Friday, June 18, 2010

Letter #2

A group of 494 Cubans, including many in prison, has written a letter to the U.S. Congress that Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart describes as “asking them [Congress] to maintain current U.S. travel and trade restrictions.” Babalu has the Congressman’s press release along with the letter in English and Spanish.

Meanwhile, two signers of the first letter, bloggers Claudia Cadelo and Reinaldo Escobar, respond to critics and explain their reasons for supporting a change in U.S. policy. And Rick at South Florida Daily Blog looks at both letters and the reaction to both, and concludes that the Cuban government has scored a win.

Mostly, the new letter says things with which nearly everyone agrees: the Cuban government should respect human rights, Washington should press it to do so, American policy regarding Americans’ travel is not the central issue in Cuba, foreign travelers are not going to change the political order in Cuba.

The closest the letter gets to a direct Congressional request is this:

“We believe that initiatives such as the one this letter is responding to, even with the best of intentions, tend to deviate focus and attention from what is happening on the island. For that reason we suggest that you maintain a firm and coherent policy of pressure and condemnation toward the tyranny in Havana.”

It’s beyond me why they would write elliptically instead of just saying, “please oppose the bill.” At any rate, if you believe that maintaining a “firm and coherent policy of pressure” necessarily means cutting off travel, then bingo. If you think of American policies toward the Soviet bloc, where there was trade and unrestricted citizen contact but plenty of pressure on human rights, then it’s less clear.

On a positive note, not a soul has questioned the authenticity of the second letter or the good faith of those whose names are on it.


Anonymous said...

It's hard to argue the authenticity of the letter or its good faith, but it does have the qualities of a typical Cuban government response to the first letter. If ten people say something they don't like, they just find 100 people to shout them down saying the opposite. The letter is suspicious to me for the following reasons:

A) its surprising that there would be a counter-dissident movement that would be so quick to contradict the fist group.

B) The amount of signatures and the fact many are in prison makes it surprising they could collect such signatures on short notice with limited resources.

One logical explanation could be that the second group is tied to (and influenced by) hard-line groups in the US, who actually orchestrated the obtaining of such letter.

At any rate, I'm convinced there is more to the story.

Anonymous said...

Has this same letter gone directly to Obama asking he re-introduce the travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans? I have never understood any rationale for this hypocrisy from the pro-embargo side.
One doesn't need to examine good faith to understand its legitimacy.