Moment of Truth for Obama and Cuba

Alberto N Jones

Obama in Cuba.
Obama in Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES — In less than four months, Barack Obama will no longer be president of the United States and he will return to civilian life, without many of his national and international ambitions having been fulfilled.

Restoring diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba is, without a doubt, one of Barack Obama’s greatest political victories, as he managed to do what no other US president before him could do in half a century.

In spite of enormous pressure, media attacks, an obstructionist Congress in hands of the opposition party that doesn’t stop going on about the tragic days of the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis, this achievement may end and maybe even revert the most important political conflict in our region within the last 50 years.

The indescribable economic and social damage, stress, disease and death which the Cuban people have had to endure, has marked a heroic people, who knew how to resist the greatest attack by the giant in the North, with indelible scars.

US intellectuals and political experts who have visited Cuba have held exchanges with our intellectuals, visited the Hemingway museum and drank a daiquiri or two at the Floridita. Then they return home to the US converted into experts on all things Cuban, editors about Cuban subjects, giving conferences at universities and on the TV. Some of these people have contributed to twisting and warming anti-Cuban sentiments in the US.

Similarly, some Cuban intellectuals who have visited the US, given conferences and are considered in Cuba to be experts on the super complex and contradictory US policy, where apart from having the authority to declare war, the president of the United States is tied by his hands and feet with Congress’ never-ending deliberations. Worst still is when draft bills are set aside and die out in the hands of the opposition party.

Cuba’s media has made the general population believe that the US president has the immense privilege, authority and decision-making power that the Cuban president has, creating a false impression that is self-destructive.

Obama in Revolution Square in Havana.
Obama in Revolution Square in Havana during his visit in March, 2016.

Some members of Cuba’s mass media who demand that president Barack Obama lift the trade embargo, do away with the Helms-Burton Act and other things, haven’t bothered to explain to the Cuban people that these measures are encoded in law. This means that in order to change them, 3/4 of the 450 members in the House of Representatives and the Senate need to approve it.

Denying the huge effort that Barack Obama has made to normalize relations between the two countries, a lot more than what all his predecessors did put together, is cruel and unfair.

Maintaining a false politically correct stance, fearful of retribution for admitting undeniable truths, is a mistake by Cuban authorities and their media. The fact is that the presence of Barack Obama in Cuba was an infusion of hope, honor and dignity especially for black Cubans, who could appreciate the simple, frank and friendly way he and his family held themselves, thereby breaking down age-old infuriating racist notions that continue to exist in Cuba.

Unfortunately, many preferred to capitalize on a mistaken paragraph in his speech which suggested forgetting the past as a way to move forward and make progress with the relationship between these two countries.

Momentary amnesia led many to forget the risks, invasions, shortages, devastation and grief that other US leaders had infringed on our country. They failed to recognize the value of how Obama, just like former president Carter, held out his hand to us in reconciliation.

Obama with Raul Castro at Havana's Latin American baseball stadium.
Obama with Raul Castro at Havana’s Latin American baseball stadium.

Cuba would have benefited much more if the spotlight had been inverted, inviting Obama to visit and morally commit himself to his black brothers in Marianao and Santiago de Cuba; by showing him the great material and psychological damage that the presence of the Navy Base has caused to the people of Guantanamo, or by inviting him to the Isle of Youth to show him our rural schools, where thousands of children, orphaned by wars in Africa and others, received love, education, healthcare and are today honest men and women all over the world?

We could have publicly summoned him to develop a project with Cuba after the Guantanamo base is returned some day to the country.

This unique opportunity to show the world our people’s altruism, humanism and empathy was thrown out of the window.

Cuba cannot expect better conditions to negotiate with either of the two US presidential candidates. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency would revert the two countries’ relationship back to the worst moments in the Cold War and Hillary Clinton’s aggressive mentality is more than well-known.

This is the moment of truth!


40 thoughts on “Moment of Truth for Obama and Cuba

  • October 20, 2016 at 6:35 pm
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    Then you are perpetuating a lie.

  • September 30, 2016 at 10:01 am
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    Have fun in La-La Land, and good luck convincing anyone that you can magically travel as a legal tourist because of your make-believe fantasy loophole.

    Goodbye and take care my confused friend.

  • September 30, 2016 at 10:00 am
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    Have a look at what happened: prices of hotels in Havana skyrocketed. The travel “P2P” which should be labelled “U2C” (US tourists to Castro) are limited to government controlled tours. These US travelers see nothing but what the regime wants them to see. The economic impact is substantial for a desperate regime.
    On the other hand: compared to the 8-10 billion dollars the Cuban “slave labor” of doctors brings in the 3 billion from tourism (enhanced by US tourism but decreased by displaced European tourism due to price hikes) is not that relevant.
    The psychological impact of Obama’s actions is the most important: the Castro elite think they might get away with it and that the US will help them to transit from a Stalinist elite to a military-political-economic oligarchy.

  • September 30, 2016 at 7:33 am
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    Indeed time to move on as I am flogging a dead horse.

    You are reduced to what I consider insults (rant, politician, inability to grasp, …).
    I don’t “rant”, I post referenced arguments.
    I hate politicians.
    I have a law degree so I am vary able to grasp any and all legalities in play here.

    The Supreme Court upheld cases because it saw that this was not a travel ban, but an ban on spending in Cuba. It says that in its won words and you can’t substitute yours and remain credible. It is you that show an “inability to grasp the most basic legalities of the US Law” to paraphrase you.

    Again: the Supreme Court says:
    “Given the traditional deference to executive judgment in the realm of foreign policy, there is an adequate basis under the Due Process Clause to sustain the President’s decision to curtail, by restricting travel, the flow of hard currency to Cuba that could be used in support of Cuban adventurism. Pp. 468 U. S. 240-243.”
    “Regan v. Wald 468 U.S. 222 (1984)”
    https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/468/222/

    Anyone that can read will see what I said is the same.
    The “chuckles” are on you.

  • September 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm
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    You sound like a long time politician, someone who can endlessly spin the simplest of concepts into nonsense.

    Your inability to grasp the most basic legalities of the OFAC and US State Department regulations or how the US Supreme Court has unfailingly upheld them from the very beginning is quite frankly, mind boggling.

    In any case, carry on in your fantasy world where you, and only you, secretly knows how to travel legally as an American tourist.

    Thanks for the chuckles, movin’ on…

  • September 29, 2016 at 12:42 pm
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    No rant. They upheld the sanctions system because it is a ban on spending and not on travel. You can’t deny the US Supreme Courts legally binding assessment.

    As far as links go: I have posted to
    – a travel site that aims to promote travel and inform people
    http://www.visitcuba.com/travel-guide/travel-tips/special-note-to-usa-travellers/
    – a site from an activist promoting travel to Cuba (claims to have been part of the Supreme Court case)
    http://www.cubatravelusa.com/FAQ.htm
    – the US supreme court quoting their decision:
    “Regan v. Wald, 468 U.S. 222 (1984)”
    https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/468/222/
    That says:
    “2. The restrictions on travel-related transactions with Cuba imposed by the 1982 amendment to Regulation 560 do not violate the freedom to travel protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Cf. Zemel v. Rusk, 381 U. S. 1. Given the traditional deference to executive judgment in the realm of foreign policy, there is an adequate basis under the Due Process Clause to sustain the President’s decision to curtail, by restricting travel, the flow of hard currency to Cuba that could be used in support of Cuban adventurism. Pp. 468 U. S. 240-243.”

    Here is the why:

    None of the sources above can be even remotely seen as anti-Castro. People with an interest and a passion for free travel to Cuba confirm what I said and refer to the US supreme court (a decision I posted to) to confirm what I said. I could hardly have chosen a better mix, no? No possibility to claim I use “lying anti-Castro” sites. The mix is what it is to show I am honest and informed.

    In legal matter the US Supreme Court is the ultimate legal authority. The rule of precedent stands tall in US law. You want me to accept the “rants” of a person that seems to think his views on US law supersede that of the US Supreme Court.

    Again: the whole discussion is – as I said – “lame” which you confirm by agreeing with me that no prosecutions are being brought.

    That doesn’t change the fact that one has to look at what the so called “travel sanctions” in law actually “bottom line” where (now clearly non-existent due to liberal and meaningless exceptions and non-prosecution): a prohibition on supporting the Castro regime financially.

    The fact that OFAC tried to present it differently doesn’t change the legal facts and – as one of my sources said” for the uninformed it looked like that. There is a reason why there are few prosecutions: the burden of proof. Merely showing someone traveled to Cuba was in fact not enough. The fact some people were misled and intimidated in the past and settled paying fines doesn’t change that. People that knew the US Supreme Court ruling know better. You are the one propagating a “legal and internet myth”. Not me.
    The travel ban was upheld as it aimed to restrict the flow of funds. That means that without flow of funds (directly or indirectly) it can not be upheld. My argument precise.

  • September 28, 2016 at 1:47 pm
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    “… Strange that even the Supreme Court buys in to the “internet myth”, no?…”

    That is complete nonsense. They NEVER bought into your rant, that’s why you’ve been wrong from the beginning. All your government links clearly point this out.

    You truly are in a fantasy land, imagining that you’ve somehow discovered a magical legal loophole that only you know about.

    And I have no clue why you posted a link to a commercial travel blogger, could there be a more lame source? It’s common knowledge that no American tourist has been prosecuted for illegal travel in over a decade and you can confirm that info right on the OFAC website. Their legal actions/sanctions are public record.

    Carry on.

  • September 28, 2016 at 8:19 am
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    Strange that even the Supreme Court buys in to the “internet myth”, no?

    The text you want to ignore and the link again:
    “Americans are not actually prohibited from traveling to Cuba but are prohibited from spending any money in Cuba”
    http://www.visitcuba.com/travel-guide/travel-tips/special-note-to-usa-travellers/
    Please don’t misrepresent facts.
    What OFAC says and what it can enforce are two different things.
    Look past the obvious.

    As far as the legal side of it see: 1984 Supreme Court Wald Versus Regan decision: (here are the words of a pro-travel advocate that was connected to the suit on the theme)
    http://www.cubatravelusa.com/FAQ.htm

    It upheld the travel ban – as you call it – as it was merely a prohibition on spending money.
    (see link)

    “2. The restrictions on travel-related transactions with Cuba imposed by the 1982 amendment to Regulation 560 do not violate the freedom to travel protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Cf. Zemel v. Rusk, 381 U. S. 1. Given the traditional deference to executive judgment in the realm of foreign policy, there is an adequate basis under the Due Process Clause to sustain the President’s decision to curtail, by restricting travel, the flow of hard currency to Cuba that could be used in support of Cuban adventurism. Pp. 468 U. S. 240-243.”
    https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/468/222/

    It is all “academical” anyway:
    “While it’s still technically illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba for tourism, it seems in practice, no one really enforces these travel restrictions anymore.
    Tens of thousands of Americans travel to Cuba every year without a license. In fact since President Obama took office, ZERO Americans have been fined for visiting Cuba.”
    http://expertvagabond.com/travel-to-cuba-for-americans/

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