Maggie Alarcón

Posts Tagged ‘David Rivera’

Una onda legal para David

In Blockade, CAFE, Cuba/US, Politics, US on June 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

Benjamin Willis,  músico que vive en Queens, Nueva York, miembro fundador de C.A.F.E (Cubanos Americanos en pos del Encuentro según sus siglas en inglés) y desde hace muy poco padre recién parido,  publicó un artículo muy elocuente en uno de los medios alternativos más leídos y serios de los Estados Unidos de Norte América.

Miembros de C.A.F.E y de otras organizaciones en los EEUU como  LAWG (Grupo de Trabajo para America Latina según sus siglas en inglés) se han enfrentado a la propuesta del Congresista David Rivera de enmendar una ley. El representante Rivera quiere modificar H.R. 2831. Esto básicamente quiere decir para los menos familiarizados con la legislatura estadounidense que quiere reajustar la Ley de Ajuste Cubano, ley donde se plantea que cualquier cubano que llegue a tierras de los EEUU tiene derecho automático a la residencia en ese país luego de un año y un día (USCIS).  Rivera quiere cambiar esto. El quiere modificar la ley de la manera más distorsionada posible. Según la propuesta de Rivera, cualquier cubano residente en los EEUU bajo la Ley de Ajuste que aun no se haya  hecho ciudadano, si intenta visitar a sus familiares en la isla luego de haber emigrado hacia los EEUU será automáticamente considerado “un ilegal” a su regreso a los EEUU.

Yo estoy de acuerdo con el Sr. Rivera. He aquí mi lógica al respecto: si Rivera se sale con la suya, la única opción para los cubano americanos viviendo en los EEUU bajo la condición de residencia será la de hacerse ciudadanos para poder viajar libremente a ver a sus familiares. Si logramos obligarlos a través de esta propuesta  nefasta maquiavélica e injusta a hacerse ciudadanos tendrán entonces el derecho al voto y  habremos logrado virar el curso de la historia a nuestro favor. Será entonces que los cubano americanos viviendo en los EEUU, la inmensa mayoría de la cual no tiene problemas políticos serios con la Revolución Cubana – por favor no confundirlos con la llamada “Mafia de Miami” – podrán ejercer su derecho al voto y votar a personas como Rivera fuera del gobierno de ese país y rumbo al destino que mejor les acomode.

Hablando claro, como dijera Bob Dylan “los tiempos están cambiando” y estos legisladores cubano americanos no proponen leyes para “el pueblo cubano”, las proponen para justificar salarios personales y otras ganancias.

Por eso digo, “Métele Rivera!” Una vez más tu tocayo David habrá vencido al inmenso Goliat; el número cada vez mayor de cubano americanos coherentes  miembros de una generación inteligente te derrotaran en tu propio campo de batalla.

El articulo de Benjamin Willis en Counterpunch  solo está disponible en inglés.  

Respect for democracy begins at home

In CAFE, Cuba/US, Cuban Americans, Politics, US on June 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

By Arturo López-Levy

Originally published in The Havana Note

Article 1 of the United States Constitution recognizes Congress as the first branch of US democracy, with the executive and judiciary following behind. Bicameralism was a central concept of the 1787 constitutional pact. It was seen as a republican “remedy” against potential abuses of legislative despotism. If the House was conceived to express the direct mood of the people, James Madison envisioned the Senate as a high chamber of “enlightened individuals” that would operate with “more coolness, with more system and with more wisdom, than the popular branch”.

But a conspicuous gap has emerged between the founders’ design and the reality of some of today’s Senators. Poll after poll shows that the public holds Congress in low esteem. In the view of many Americans, some Senators not only reflect a polarized public but also contribute to making the system dysfunctional by abusing procedures, such as the unanimous consent rule, in pursuit of personal or parochial gains or to settle personal vendettas, rather than to defend national interests.

The Cuban community’s representation in US politics has been remarkable over the last decade. No place is this more evident than in the Senate. Although the 1.8 million Cubans living in the US only represent 4 % of the Hispanics and less than 0.6 % of the US general population, they have managed to elect three Senators since 2004. The first was Mel Martinez, a moderate republican from Tampa who served as HUD secretary during the first term of George W. Bush. Second was Robert Menendez, a congressman from New Jersey who was appointed by the state governor and successfully ran for reelection in 2006. After Martinez’s retirement in 2010, Florida elected Marco Rubio, a former speaker of the state House.

One might disagree with Senator Martinez’s positions, but his posture was appropriate for the high office he held. On the verge of a constitutional crisis in 2005 over President Bush’s controversial judicial nominations, and the threat by Majority leader Bill Frist to use the so called “nuclear option” against the democratic minority, Senator Martinez joined the bipartisan “gang of fourteen” and helped to diffuse the conflict, thereby acting with the “coolness” and long-term perspective the framers foresaw. During his service on the strategic Judiciary Committee, Martinez placed country above party and developed a congenial relationship with other members (including Senator Biden) that eased partisan tension and gained him the respect of his colleagues.

Unfortunately, the other two Cuban American Senators have not emulated Mr. Martinez’s respect for the institution. During the current 112thCongress, Senators Menendez and Rubio have abused their powers to filibuster, with unusual frequency and unwholesome motives, in order to hold up nominations to the judiciary and several positions in the Foreign Service. Such behavior makes one wonder whether the two Cuban American Senators understand the gravitas the framers embedded in the Advice and Consent function of the institution in which they serve. It also raises concerns over how the Cuban American right-wing political culture, characterized by incivility, dishonesty and vengefulness, pollutes the halls of Congress and contributes to a further decline in voter confidence.

Since Mr. Rubio arrived in the Senate, he has tried to micromanage the Treasure Department policy regarding licenses for travelling to Cuba. Wasting hours of the Senate’s precious time, Mr. Rubio has read, again and again, promotional materials about educational travel to Cuba by various US institutions interested in participating in President Obama’s people-to-people diplomacy, second-guessing the decisions of US officials who are acting in full consistency with the laws of the land and the regulations of their agencies.

Since the White House began implementing its own Cuba policy, supported by the majority of the Cuban-American community and the US public, Mr. Rubio has embarked upon a McCarthy-style crusade against the State Department that is damaging our nation’s policy towards the entire Latin American region. In the last three months, Mr. Rubio has held-up the nomination of three ambassadors (Jonathan Farrar to Nicaragua, Adam Namm to Ecuador, and Mari Carmen Aponte to El Salvador) as well as the nomination of Roberta Jacobson for assistant secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. As a result of Mr. Rubio’s pitiful bickering, US diplomatic presence in the region has been seriously handicapped, creating political opportunities for our adversaries.

In the case of Farrar, the former Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana who simply carried out the policy of the State Department, Senator Rubio’s McCarthyism sent a chilling message: Ignore the Constitution and do not implement the policy of the Diplomat in Chief; Cuban-American right-wing politicians, not the State Department, will decide your promotion.  The same must be said about Mari Carmen Aponte. Mr. Rubio blocked her confirmation as the first Puerto Rican US Ambassador, despite the support of the entire US community in El Salvador where she had been serving under a recess appointment. The reason, he argued, was that more than twenty years ago, she had been sentimentally involved with someone who had links to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and who was also an FBI source.

It is reasonable to expect that Senator Menendez, as a senior Cuban-American legislator, would guide his junior colleague toward a more mature stance. But the opposite is true. Rubio is Menendez’s “A +” pupil. In 2009, Menendez was responsible for holding up the nominations of Dr. John Holden and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, both world renowned scientists, because of an issue totally unrelated to their careers: Menendez was simply retaliating against President Obama’s policy that allows unrestricted Cuban American travel to Cuba.

Just a week ago, Menendez was shamefully blocking President Obama’s nominee to a seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senator never presented one substantive complaint against Judge Patty Shwartz, who is rated by the American Bar Association as “unanimously well qualified”. The people of New Jersey know that Mr. Menendez was pursuing a self-indulgent political vendetta. Judge Shwartz’ companion of two decades, James Nobile, was the officer in charge of a public corruption unit that investigated Mr. Menendez and issued a subpoena against him in 2006. Only after massive pressure from his own party and powerful editorials against his action by the Washington Post and the New York Times, Menendez drop his block against Judge Shwartz’s nomination.

These behaviors, unworthy of the US Senate, should give pause to voters. The press must seriously scrutinize the moral capacity of these two Senators to honorably fulfill their constitutional duties of Advice and Consent especially in regards to the President’s policies towards Cuba. Senator Rubio’s lies about his parents’ immigration to Miami- reported by the Washington Post- and his hiding behind an artificially created clash with Univision as a pretext for not engaging in a televised debate about immigration are not isolated misdemeanors. The actions of Senators Menendez and Rubio are typical reflections of the authoritarian political culture that caused Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba. By bringing this culture of deceitfulness, revenge and corruption into the US Senate, these elected officials are demeaning the very kind of freedom they claim to want for Cuba. They have forgotten that respect for democracy must begin at home.

Dawn Gable contributed to this article.

A legal sling for David

In Blockade, CAFE, CENESEX, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, Cuban Embargo, Politics, US on June 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

Benjamin Willis, a musician living in Queens, founding member of C.A.F.E (Cuban Americans for Engagement) and proud first time father, wrote a very good eloquent piece published in Counterpunch.

Members of C.A.F.E and other US based organizations such as the LAWG have stood up to a recent proposal of change to legislation put forth by Junior Congressman David Rivera. Congressman Rivera wants to amend H.R. 2831 which pretty much translates for those readers unfamiliar with laws within the Senate to re-adjust the Cuban Adjustment Act, where by any Cuban arriving on US soil is automatically eligible for permanent residency (USCIS). Rivera wants to change this. He wants to modify it in the most misrepresented way. Under Rivera’s proposal, any Cuban living in the US under the Cuban Adjustment Act who has yet to become a citizen would be automatically considered illegal upon returning to the US if he or she visits his or her family in Cuba after having emigrated from the island.

I agree with Mr. Rivera, the “misrepresenter”. Here’s my rationale: if Rivera has his way, the only option for Cuban Americans living in the US under current residency status and hence without the right to vote, will be to become citizens in order to travel legally to Cuba and then return legally back to their new home the United States. If we can force them through this ingeniously diabolical legal proposal, then they will have to become citizens in order to visit their families and then and only then will the ball start to roll in the right direction. Cuban Americans living in the US, the growing majority of which no longer have serious political issues with the Cuban Revolution, – NOT to be confused with the so called “Miami Mafia” – will be able to vote and vote people like Rivera right out of Congress and back to where ever it is that will best suit their needs.

Let’s face it, as Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a changing,” and these Cuban American legislators aren’t legislating for “the Cuban people”, they legislate for their salaries and other amenities along the way.

So I say, go for it Rivera! Once again, your namesake David will defeat the huge Goliath; the growing number of coherent Cuban Americans of a new intelligent generation will defeat you on your own turf.

Please read the very eloquent piece by Benjamin Willis here.

The US embargo against Cuba is ridiculous … by gimleteye

In Architecture, Arts, Blockade, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban Americans, Cuban Embargo, Culture, Education, Environment, Politics, Travel, US on June 12, 2012 at 11:04 am

… by gimleteye

From  EYE ON MIAMI blog

 

I returned from Cuba yesterday to Miami, less than an hour and a world away. Although I am Anglo. I have lived in the shadow of Cuba for more than two decades.

In Miami, my experience of Cuba has been filtered through a career as a writer, an environmental leader and civic activist struggling against the values and political organization of Cuban American business interests, primarily tied to construction, development and sugar farmers who control politics in Miami and from that base, Florida, and from Florida, the nation.

What hasn’t changed, as a result of my week long cultural visit to the Havana Bienal, is my certainty that while the injuries and suffering of Cuban Americans who lost family, possessions, and their country during the revolution are real, the embargo against Cuba is a failure that serves no purpose.

Cubans know the embargo and its hardships have united their own state; defining hard-liners and moderates and serving to rationalize regional and superpower investments. But it is not fair to say that the embargo serves equal purposes in the United States and Cuba.

Since the late 1950s and the revolution and diaspora, the Florida economy has grown mightily. These decades created a class of Cuban American entrepreneurs and leaders whose power is rooted in Florida land speculation, the construction of suburbs and condominiums, and farmers using Everglades wetlands as their cesspits. Their control is vested through local zoning practices, transportation and national farming and environmental policies endorsed by Congress and the White House irrespective of party control.

Cuba, meanwhile, is a time capsule rooted in the 1950’s. Its significant achievements in universal health care and education are deservedly a matter of national pride. But nowhere on earth has a society been so deeply framed by economic strangulation. Perversely, what the embargo has accomplished is to save Havana (the only part of the nation, I visited on this trip) from Miami-style destruction.

Havana is in an exquisite state of decaying preservation; an oxymoron that also describes the embargo. Equisitely decaying yet existing in its own decay.

In Havana, rainstorms are claiming 18th and 19th century structures that are unfortified against the elements. At the same time as 1950’s era Detroit-made vehicles carry the city on their millionth mile, neighborhoods and houses built in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s exist as testament to entrepreneurial spirit, corruption, life, love and ideological blindness. It is all captured in Havana and suppressed in Miami.

Last week I wrote that the bandwidth for political dialogue is wider in Havana than it is in Miami. Cubans understand perfectly that Hialeah politics are organized around Castro as enemy and villain. They also understand how socialist politics uses Miami as its own bulwark. But in depth, Cubans have their own worries. They may not understand all the ulterior motives: how in the US the revenge motives against Castro empower those whose real purpose is to make money here — millions and billions — by wrecking environmental rules and regulations, controlling building and zoning that might otherwise inhibit platted subdivisions in West and South Miami Dade or restrict water pollution and mercury contamination pouring out of sugar lands south of Lake Okeechobee.

The economic crisis in the United States has not served to open public discourse on these matters. To the contrary, the crisis — in part fomented by the local gears of the Growth Machine well documented on this blog — has served to contract public discussion. Newspapers and television have been crippled by debt and fail the public interest test time and again. Miami voters keep re-electing the same incumbent county and city commissioners based on the litmus test of their virulence against Castro.

Meanwhile, Cubans are engaged in uninhibited discussions around the questions of what happens next. Everything has changed around Cuba — China, Brazil, Latin and South America — and Cuba is finally taking tentative, selective steps to open its economy to change. While the pieces are not in place to make large scale, private investment possible — the small and limited efforts are yielding visible results that should encourage bolder action by a new generation of leaders.

What members of Congress need to understand is that the embargo is now a ridiculous farce. In the 1960’s it served to isolate a nation that had decided to accept a fire hose of economic aid from the Soviet Union. For a time, that assistance allowed an ideology to be artificially supported with no real economic growth.

Today, remittances from Cuban Americans — the majority, from the Miami area — are allowing Cuban entrepreneurs to by-pass the embargo. Small farmers, restaurant owners, and now — private homeowners and car owners, too — represent an army of embargo busters. Cuban Americans have destroyed the embargo on a small scale, while depriving American businesses of the chance to participate in the gradual opening of an economy poised to explode at a time when the domestic US economy, and in Florida particularly, is dependent on the kindness of strangers; foreign investors willing to pick up the slack of crushed housing markets.

One of the most interesting conversations I had was on the return flight to Miami with a Cuban American — I never got his name — who had just completed a visit to relatives in Cuba. He could only spend a weekend there because he had to return to work, Monday. I asked him, could the embargo ever work? He said, yes but that you would have to cut off everything. What he meant, was that the tens of thousands of lifelines extended through Cuban Americans to families in Cuba would have to be shut down.

In this way, the embargo would drive Cuba beyond the point of hunger to Eritrean-style deprivation. He said, Cuban Americans would in effect be condemning own relatives who have managed a margin of relative comfort, even wealth, through remittances.

My fellow traveler said: the embargo cannot be effective unless it drives their own families to ruin. Is that what Lincoln Diaz Balart and Ileana Ros Lehtinen and various Miami-Dade county commissioners and other aspiring Florida politicians want? Or do they just want to be re-elected? Havana knows the answer.

Miami — and the nation, by extension — shouts in an echo chamber on Cuba. It is clear Cuba will choose its own course, forward. Whatever hybrid emerges will not be dictated by Hialeah politics. the Latin Builders Association or its megaphones. US foreign policy to Cuba and the embargo have outgrown the purpose of Miami elections. Even Cuban American business leaders who reaped all the bitterness but none of the rewards — unless under-the-table violations of the embargo — must realize change is at hand if only they will listen.

Family’s Right to Travel

In Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban Americans, Cuban Embargo, Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, Immigration, Politics, Travel, US on June 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm

 
 
 
 
 
     …cruel and unjust punishment if ever there was any…

 

 

 

 

June 4, 2012

Contact:  Alvaro Fernandez

305 308-6079

Miami,Florida

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

PLEASE CONTACT ALVARO FERNANDEZ

 

Rivera amendment would only help break Cuban family ties

MIAMI- Almost 50 percent of family members who travel toCubaareU.S.residents who have yet to attain citizenship, according to figures released by executives of the travel toCubaindustry inMiami. As a result,the Cuban American Commission for Family Right (CACFR) has issued a warning that a new proposed amendment to the Cuban Adjustment Act, presented by U.S. Rep. David Rivera, would assure that these family ties are severely broken.

“In 2009, President Obama rightfully made family unity and the right of family members to travel a priority of hisCubapolicy,” said Alvaro F. Fernandez, CACFR president. Adding, “Rivera’s amendment would undo the president’s mandate, simply for electoral reasons.”

Rivera’s H.R. 2831 would amend Public Law 89-732 (Cuban Adjustment Act) and disallow Cubans who are not yetU.S.citizens to travel toCuba. It plainly states: “An alien shall be ineligible for adjustment of status under this section if the alien returns toCubaafter admission or parole into theUnited States.”

Translation: If you travel to Cuba, for whatever the reason before becoming a U.S. citizen, when you return you will be present in the country illegally.

Howard Simon, executive director of theFloridachapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, warned in an El Nuevo Herald article, “Many persons might be deported unjustly” if the Rivera amendment is approved. In the same article, he emphatically stated: “This is nothing more than a cruelty in the name of ideological isolation ofCubaand an unnecessary restriction on the freedom to travel.”

Silvia Wilhelm, CACFR executive director, said, “We will fight this cruelty proposed by Rivera. South Floridians and persons from around theU.S.are tired of Rivera’s anti-family, electoral antics.”

There are nearly two million Cubans in theUnited States. Most reside inFlorida. Industry figures indicate that almost 400,000 travelled last year toCuba– the great majority to visit and help family members on the island.

The Cuban American Commission for Family Rights was created in 2004 to fight all attacks against the Cuban family. Since then the Commission has been critical of negative actions imposed by both theU.S.government and the Cuban government.

 

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