One of the more annoying things in the current preponderance of opinion pieces instead of actual reporting is the dismissal of news on our hemisphere. Rarely do you find information on, say, Brazil, the world’s ninth-largest economy, unless you actually go looking for it.
Each country is treated as a piece of puff pastry on a tray shaped like South America: Exotic, tasty but a rare treat that you don’t want to overdo, interchangeable. Today, arepas. Tomorrow, guava pastries.
The reports you find are few and far apart, and focus mostly on Cuba as a tourist spot, and on Venezuela as an ongoing train wreck.
Of course, Cuba fits the socialist agenda. By now the “excellent free healthcare” nonsense has been replaced with the “travel to Havana before it modernizes” gimmick. Just last night PBS aired Weekend in Havana, enticing us to “Travel to Cuba’s vibrant, alluring and rapidly changing capital,” while ignoring the very grim reality:
that under the tyrannical regime of the Castros, Cuba is a fourth-world country with collapsing buildings and a crumbling infrastructure that cannot provide humane conditions for its own enslaved people, let alone foreign tourists.
Venezuela gets attention for its horrible near-civil-war, brought about by the implementation of 21st Century Socialism™ which is rarely mentioned. Yesterday’s news carried a few more stories on Venezuela because Pres. Trump is considering sanctions against the communist regime, including a possible oil embargo.
Most of those articles were opinion pieces, low on substance.
Havana doesn’t care about Venezuelan poverty or famine or whether the regime is unpopular. It has spent a half-century sowing its ideological “revolution” in South America. It needs Venezuela as a corridor to run Colombian cocaine to the U.S. and to Africa to supply Europe. It also relies heavily on cut-rate Venezuelan petroleum.
This is the first time this year I’ve seen this mentioned in an article in a national newspaper. O’Grady’s article is a must-read.
One can only wish other “journalists” were in the same league as O’Grady. They might even find a Russia Russia Russia angle – and a little China for measure.
Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog
Nine or so years ago I spent an afternoon at the Princeton Public Library watching two American-made Cuban propaganda films. One of the films was titled The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.
The film praises the virtues of Medieval agriculture as practiced in modern-day Cuba, including the return to the use of oxen, and how superior plowing a field with two oxen is, compared to using tractors. My late father, who was not Cuban, had a farm and if he got wind of that he would have turned in his grave.
After I posted that, a historian friend joked that the agricultural practices I described date back to the Iron Age, if not earlier, so let’s not give the Middle Ages a bad name.
Tourists are quite literally eating Cuba’s lunch. Thanks in part to the United States embargo, but also to poor planning by the island’s government, goods that Cubans have long relied on are going to well-heeled tourists and the hundreds of private restaurants that cater to them, leading to soaring prices and empty shelves.
Yes, foreigners and anyone else paying in dollars eat better than ordinary Cubans (be assured that the regime’s elite are not going hungry). As in healthcare, the dictatorship has an apartheid system against its own people.
Otherwise, like Rick in Casablanca, Mr. Ahmed was misinformed:
“Castro, whose ruined nation shipped $780 million worth of vegetables, sugar and agricultural exports to the U.S. in the 1950s, has turned his nation into a lunar wasteland over his 48-year dictatorship, its famous sugar industry now gone. Does Castro take responsibility? No. He blames global warming, not his disastrous decisions.
“But Cuba’s land lies in ruin not because of bad weather but because its massive propaganda-driven ‘great sugar harvests’ of the 1960s ruined the land in the name of making Castro’s arbitrary quota — and because no citizen can own or trade land for its most efficient use. Now, Cuba grows so little food it must import it from the very nation its leader denounces and undermines and blames.
“In fact, it’s Castro’s dirty secret: The U.S. is Cuba’s food lifeline. The U.S. sells $340 million in food a year to Cuba just so its ration books can be worth the paper they’re printed on.
“The U.S. is Cuba’s top trade partner, but Cuba ranks only 32nd on the U.S. list.”
All U.S. agricultural goods must be sold to one state-owned company, Alimport, and many Cuba observers generally believe the Castro regime uses it as a political lever. During much of the 2000s, Alimport purchased U.S. agricultural products from dozens of states with the hope of garnering support from the states’ respective lawmakers to repeal the embargo.
The purpose of this lobbying initiative pressuring Congress to end what remains of the embargo? To guarantee the survival of the Communist dictatorship.
“Cuba’s Surge in Tourism” is not what “Keeps Food Off Residents’ Plates;” what’s keeping food off residents’ plates is Communism.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.
I had to lie to get into the country. Customs and immigration officials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí International Airport would have evicted me had they known I was a journalist. But not even a total-surveillance police state can keep track of everything and everyone all the time, so I slipped through. It felt like a victory. Havana, the capital, is clean and safe, but there’s nothing to buy. It feels less natural and organic than any city I’ve ever visited. Initially, I found Havana pleasant, partly because I wasn’t supposed to be there and partly because I felt as though I had journeyed backward in time. But the city wasn’t pleasant for long, and it certainly isn’t pleasant for the people living there. It hasn’t been so for decades.
Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.
After I finished Michael’s superlative travelogue, I got down on my knees and thanked God for the United States of America. Descriptions of totalitarian feces holes, especially one so near, tend to remind this first-generation American of her blessings.
If you read the speech Pres. Obama gave in Havana yesterday, you’ll find that he dedicated all of two paragraphs to the usual platitudes he resorts to after every terrorist attack,
We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally, [insert country name here] in bringing to justice those who are responsible . . . We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.
We have heard it before, and will continue to hear it. Just this year there have been 22 Islamist attacks around the world, leaving hundreds dead and thousands wounded. Notice how “those who threaten the safety and security” are never called what they are, Islamists, since it does not fit the narrative. As Andrew McCarthy points out,
The dangerous flipside to our government’s insistence on making up its own version of Islam is that anyone who is publicly associated with Islam must be deemed peaceful.
However, Obama – in his pursuit of a legacy – went to Havana to bury the Cold War, but not the Communist Castro regime, so he rolled out his speech.
Unlike Antony, who went to bury Caesar and not to praise him, Obama (who elevated Communist tyrant Raul Castro to the title of “president”) praised the “system of education which values every boy and every girl,” while ignoring that the purpose Cuba’s educational system is to indoctrinate every Cuban child to the service of the government into reporting any anti-regime activity of their parents to the neighborhood Comité de la Revolución.
Likewise, Obama believes that lifting the so-called embargo will magically mean that,
It should be easier to open a business here in Cuba. A worker should be able to get a job directly with companies who invest here in Cuba. Two currencies shouldn’t separate the type of salaries that Cubans can earn. The Internet should be available across the island so that Cubans can connect to the wider world and to one of the greatest engines of growth in human history.
The embargo was put in place after the Communist regime expropriated private property – for which American citizens have never been compensated. Dozens of foreign countries have transacted business in Cuba ever since.
The facts are that to this day all commercial, civic, and public activity is tightly controlled by an oppressive regime. All business activity must be funneled through the government, including the tourism industry, which is owned by the military. All lawyers in Cuba work for the government. All foreign business proposals are reviewed in the light of what will benefit the government. You do business in Cuba, you pay the government, which in turn pays the workers a legal maximum salary of about US$20/month.
And, by the way, the two currencies Obama mentioned remain firmly in place.
I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. . . . I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.
William Lloyd Garrison
This post was originally scheduled for Tuesday at 1 PM with the Brussels attacks I’ve moved it to today I’d like to segregate the words I wrote Monday before I expand on them in light of the Brussels attack, first my original words…
Monday we wrote about the reality of Islam in Europe
Today Barack Obama is in Cuba, praising a brutal dictatorship in a way that I never thought I’d see a US president do in my lifetime.
The Center for a Free Cuba just received information directly from Cuba that Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White, and her husband, former political prisoner Angel Moya, a few minutes ago were detained by Cuba’s political police.
Ms. Soler is one of the Cubans that President Obama is expected to meet. Apologists for the regime have said that no only she is a counterrevolutionary and an enemy of the people, but an ungrateful black woman.
Many Cubans have wondered publicly about the irony of a black American President meeting with a white Cuban military oligarchy that keeps most Cuban blacks at the very bottom of the economy. The majority of Cubans are not white, but the overwhelming majority of the ruling class is.
“President Castro, I think, has pointed out that in his view making sure that everybody is getting a decent education or health care, has basic security and old age, that those things are human rights as well. I personally would not disagree with him,” Obama said.
“But it doesn’t detract from some of these other concerns. And the goal of the human rights dialogue is not for the United States to dictate to Cuba how they should govern themselves, but to make sure that we are having a frank and candid conversation around this issue. And hopefully that we can learn from each other.”
Obama made the comment at a joint press conference with the Cuban Communist dictator.
All of this brings to mind one person.
On July 8th 2010 she released the book the Post american presidency The Obama Administration’s War on America
Geller bluntly said Barack Obama’s priorities are not American priorities, she bluntly warned us that in his upbringing and his priorities America is the villain and our enemies are the heroes.
She was laughed at, called a hate monger and widely insulted. And when radical islamists tried to kill her, the media blamed her and frankly in my opinion were disappointed that they failed.
As I watch the image of Barack Obama in Cuba celebrating one of the worst dictatorships in the history of the Western Hemisphere as they demand the return of Gitmo and attack the United States it would seem Pam Geller was understating the issue. We have not seen an American President so committed to the defeat of the United States since Jefferson Davis
If only we had listened to her in 2012.
I predict if our republic does not fall, 50 years from now after I’m dead and gone, people will look back at Pam Geller and speak about her the same way we now speak about William Lloyd Garrison. But if it happens in my lifetime instead, nobody will be more delighted than I.
Since I wrote those words but Before the Brussels attack Pam Geller put up a post saying this:
The Paris terrorist got most help from his neighbors, not ISIS. This is typical, but largely kept from the public. The media and cultural narrative runs counter to reality. There were marches and demonstrations of support for Muhammad Merah, the French Muslim who staged a series of Islamic attacks including opening fire on a Jewish Day school, as well as mowing down French soldiers. Every time there is a jihad attack, the Muslim community goes on the offense — accusing law enforcement of “entrapment” or blaming “islamophobia.” Never do we see the Muslim community calling for reform or looking inward to address the problem of violence and hatred in Islam.
I suspect many of those same people who aided and abetted the Paris Bomber to evade police will do their part to make sure authorities get no aid in capturing any of those involved in Brussels who might still be at large.
and I regret to say nothing I’ve seen in the last 24 hours made this prediction from Pam Geller from yesterday any less likely:
After these monstrous acts, world leaders proclaim “we are at war” and do nothing. And my colleagues and I continue to be blacklisted and marginalized, despite being right about it all.
If your Doctor or Mechanic was as deep in denial as to the condition of your health or your car you’d sue them for every cent they had.
The US president confirmed his Cuba trip in a post on Twitter, saying: “Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.”
He will be joined by his wife, Michelle, travelling to the island on 21 to 22 March, before embarking on a two-day visit to Argentina, the White House said in a statement.
“This historic visit – the first by a sitting US president in nearly 90 years – is another demonstration of the president’s commitment to chart a new course for US-Cuban relations and connect US and Cuban citizens through expanded travel, commerce, and access to information.”
The punch line is that, in Cuba, the “expanded travel, commerce, and access to information” are totally controlled by the Communist regime, which has not agreed to concessions, no siree. Cuban dictator Raul Castro reasserting, ”We can’t pretend that by improving ties with the Unites States, Cuba will renounce the ideas for which it has fought for more than a century.”
What does it mean to “reach out to those who want to broaden the scope for, you know, free expression,” to quote the President’s inartful words.
Not too hard to guess: a tame group of civil society types, some artists who have galleries catering to American tourists, some people who want the right to open new restaurants. The Cuban regime will never allow Obama to meet with “everybody,” and they will get away with it. They know that Obama is dying to make this trip and get his photo with Fidel, and that gives the police state the upper hand– just as it did throughout the Obama negotiations with Cuba.
Yes, a stolen Hellfire missile was shipped to Europe via commercial carrier in early 2014 (again, while the Obama administration was finalizing its easement of relations with the Communist dictatorship), and months later, in June, “Lockheed Martin officials realized the missile was missing” but is likely in Cuba.
Yes, Cuba and North Korea officials have been visiting each other recently,
In June 2015 Raúl Castro hosted Kang Sok Su, the secretary of international relations for the North Korean Workers’ Party. In September Mr. Kim received Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel in Pyongyang. Cuba’s state-owned newspaper Granma reported that Mr. Kim sent “an affectionate greeting” to the Castro boys during the visit. It also said that Messrs. Díaz-Canel and Kim discussed the two countries’ close relations and mutual cooperation.
And now they have put it on paper, for “the transaction of goods through the barter mode of exchange.” Makes you wonder,
Maybe this new “scientific-technical development” protocol involves the stolen U.S. Hellfire missile that Castro refuses to return, despite Obama’s endless diplomatic overtures and economic concessions.
Also in the news today,
Meanwhile, Japan has placed its military on high alert today over the possibility of a North Korean ballistic missile launch.
What could possibly go wrong?
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.
— In November, there were at least 1,447 politically-motivated arrests across the island. It was the second consecutive month the tally had broken 1,000, and it was the highest count since at least January 2010.
— That brought the count for the year to at least 7,686, making it a real possibility that by the end of 2015 the Castro secret police may break a record — 8,889 — it set just last year.
As far as the Cuban economy goes, the oppressive Communist regime gets a pass:
Last week, we posted how the Paris Club of creditor nations was close to finalizing a deal restructuring Castro’s $11.1 billion debt with the group.
The deal has now been finalized.
Here are the terms:
First, the Paris Club will forgive $8.5 billion of the debt.
As for the remaining $2.6 billion — repayment is structured over 18 years and annual payments gradually increase from 1.6% of the $2.6 billion ($40 million) in 2016 to 8.9% in 2033.
That’s right, ladies and gentleman, Castro will be spared any burden for his financial irresponsibility for the rest of his life.
It will be the Cuban people — in 2033 — when Raul Castro turns 102 years-old, or is dead, who will pay the heaviest burden of this debt.
Castro will now also get a new credit card from the Paris Club.
As one foreign banker stated, “this is an astoundingly generous deal, a fabulous agreement for Cuba.”
The president explained his thinking, or part of it, to Yahoo:
“Our original theory on this was not that we were going to see immediate changes or loosening of the control of the Castro regime, but rather that over time you’d lay the predicates for substantial transformation,” he said.
“The more that they see the benefits of U.S. investment, the more that U.S. tourist dollars become woven into their economy, the more that telecommunications is opened up so that Cubans are getting information, unfettered by censorship, the more you’re laying the foundation for the bigger changes that are going to be coming over time,” he added.
This theory is utterly without bases in theory or fact. First, he assumes his deal with Castro is actually going to bring all those reforms, especially an end to censorship. So far the regime has actually cracked down, not opened up.
Moreover, the president’s theory that more tourism will bring political reform is bizarre. Has it done so in China? In fact, Cuba has long traded freely with every single country in the world except the US, and has had tens of thousands of tourists from Europe and Canada. Is there something magical about American tourists that will force Fidel and Raul to give up communism?
But the president appears to believe Raul may not really be a communist anyway. “I do see in him a big streak of pragmatism. In that sense, I don’t think he is an ideologue,” Obama told Yahoo.
Cubans living in the island-prison are aware that there’s no relief in sight, in spite of Obama’s pretty words. Things are bad enough that
Cuban immigration to the United States grew by almost 80 percent in 2015 out of fear that the thaw in relations between Washington and Havana might at any time put an end to the advantages Cubans currently enjoy the minute they set foot on U.S. territory.
How regimes that coerce concessions are never satisfied. As we’ve seen throughout the year, no matter how many unconditional concessions and impunity President Obama grants the Castro regime, it simply emboldens it to want more. Repression, refugees and rogue activities are on the rise. That is the result of Obama’s coerced policy.
Another deal in Havana, still in the making, is the FARC narco-terrorist group’s so-called peace negotiations with the government of Colombia. The White House’s envoy, Bernard Aronson, appears to be willing to rubber stamp an agreement, regardless of how much political or economic power it cedes to the FARC.
While the Cuban Communist regime and the FARC are emboldened, both of those deals pale next to the no-deal Iran deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). By lifting sanctions, the U.S. is releasing $100 billion in oil-revenue assets frozen in banks.
To put that $100 billion number in perspective, the World Bank currently estimates Iran’s gross domestic product at $369 billion, down from last year’s $415 billion. The $100 billion is essentially a 27% raise, but Pres. Obama insists,
“We’re not writing Iran a check,” he said. “This is Iran’s money that we were able to block from them having access to.”
“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter [to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.)].
Instead, it isa set of “political commitments.” Allahpundit looks at the bright side, briefly, of the “not-treaty-or-executive-agreement,”
So we’re lifting $100 billion in sanctions in exchange for a legally binding promise of … nothing. The flip side of that, I guess, is that the deal’s not binding on us either; if the next president or even Obama himself wants to reimpose sanctions on a whim, that’s fair game.
The problem with that logic, though, is that no one believes our European partners, who crave renewed access to Iran’s markets (and vice versa), will reinstate sanctions unless Iran cheats flagrantly and egregiously on the deal, to the point where it would humiliate the EU internationally to look the other way. One of Iran’s core goals in all this, re-opening its trade relationship with Europe, will be achieved whether or not ion deal is binding. And once achieved, it’ll be nearly irreversible.
Guy Benson has more, much more on the deal, and he doesn’t even touch on the repercussions it may have for our hemisphere.
Back in Sam Goldwyn‘s days verbal a contract wasn’t worth the paper it’s written on. In our days of smart diplomacy, it’s worth $100 billion.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.
Cuban dissidents are feeling let down after they were left out of Pope Francis’ itinerary. The pontiff plans to meet with Cuba’s leader Raul Castro, its priests, its young and its sick, its churchgoers and its seminarians as he travels around the island starting Saturday.
A Pharisee invited him to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages 12 and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?“
Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.“
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.“
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.“
Think about it, when Jesus’ host at dinner is embarrassed by appearance of the sinful woman, does Jesus say to the woman: This is not the time or the place? Does he ask her to go away and slowly he will change Simon’s heart?
No he challenges his host and unfavorably compares him to this woman who has intruded on the dinner that Simon planned and uses it to demonstrate God forgiveness.
The decision to ignore dissidents in Cuba vividly demonstrates an important doctrine of the Church as explained at the Catholic Answers site: Papal infallibility IS:
a charism the pope “enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith (Luke 22:32), he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals.
Papal infallibility is NOT:
a guarantee that any particular pope won’t “neglect” to teach the truth, or that he will be sinless, or that mere disciplinary decisions will be intelligently made.
The Holy Father is making a tactical mistake here, that doesn’t make him any less holy, or less catholic or less correct about the forgiveness of christ or anything else, but it does mean in this situation I think he’s made a wrong move.
But that’s OK because as he constantly proclaims, Christ never tires of forgiving.