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Thursday, December 31, 2009

United States Cuba Relations – The McCaffrey Hiccup

As 2009 draws to a close and on the eve of the 51st anniversary of the Cuban revolution, we learned that Gen. Barry McCaffrey USA Retired, withdrew from his participation in an upcoming trip to Cuba next week. The General complained that recent statements by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez were insulting to the Obama Administration and counterproductive to the course of relations between our country and Cuba.
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General McCaffrey’s sudden withdrawal is a temporary setback. However, I am skeptical of the reasons for his withdrawal. Had the General even recognized that the Cubans experienced a WTF* moment in the supposed resetting of our relations with them – the December 5th arrest of an American contractor in Cuba who delivered communications and computer equipment to Cuban dissidents, a continuation of the interference based and detrimental Bush foreign policy with Cuba? President Obama had campaigned on a platform to change the policy – to engage the Cuban government as it is, not as we would like it to be, and that he would meet with Cuban President Raul Castro. But nothing very significant has occurred this year in the context of U.S. Cuba relations – government to government.
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Allowing Cuban Americans unrestricted travel and remittances to family in Cuba was not a concession, but a correction of a self-imposed injustice committed on our citizens. All the other discussion topics raised bilaterally still avoid the major issues. When the American contractor was arrested in Cuba, this had the effect like a bucket of ice cold water being thrown into the Cuban face – President Obama said he would be different, but it turns out he really is not that different from George W Bush on Cuba. And after an initial period of guarded praise by the Cuban government, the Cubans then did a 180 degree turnabout to the recent critical statements made by the Cuban Foreign Minister. It would have been far more constructive for General McCaffrey to meet personally with the Cubans and explain to them how counterproductive the statements they made were, just as I believe the Cubans would take advantage of the opportunity to explain their outrage that these interference based policies continue. Sending the letter as he did was a poor substitute in my opinion. In international relations you would send a letter if you know the recipient is not really interested in better relations.
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Had the General been unduly influenced to change his mind about U.S. Cuba relations? After withstanding a disrespectful attack at the November 18th Congressional Hearing by the congressional hardliners, did the General get messages or communications that told him basically – give up this Cuba odyssey? I felt for General McCaffrey, who is a highly decorated military officer who put his life on the line many times for our country, and who was treated badly at that hearing. His backing off over a poor choice of words by the Cubans seems disingenuous.
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But all of this begs larger questions. I only wish President Obama could have the entire 360 degree analysis of U.S. Cuba relations put before him. I do not believe the man we elected last November would allow this insanity and failure to continue if he had the full breadth and scope of this issue before him. His intellect would see through the dysfunction, the arrogance, and no longer tolerate his own personal ignorance on this issue anymore. His leadership would say, “Enough is enough. I can do something and I will do something to change the course.” Instead he is politically spoonfed the issue, decided by monied interests, not the people’s interests. He deserves better from his staff on this issue. But Latin America, and Cuba within that context , continue to wallow low within our foreign policy priorities. In a world where two wars, Islamic terrorists, an economy struggling to recover, and a critical issue like healthcare still unresolved-- all issues he inherited from a disastrous Bush administration, when will President Obama realize the opportunities to forge a truly new beginning? President Obama may very well need to appoint a special envoy to Cuba to deal with the breakdown and to create the conditions necessary to achieve the breakthroughs that are within the reach of both countries. Flowers will grow in a garden, not a desert.
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The problem may also be that there are interests in both countries who are content and vested with keeping the status quo. I think of the Star Trek VI movie –The Undiscovered Country (available on DVD), where the plot fell upon two enemies who out of necessity must forge a peace and become friends and all that tried to block that peace from happening. What is it that those pro-embargo interests fear will happen when our country normalizes relations with Cuba? What is it that those Cubans fear will happen when the United States is no the longer the excuse for the problems the Cuban people contend with? Will we be able to transcend these differences after 51 years of failure and all the human and economic damage that has been inflicted upon both countries? These are the questions that we face in 2010.
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Happy New Year to All – Peace, Reconciliation, and Recovery
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[*WTF – what the f__, is the common and vulgar expression for utter disappointment, shock, and outrage]

6 Comments:

Anonymous said...

It is 2010, a Cuban Australia wishes you a happy new year, this year is change

Anonymous said...

Cubans celebrating the 51st anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution between achievements and challenges colored by a severe global economic crisis, on 1 January 1959 stands for the realization of the dreams of justice of those who gave their lives over more than 100 years of struggle for true independence of the nation.
The arrival of the Revolution was the achievement of human dignity as the heart and motivation of the revolutionary leadership promptly taking the necessary transformations. Other transformations of the new government helped put an end to racial discrimination, gender, illiteracy and guarantee the right of citizens to health and sports, among other benefits. "Having understood this truth and acted accordingly with it invariably has been a crucial factor of the victory of the Cuban Revolution against enemies, challenges and seemingly insurmountable challenges,"
Happy New Year, and Happy January 1
Pakito

Anonymous said...

To 51 years met the triumph of the Cuban revolution we want to express our deep affection and appreciation for (the anniversary) this victory that opened the door to new triumphs on the continent and the world Abel Naranjo

Anonymous said...

Times change, and the older generation should pass their experience to young people because they are better prepared

Carlitos said...

By chance someone knows how is the law of grandchildren??? Cuba is by far the Latin American country where the law has had more impact grandchildren?

Anonymous said...

In Cuba, the grandmothers are the losers because they are women and their marriage to a Cuban-lose the nationality under the Civil Code of 1889 - and now she can not benefit from the law of grandchildren.
Men grandparents if they have grandchildren law is a very discriminative to women, I am the grandson of a Spanish married a Cuban and I have Spanish citizenship because my Spanish grandfather Memory Law History