HAVANA TIMES — This week the Democratic Party convenes to rubber stamp a pre-written platform. A quick text search of the document’s 40 pages reveals that the United States government is still obsessed with the tiny island of Cuba.
It is the only American nation that gets its very own paragraph and more. Only four other countries get such attention: Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China.
Meanwhile the document praises the vibrant democracy of Mexico, which was recently rocked by fraudulent elections and is suffering uncontrollable violence, and the peaceful transfer of power in Paraguay where a non-military coup recently unseated the left-leaning President Lugo.
No mention of the coup in Honduras, but rather a slap in the face to Venezuela, where the US at least tacitly supported a coup a decade ago. The Democrats claim that Venezuelan citizens are not enjoying the rights they deserve. Apparently the rights of Colombians, where two journalists and 29 labor activists have been murdered so far this year, are not important to the Democratic Party.
Nor do the Democrats seem to see the hypocrisy in calling for universal rights for citizens of other countries while denying its own citizens the right of free movement.
Even the extremely limited “purposeful travel” provisions put in place by Obama have been thwarted. The President has allowed himself to be bullied by Rep. Rubio and almost none of the travel service providers that were licensed last year have received a renewal.
But none of this should be surprising since Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, represents Miami-Dade County and receives maximum donations through various channels from the Cuban American Democracy PAC, the super right-wing political action committee that representing the interests of the elderly hard-line Cuban exiles, distributing nearly $1 million in campaign contributions each election.
But make no mistake; the Republicans are even more obsessed, and a little senile, when it comes to Cuba (and “Narco-terrorist” Venezuela). They aim to stop all travel and engagement with Cuba.
In the four paragraphs the Republican Party platform dedicates to the Hemisphere, these are the only two nations even mentioned: except for one sentence of praise for the Colombians and Mexicans for the great job they are doing fighting drug trafficking!
Below are excerpts from both platforms for comparison
In the Americas, we see vibrant democracies in countries from Mexico to Brazil and Costa Rica to Chile. We have also seen historic peaceful transfers of power in places like El Salvador and Uruguay. Yet despite the region’s democratic progress, stark inequalities in political and economic power endure. We will continue to press for more transparent and accountable governance. And we will promote greater freedom in Cuba and Venezuela until all their citizens enjoy the universal rights they deserve.
Under President Obama, we have undertaken the most significant efforts in decades to engage the Cuban people. We have focused on the importance of the family ties between Cuban Americans and their relatives still living under oppression. Because of steps the President has taken, it is now possible for Cuban Americans to visit and support their families in Cuba, and to send remittances that reduce the Cuban people’s dependence on the Cuban state.
We have taken additional steps to bolster Cuban civil society, expanding purposeful exchanges that bolster independent religious groups on the island and enhancing the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people. Going forward we will continue to support the Cuban people’s desire to freely determine their own future.
The current Administration has turned its back on Latin America, with predictable results. Rather than supporting our democratic allies in the region, the President has prioritized engagement with our enemies in the region. Venezuela represents an increasing threat to U.S. security, a threat which has grown much worse on the current President’s watch.
In the last three years, Venezuela has become a Narco-terrorist state, turning it into an Iranian outpost in the Western hemisphere. The current regime issues Venezuelan passports or visas to thousands of Middle Eastern terrorists offering safe haven to Hezbollah trainers, operatives, recruiters and fundraisers.
Alternatively, we will stand with the true democracies of the region against both Marxist subversion and the drug lords, helping them to become prosperous alternatives to the collapsing model of Venezuela and Cuba.
We affirm our friendship with the People of Cuba and look toward their reunion with the rest of our hemispheric family. The anachronistic regime in Havana which rules them is a mummified relic of the age of totalitarianism, a state-sponsor of terrorism.
We reject any dynastic succession of power within the Castro family and affirm the principles codified in U.S. law as conditions for the lifting of trade, travel, and financial sanctions: the legalization of political parties, an independent media, and free and fair internationally-supervised elections.
We renew our commitment to Cuba’s courageous pro-democracy movement as the protagonists of Cuba’s inevitable liberation and democratic future. We call for a dedicated platform for the transmission of Radio and TV Marti and for the promotion of Internet access and circumvention technology as tools to strengthen the pro-democracy movement.
We support the work of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba and affirm the principles of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, recognizing the rights of Cubans fleeing Communism.
The war on drugs and the war on terror have become a single enterprise. We salute our allies in this fight, especially the people of Mexico and Colombia.
(*) HT contributing writer Dawn Gable is in Charlotte, North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention.