no accident without an illegal act by those who commandeered the boat. The US Coast guard uses water cannons all the time to stop illegal actions. People have died in USCG actions as well. It is dangerous on the high seas and that is why proper precautions, like having an experienced boat captain and life jackets, are required. To claim that some port workers were working on behalf of something called the Castro regime, who told them to deliberately sink a boat - and then rescue as many people is possible - is what is delusional my friend. It is this kind of comnspiritorial outlook that creates barriers to reconciliation.