Cuba: When Fear Changes Places

Carlos Cabrera Perez (Café Fuerte)

Images of this nature were seen at different points around Havana and Cuba’s interior on December 10, Human Rights Day.
Images of this nature were seen at different points around Havana and Cuba’s interior on December 10, Human Rights Day.

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government is afraid, and its undeniable fear makes it react towards its opponents in excessive, unjust, inconsistent and contradictory ways.

One day, they issue passports to nearly all of them, only to harass them at the airport when they return from their trips. Another day, Raul Castro tells the world that the best policy to follow is one of debate and cooperation and, the next, we witness temporary detentions, beatings and reprisals.

What good does it do, in the 21st century, to continue to repeat the old, tired accusation that all government opponents are agents paid by US imperialism? Let those who are answer for this, but Cuba cannot continue to discredit those who do not agree with the Politburo by branding them CIA agents.

Counterproductive Measures

Whose idea was it to arrest two Argentinean activists in their hotel in Cuba at four in the morning, to cause a silly little fuss and later deport them to Buenos Aires? The move was counterproductive, for the two activists have spoken of their experiences, without exaggeration, unmasking the Cuban dictatorship with an anecdote about a stupid, repressive official who warned them that “Cuba is not like the rest of the world.”

Why mobilize children in primary school and have them yell Maoist slogans in unison in front of the home of dissident Antonio Rodiles, who had organized a meeting inside his house to celebrate Human Rights Day?

The Cuba of warring factions, of hatred and purges, must be replaced with a Cuba of debate, respectful co-existence, full freedom and community spirit.

What is the balance today, after 54 years of the repression of Cubans by other Cubans and of mutual hostility? Economic ruin, single-parent families, alcoholism and other psychological traumas, exile, segregation, generalized insincerity and widespread fear.

Before, many people were afraid of State Security. Today, State Security and its leadership fear that people will take to the streets as they did in Libya, in protests that ended with Gadhafi’s assassination.

Are there no capable, honest and patriotic people in the Politburo who can say: “Comrades, let’s sit down and have a respectful conversation with our opponents, including those in the exile community, to see what kind of country we can build together”?

There are good ideas across the entire spectrum of the Cuban community, and neither those who are rabidly pro-Castro or rabidly anti-Castro are entirely right. Perhaps it’s easier to look the other way and say: “Let’s play it by ear. Let the dissidents travel around the world, we’ll discredit them later and go on about our business.”

An Indispensable Exchange

There is and will continue to be no shortage of enemies of this much-needed exchange among Cubans, particularly among those who fear they will lose the perks they enjoy under the current status quo. I am not referring only to the cronies of the dictatorship, people with Saudi-like habits who are devoid of any dignity. I am also referring to the many in the exile community and on the island whose profits and lives depend on having Cuba remain the way it is.

The images of repressive actions taken in Cuba during Human Rights Day seriously discredit the Cuban government and give the figures of the opposition good press in the international arena. No one in their right mind can think it normal that a citizen should be detained and beaten because they think differently than their aggressors.

The most horrifying thing of all, however, is seeing those 9 or 10-year-olds yelling with feigned hatred and waving Venezuelan flags and photos of Hugo Chavez in front of the dissident’s home.

Cuba has given Venezuela much more than Caracas has given Havana. If Chavez was able to establish himself as a regional figure, it was thanks to the decisive support of the Castro government (secured in exchange for extremely expensive oil).

Cuba continues to keep its businesses bound hand and foot and its citizens hostage under a senseless, totalitarian system, so one has to wonder about such superficial and opportunistic displays of Chavismo.

The time of a dictatorship, however, is finite. The world has looked upon Cuba as a senseless anachronism (and not as the anti-imperialist revolution seeking social justice it once was) for many years. A repressor follows orders. But the problem isn’t to be found in the system’s thugs. The problem is the superiors, including Raul Castro, who is the most responsible, those who continue to believe that you can kill ideas.

72 thoughts on “Cuba: When Fear Changes Places

  • What I actually said was “20% .. consider themselves Socialist” and “10% want .. a Soviet-style planned economy”. I agree with the rest of what you say.

  • The legal and political quagmire which surrounds the remaining 160 detainees is mind-boggling. Nonetheless, the Obama administration appears to finally be in a rhythm in releasing those detainees qualified for release and setting trial dates for those whose fate has yet to be determined. There are many reasons to criticize this facility but there are real terrorists locked up there and most of them are no longer welcome in their country of origin. Obama inherited this mess and continues to try to wrestle his way out of it. A recent news story worth reading on GITMO

  • Given this site is called HT, when you commented that 20% of Americans want to have a socialist government, I assumed that you meant like Cuba. By the way, the poll you referenced used the term “is favorable to” as opposed to “want”. There is a nuance there. The other poll you referenced said only 15%, not 20% as you claimed want a Soviet-style managed economy. I am saying that the US is more liberal on many civil libertarian areas and more conservative in many social aspects than the countries I named. Depends on the topic: from guns to gay rights, there are huge differences in both directions. You can not attach a “more conservative” label on the US without being more specific. Finally, I am not aware of any national politician who is an avowed socialist.

  • That is debateable. What about the 100 prisoners in Guantanamo who have been there for 10 years. If they are guilty of terrorist acts or attempted to do so why haven’t they been put on trial.

  • The polls don’t define socialism – it is left to the people questioned and here are the links you requested. I didn’t say that anyone wanted either a Cuban nor a USSR government. The question we were discussing was diversity of governance and all the countries you mention have left wing representation. If we take Germany as an example there are three left wing parties represented in parliament with around 300 seats. Are you saying that there are no socialists (of any kind) worth mentioning in the US?

  • I agree with you. These hard-core communists have long held out hope that Cuba would remain their socialist pin-up girl. But alas, even Cuba will succumb to the onslaught of biology and human nature.

  • Sorry to disappoint you again, but I don’t watch any of those people. Certainly not that creep, Pat Robertson! In fact, I rarely watch any TV news. I read history, philosophy, economics and literature.

    For example, I just finished “Koba, the Dread” by Martin Amis, a very interesting book about Stalin and the clueless Western Leftists who worshiped him. I know, I know, you will reject the label of “Stalinist”, and you have the benefit of living several decades after that monster’s death. But you exhibit every mental and psychological trait of those self-abasing Leftists, inside and outside of the USSR, who wilfully blinded themselves to the horrors of the Soviet Union.

    I have no idea what you are talking about “secret text”, except that perhaps it’s a projection of your own slavish repetition of your Marxist professors.

    I notice how you never bother to debate ideas. You prefer to engage in personal attacks, guilt by association, attempt to disqualify those how disagree with you, make related appeals to argument by authority, and a host of other cheap rhetorical fallacies.

    Consider yourself a bore.

  • I was gonna go into this whole response and stuff….but man, you’re just nuts! It’s not worth it.

    But I just can’t resist one last poke in the eye. ….It must kill you to know that Cuba is doing everything it can to create a China style Capitalist system. Must just stick in your craw. And you my friend? You tilt at windmills.

  • The US has never “admitted” that there are detainees in Gitmo who are innocent. The US has acknowledged there are detainees whom the US is prepared to release except for the fact there are no appropriate countries willing to take them. I do not support the death penalty. In my experience, where the death penalty is legal it has been applied to disproportionate numbers of poor and/or minority prisoners. This would include al-Qaeda terrorists convicted of capital offenses.

  • Okay, but only because you asked nicely:

    Communism is a THEORETICAL economic system of government characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members. In this system the State plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.
    Yea, right….

  • I heartily agree with your first sentence. If socialism has NEVER existed (your words), how do you know it will work? PLEASE ANSWER THE QUESTION (Again, your words).

  • How about Glen Beck ?
    How about Sean Hannity ?
    How about Pat Robertson ?
    They pretty much read from the same playbook .
    It is simply not believable to me that your words just happen to be precisely those of Limbaugh unless there is some secret text to which only the moron right has access.
    I listen to as much right wing BS as I can find time for in the thinking that to best counter their stupidity, it is best to have a precise knowledge of what they spout .
    This practice has been invaluable when I run across their parroting followers who aren’t smart enough to paraphrase what they’ve said so as to hide their laughable sources of stuff that is rejected at every major institution of higher learning .
    Consider yourself outed.

  • I only pointed out that Zakaria is unable to speak the truth because of where he is employed, who employs him and because his audience has been so long conditioned to accept lies that the truth would seem like lies to them and they would find the truth unpalatable .
    You’re too clever by half.
    What’s the Spanish word for hasbara ?

  • Translating “paraphrasing” as used you: misrepresenting other people’s words.

  • You constantly make the mistake that people believe the lies that you and the rest op the Castro propaganda machine make up.
    The Cuban dissident movement is applauded and given awards for their courageous and accurate reporting.

  • Democracy works better than totalitarianism every time .
    Capitalism is an absolute dictatorship and communism is based on bottom-up democratically run worker societies.
    Any attempts at socialism have been attacked and mostly killed off by the U.S and a few of its imperialist partners .
    ( See the details on these at ” Killing Hope” )
    The U.S. is an unelected dictatorship of money and is , in now way, a democracy or the representative democracy ( republic) it was ostensibly set up to be,
    You can do a little research at Google on the U.S becoming an oligarchy and spend a week or two in that research BUT the right avoids anything that factually contradicts their fantasies and you are no exception..
    There has NEVER been either a socialist or a communist society except in a microcosmic sense as in Israel’s old kibbutzim .
    Such democratic societies have never been permitted by the U.S. but again, that is a matter you dare not look into even at the risk of being intellectually embarrassed as you so often are in your studied ignorance of historical facts.

  • You ducked the question.

  • If you even dream that you have a better understanding of the English language and its usages than me, you should write and apologize.
    Further, in your usual way, you did not answer my question but rather , attempted to divert it and the reason is obvious. .
    The U.S has how many people at Guantanamo who they have admitted did absolutely nothing to warrant their imprisonment .

  • Ronald Reagan ?
    Wasn’t he the one who broke U.S. law by selling missiles to Iran through Israel in return for the cash needed to fund the terrorist Contra War against the people of Nicaragua for daring to choose a government they wanted ?
    Congress , meaning the people of the U.S, voted in a law forbidding aid to the terrorist Contras and Reagan and his crew of sleaze-balls like Ollie North decided that democratic decisions meant nothing to them, broke the law and are now great American heroes.
    “The illegal we do immediately.
    The unconstitutional takes a bit longer”
    Actual quote by Henry Kissinger

  • And the U.S is an oligarchy, an unelected dictatorship of money in which the corporations like Walmart are paying slave wages/poverty level wages , 65% of the new jobs being created are minimum wage ( poverty level) jobs and where half the working class earns less than $27K and the U.S manufacturers (the wealthy) are exporting U.S. jobs to China because even below-minimum wage workers in the U.S are too costly for them .
    The fact that the unemployed are growing by leaps and bounds as is the associated poverty means nothing to the wealthy corporations because they are capitalists and for capitalists, their profits trump human needs every time.
    You won’t admit it (because when logic and fact are in disagreement with what you have come to believe, ideology kicks in for you ) but there is a one-party dictatorship here called the Capitalist Party which has two wings; the Democrats and the Republicans and each is strictly controlled by the very wealthy contributors to every Congressperson and President regardless of party affiliation.
    No candidate not pre-selected and pre-approved via promised campaign funding from the wealthy has a chance of getting nominated much less elected in this system.
    In Cuba there is a dictatorship that does everything it can d to provide for the poor and working people.
    In the U.S the dictatorship does everything it can to blame the poor for their plight and deny them jobs or the sustenance required for a life in a country where there is only one job for every four people looking for that one.
    People who live in glass house should deal with their own
    dictatorship never mind not admitting that they live in one.

  • Do you really believe that the Castro oligarchy can afford to totally disregard President Obama? You seem to believe that Obama, on the other hand, gives a bucket about what a senile old tinpot tyrant like Fidel says. And what ‘da hell does your travel schedule have to do with any of this?

  • I don’t believe that 20% of Americans want to have a socialist government like Cuba. If you say we like the way health care in Canada or Sweden is delivered and you define that as Socialist, then maybe. If you say 10% of Americans want a government like the failed USSR, I don’t believe you. If you say we want more bank regulations then again maybe. Please cite your sources. I also disagree that the US is more conservative than Germany, Japan, France, Turkey, etc. Our freedoms of speech, press and civil rights are far more liberal than most of Europe and Asia. The US has all the same problems that Cuba has EXCEPT that when a building collapses, or there is a shortage of some sort or some civil rights abuse, there is a judicial recourse. There is an independent press to air grievances. There is a right challenge government. That makes a HUGE difference.

  • In most countries both the Democrats and Republicans would both fit into the right/centre wing of a Conservative party so there is very little diversity of governance. Polls have indicated that maybe 20% of Americans consider themselves Socialist and one poll suggested that 10% want the US to immediately adopt a Soviet-style planned economy. Given this you need to ask why there is only one vaguely left Senator (Vermont) in the whole of the US. Where is the representation for these people? It’s not that you lack economic/social problems and crumbling buildings etc.

  • Too late. Raul has already turned Cuba into a military dominated single-party totalitarian dictatorship, selling Cuban slave labour to the regime’s foreign corporate partnerships.

  • You are wrong to believe that the “corporate elite” all think alike. So even if it were true (it is not) that corporations rule the US, then the diversity of purpose and beliefs of these corporations would manifest in diversity of governance. BTW, please share a successful example of an alternative to the US model. For all our defects and imperfections, people who think like you have never come up with anything that works better.

  • Zakaria was advocating lifting the US embargo. I’m glad to see you disagree with him, as do I.

  • Sorry to disappoint you, but I never listen too nor read Rush Limbaugh. I find him an insufferable blowhard. It seems that you do listen to Rush, which is kind of funny.

  • I accept your point about the celebratory mood at the memorial, and I know one can read more into facial expressions than is really there.

    But please, Moses, Don’t fall for that crap that any criticism of Obama is all about race. That is bullshit and you know it. There are African Americans in the Tea Party who are among Obama’s harshest critics. Hack journalists like Chris Matthews, who hides his old-school racism under a mantel of liberal white guilt, calls every Republican a racist for any criticism against his idol. Don’t you fall for that, too.

    Obama is not the first US president to have an opposition. In fact, it’s the job of the opposition to oppose the ruling party, and offer alternatives, which they have done. The Republican Party, including the Tea Party wing were elected to represent their constituents, which they are doing. Obama’s job is to work with Congress, not over it. His frequency of his resort to executive order is unprecidented and is a cause of his falling approval ratings. Even members of his own party have complained he is by turns arrogant and detached from the legislative process. What kind of man boasts, (as Obama once did) that he knows more about any given policy issue than his Cabinet members? A narcissist and a fool, that’s who.

    Consider Obamacare: every amendment recommended by the Republicans was voted down by the Democrats. In the end it passed by the slimmest of margins of any major program in US history. Obama did not try to get bipartisan agreement, he chose to ram it through by every trick in the book (and a few new ones). The program is a disaster all of his own making, but true to script he’s blaming Tea Party extremists. I suppose the majority of Americans who disapprove of Obamacare are all racists, then?

    It’s more than a little ironic that Obama resorted, once again and with questionable constitutionality, to use an executive order to delay several parts of Obamacare in response to the disastrous website roll-out. Only days earlier, he was calling Ted Cruz an extremist, a terrorist, and a suicide-bomber for trying to do the same thing by the proper constitutional process: have Congress vote to delay and fix the bill.

    Prior to being elected President Obama had zero executive experience and a very thin legislative record. In fact, his job as POTUS is now the longest full-time position he has ever held. His job as Chief Executive involves a lot more than making pretty sounding but intellectually vacuous speeches. He is supposed to work with congress, his own party and the opposition, to get things done.

    To get back to the topic of Cuba. Obama should not have shaken Raul’s hand. Raul was not in a line Obama was walking along, he made straight for Raul and offered his hand. That sent a very bad message on the very day Castro’s goons were beating human rights activists. I cannot see how that handshake can be spun as positive or irrelevent. Oh I know! The Cuban dissidents, such as Rosa Maria Paya who felt betrayed by Obama’s handshake, are probably all racists, isn’t that right?

  • Fortunately, and perhaps without precedent, even the rabidly anti-Cuban capitalist media began to question your lies in this case. Even the Miami Herald lamented that, “International reactions to Soto’s death on Sunday appear more muted so far, apparently because of the conflicting versions of the beating…” (May 5, 2011). These “dissidents” of yours just couldn’t get their story straight! And this was before Soto’s family came out with the truth, confirming earlier police reports.

    As for torture, I don’t think you will find any credible reports from mainstream human rights groups like Amnesty International to support your claims. This is unlike the case with the USA.

  • The “family” you speak of was later confirmed to have changed their story to support the government version of the murder as a result of pressure from the Stasi-trained secret police. There are simply too many eyewitnesses to the torture and brutality of the Castro regime to deny that it exists. YouTube is replete with video evidence of police brutalities committed against Cuban men, women and even children.

  • OK. Want to talk about the Ronald Reagan – Rios Montt connection ?

  • Look up the word “anecdotal”. If it were quantifiable, I would call my experiences “empirical”. So far, the US does not persecute people, even al-Qaeda sympathizers, for their political beliefs and writings. If they engage in terrorists acts or attempt to do so, that’s different. Why, are you volunteering to be first?

  • DC,
    Your citing of the 99% of the countries in the world who oppose U.S standard foreign policy is wasted on Moses who is a totalitarian to whom democracy ( majority rule ) means absolutely nothing except something to oppose by any means including genocide.
    He supports the oligarchy now headed by Obama and would similarly support a Romney ( who?) administration as they both are rabid imperialists-supporters of totalitarian capitalism, the totalitarian-run-by-the-rich government of the U.S. , (I assume) organized religions , also totally dictatorial with eternal hell as the penalty for disobedience) and the traditional nuclear family with the male as absolute ruler .
    You can’t convince him that democracy-majority rule is anything good but at least we can show him up for the anti-democracy mouthpiece that he is.
    He’s really a bit too easy to shoot down but he’s about the only game in town.

  • Again, those are the exact words of Rush Limbaugh.
    You really need to shoot your radio and read……a book.

  • I believe your post was taken verbatim from things Rush Limbaugh said on his show in the days following the handshake .
    The language is identical and your thinking is as deficient
    The difference is that Limbaugh gets $50 million a year to make a fool out of himself and you get openly ridiculed for nothing.
    Now I’ll ask you what I’ve asked so many who get their info from AM right-wing radio show entertainers: How many universities and colleges use Limbaugh’s books or thinking to teach . ?
    and PLEASE don’t respond by saying that ALL the colleges and other institutions of higher learning are all owned and run by communists .
    Limbaugh makes his money by selling silver coins, Viagra, bullet-proof armor and such . He is not there to do anything but to attract an audience to listen to the sponsor’s pitches for their products by saying the
    outrageous untruths that he does.
    I heard him actually say that the U.S was the only capitalist country in the world and your post is not too far off from that level of fantasy .

  • If you never been to LaLa Land, just hang out in some of the Comments about Cuba sections. Hell, who needs facts, reason or reality when you can spout any old bunch of distortions. Guys, pause. Libya, Syria? You want Cuba to be bombed back to worse than the Mafia days? The U.S. as a bastion of freedom? Tell that to the people of the so many countries where U.S. supplied bombs and chemicals killed literally millions! Either by war or its consequences, like Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Libya today and so many many countries in the past.

    Then there is this silly posturing about brutal cops in Cuba. Sure cops everywhere act badly, and sometime – in the US quite often – don’t just beat you bloody, but even shot you down like a dog. So if you are upset at unnecessary mistreatment, engage and see what you can actually do. It isn’t easy. I’ve spent many years trying and getting really thumped and arrested and put away for a time – and I was innocent. Not always in life, but those time I put myself and my morals on the line, we choose non-violence and the cops and more thugs than Cuba has, were happy to met out lots of sadistic violence. So if you start comparing evils, at least do it with some proportionality, or you arguments become silly.

    If you like violence, want Cuba invaded again, are happy with U.S. assassinations by drone or CIA or agents, say so. Be honest, because otherwise your statements simply look pathological or adolescent.

    The people and all life on this planet can’t afford more imperial crap.

  • There is a Ukrainian grocer near my house here in San Francisco. He says he was a communist 30 years ago in Kiev. I believe him. I define ‘communism’ the way he and all the people who lived as communists define it. You have never lived as a communist. You have only imagined it in your fantasy world. You have no claim on the definition until you have lived it. I don’t know and could not care less how much real power a stoma bag, diaper-wearing despot like Fidel wields. As long as he draws breath he will continue to represent the destruction of a once beautiful country and that alone is too much power.

  • Fareed Zakaria as a member of the corporate media is a tool of the corporate interests and capitalism.
    He can no more be impartial as regards Cuba than can anyone else in the corporate media .
    He works at the whim of the very wealthy who own all the media outlets where he might choose to spout his predigested pap.
    For him or any other top-level news reader to say anything favorable about Cuba without the other 95% of his reportage to be totally negative would be economic suicide .
    The flood of complaints and more importantly, the loss of the money from the corporate sponsors of the show , would have him out the door in short order.
    Further, any news reader/reporter who HAS risen to the higher levels in the BUSINESS has long ago learned that being objective and telling the truth as regards things like socialism, Cuba and all else about which the corporate media has already for decades disinformed the public would seem like lies and, again, result in the loss of his job and career because very few outlets would hire anyone fired for saying things forbidden to them by the very wealthy who pay them .
    You need to remember that the purpose of the media is to sell the sponsor’s products and nothing else because no major media outlet can exist without the money it gets from corporate sponsors .
    This mirrors the president and Congress none of whom could attain their office without corporate sponsorship of their election campaigns .
    For the same reason that the people in the corporate media outlets cannot tell the truth, the government cannot serve the needs and wishes of the electorate ahead of corporate interests.
    Tell me where I’m wrong.

  • I’ll give you a quick answer.
    In 1918 under Woodrow Wilson, the U.S began its still active foreign policy of overthrowing any possible threat to capitalism by invading the new-born Soviet Union along with the help of a couple of European countries .
    The “U.S. War On All The People Of Cuba” also known as the embargo , is an extension and continuation of that policy that has engendered over 75 interventions since 1918 to prevent the rise of economic democracy also known as socialism and communism -now terms that have been poisoned by the corporate media , the public schools and the capitalist-owned oligarchy that is the U.S government .
    Further , you are sadly mistaken if you believe President Obama to be any sort of a moral person any more than any of his predecessors who carried out those other 75 interventions.
    Please understand that in an oligarchy , the wealthy run the government and in the U.S. NO candidate for national office can run a successful election campaign without the hundreds of millions of dollars in legal bribes from the corporations and wealthy individuals that are called campaign contributions.
    You cannot possibly believe that all that money is not paid out without the expectation that the winning candidate will toe the line as to the wishes and interests of those very wealthy.
    The same big financial institutions often finance both candidates but no matter because corporate interests remain the same regardless of which candidate wins and in every case the winner and the leadership of each party must obey the wishes and desires of their wealthy bribers or lose the election.
    Lastly, the Vietnam invasion took place after the U.S had financed 80% of the French war there between 1950-54 and the U.S. illegally declared Vietnam two countries and voided the free elections scheduled for 1956 by the Geneva Agreement between France and Vietnam which would have unified the country under Ho Chi Minh .
    During that 1950-54 period , the U.S sided with French colonialism and once Ho was forced to take aid from the Soviets, the U.S. then followed its long established foreign policy of fighting communism/socialism , the threat to the wealthy in the U.S.

  • Please define communist as you understand the philosophy/practice .
    This will be a golden opportunity for you to openly display your ignorance of what a communist and a communist system is and is not.
    And while you’re at it please tell us all how much power Fidel wields in the present government now that he is been retired for about seven years, in failing capacities and not even writing his “Reflections” column at the rate he used to when healthy and younger.
    What proof can you offer that he wields anything other than the power of his past words and the revolutionary teachings he has inculcated in the Cuban society ?
    Answer my questions please.

  • SFB,
    Oliver Stone is absolutely no threat to the well-entrenched oligarchy which he criticizes occasionally and very unlike the threat to Cuba by Cubans trained by and in the U.S in subverting the revolution .
    Oliver Stone is well-heeled and no more wants to overthrow the system which enables him to live a very opulent lifestyle than you do.
    You might want to compare apples with apples just so your points are not pointless.

  • There are 11 million Cubans on the island .
    What percentage are involved in the anecdotal incidents you so love to post ?
    Yes, the Cuban system is totalitarian but they are at war and were these people to be treated as are al-Qaeda sympathizers and activists in the U.S who likewise seek to overthrow the U.S. government , you’d have no problem with executing them would you ?

  • “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” and that, Griffin, is as far as the friendship and similarities went between Cuba and Syria both of who defy U.S hegemony in the world.
    Gadaffi, also totalitarian as is the Cuban government , also housed , fed, educated, provided health care and raised the living standard of all his people to the highest in Africa much as Cuba seeks to do while under economic attack from the U.S.
    Your post is empty of anything but a studied ignorance of reality .

  • Genocide and terrorism is not a matter for opinion. It is wrong in EVERY case. You have made it clear that you believe there is nothing wrong with US regime’s genocide-at-a-distance — your beloved embargo again. Believe it or not, Moses, some people (99% of the countries at the UN) take exception to it.

  • Moses, you constantly make the mistake of believing whatever BS your dissident pals dish up. Even your beloved Yoani Sanchez has been caught fabricating lies of her and her husband being severely beaten and left for dead in the street. In her ridiculous propaganda video on YouTube the next day, the cameraman zoomed on her face to show the, ahem… cuts and bruises. What cuts and bruises??? Like the emperors new clothes, there wasn’t a mark to be seen!

    The most infamous case is the supposed police beating that supposedly led to the death of “dissident” Juan Soto. That, as his own family confirmed, was another dissident lie. The international media who had been breathlessly and unquestioningly reporting these lies as revealed truth suddenly dropped the story like a hot potato. I don’t think “dissident” credibility in Cuba has ever recovered from this stunning setback.

    For details and other examples, see:

  • The United States has inner city districts that look the same or even more run down than Havana……. do you see the unemployed people living there ‘taking to the streets’? Today all governments are full of a bunch of repressive wana be movie stars clutching every dollar they can muster up for themselves writing books, appearing on television shows and giving speaches. Our jails are full our people are starving voting rights are restricted and jobs do not exist…Cuba no, it’s the U.S.A..

  • First of all Cuban Gov could care less about what lying con man Obama does
    Fidel called him out 5 yrs ago in his articles SMH! I am Cuban and an an Afro Cuban and I come and go as I please and do it from Amerikkka I travel the world as part of my job and as part of my leisure and often i find it easier to travel to Afrika from Cuba than from the US
    I fly to Cuba from Fla every month to take care ofmy family and from there I go where I choose unless its work related


  • I am here now after traveling from Cuba to South Afrika and back
    Noone hassled me and they never have, I travel to and from Cuba, to amerikkka to Europe Asia all of the time and I get nothing but respect from airport auth Why is that? I am interested in learning about PROOF that this has taken place?

    Sometimes being Afro Cuban with hutzpah cojones and guts helps huh? smiling ATCHA!

  • Do you read what you write? You support this treatment because these people disagree with the Castros? They took pictures with people that the Castros don’t like so they deserve to be arrested? Do you deserve to be hassled and arrested for your comments to HT which disparage US policy? As ridiculous as your comments are, there is no crime being committed (unless being stupid was a crime). Again, why are you communists so thin-skinned?

  • Dan, you constantly make the mistake of believing that if the Cuban press doesn’t report it, it does not exist in Cuba. Cuban State Security engages in the same crowd suppression tactics you see taking place anywhere in the world. According to the Miami Herald, on August 29, 2011, “Cuban police used tear gas in a weekend raid against dissidents in eastern Santiago province, where State Security agents also pummeled and made obscene gestures at dissident women, opposition activists reported Monday.
    “The riot squad came into the house like it was a commando movie, because that’s never been seen in Cuba,” said YulieCQ Valverde, whose husband was one of the 27 dissidents detained during the raid Sunday on their home in the town of Palma Soriano.” The tragedy here is that the crime committed by these Cubans is simply disagreeing with the Castros.

  • POWER in Cuba is on the eve of moving to a new home…the Cuban People,. True believers and apologists for the Communist state would be wise to begin the subtle distancing of themselves from this corrupt, aged, mumified regime. When change comes it will be swift and without mercy.

  • You won’t see the Cuban police charging into crowds of protesters beating them with clubs and gassing them in the manner of US riot cops. In Cuba, the most you will see the cops doing is picking up and actually carrying away tiny handfuls of troublemakers and taking them away in cars or buses as in the photo above — no excessive force as far as I can tell.

  • As agents of a genocidal superpower, they should expect a few hassles, to say the least, from the authorities and their neighbours. One of them actually spoke out in favour of these genocidal sanctions of yours — sanctions that have been universally and repeatedly condemned by the international community. Others were hobnobbing with the very perpetrators of these cruel and inhumane sanctions. Another was posing for pictures with the US terrorist who blew up a Cuban passenger jet in the 1970’s — apparently a great hero in the US. These folks would be seen as a potential threats and traitors and probably arrested in any country — not just “harrassed” by officials at the airport.

  • During Obama’s primary race against Hillary Clinton in 2008, he went on the record saying that US must engage our enemies like Iran and Cuba countering Hillary’s position to demand concessions prior to engagement. I don’t think he had a choice, at least not a good one. In view of the Mandela legacy of forgiveness and considering the speech Obama was just about to give, he chose the lesser of evils and shook the tyrant’s hand.

  • Most successful politicians fail the “substance” litmus test. It is a function of comparing their usually high minded rhetoric with the day-to-day realities of doing the job. In addition, Obama’s administration has faced from
    Day One a Republican opposition forsworn to obstructing his agenda. If he tried to push a Mother’s Day resolution, there would be Tea Party no votes. Despite the unwillingness of his opposition to admit it, a good portion of the resistance he faces has nothing to do with disagreement on policy and everything to do with simple racism. As far as the “selfies” you should take into consideration that the mood at South African memorials is celebratory not somber. There is singing, dancing and music and people tend to engage in activities that would seem unseemly from our Eurocentric perspective. The photographer who took that picture of the three leaders says that Michelle’s face did not reflect her mood at the time. He says she had been engaged with the other three just moments before he took that picture and she was laughing and smiling. Her “look” should not be misinterpreted. Obama may still be on the sofa, but not because of that photo.

  • You are fine with the Cuban State Security agents beating and arresting dissidents. This is acceptable behaviour in your mind. So do you also support US government agents beating up opposition activists? Or the Canadian police clubbing and arresting anti-Harper protesters? Many of the Canadian leftist protest groups receive funding from US based progressive organizations, such as the Tides Foundation. Do you consider them a bunch of money grubbing losers in the pay of US interests?

  • Returning Cuban dissidents don’t expect a hero’s welcome. They do expect to be afforded their basic rights as Cuban citizens. Instead, they are summarily harassed and harangued upon arrival. When Oliver Stone visits China and/or Venezuela where he sets out to trash US policies, he is able to return to the US without being subjected to this humiliating treatment. Who knows and who cares where he gets his money? It is his human right to disagree with his government. Why are you lefties so thin-skinned?

  • Assad’s Syria is a good friend of Castro’s Cuba as was Gadaffi’s Libya. Birds of a thuggish feather.

  • Zakaria wrote:

    “President Obama should offer the Cuban government a series of steps that would relax restrictions on trade and travel with Cuba – but only if they are matched by real economic and political reforms in Cuba. Let the Cuban people know, for example, that if its government were to free all political prisoners, the United States would be willing to relax the embargo.”

    Done. Obama relaxed travel and trade restrictions. Raul responded by increasing repression of CUban dissidents and arresting a US citizen, Alan Gross. I guess that means:

    a) concessions and promises of further relaxations in the embargo don’t help
    b) Zakaria doesn’t know what he’s talking about, since he recommends as a new direction a policy Obama is already pursuing

  • Obama did not go down the line shaking everybody’s hand. He made a straight line for Raul, and then Dilma. He could easily have skipped him and shook a few other hands.

    Obama should have been aware of the message that gesture made, but he seems to think he can smile and charm every dictator or thug into being nice. That’s his narcissism.

  • I agree with you that Cuba is of very small importance to Obama. The US has much more difficult foreign policy issues to grapple with.

    My biggest knock on Obama is that he lacks substance and is far too concerned in his image. What he did in South Africa was par for course. Taking selfies at a funeral is vain and tasteless. From the look on Michelle’s face, he’s going to be sleeping on the sofa for a while.

  • …who gets to decide who is “naive”? Sounds a authoritarian to me. In fact you’re being a bit transparent

  • Hogwash! What happens is that Cuban people will defend their revolution! the people of Cuba will not allow sabotage or chaos created either by naiv elements or by those with ill will. Much as retrograde opposition members and Cuba haters want, they are not going to turn Cuba into another Syria or Libya or Chile under Pinochet or Guatemala under Rios Montt.

  • I am convinced Cuba is not high on President Obama agenda as Iran, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, the Israeli Palestinian conflict, GITMO, North Korea or Pakistan.
    But, with three years left on his watch and tons of acrimonious internal problems such as Obamacare, immigration, unemployment, gun violence, the economy and a do-nothing Congress, time is running out and his legacy is at risk.
    By having the courage to extend a hand to Iran new leaders, President Obama have taken the first step in solving this intractable and dangerous conflict, partially justifying his Nobel Prize.
    Why not add more points to President Obama distinguish award, by dealing with Cuba and solving the easiest of all outstanding US conflicts in the world, except for the false pride, prejudice and complexes as it happened in Viet Nam, to accept a battle was fought and lost.

  • These “dissidents” shouldn’t expect a hero’s welcome, bankrolled as many if not all them are bankrolled by a US regime that continues to this day to inflict genocidal trade sanctions on every man, woman and child on the island. According to a top secret report from USINT chief, Jonathan Farrar, (my paraphrasing), these “dissidents” are nothing more than money-grubbing losers who couldn’t elected dog-catchers (WikiLeaks).

  • I dont think that handshake was very significant. Raul was just standing there next to Dilma and could not be ignored. BTW, I dont think there’s much reason to expect politicians from the two parties to strongly oppose political repression in general. As long as Gorbachov-like figure who at least pretends to recognise America’s cruel past does not arise, I wont take the pro Human Rights discourse serious.

  • You are no fan of President Obama and I am a huge supporter. I share your observations but I interpret the facts differently. I see Obama’s actions in Johannesburg as further proof of the minimization of all matters Cuban to this President. He is “absorbed” with issues related to Iran, Syria, North Korea, Central African Republic and others. As long as they are not killing each other in the streets in Cuba, he is likely to look the other way. The ‘Cuban problem’ has been around so long that it is easy to ignore. Even resolving relations with Cuba won’t have much of an impact on life in America. There is no threat of nuclear bombs, or mass slaughter or other front page news issues to overcome. Why bother with it when the risk of failure is great and success brings little reward? Besides, did you see the Danish PM? As Prime Ministers go, I would flirt with her too!

  • Carlos wrote,

    “The images of repressive actions taken in Cuba during Human Rights Day seriously discredit the Cuban government and give the figures of the opposition good press in the international arena.”

    Unfortunately, the pathologically self-absorbed Barack Obama thought it was a good day to be photographed shaking hands with Raul Castro and flirting with the Danish PM. This at the very moment Castro’s goons were beating dissidents in Cuba. Far more press coverage were given to those two pathetic images than to the scenes of state repression in Cuba. That sent the wrong message to the Cuban people and to the world. It tells Raul he can carry on as usual and the US won’t bat an eye.

  • Cuba is in a virtual state of war with the belligerent, nuclear superpower to the north, who has made no secret of its evil intentions (e.g. its genocidal embargo targeting every man, woman and child on the island) and its bankrolling of so-called “dissidents.” Unfortunately, some hard feelings and some restrictions on political activities are unavoidable under these circumstances.

    That said, it seems to me that Cuba is one of the most democratic societies in the world. Even under these siege-like conditions, Cubans are among the healthiest in the Americas with an infant mortality rate — the single most reliable indicator of overall public health — that is better than that in both the USA and Canada. (See the CIA website if you don’t believe me.) Clearly, the priorities of the Cuban people are also the priorities of their government.

    Even under these siege-like conditions, Cubans vote every 2.5 years in free and fair elections (national elections every 5 years). Candidates are nominated not by any distant, money-hungry political machines, but by the people themselves in open public meetings in every neighbourhood, or by democratically elected, local representatives who themselves were originally nominated in this way. It costs nothing to be nominated, to run for and win even the highest political office in the land. To keep things honest, Cuban voters have the option in national elections of rejecting every candidate on the ballot and calling for an entirely new slate of candidates — real power that US voters can only dream of!

  • An excellent analysis of the Cuban government’s “two small steps forward, one giant step backward” mode. The role reversal of who feels threatened is an excellent point.

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