Maggie Alarcón

Posts Tagged ‘CAFE’

A Glimmer of Hope Obama, Cuba and United States

In Alan Gross, Blockade, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Miami/Cuba, Politics, US on November 14, 2012 at 11:27 am
 
 By Benjamin Willis
Originally published in CAFEPROCUBA

Although most progressives would agree that last Tuesday’s elections did little to resolve the overwhelming list of challenges that faces our nation there is a glimmer of hope that the United States is inevitably moving towards a policy of engagement and normalization with Cuba.  Barack Obama and the Democratic party showed that they were able to listen to voices within the Cuban American community crying out for a new stance towards the island of their families and heritage over the din of distorted hysteria projected by the historical Cuban exile community of southern Florida. As a result, Obama took a record amount of the Cuban American votes in Miami-Dade County and Democrat Joe Garcia easily beat the hapless Republican incumbent David Rivera for Florida’s 26th congressional district.

These victories for candidates who have demonstrated a clear intention to work towards a more “normal” policy with Cuba reflect the desire for both political parties to acknowledge the raw statistics of public opinion polls in both Florida and across the United States concerning current policy towards Cuba. For decades voters flocked to Republican politicians who were willing to cozy up to criminals such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles in order to project a hard-line approach. Now, it seems as though the Cuban Americans of Miami are abandoning their blind support for the policy of economic strangulation that is the United States embargo towards Cuba.

Outside of Florida, gains in the senate by Democrats in races that were all but gift-wrapped for the Republicans just three months ago bode well for what will eventually be a long slog through both houses in order to finally dismantle the Helms-Burton Act, the codification of the odious embargo that was universally denounced in the UN this past Tuesday, November 13th.

Obama and his legacy

For the short term, an Obama re-election may be exactly what proponents of engagement with Cuba need. Even though it will take a persistent campaign designed to eventually repeal Helms-Burton there are several things that Obama can do to improve our relations with the island through either executive order or through good old-fashioned diplomacy.

If Obama could have run on his record of pursuing a different policy with Cuba he might have been able to convince even more Americans to vote for him.  In contrast to the empty promises he gave his supporters concerning tackling global-warming, pursuing peace, and rebuilding America’s manufacturing base with “green” jobs, his success at re-drawing the “line in the sand” between the U.S. and Cuba has been a positive step towards redefining America’s policy towards the communist nation.

Obama’s decision to scrap George W. Bush’s policies of allowing Cuban Americans to travel to the island only once every three years was an easy, yet necessary step.  He changed regulations in favor for open travel to the island by Cuban Americans in 2009. Remittances were also allowed to be sent and have helped family members on the island to set up private businesses in Cuba’s nascent mixed economy that has resulted from the economic reforms that the Cuban government has implemented in the past few years.  All of these decisions have been applauded throughout the Cuban American community.  Unfortunately, Cuban Americans have had to defend these inalienable rights, not privileges, because elected politicians from their own community like David Rivera, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Marco Rubio have attacked such actions as “appeasement”.  Their visceral hate for the Castros has been put in front of the rights of their own constituents to be able to reconnect with family members and their own heritage and culture.

Obama not only helped to open travel for Cuban Americans but also re-implemented the “people-to-people” policy in 2011 that allows for special licenses to be granted to any American citizens in order to visit Cuba for academic, cultural, religious, and some commercial endeavors.  Such licenses allow for American citizens to see first-hand the realities of Cuba that often don’t mesh with the spurious claims of Marco Rubio and his cohorts.

When the issuance or renewal of said licenses were halted in August there was a warranted amount of skepticism that this program would not be continued until after the election. Surprisingly, the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Accounts Control (OFAC) began issuing licenses in October. In previous years such a gesture would be seized upon by the Cuban exile community of Miami and magnified into scandalous proportions. This was not the case and Obama obviously reaped the benefits of not kowtowing to such extremists in this election.

Cynics will point out that Obama has disappointed in almost every way possible and that he is not interested in implementing real change in U.S. foreign policy. As far as Cuba is concerned, he may have no choice. This year’s Summit of the America’s the POTUS found out exactly how frustrated the rest of the hemisphere is with this nation, especially in regards to our refusal to recognize Cuba’s rightful participation in the summit. Several nations have vowed to boycott any further summits until the issue of Cuba is addressed. The rest of Latin America looks upon the U.S. with resentment because of decades of imposed colonial imperialism and our continued hostility towards Cuba is just another reminder to all Latin Americans of our continued arrogance and hubris.

Obama and the American political class need to see the writing on the wall. No positive result can come from continually denying Cuba its proper place at the international table.  Engagement with Cuba is simply better business than Uncle Sam’s archaic embargo and Obama is just pragmatic enough to understand this. There are some key issues that need to be addressed and proponents of normalization hope the president acts swiftly.

First, Cuba’s placement on the State Sponsors of Terrorism is unnecessary and Obama could change that.  The designation of Cuba as a country with a profile that fits this description was always dubious. Cuba exported revolution, not terrorism, and it has been almost thirty years since Cuban trained revolutionary forces were inflicting heavy damages on U.S.-backed mercenary forces in Africa, Nicaragua, and other areas of conflict during the Cold War. At no point did these forces use tactics that could be construed as terrorism.

Hardliners point to Cuba’s asylum to members of the FARC and ETA as examples of aiding and abetting terrorists, even though these organizations designation as terrorists obfuscates the truth about either movement. The Basque separatists are actually there at the urging of the Spanish government and the officials of the FARC and Columbian government have agreed to meet for the first formal talks in ten years in La Habana later this week after preliminary talks in Norway in October.

What kind of State Sponsor of Terror nation holds peace negotiations?

Cuba’s continued appearance on this list trivializes the very real threats of terrorism that our nation faces and negates the opportunity for the U.S. and Cuba to cooperate on important matters of regional security that correspond to both nations.

Secondly, Obama could dramatically open up diplomatic ties between the two countries.  Two major cases have been obstacles that have stood in the way of progress between the two nations.

One is Alan Gross. The other is the Cuban five.

While there are calls for a direct exchange between the two parties for these prisoners the best course of action would be to solve either case according to its own merits.  In both cases an increased amount of diplomacy will be needed and Obama could order a high level official to meet with representatives of the Cuban government in order to facilitate some end to the impasse that these cases have caused. Until now, Senators, congressmen, and civil servants with years of negotiating, like Bill Richardson, have been sent to La Habana. It’s time for the Secretary of State, whomever that may be, to make a historical trip and see if they can earn their paycheck.

This past week it was announced that Obama would be visiting Myanmar. The list of human rights abuses by the leaders of that nation makes Cuba look like Sweden. There is no excuse for not reaching out to a country like Cuba if we are planning on forgiving Myanmar for its sins long enough to visit them.

Thirdly, a broader interpretation of “people-to-people” licenses will be the best way for Americans to see for themselves that we have nothing to fear from the Cubans and everything to gain from a reciprocal relation with the island. The travel ban, or more precisely, the violation of the fundamental constitutional right of Americans to travel, is something that the president can ease if not completely do away with.  Cuba has recently made bold reforms in immigration laws that were designed to avoid “brain drain” during the Cold War. Gone are the requisite for an exit visa and other laws that made leaving Cuba almost impossible. Now, the only restriction for travel is that of the United States towards its own citizens.

These steps could help in the battle to eventually bring about real change. The exceedingly low-hanging fruit that Cuba represents would be easy to pick for Obama and would do wonders for a president seeking to try and secure his legacy. Presidential first terms are all about getting re-elected. Second terms are about leaving something behind that people will remember you by.

Miami’s Changing of the Guard

Exit polling in Miami-Dade County illustrates how the tide is turning in Cuban American political affiliation. Obama nearly split the votes with Romney among Cuban Americans across the county by taking between 48% and 53% (depending on which poll you want to believe) of the votes.  This is a monumental gain since 2000 when Bush carried over 75% of the Cuban American vote in Miami-Dade.

Joe Garcia’s election speaks volumes as to how the demographics of Cuban Americans, especially in Miami, are changing. This turning of the tide can be attributed to many factors but, most importantly, it appears as though Cuban Americans who have arrived since the Mariel boatlift are becoming increasingly involved in the political process. While most of the Cubans who arrived shortly after the revolution consider themselves political refugees, the newer generations often had to leave because of economic reasons.  These newcomers lived in Cuba during both good times and bad and are unwilling to accept the hardliners positions which are often articulated out of fear, ignorance, and loathing. The recalcitrant old-timers have had years to intimidate anybody who even suggested that Cuba should be spoken about in a respectful, positive manner. Their message is that of hysteria, hatred, and that killing innocents is perfectly acceptable. Hopefully, their time of controlling the narrative has come to an end.

The largest impediment for normalizing relations with Cuba has always been Miami Cubans.  It was ludicrous for any presidential to criticize our backward policy towards the island because it was thought that such a mistake would cost him the all important electoral votes of the “swing state” of Florida. If the Cuban American community can prove that it is indeed a diverse group of ideas and opinions and that the majority does not support the embargo and our retrograde position towards Cuba then politicians will be able to express what they truly feel about such a policy without the fear of a backlash that could sink their campaign.

It should be said that Garcia was president of the Cuban American National Foundation, an organization that has lobbied for the embargo and for strict measures against the Castro government. He is not anti-embargo, per se, but he has taken a positive stance on travel and remittances to the island and has challenged the status quo on bringing about change in Cuba. His maturation on several issues reflects the Cuban American community’s evolving stance on the same issues.

Regardless of his positions on the minute details of our policy with the island his election is part of a monumental sea change that is happening in Miami that is bigger than him or his electoral victory. Hopefully, he will provide a counterbalance to the Cuban American congressional cabal that lost a congressman but gained a senator in Ted Cruz from Texas.

Gaining ground

Last Tuesday’s elections proved to be a massive failure for the Republicans. Mitt Romney may never have had more then a puncher’s chance at gaining the white house but his party seemed poised to take a majority in the Senate. However, the American public decided that candidates who understand rape to be “God’s way” of ensuring that the human race procreate should not be given the task of making important decisions that affect the entire nation. Victories by Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin were unexpected but welcome to those who wish this country to make serious changes towards adopting reasonable policies for working class people. Hopefully, they will have a more intelligent stance on foreign policy as well.

For proponents of engagement with Cuba it is understood that in order to repeal the Helms-Burton Act there will have to be a concerted effort to win votes in the House and prevent a filibuster in the Senate by either Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez, and possibly by newcomer Ted Cruz. The fact that the Democrats gained seats instead of losing their majority is crucial in the long term.

Another gain in the Senate was that of Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Flake has been a vocal opponent of the embargo and has spoken out against our policy from Cuba. In order to repeal the embargo it will be necessary for Republicans to be on board. Flake’s election is a victory for change in U.S.-Cuba policy.

Finally, another event has happened that will be beneficial for those wanting change with Cuba. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the representative of Florida’s 18th congressional district in Miami, has reached her term limit for serving as the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Congress may not have term limits but at least committee appointments do and her position of chair on that committee always ensured that any discussion about Cuba would be tabled.  Ros-Lehtinen, known in Cuba as la loba feroz (the big, bad wolf), has proved to be one of the most reactionary politicians within the Cuban American congressional cabal regarding Cuba and her relinquishing of that post may allow for more discussion and dialogue for engagement and normalization.

 

The whole world is against us………literally.

Yesterday marked the 21st annual vote by the United Nations to condemn the U.S. embargo against Cuba. What started out as an attempt to rebuke the U.S. for its policy of economic strangulation of the island has turned into an yearly denouncement by the entire planet.

The final vote was an almost universal drubbing of the United States’ embarrassing policy: 188-3 with the Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstaining.

Of course, the U.S. was supported, as always, by Israel. The perennial random Pacific island nation that chose to hitch its wagons to unwavering imperialism this year was Palau. Makes you wonder if the FBI has some emails of Palau’s president.

It is ironic that even though Israel does not denounce the embargo it still allows its citizens to travel to Cuba freely. For a nation so paranoid about terrorism this seems to be a curious stance. Do they know something that Washington doesn’t?

The usual suspects within the supine American and worldwide media morass decide to just go with the AP story. ABC, CBS, FOXNEWS, the CBC, SkyNews and countless other news regurgitation webbies ran the same story which quoted Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, as saying that the embargo was “inhumane, failed and anachronistic.”  He continued by saying that perpetuating the policy was “not in the national interest of the United States. Quite the contrary, it harms the interests of its citizens and companies- especially in times of economic crisis and high unemployment.”

The main reason why so many “news” organizations ran this story was because it had the obligatory quote from a U.S. senior official defending this albatross around the neck of U.S. foreign policy as “one of the tools in our overall efforts to encourage respect for the human rights and basic freedoms to which the United Nations is committed.”

This after that same body unanimously decried the implementation of this “tool”. How can the US remain so tone deaf?

Here is what some of our partners, allies, and adversaries have said about this “tool” in the UN’s official press release of General Assembly 11311:

            “MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that the embargo against Cuba contravened the fundamental norms of international law, international humanitarian law, the United Nations Charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States.  Furthermore, its continued imposition violated the principles of the sovereign equality of States and of non-intervention and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs.”

Joseph Goddard of Barbados represented the Caribbean community (CARICOM) and stressed Cuba’s camaraderie with member States and articulated the importance of “mutually beneficial programmes of cooperation and trade in several key areas including physical education and sports, accounting, natural sciences, humanities, economy, special education, health and medicine.”

“OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) said on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) that the commercial, economic and financial embargo imposed on Cuba was contrary to the letter, spirit, principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and international law.  The Community was concerned about the extraterritorial effects of the embargo that affected the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation.”

“MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), speaking on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that the Group had been founded on the principles of interdependence and good neighbourly relations.  Alongside its Latin American neighbours, MERCOSUR showed respect for the sovereignty of States and for international law, and it viewed that the embargo ran contrary to the principles of the Unite Nations Charter and international law.  In particular, she said, it violated the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other States.  The embargo also ran contrary to the principles of justice and human rights, limited and delayed social and economic progress and inhibited the achievement of the Millennium Goals and other development targets.“

These were just a few of the statements issued by a number of subgroups within the UN. Once again, the entire world took a moment to make it perfectly clear to the United States that the embargo is completely unfair and deleterious to the Cuban people while becoming more and more counterproductive for U.S. citizens.  Obama could do himself and his legacy a favor if he would just stop and listen to what the international community is urging him and the United States to do- abandon the embargo and allow Cuba make its own future without further interference.

(An earlier version of this article was published in Counterpunch digital magazine at http://www.counterpunch.org http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/14/obama-cuba-and-united-states/)

Benjamin Willis is a musician who lives in Queens. He is a founding member of CAFE (Cuban Americans for Engagement). Contact him at benjamin@cafeporcuba.com.

 

Alas y Raíces

In CAFE, Cuba, Cuban Americans, History, Politics, Travel on October 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

Para Mirta Lavastida Fernández que concibió aves de vuelo con alas y raíces.

 

Margarita Alarcón Perea

 

En Cuba la generación nacida después del triunfo revolucionario de 1959 tiene una dicotomía emocional: fuimos educados por padres que tuvieron la posibilidad de vivir las dos Cuba, la del ayer traumático de la dictadura batistiana y la del futuro esperanzador de la revolución de Fidel Castro. Recuerdo que no había reunión en casa donde mis padres y sus amigos no rememoraran los años de la lucha, la vida de antes, las vicisitudes y sobre todo, lo mucho que había que hacer, y cuanta euforia sentían por el deseo de crear ese mundo nuevo en la isla.

Todo era válido. Niños y jóvenes instruyendo a los iletrados, 45 y más días en el campo, los trabajos voluntarios, la expo 67 Rampa arriba y Rampa abajo, hasta el corte de caña con todo y que la zafra de los 10 millones no resultara ser lo que se esperaba; no importaba, Cuba y su población isleña pasaban por alto los errores, se regocijaba en los éxitos y seguía adelante con un espíritu incalculable de solidaridad y amor casi que contagioso.

Esa fue la generación de nuestros padres, la que  de alguna manera nos inculcaron a nosotros, sus hijos, ese apasionamiento y esa electricidad de vida. La generación que le dijo adiós a padres, abuelos, tíos, hijos, amigos y mucho más. Pero fue también la generación que dejó atrás al parque de la primera patineta, al banco del primer beso;  la de los atardeceres de la añoranza. Fue una generación a ambos lados de un estrecho que cada vez se hacía más ancho, que aprendió  a la fuerza que las palabras “irse” y “quedarse” cobraban un significado mayor que la simpleza de movimiento, significaba una actitud ante la vida.

Y así fueron pasando los años y nosotros los nacidos de esa generación fuimos creciendo entre ese meollo de separación, incomprensión y distancia.  Pero nuestros padres fueron sabios, y la vida nuestra mejor escuela. Esos mismos que en ocasiones y por momentos nos fueron educando entre el “bien y el mal” de nuevo tipo, también evolucionaron para comprender que la distancia no es el olvido como ora la canción. Muchos, quizás motivados por nuestra misma existencia y nuestras inquietudes y nuestras ansias de isleños, fueron cambiando o despertando, o quizás simplemente confiando más. La distancia y la soledad se hacen más largas cuando uno las prolonga.  La nueva generación, heredera de la revolución, pronto aprendió, como les dijera Serrat a través de Machado, que el camino se hace al andar.

Ya,  por fin, se han levantado los miedos y los tapujos, ya por fin las puertas se han abierto y no se volverán a cerrar. Cual padre que ha educado bien a su hijo, llegó el día de entregarle las llaves de casa … y volverá.

Cuba’s New Migration Law: Raul Castro’s First Political Reform

In Blockade, Cuban Embargo, LGBT, Politics on October 17, 2012 at 10:39 am

 

By Anya Landau French
Originally published Oct 16, 2012 by The Havana Note

 

After literally years upon years of rumors that the Cuban government was planning to implement migration reforms, today, finally it did indeed publish significant changes to Cuba’s migration law in the Gaceta Oficial (see the file attachment at the end of this post). After several years of economic reforms, some of which came ever so slowly and others of which seemed to cycle out rather quickly, such as new rules for property sales, these changes to Cuban migration law represent the first substantial political reform enacted by Raul Castro’s government.

On the one hand, this is a huge step forward for both the Cuban government and the Cuban population. The elimination of the ‘tarjeta blanca’, or white card policy, which required Cubans to be invited abroad and receive authorization to go, and the new broad right to a passport, spelled out in black and white, represents a new level of trust that hasn’t existed between the Cuban population at large and its government in many years. The new migration policy also doubles the time a Cuban may live abroad without relinquishing citizenship (and possessions left behind) to 2 years, and then after that, one must seek additional months at a Cuban consulate.

On the other hand, there are several caveats, some obvious and inocuous, and others that, depending on how broadly they are used by authorities, still mean that several categories of Cubans may not benefit from these changes, or will at the very least, have to wait to benefit. Those Cubans include those who have civil or other obligations, such as mandatory military service (something not required in the U.S., but required in other countries, one example being Israel).  Then there are those whose departure – particularly en masse – could cause a serious brain drain in a country that invests substantial resources in and highly values its human capital particularly in social, medical and scientific fields. That means doctors will still need to serve the population (or in places like Venezuela) before emigrating. And here there is a reference to the U.S. policy of offering Cuban doctors the opportunity to immigrate to the U.S. from wherever they may be posted abroad. I’ve heard the Cuban doctors abroad program described as either a conscription where the doctor has no choice or as a volunteer-with-extra-pay assignment. The U.S. considers it a conscription, and will admit any Cuban doctor who reports he or she has been conscripted into service abroad. The Cuban government considers the U.S. immigration policy toward its doctors to be a full scale effort to rob Cuba of its qualified and necessary workforce.

But the most crucial exclusions are for national security and public interest – these could leave a lot of room for interpretation. A highly visible test of these exclusions will be the next time Yoani Sanchez wants to go abroad. The Cuban government may keep her grounded and use a familiar refrain about Sanchez and her ilk being created and funded by foreign entities bent on the destruction of the Cuban state; or, and this would be the more strategic choice, one demonstrating a deeper commitment to freedom to travel, just wave her on through. It’s not hard to imagine, after all, that the Cuban government’s harassment of Sanchez has helped fuel the international interest in her affairs.

The vast majority of Cubans will not find themselves caught in one of these exclusionary categories, and I expect that we’re going to see those with money, or with family abroad who will pay for their trip, taking advantage of this welcome change. This will of course complicate matters for U.S. officials who will have to consider many, many more temporary entry visa requests. I expect it will cause the U.S. to renew its request for more visa officers in Havana – or at least publicly – which will cause Havana to request reciprocity in Washington, DC, at which point everything will gum up as it often does. Over the last couple of years, the U.S. appears to be keeping its promise to halt any further progress on bilateral relations until Cuba releases Alan Gross from a Cuban military hospital where he is serving out a 15 year prison sentence.

Normally, if the United States’ priority were to have some sort of positive impact on the ground in Cuba, it might be a good idea to react with cautious optimism over these migration reforms and take steps within our power to encourage its broad use. But with the administration’s back up against the wall over its failure to secure the release of Alan Gross,  and just weeks before a U.S. presidential election, in which the media insist that Florida’s electoral votes remain pivotal, I doubt there will be much enthusiasm in Washington for Cuba’s new migration law. There’s a certain irony in that, given that Cuban Americans in Florida are precisely who will welcome this first big step forward toward the reunification of the Cuban family.

 

Update: If you want more details and you read Spanish, Cafe Fuerte has delved in to more specifics here.

Correction: This post originally lumped together some of the exclusions for entry into and exit from Cuba. The exclusions concerning terrorism, drug trafficking and participating in activities that are intended to subvert the internal political, social or economic order are exclusions on entry into Cuba.

Attachment Size
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Judy Gross’ Message “from Washington al Mundo”

In Alan Gross, Cuban 5, Cuban Embargo, Miami/Cuba, Politics, US on September 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm

 

By Arturo López-Levy

Originally published in The Havana Note

Mauricio Claver-Carone hosts a satellite radio program by the name “From Washington al Mundo” covering international affairs. But don’t expect any diplomacy there. The program is merely his platform from which to insult the American foreign policy establishment. For example, in his August 6 show, Claver targeted Vali Nasr, the Dean of the School of Advanced Studies of Johns Hopkins University and a leading expert on the Middle East, calling him “a useful idiot” or an agent of Teheran for not advocating a regime change policy and promoting negotiations with Iran. Mr. Claver and his guest Shahriar Etminani agreed that the nuclear issue is mere “noise”.

In another episode, Claver denounced Washington’s engagement with Beijing. On April 17, Claver hosted Thadeus McCotter or “the smartest member of Congress” by Claver’s reckoning. The host and the guest shared their belief that as long as the Communist Party is in power, China remains the same. The United States should apply a Cold War policy to China because the war has never ended. According to Claver’s logic, the 40- year Nixon-Kissinger model of “unconditional” and “nonchalant” engagement with China is a case of “myopia”. It should be replaced by a “confrontational” approach. After Tiananmen Square, the United States should have applied to China a policy similar to our fifty year failure against Cuba: the embargo.

But on his September 13 show, Claver really outdid himself. Claver, who is also the main pro-Cuba embargo lobbyist in Washington, had prepared himself for a coronation but ended up a jester. His special guest was Judy Gross, the wife of the USAID sub-contractor Alan Gross who is imprisoned in Cuba. Mrs. Gross basically rebuked one by one all of the mantras of the pro-embargo lobby about a potential solution to her husband’s predicament. In a call to the State Department, she advocated for the immediate beginning of negotiations between the Cuban and the US governments to address Alan Gross’ imprisonment. She argued persuasively in favor of the US government taking its “moral responsibility” for sending her husband to Cuba. Mrs. Gross traversed Claver’s minefield of manipulation by refusing to join him in his statements against the Obama Administration’s steps toward engagement such as allowing people to people travel to Cuba since January 2011.

Mrs. Gross’ message in “From Washington al mundo” should be the compass of a national and world advocacy campaign for her husband’s release. Alan Gross is an American Jew. Americans and Jews all over the world have the commitment to care for a brother in faith and fellow citizen. Everything should be done, particularly a responsible negotiation with Havana, for Alan Gross’ release. At the same time, the campaign should take public distance from the US embargo or the USAID program under the Helms-Burton law. As Jews and Americans, we don’t have any committment whatsoever to the agenda of property claims and political revenge of the Cuban pro-embargo groups. There should be negotiations regarding Gross between Cuba and the United States, therefore we need to put pressure on Havana and Washington. Mr. Claver and those who share his “confrontational approach” to Iran, China, or Cuba should sail on their own.

The US government is responsible for the USAID programs, which have severe design problems, including the lack of a request for the informed consent of the Cuban Jewish Community for Gross’ actions. Gross was not a spy, but he was working in a secret program under section 109 of the Helms-Burton law to circumvent Cuban state monitoring of internet access in the island. Those in the State Department and USAID who sent Gross to Cuba knew that the American law he was working under is considered a violation of Cuban sovereignty not only by the Cuban government but also by the overwhelming majority of the United Nations and most of Cuban civil society, including all the main religious communities.

No matter how much we despise the communist censorship of internet, according to international law, the protection of the Cuban cyberspace is the responsibility of the Cuban State. Given the history of terrorist attacks by Cuban exiles against the island, sometimes with the tolerance of the US government, at best, and its complicity at worst, it is logical that the Cuban authorities would consider any attempt to undermine its control over its cyberspace as a serious threat to its sovereignty and national integrity.

Nothing between Cuba and the United States escapes the context of a fifty years old embargo. This policy was described by Pope John Paul II, as “illegal, immoral and counterproductive”. For decades, Cuban technological development has been forestalled by restrictions on trade with the largest market in the world, just ninety miles from its shores. Different from the USAID programs in other countries, including communist Vietnam, where the agency is cooperating with the government to create nonpartisan access throughout libraries, in Cuba there is a U.S. sponsored attempt to guarantee selective access to opponents and independent civil society actors while denying the sale of technology and access to the government and those who support it.

Gross’ predicament is aggravated by the powerful interests on both sides of the Florida Straits that favor the confrontational status quo between Cuba and the United States. Before the November elections, there is little incentive to negotiate some settlement of Alan Gross’ situation, which is implicitly connected- in the minds of Cuban officials- with the “Cuban Five,” a group of agents condemned in Miami under charges of conspiracy to commit espionage. Havana realizes that Gross’ imprisonment is drawing a lot of new attention to the cause of the Five and the many irregularities and deviations of American justice standards of their Miami trial.

In South Florida, pro-embargo hardliners have largely profited from the arrest of the Five and Gross. Although the five agents mainly infiltrated violent anti-Castro groups and did not cause any damage to US national security, the reiteration of news about the five Cuban “spies” has provided ammunition for those interested in denouncing Cuba’s alleged offensive designs against the United States. For the hard line exiles, Alan Gross’ incarceration has been a major asset in their campaign against Obama’s minimal engagement. That is why Claver and the Cuban American Representatives and Senators have argued vigorously against any negotiation. Curiously, Radio Marti, a radio station paid by the U.S. government but controlled by the Cuban American radical exiles reported Mrs. Gross’ interview with Claver but deliberately ommitted her petition to the United States government to answer positively to Havana’s negotiation offer. Such manipulation of Mrs. Gross’ opinions is cruel and shameful. The pro-embargo forces should take responsibility for Mr. Gross’ ordeal, which was partially caused by their policies of regime change.

Simultaneously, those in Havana who despise a rapprochement with the United States, wanting to delay the unavoidable economic reform, use the Five as a rallying flag to stimulate popular support, gaining time for elite accommodation without an immediate political opening. Likewise, the release of the Cuban exile terrorist Luis Posada by a Texas immigration judge contrasts with the severely bias trial endured by the Five in Miami and feeds perfectly into Cuba’s nationalist narrative of defiance and resistance against foreign imposition and US double standards in the human rights discourse.

Therefore, a solution of the Gross case should be part of a general improvement of relations between Cuba and the United States. If Obama wins a second term, he will have the flexibility he now lacks. He should rapidly negotiate the release of Gross and enter into history as the president, who promoted a rational redesign of a five-decade-old mistaken policy of isolation against Cuba. Secretary Clinton should not leave Foggy Bottom without flying the extra ninety miles to bring Gross back home. That would be the best response to Judy Gross’ wise and moving message “From Washington al mundo”.

Dawn Gable contributted to this article.

Open Letter to Republican and Democratic National Committees / Carta Abierta a los Comités Republicano y Demócrata

In CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban Americans, Cuban Embargo, Politics, US on August 24, 2012 at 11:32 am

 

To the Republican and Democratic National Committees:

In light of both the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions we, as Cuban Americans and American citizens, urge both parties to not fall into the trap of viewing our community as a monolithic voting bloc that is in favor of the United States’ embargo on Cuba.  During these conventions the platforms for each party will be decided upon and put into action. For the past fifty years, a strategy of blind support for the embargo has become the norm for political candidates from both parties in order to garner the support of Cuban Americans. We would implore all candidates to not look upon our demographics as one that unanimously supports this failed policy of hostility. Rather, we are a diverse body of voices with a majority that favors a policy of engagement, and ultimately, normalization of relations between the two nations.

Numerous polls of the Cuban American community in southern Florida and throughout the nation demonstrate that a majority of these citizens favor the policies that the Obama administration put in place in 2009 and then expanded in 2011.  These moves have eased the process of reunification of Cuban families by allowing Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba more frequently and send more remittances to loved ones on the island. Overwhelmingly, Cuban Americans have voted with their feet and pocketbooks by traveling to Cuba, sending money, and acting as ambassadors for our great nation.  As Cuban Americans we feel that we are not any better than any other American citizen and would hope that the U.S. government takes steps to eliminate the travel ban placed on all American citizens.

We ask Mitt Romney, the presumptive candidate, and the Republican Party to abandon the Cold War rhetoric. Easing the embargo is not an act of “appeasement”.  It is our hope that Paul Ryan will remain consistent to his well-documented stance against the embargo. We urge all candidates to consider the vast support among congressional Republicans who represent the Midwest and many other districts across the country to end the embargo in order to open up a potentially dynamic market for agricultural and other manufactured goods made in the USA.

True conservatives cannot defend our policy towards Cuba. The travel restrictions violate American citizens’ individual right to travel. Also, our government’s stance towards Cuba is an absolute contradiction to free market capitalism. Furthermore, it is our hope that the GOP will understand the historic ties that Tampa, the host city of their national convention, has with Cuba. The majority of the Cuban American community there favors normalization of relations with Cuba. We reject any attribution of Cuban American congressional members of the Republican Party from southern Florida such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio, David Rivera, and Mario Diaz-Balart to speak on behalf of Cuban Americans as a whole within the state, let alone throughout the nation.

The inclusion of Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism is counterproductive. This designation undermines American national security because it eliminates the possibility of working in concert with Cuban leaders on important matters of regional security.  Our policy towards Cuba is also looked upon with derision by most of our allies in Latin America and this also compromises our position of influence in the hemisphere. Finally, the embargo effectively denies the very real potential of sustained gains in various sectors of the economy that would result from the opening of a very close market that yearns for American goods and services.

President Obama and his administration are well aware of these circumstances and have encountered opposition from our partners in the western hemisphere regarding such policies. We welcome a proactive response to deal with these challenges.  Regardless of the outcome of the elections in November we would hope that liberals and progressives within the Democratic Party continue to work to bring about a relationship that is more beneficial for both the Cuban people and the American populace.

In closing, we reiterate to all political candidates of both Republican and Democratic parties that Cuban Americans represent a plurality of views pertaining to U.S.-Cuba relations. Any posture by any politician that insinuates that we are all in favor of the embargo is misleading.  It is our desire that the members of the American political class resist the urge to repeat the same tired lines about Cuba and the embargo from past campaigns.  Such an attempt to pander to a community whose grasp of the issue of U.S.-Cuba relations is quite sophisticated and nuanced could cause negative results at the ballot box.

Respectfully,

Members of the Board of Directors of CAFE (Cuban Americans for Engagement) and from the Executive Committee of FORNORM

Dr. Maria Isabel Alfonso, New York, NY. CAFE

Dr. Romy Aranguiz, Worcester, MA. CAFE

Dr. Eduardo Araujo, Boulder, CO. CAFE

Alejandro Barreras, Miami, FLA. CAFE

Isidro Borja, Miami, FLA. former President of FORNORM

Ernesto Cabo, Alexandria, VA. CAFE

Amaury Cruz, Miami, FLA. Vice President of FORNORM

Elena Freyre,  Miami, FLA. President of FORNORM

Arturo Lopez-Levy, Denver, CO. CAFE

Andres Ruiz, Worcester, MA. CAFE

Dr. Julio Ruiz, Miami, FLA. Secretary of FORNORM

Benjamin Willis, New York, NY. CAFE

Antonio Zamora, Miami, FLA. former President of FORNORM

 

Contact: Benjamin Willis

benjamin@cafeporcuba.com

(786) 529-5123

 ***PLEASE, CONSIDER ENDORSING THIS LETTER HERE: http://www.change.org/petitions/republican-and-democratic-national-committees-understand-that-cuban-americans-do-not-unanimously-support-the-embargo-2?utm_campaign=share_button_modal&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=1550975#

 

A los Comités Republicanos y Demócratas:

En el marco de las próximas convenciones Demócrata y Republicana, nosotros, ciudadanos cubano-americanos y americanos, urgimos a ambos partidos a no caer en la trampa de ver a nuestra comunidad como un todo monolítico en favor del embargo de Estados Unidos a Cuba. Durante estas convenciones, serán analizadas y puestas en acción las plataformas de cada partido. Por los últimos 50 años, la norma seguida por los candidatos de ambos partidos ha estado trazada por una estrategia de apoyo ciego al embargo, con el objetivo de obtener apoyo de ciertos cubano-americanos. Rogamos a todos los candidatos que no nos vean como un todo que unánimemente suscribe esta fallida política  de hostilidad. Que vean que, por el contrario, somos un conglomerado de voces que en su mayoría, favorece una política de intercambio y normalización de las relaciones entre ambas naciones.

Numerosas encuestas dentro de la comunidad cubano-americana del Sur de la Florida y en toda la nación, demuestran que la mayoría de estos ciudadanos apoya las medidas implementadas por Obama en el 2009, extendidas al 2011. Las mismas, han facilitado el proceso de reunificación de las familias cubanas. De forma abrumadora, los cubanos han correspondido, viajando a Cuba, enviando dinero, y actuando como embajadores de nuestra gran nación. Como cubano-americanos, sentimos que no somos mejores que ningún otro ciudadano norteamericano y esperamos que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos tome pasos hacia la eliminación de la prohibición de viajar, haciéndola extensiva a todos los norteamericanos.

Pedimos a Mitt Romney y al Partido Republicano, que abandonen la retórica de Guerra Fría hacia Cuba. Disminuir algunas de las restricciones del embargo no es un acto de “apaciguamiento”. Esperamos que Paul Ryan sea consistente con sus públicamente conocidas proyecciones en contra del embargo. Urgimos a todos los candidatos a que consideren el vasto apoyo de los congresistas republicanos del Midwest de los EEUU, y de muchos otros distritos del país, a poner fin al embargo y a iniciar una potencial dinámica de mercadeo agrícola y de otros bienes manufacturados en los EEUU.

Un verdadero conservador no puede defender nuestra política hacia Cuba. Las restricciones de viaje violan los derechos individuales de viaje de los norteamericanos. También la posición de nuestro gobierno contradice las bases del capitalismo y del libre comercio.

Esperamos que el Partido Republicano sepa ver los lazos históricos que Tampa, la ciudad anfitriona de su Convención, tiene con Cuba.  La mayoría de la comunidad cubano-americana allí favorece la normalización de las relaciones. Rechazamos cualquier atribución de los congresistas cubano-americanos del Sur de la Florida, como Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio, David Rivera, y Mario Diaz-Balart, a hablar en nombre  de la comunidad cubano-americana como un todo. Menos, aún, en nombre de todos los que vivimos en otros estados de la nación.

La inclusión de Cuba en la lista de países terroristas es contraproducente. Tal designación, socava la seguridad nacional norteamericana, puesto que elimina la posibilidad de trabajar con Cuba en importantes renglones de seguridad regional. Nuestra política hacia Cuba está también en pugna con la de nuestros aliados de América Latina, lo cual compromete nuestra posición de influencia en el hemisferio.

El presidente Obama y su administración están al tanto de las circunstancias que han encontrado oposición por parte de nuestros aliados regionales del hemisferio occidental. Esperamos una respuesta proactiva a estos retos. Más allá de los resultados de las elecciones de noviembre, esperamos que liberales y progresistas dentro del Partido Demócrata continúen trabajando en aras de un mejoramiento en las relaciones Cuba-EE.UU.,  la cual beneficiaría tanto a la población cubana como a la norteamericana.

En resumen, reiteramos a todos los candidatos de los partidos Republicano y Demócrata, que los cubano-americanos encarnamos una pluralidad de puntos de vista en cuanto al tema de las relaciones Cuba-EE.UU. Cualquier postura ostentada por cualquier político, que insinúe que todos estamos a favor del embargo, está basada en falsos presupuestos. Esperamos que los miembros de la clase política resistan la presión de repetir el mismo estribillo sobre Cuba y el embargo, de las campañas presidenciales anteriores. Tal intento de paternalismo hacia una comunidad cuya visión de las relaciones Cuba-EE.UU. es sofisticada y llena de matices, pudiera traer resultados negativos en las urnas electorales.

Respetuosamente,

Miembros del Comité Ejecutivo de CAFE (Cuban Americans for Engagement) y del Comité Ejecutivo de FORNORM (Foundation for the Normalization of the US-Cuba Relations).

Dr. Maria Isabel Alfonso, New York, NY. CAFE

Dr. Romy Aranguiz, Worcester, MA. CAFE

Dr. Eduardo Araujo, Boulder, CO. CAFE

Alejandro Barreras, Miami, FLA. CAFE

Isidro Borja, Miami, FLA. former President of FORNORM

Ernesto Cabo, Alexandria, VA. CAFE

Amaury Cruz, Miami, FLA. Vice President of FORNORM

Elena Freyre,  Miami, FLA. President of FORNORM

Arturo Lopez-Levy, Denver, CO. CAFE

Andres Ruiz, Worcester, MA. CAFE

Dr. Julio Ruiz, Miami, FLA. Secretary of FORNORM

Benjamin Willis, New York, NY. CAFE

Antonio Zamora, Miami, FLA. former President of FORNORM

Contacto: Benjamin Willis

benjamin@cafeporcuba.com

POR FAVOR, CONSIDERE INCLUIR SU FIRMA AQUI: http://www.change.org/petitions/republican-and-democratic-national-committees-understand-that-cuban-americans-do-not-unanimously-support-the-embargo-2?utm_campaign=share_button_modal&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=1550975#

“How long Great Pumpkin, how long?!” – Linus Van Pelt

In Alan Gross, Blockade, CAFE, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Miami/Cuba, OAS/OEA, Politics, US on August 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

I remember a trip we took to Trinidad and Tobago when I was 9 years old when my mom gave me as a traveling companion my first copy of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. At the time I of course didn’t fully comprehend the philosophical intensity of the “children’s” story but in time I grew to adore the book and give it as many readings as I could and still can.

The other great author I discovered later that same year was JD Salinger. I recall wondering in the cellar of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, then located on 68th Street between Madison and 5th avenue in NYC, when I stumbled upon a red book with yellow lettering on the cover, The Catcher in the Rye. I was taken by the simplistic art work and I soon found myself head first in the book reading till I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Again, I was too young to fully comprehend what Salinger was talking about and again it is another book and author that has been my close companion.

Then came Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald and the entire “Lost Generation ” so eloquently qualified by Gertrude Stein. So much did I find a passion in the writers of the 1920’s and 1930’s that while at Havana University, I requested the English department allow me to introduce John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men into the 4th year curriculum.

Like most children I was not an alien to the lighter side of reading, and I too enjoyed the comics. Not all mind you. There was one in particular that grew on me to such an extent I am still identified by many when those who know me see any one of the characters. Of all the American authors there is one that has stayed with me in a lighter but no less intense philosophical nature, Charles M Schultz.  Back then it was the smiling and grinning while turning the pages. As I grew older and began to learn more through reading and life, re-reading Peanuts began to have a different  much more educational meaning. It was like “getting” Schultz all over again each time I read.

The media in the US has forgotten to read or at the very least to reproduce now and again sentences that should be read and re-read. For four years now, ever since becoming President of the United States, President Barack Obama has been receiving a message from President Raul Castro of Cuba: let’s sit down and talk. “We are willing to speak to the US on equal ground…”, “No topic is off the table…”, “Everything is up for negotiation…”, have been some of the phrases he has used ever since he first made the statement publicly to the press in Caracas in 2009 right before President Obama was off to his first trip abroad as president and reached Trinidad and Tobago for the OAS summit. At the moment Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was about to land in Santo Domingo, President Raul Castro was saying “we are willing to talk to the US on equal terms and everything is up for negotiation.”  The statement was so direct and new, when approached in the Dominican Republic by the press, Mrs. Clinton not only was aware in the air of what had happened, she had a comment: “this is very interesting, we will have to look into it.”  Raul said  it again this July 26th.  On my count he has said it publicly four times since 09. And the response from State or the White House? Nothing.

In the famous words of Charles M. Schultz : How long Great Pumpkin, how long?!

“The US should be ashamed of itself each time it includes Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism”

In Blockade, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban Embargo, Politics, US on August 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

From Miradas Encontradas

Version en español

Each time the United States requests a collaborative effort in the war on terror, the inclusion of Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism is an embarrassment, affirmed the Cuban American scholar Arturo López-Levy.

During a recent interview to Prensa Latina, professor López-Levy stated that this maneuver of the State Department is obvious proof that US policy towards Havana is a cemetery of ethics and rational strategy.

He underscores that to include Cuba once again on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism constitutes another political ploy, manipulated by a unruly minority within the Cuban American community in the United States.

The Josef Korbel School doctoral candidate of the University of  Denver, Colorado, affirms that the topic is particularly harmful to the bilateral relations between both nations.

“Based on this manipulation,  unthinkable judgment has been passed, including the doctrine of the State as one and it assumes that Cuba has only limited immunity which is a violation of international law and Cuban sovereignty”, he added.

In López-Levy´s opinion, to qualify Cuba as a promoter of terrorism presents the island nation as a threat to the United States, favoring a climate of tension in which unexpected incidents at the hands of provocateurs, could generate a security risk.

Edmundo García, journalist and radio  host for the program La Tarde se Mueve aired daily in Miami, considers Washington’s actions as an act of hypocrisy.

“It´s a fallacy against Cuba that they don’t even believe, and it shows arrogance and a lack of scruples on the part of the United States”, emphasized Garcia.

The government of the United States unilaterally decided to include the island on its list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and this is a direct act to justify the hostility of the White House against Havana.

With this act, the US justifies the economic, commercial and financial embargo it has against Cuba for over half a century.

For over half a century, Cuba has been a victim of acts of state sponsored terrorism glorified by Washington and employed as a political weapon that has cost the lives of  3 478  Cubans living on the island and has left another  2 099  incapacitated .

Vivir y dejar vivir en paz

In Alan Gross, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, Politics, US on July 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Esta imagen se titula “Un Cambio”, un cambio hacia un equilibrio que traeria paz…

Por Alina M. López Marín

Publicado originalmente en inglés en CAFE.

Cuando mis padres llegaron a los Estados Unidos en el año sesenta, ellos se dieron cuenta que no regresarían a Cuba en el futuro. Estaban muy desilusionados con su salida forzosa de Cuba y también con los exiliados. Supieron desde el principio que no regresarían en lo que les quedaba de vida. No guardaron resentimiento pues no perdimos propiedad o riqueza. Mi mamá estuvo muy dolida porque no pudo regresar a ver a mi abuelo antes de morir de cáncer o regresar a la isla que la vio nacer. Mi abuela materna vino para los Estados Unidos en 1966 después que mi abuelo murió. Cuando llegó, mi abuela vivió con nosotros, mis padres y mi hermano por un año en Baltimore y después se mudó para Miami.

Mientras asistí a la Universidad de Maryland en el condado de Baltimore, me uní a un grupo fundado por estudiantes, grupo adjunto al partido demócrata. Este grupo llevó a cabo la campaña y ganó la elección de Parren Mitchell, el primer congresista afro americano del estado de Maryland. Mitchell decía libremente que su primera victoria fue gracias a los jóvenes blancos de Catonsville. El ganó por un margen de solo 35 votos. Un grupo de estudiantes y profesores de la universidad hicieron historia. Dos de este grupo ganaron elecciones posteriores y fueron representantes de la legislatura en Maryland.

Después de mi graduación yo fui reclutada a que me presentara ante el gobierno federal en Los Ángeles, California, para optar por una carrera como investigadora. Como parte del servicio civil yo estaba sujeta al Hatch Act. Una ley que prohibía el ejercicio de la libre expresión sobre candidatos políticos. Esta ley ha sido enmendada y es mucho mas liberal en estos momentos. En 1972 me convertí  en alguien que no podía decir que partido o candidato apoyaba aunque si podía votar. De manera que me acostumbre a ser neutral hasta 1983 cuando fui a trabajar con el gobierno del estado de California.

Mi inocencia sobre la política llegó un punto culminante durante los tres años que trabaje con el estado. Aprendí demasiado sobre cuán malvada podía ser la política y aprendí  más en tres años que en todos los años anteriores de mi vida.

Mi mamá murió en 1985. Yo no estuve con ella cuando murió de cáncer y su muerte me afectó mucho. Caí en una depresión la cual me imposibilitó trabajar por tres años entre 1986 y 1989. En julio 1989 regresé a trabajar para el estado como una diputada comisionada de trabajo hasta que me retiré del estado en el año 1999. Regresé a trabajar con el gobierno federal y me fui de California por dos años mientras vivía cerca de Fort Lauderdale, en el estado de la Florida. Regresé a California en 2002 y me retiré en 2010.

Mis padres, en realidad mi mamá, me enseñaron a no hablar sobre política en Miami y durante todo ese tiempo no discutía de política con mis familiares en Miami.

Cuando supe que mi abuela materna tenía cáncer del pulmón, yo fui a visitarla durante una semana en 1974, al principio de su enfermedad. Lo que más recuerdo de nuestras conversaciones fue algo sorprendente para mi, que ella había sentido mucho haberse ido de Cuba, que si pudiese hacerlo de nuevo ella se hubiese quedado. Esta declaración, la cual mantuve privada hasta que ella murió, me dejó meditando.

En 2008 yo me fui de vacaciones a Belice a mi regreso al aeropuerto de Miami volamos sobre Cuba. Volamos sobre Guanahacabibes en Pinar del Río. La tierra me tiró como un imán mientras que volaba sobre mi isla que lucia tan aislada.  Cuando regresé a mi casa comencé a leer todo lo que encontré sobre la vida y la política en la isla.

Averigüe sobre el caso de los 5 Cubanos y sobre Alberto Coll. Los cinco cubanos son 5 hombres que eran agentes del gobierno Cubano y que habían infiltrado los Hermanos del Rescate antes de la destrucción causada por José Basulto. El propósito del grupo era el monitorear las actividades de los exiliados y prevenir actos terroristas contra la isla. También averigüé que se habían llevado a cabo actos terroristas contra de la isla tanto como el incidente en La Habana del Remolcador 13. También averigüé sobre el ataque en parte provocado por José Basulto que resultó en la muerte de 4 pilotos mientras que Basulto resultó ileso. Sobre la ley Helms Burton, sobre la política de Clinton y sobre diferentes versiones del caso de Elian González, etc., etc.

Me dio tanta vergüenza no haberle prestado atención al desastre creado por unos pocos. Me dio vergüenza que Alberto Coll fuera tan perseguido y destruido porque solo cambio su posición sobre la eficiencia del embargo y su propósito. Me dio vergüenza que cinco hombres que de verdad tienen el bienestar de los ciudadanos en Cuba en mente hayan arriesgado su vida para protegerlos y nosotros lo que hicimos fue destruir  a los mensajeros en lugar de combatir el terrorismo. Todo esto se llevó a cabo mientras personas que son mercenarias en ambos lados hicieron todo lo posible por destruir a Cubanos solo porque no simpatizaban con su causa. Me di cuenta de la política siniestra que ha dominado los últimos 53 años y el fracaso tan grande que esta política nos ha traído, tanto como a los 11000000 Cubanos en la isla.

Mi conocimiento se fomento con la correspondencia con Gerardo Hernández, el jefe de los Avispas, del grupo de los Cinco Cubanos. Gerardo tiene una sentencia medieval de dos vidas y 15 años. Una sentencia creada por el odio y la inquina en lugar de la justicia,  por un crimen en el cual el no participó.

Nuestra correspondencia me hizo darme cuenta que los Cubanos no nos conocen y que poco yo sabia de la vida en la isla que dejé a los doce años de edad.  Gerardo pensaba que mi mamá había sido una terrorista. !Imagínese tal cosa!. Nuestra amistad y la fe creada por nuestro contacto me dejó claro que tenemos que comunicarnos como personas normales en lugar de continuar con el odio y la inquina por el cual se nos destaca debido a los congresistas de la Florida y  New Jersey.  Ellos no nos representan y solo crean una mala reputación para la comunidad Cubano Americana. Dejemos la generación del odio hacia Fidel y Raúl Castro con la generación de nuestros padres. No tenemos que estar de acuerdo para comunicarnos. Solo tenemos que respetar la soberanía de nuestras naciones y el derecho de pensar por uno mismo para enfrentar el futuro.

Viajemos, aprendemos los unos de los otros y lo más importante, vivíamos y dejemos vivir en paz.

Lets live and let live

In Alan Gross, Asamblea Nacional/National Assembly, CAFE, Cuba, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, History, Miami/Cuba, Politics, US on July 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Therein lies the beauty of reconciliation: the balance it creates…

By Alina M. Lopez Marin

Originally posted on CAFE (Cuban Americans For Engagement)

When my parents came to the states they realized that they would not be returning to Cuba again. They were very disillusioned by their forced exit from Cuba and with the exiles.  They knew very early on that they would not live to return to the island.  They were not resentful, as we did not lose any property or wealth. My mother was hurt by her inability to return to see her father before he died or after. My maternal grandmother came to the states in 1966 and moved to Miami shortly after living with my parents for a year.

While at the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus, I became a founding member of an offshoot of the Democratic Party. We campaigned against an incumbent and successfully installed the first Black congressman in Maryland, Parren Mitchell. Mitchell would openly say that he won his first election thanks to the white kids from Catonsville. He won by 35 votes. A few students at UMBC made a bit of history. Two of that group went on to win elected offices in Maryland.

Upon graduation from college I was recruited to apply for an investigator position with the federal government and became subject to the Hatch Act, a law that at that time prevented speech by civil servants related to political candidates. So I was apolitical till I left the federal government and went to work for the state of California in an appointed position in 1983. My naiveté regarding politics had a rude shock and I learned more about the ruthlessness of politics in 3 years than I had learned in all the years before during my life.

My mother died in 1985. I was not present when she died from cancer and her death took a toll on me. I fell into a depression, which kept me from working from 1986 till 1989. I returned to work for the state as a Deputy Labor Commissioner, and retired in 2000. At that time I left California for two years and returned to work for the federal government till my retirement in 2010.

My parents had taught me to stay away from the politics in Miami and throughout that time and I did not discuss politics while visiting relatives in Miami.

When I learned that my grandmother had fallen ill with cancer in the late 70s I spent a week with her and had a chance to talk to her about so many things. What I recalled the most was her surprising statement to me that she had regretted leaving Cuba. I had always admired my grandmother and her statement kept me wondering.

In 2008 I vacationed in Belize and on my return to Miami airport I flew over Cuba. I flew over Guanahacabibes, Pinar del Rio. The land called to me. There was no doubt that there was a special magnet that I felt while flying over my island of birth. Upon my return, right after the election of Barack Obama, I began to read everything that I could find about the current politics and life in the island.

I found out about the Cuban 5, about Alberto Coll: The Cuban 5 are 5 men who are Cuban agents who infiltrated the Brothers to Rescue group before its demise caused by Jose Basulto. Their purpose was to monitor exile activity to prevent acts of terrorism against the island. I learned about the actors of terrorism against the island, the Remolcador incident in Cuba. The shoot down of the Brothers to the Rescue, Helms Burton, Clintons politics toward Cuba, the politics surrounding the Elian Gonzalez incident, etc. Etc.

I felt so ashamed that I had not been paying attention to the mess created by a few. I felt ashamed that Alberto Coll had been so maligned and persecuted because he changed his mind about the effectiveness of the embargo. I felt ashamed that five men who truly cared about the welfare of Cubans had risked their lives to protect them and that all we did was shoot the messenger. All this took place while some people who are true mercenaries on both sides had done everything possible to hurt Cubans, just because they are not simpatico to their cause. I became aware of the sinister politics that has dominated the past 53 years and what an utter failure these politics had wreaked on all of us and most importantly on the 11000000 Cubans in the island.

My awareness deepened by my correspondence with Gerardo Hernandez, the head Avispa of the Cuban 5, who has a jail term of two lives and 15 years, a medieval sentence imposed out of fear and loathing, rather than true righteous indignation for a crime. Our correspondence has made me aware how little Cubans know of us, exiles and how little I knew of life in the island since I left. Gerardo thought that my mother must have been a terrorist. Imagine that.  Our ensuing friendship made clear to me that we need to communicate like normal caring folk rather than continue to allow the hate and vengeance that has been foisted upon us by the congressmen of South Florida and seconded by the congressmen of New Jersey who allege to represent the Cuban American community. They really do not represent us and all they do is give us a bad name in the United States and the rest of the world. Lets leave the generation of hate behind with our parent’s generations and that of the Castros.  We do not have to agree on everything to communicate. All we have to do is respect each other’s nations sovereignty, our right to think for ourselves and move on.

Lets travel, learn from one another; Lets live and let live.

CAFÉ Praises Archbishop Wenski’s Support for Airline Brokers; Urges Elected Officials in Congress to Condemn Terror Attack and Aid Investigation

In Alan Gross, CAFE, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, Cuban Embargo, Politics, US on July 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm

July 1, 2012

From CAFE para version en español pinche aqui.

Miami, Florida –Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFÉ), a rising organization that advocates for a new U.S. policy towards Cuba, based on the principles of pragmatic engagement, citizen exchange, open trade and diplomatic cooperation, issued the following statement about Archbishop Wenski’s visit to the offices of Airline Brokers on June 28th, 2012, and called upon local and federal officials to aid in the investigation of the firebombed business:

“Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFÉ) appreciates Archbishop Thomas Wenski’s gesture to bless the new offices of Airline Brokers which is recovering from the terrorist attack it suffered in April. The use of a fire bomb against a business that operates within the laws of the United States and serves the travel needs of the Cuban American community is a concern of the whole nation.

“As Cuban-Americans, we denounce terrorism as an attack against the values and interests of the United States and Cuba. CAFÉ declares its total condemnation of this terrorist act and welcomes the commitment by law enforcement to capture and punish its authors. CAFÉ calls upon elected officials in Miami and Coral Gables, the Florida state legislature, and in Congress to express support and sympathy for the executives and workers of Airline Brokers and to denounce this act of terrorism, no matter the ideology or political position of the victim or the perpetrator.

“We particularly encourage Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez to call publicly for total cooperation with the authorities in the identification and capture of the author or authors of this callous and cowardly attack.

“CAFÉ reaffirms its commitment to the liberty of Cubans living in the U.S. to visit their country of origin as a human right recognized in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The time has come for all politicians to respect this liberty as a constitutional and international right, not refer to it as an aspiration, privilege or political license.

“While only its direct authors bear legal responsibility for the terrorist attack, it is difficult to distance this action from an atmosphere that apologizes for terrorism, the homage paid to terrorists such as Orlando Bosch in the campus of the University of Miami, and the condemnation of family, cultural, religious and educational travel to Cuba by extremist segments of the Cuban American media and even elected officials. CAFÉ calls upon the pro-embargo sectors of the Cuban American community to act with civility and condemn the incendiary rhetoric of political stigmatization of businesses associated with legal travel to Cuba.”

Cuban Americans For Engagement (CAFÉ)

contacto@cafeporcuba.com

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CafeCubanAmericansForEngagement/info

Phone: 786-529-5123.