U.S. Bishops' Absurd Foreign Policy

Saturday, January 7, 2012
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has unveiled its 2012 legislative agenda.

Among its priorities is ensuring that U.S. trade with democratic Colombia doesn't violate human and labor rights, while lobbying to expand trade with totalitarian Cuba despite no existing human and labor rights.

You read it correctly.

From Catholic News Service:

Richard Coll, another foreign policy adviser at the USCCB, focused on Latin America, said he'll be eyeing possible legislation related to free trade agreements, how they are implemented and how well participating countries -- notably Colombia -- are upholding their end of agreements to protect labor and human rights, for instance.

He also said he'd be watching developments related to Cuba. Several members of Congress attempted to amend year-end legislation to roll back Obama administration changes that made it easier for Americans to visit or send money to relatives in Cuba. The U.S. and Cuban bishops have opposed rollbacks; in fact they have advocated for further easing of the economic embargo the United States has had against Cuba for more than 50 years.


How about the other tyrants (and U.S. national security threats) around the world?

The USCCB seeks to "foster a measured approach to international hot spots including Iran, Syria and North Korea."

Yet, sadly, the cruelty of those tyrants towards innocent civilians is not "measured."

Quote of the Week

"Whether it’s Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un, Fidel Castro or Raul Castro, the dictatorial policies are all the same. These regimes continue to violate human rights, oppress freedom of speech, and undermine democratic principles."

-- U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on the "Friendship Medal" awarded by the Castro regime to the Kim regime, 1/6/12

From the State Department

From today's Daily Press Briefing with U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland:

QUESTION: A question about Iran, actually. I know we talked earlier this week about Ahmadinejad’s upcoming trip to Latin America next week. But just wanted to – as he goes there and these relationships on defense and economic cooperation expand with these countries, does the U.S. Government view this trip and these relationships as really nothing more than just a provocative thumbing your nose at the United States, since it’s in the U.S.’s backyard? How do you view this coming trip?

MS. NULAND: Well, as the regime feels increasing pressure, it is desperate for friends and flailing around in interesting places to find new friends. We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties with Iran. Rather, it’s in the entire international community’s interest to make clear to Iran that it’s got a choice. It can remain in international isolation or it can comply with its obligations and start cooperating and rejoin the community of nations.

QUESTION: And you made that clear to who in Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Nicaragua?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think if anybody here listens to the statements from the U.S. Government, whether they are at the top level, whether they’re at the secretarial level, or whether they’re from this podium, they know exactly where we stand.

QUESTION: So you haven’t made – you’re not aware of any specific and separate entreaties made to President Chavez, President Ortega --

MS. NULAND: With regard to this particular --

QUESTION: -- Castro?

MS. NULAND: With regard to this particular --

QUESTION: We’re making it clear to countries that now is not the time to be deepening ties with Iran. Have you made those specific points to senior officials in Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and – where is the other one – Venezuela?

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to Cuba and Venezuela, but we’re obviously in close touch with the other two governments about the upcoming trips.

Quote of the Day

Friday, January 6, 2012
This quote says a great deal about the disaster of the elder dictator, the new scapegoat of the "younger" dictator and the irreverent brutality of both.

"[Fidel] surrounded himself with corrupt and incompetent acolytes who praised him constantly but mocked him in private. The country’s biggest problem is not the American embargo but the heritage of Fidelismo. Raúl should stand a few people before the firing squad."

-- A close aide to Cuban dictator Raul Castro, on condition of anonymity, from Carlos Alberto Montaner's column in The Miami Herald, 1/3/12

More Sloppy AP Cuba Reporting

Here's what happens when foreign bureaus in Havana are blindly focused on furthering the narrative of Raul "the reformer."

They mislead and contradict themselves.

Under the title, "Cuba to give citizens money to fix up, build homes," the AP reported this week:

Cuba is launching a plan to subsidize the construction and repair of private homes, an effort the communist government hopes will lead to better use of limited funds and stimulate private enterprise [...]

Those whose homes have been damaged by hurricanes or other natural disasters will get priority under the plan, which was published into law in the Official Gazette on Wednesday. Recipients of the subsidy will be required to demonstrate economic need, and all funds will be held in a state run bank account to ensure they are spent properly.


Doesn't that sound nice and generous?

But how did it work before this "new" decree?

Previously, the government would pay for home repairs without regard to the recipient’s economic situation in a program that was rife with corruption and inefficiency and contributed to a severe housing shortage on the island.

In other words, the Castro regime is not giving money for Cubans to fix up homes, they're actually cutting money for Cubans to fix up homes.

The only thing "new" here is a caveat requiring those that receive money to demonstrate "economic need."

In a country where the population is subjugated to a monthly salary equivalent to less than $20/month, what Cuban (whose last name isn't Castro) doesn't have an "economic need"?

It's more of the same rhetoric.

The New Revolution

What Castro's revolution has come down to -- and picture of the day:

Repression Nearly Triples in 2011

Thursday, January 5, 2012
According to Cuban independent journalists (CIHPress), there have been 3,835 documented political arrests by the Castro regime in 2011.

That's a 156% increase from 2010, when 1,499 political arrests were documented.

These are only political arrests that are known and fully documented. Many more unknown political arrests are presumed.

And that -- in a nutshell -- sums up the farce of Raul Castro's "reforms."

Program Supports Dissidents and Families

USAID and the State Department reply to former Senate staffer Fulton Armstrong in The Miami Herald:

Fulton Armstrong’s Dec. 25 Other Views article, Time to clean up U.S. regime-change programs in Cuba, contains several errors. Most important, the U.S.-backed activities in support of democracy and human rights in Cuba aren’t secret, covert or classified. The State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development regularly brief Congress, and program descriptions are posted on both websites. The programs, which began during the Clinton administration and are comparable to international efforts in support of democracy elsewhere provide humanitarian support to dissidents and their families, strengthen civil society and facilitate the flow of information to, from and within the island. Early on in the Obama administration, we instituted new oversight measures to help ensure the maximum effectiveness of taxpayer dollars in these competitively awarded programs.

As President Obama has said, “The people of Cuba deserve the same rights, freedoms and opportunities as anyone else.” Instead, the article urges acceptance of the Cuban regime’s laws, many of which are inconsistent with international norms and prohibit Cubans from exercising human rights such as freedom of expression and assembly. Such appeals would have been dismissed out of hand when dealing with authoritarian regimes of the past in Latin America.

As we continue our work in support of the internationally recognized human rights of the Cuban people, the United States continues to call on Cuban authorities to immediately release Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor who has been unjustly detained for more than two years for helping Cubans access the Internet.

Mark Feierstein, assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C.

Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.

Free Ivonne Malleza NOW

Cuban-American Lawyers Oppose ABA Trip

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Cuban-American Bar Association Opposes the American Bar Association's Upcoming Delegations to Cuba

On behalf of a unanimous Board of Directors, the Cuban American Bar Association sent a letter to the American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) President admonishing its upcoming delegations to Cuba. This spring three sections of the ABA are coordinating visits to learn about the legal justice system in Cuba. As it has done in the past, the Cuban government will undoubtedly use these visits by the world’s largest voluntary professional lawyers association to bolster their shameful justice system.

The ABA should not be used in this way. If the ABA moves forward with the trips, CABA urges them to set up meetings with independent lawyers on the island who are fighting to establish the rule of law, independent from the government. As this issue develops, CABA will remain vigilant in informing the ABA and the world-community of Castro’s usual ploys to gain legitimacy.

Founded in Miami in 1974, CABA is a voluntary bar association established to promote equality of its members; serve the public interest by increasing awareness to the study of jurisprudence; foster respect for the law; preserve high standards of integrity, honor, and professional courtesy among its peers; provide equal access to and adequate representation of minorities before the courts; facilitate the administration of justice; build close relationships among its members; support Miami-Dade’s indigent community and increasing diversity in the judiciary and legal community.

A Disturbing Testimony

This week, female pro-democracy leaders took to the streets of the central Cuban town of Santa Clara to demand the release of their colleague, Ivonne Malleza, who remains imprisoned without charges since November 30th.

As a result, they too were arrested, albeit for short term.

Here's the disturbing testimony of their arrest:

Idania Yánez Contreras described her time behind the bars as "horrible." According to the dissident, in her cell "the guards, under the orders of State Security, were screaming obscenities at us" and even threatened with raping the women. Yanez denounced that one of the obscene threats she has not been able to forget was that "they began to tell me 'I am going to sleep with Idania because she has the largest ass.'" She added that the guards were "raffling" the women amongst themselves, choosing which one they would rape.

Meanwhile, Damaris Moya also suffered verbal and physical attacks. "I was treated horrible under the orders of Captains Andro, Yuniel Monteagudo and another by the last name Gil," denounced the co-president of the Central Opposition Coalition, adding that the initial violence occurred in front of her young son who is only 13 months old. "He was desperately screaming in the arms of his grandmother while the agents were applying martial arts immobilization locks on me. And that’s how they dragged me to the police vehicle and later to the detention center." In the case of her husband, Yanoisi, he was beaten and "choked and he now has his face swollen... they also punched him on the stomach and in the testicles."

The same official - Yuniel Monteagudo - was also responsible for the brutality against Antunez, even while he was detained in the back seat of a police vehicle. "That official told one of the Rapid Response agents: ‘punish him during the entire trip,'" explained Antunez, "and then they started to punch me the entire way. While he was hitting me he was saying 'piece of shit nigger, scream 'Fidel Lives.'" The dissident responded with the contrary. "I started to scream 'Down with Fidel,'" amid even more blows, "and that’s how the entire trip was until we reached the police unit of Santa Clara." The blows against Garcia Antunez resulted in numerous swellings on his head, and he is currently suffering from dizziness and lack of vision in his left eye, where he was also hit.

However, the dissident affirmed that although 2012 began with lots of violence against the peaceful Resistance, something positive was that during one of the marches in demand for freedom of those who were detained on that morning, "neighbors of Santa Clara were also fed up with the violence and joined the protest…they would scream 'abusers,' 'hunger and misery' and some of these citizens were even arrested." Antunez, like Idania Yanez and Damaris Moya also affirmed that they would not give in or give up in the face of the terror that the Cuban dictatorship tries to impose on its people. "Despite the beatings," assures Antunez, "I feel satisfied and convinced that now, more than ever, we are witnessing the final days of the tyranny." The dissident classified 2012 as a year of "importance" for the Cuban Resistance.

Damaris Moya also sent out a direct message to dictator Raul Castro. "If the supposed measures which Castro was enforcing are just to massacre us, well then we will be massacred because we are going to continue with our marches demanding food for the people, demanding justice and always out on the street." Idania Yanez echoed this same attitude: "Here we are, and we are going to continue with our actions."

The Real "Cuban Five"

A great ad:


Courtesy of Moises Asis.

Taxpayer-Sponsored Cuba Trips

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the following statement on the Smithsonian Institution’s, a taxpayer-funded entity, upcoming trips to Cuba under a so-called People-to-People Cultural Exchange Program:

The Smithsonian's 10-day trips to Cuba will amount to little more than a tropical vacation. Americans participating in these trips will not see the brutal reality of the Castro dictatorship. They will not be visiting run down hospitals where sick Cubans have to bring their own bed sheets and medications, nor will they have the opportunity to sit in a court room where peaceful pro-democracy advocates are sentenced because due process and a real judicial system are non-existent.

The nature of the Smithsonian's upcoming trips to Cuba becomes clear merely by looking at the ad promoting it. The ad fails to mention that Cuba is a state-sponsor of terrorism or that Castro's thugs repeatedly and routinely beat and harass the innocent Ladies in White while they peacefully march down a street. It does not mention that an American citizen is being held hostage by the regime simply for seeking to lift the veil of censorship that the dictatorship imposes on the Cuban people.

Americans will not be able to interact with a typical Cuban family as they conduct their daily desperate search for food, stop by a dormant newspaper's office that no longer operates because there is no freedom of the press, or visit the ever-growing prisons where countless political prisoners languish in their cells for exercising freedom of expression. These are the real cultural experiences in Cuba. Instead, these tourists will experience a false depiction of Cuba through a biased and censored 'tour' of the island.

It is deeply disappointing that the Smithsonian Institute, primarily funded by American taxpayers, is facilitating access to U.S. dollars, which enables the Castro regime to make a hefty profit. The trips not only illustrate a blatant disregard for human rights conditions on the island by an entity that receives U.S. government funding, but provide the deplorable Havana tyranny a sense of legitimacy
.”

Moral Blindness Towards Dictators

By Ted Bromund in Commentary:

Blue (State) Travel to Cuba

A friend has forwarded me a solicitation from the University of Michigan’s Alumni Association to join them on a “Cultural Connection” visit to Cuba. It is a depressing piece of moral blindness. For $3,845, Wolverines can enjoy an eight-day trip, complete with “a visit to a local health clinic” to “learn about socialized medicine and the delivery of social services in Cuba,” a trip to an art institute to “compare and contrast the role of the arts in Cuba and the United States” and “identify any differences in the opportunities for artistic expression,” and a “substantive discussion” with the management team of a dance company to explore “the political and financial challenges they face” (i.e. the U.S. embargo) in exporting Cuban dance culture. There is a good deal more in the same vein, including a visit to the Museum of the Revolution and dinner at the Restaurante Vieja Havana, “formerly the American Club,” but you get the picture.

It would be pleasant if moral blindness was all that was involved here, but sadly, it’s not. Michigan alumni who sign on are demonstrating the kind of sympathies that will bring them to the attention of Cuban intelligence which, as the Myers case showed, knows how to take advantage of gullible Americans with an academic bent. As a defector from the Cuban Intelligence Service noted in 2002, visitors from U.S. universities are targeted “very often and in a massive way. For example, there was recently a cruise ship in Cuba with students from the University of Pennsylvania. There were hundreds of students who automatically became objects of interest to the CuIS... [who] using covers from the Foreign Ministry, or any other governmental organization like ICAP (Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples)... come into contact with students and even lodge where the foreign students lodge and participate with them in all their activities.”

The essence of this visit, apart from providing hard currency to the fading Castro regime and giving it a bit of blue-washing, is that the University of Michigan is naively signing on to have its alumni spied upon and tested for any willingness to betray the United States.

If any of the UMich alumni are inclined to give Cuba the benefit of the doubt, they might contrast the harbor of Miami with that of Havana. The former, as Google shows, has hundreds of small private boats going to and fro, whereas the latter is almost entirely devoid of them. The reason is that anyone in Cuba who has a boat is a risk to flee to the United States, whereas no one in Miami is going to use a boat to flee to Cuba.

Perhaps one of the Michigan alumni who partakes of this miserable venture will retain enough self-possession to ask why it seems no one in Havana likes to sail, or why, in spite of recent and limited changes, Freedom House places Cuba among the world’s most repressive regimes and finds that 92 percent of Cubans get their news from government sources.

What is it about dictatorial regimes that give universities such a thrill up the leg? UMich would not survive for 24 hours in Cuba, but it is far from the only university that is willing to cozy up to totalitarians. The LSE’s ties to Qaddafi’s regime were notorious even before cracks appeared in his feet of clay, and the number of U.S. universities that can’t get enough China –especially including Yale –is vast. And it’s not just universities per se: academics of all stripes are evidently easy marks. Last summer, presumably because I’m a member of the American Historical Association, I was solicited by a mailing from People to People for a visit to Russia that featured “unprecedented access” to such easy-to-access attractions as the Bolshoi Ballet and a Faberge egg (though not the graves of the journalists Putin has murdered). Evidently academics are easily impressed as well as gullible.

The easy answer is that universities are on the left, so they naturally overlook the sins of left-wing dictators. True, it’s hard to imagine UMich promoting a similar trip to Franco’s Spain, and true, the People to People visit was led by Elaine Tyler May, a past president of the Organization of American Historians and a well-known critic of both the Cold War and anti-communism. But Qaddafi was not on the left or the right as conventionally defined, and Putin, with his reactionary nostalgia, his corporate statism, and his pro-natalist policies (it would be interesting to know what Prof. May, as a feminist historian, makes of those), has more in common with fascism than Communism, so the ideological explanation doesn’t fully cut it. Academics are only leftists in passing. Fundamentally, they’re oppositional, a sentiment that in the U.S. expresses itself as leftism–and makes them natural allies of any regime that opposes the United States.

On the university level, blindness and bias probably take second place to a simpler desire: they want the money. That’s understandable, if far from glorious. And I’m not entirely opposed to visiting totalitarian societies: I visited the USSR in 1989, just before the Wall came down, and it opened my eyes to the fact that Ronald Reagan talked more sense about Communism than all his opponents combined. But ventures like Michigan’s offer the promise of access and the reality of a fully-programmed and controlled experience, and place educational institutions funded by the taxpayers in the position of tacitly endorsing and enabling oppressive regimes. That’s a dirty business, and the sooner Michigan – or its alumni, or the Michigan legislature – puts a stop to it, the better.

Do Chambers of Commerce Promote Democracy?

Chambers of Commerce are -- by definition -- business promotion entities.

They do not promote democracy or humanitarianism.

Yet, in recent weeks, we've seen Cuba travel advertisements from the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce and the Tempe-Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

To add insult to injury, they are marketing these trips as "cultural."

Why are the State and Treasury Departments granting Chambers of Commerce "people-to-people" licenses?

It's shameful and insulting.

Prisoner Dies During Hunger Strike

Monday, January 2, 2012
From CNN:

A Cuban prisoner who went on a hunger strike because he was not part of the government's recent mass pardon has died, a human rights leader said Tuesday.

The prisoner, Rene Cobas, died Sunday of a heart attack, after authorities at the Boniato Prison, near Santiago, disregarded a doctor's recommendation that he be moved to a provincial hospital, said Elizardo Sanchez.

Sanchez, who heads island's independent Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said his group plans to investigate whether the military authorities at the prison were criminally negligent in their inaction.

Cobas had gone on strike immediately after President Raul Castro announced the latest round of amnesty on December 23. Cobas called the pardons "exclusive and limited," Sanchez said.

The Hard-Currency Vacuum Decree

The Castro regime has enacted a new decree regarding gift parcels and packages taken by travelers to Cuba.

Starting this week, customs officials will confiscate goods and products taken to Cuba by private individuals for what they deem to be "commercial purposes."

In other words, no more flatscreen TVs.

According to Castro's state media, tourists arriving on the island have no right to transport goods and products intended for other persons in the form of parcels or packages.

Translation: The Castro regime only wants Cuban-Americans to carry and send hard currency (thanks to the Obama Administration's eased policy) to the island, which will ultimately end up in their coffers. Moreover, they want to make sure Cubans on the island use whatever hard currency they have to purchase consumer goods at the regime's state-owned retail monopolies, where products are marked up as high as 200%

It's a hard-currency vacuum decree.

Fascinating how foreign bureaus in Havana have glossed over this news item.

Apparently, it doesn't fit into their "reform" narrative.

Slow and Insufficient "Reforms"

Al Jazeera has a good video report on Cuba's slow and insufficient economic "reforms."

Note how none of the Cubans interviewed on the island feel any progress at all.

Poorest Members of Congress

Sunday, January 1, 2012
Plenty of attention is given to the richest Members of the U.S. Congress, who are (many times unfairly) accused of being "out-of-touch" with the current economic challenges faced by their constituents and of using their positions to gain wealth.

But barely any attention is given to the poorest Members of the U.S. Congress, who are unquestionably "in-touch" with the concerns of the communities they represent and feel their pain.

The Washington Post has published a list of the 25 Members of Congress with the lowest net worth.

Among them at #23 - U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart with a net worth of -$35,500 in 2010.

U.S. Should Not Yield to Castro's Extortion

From The Washington Post's Editorial Board:

Cuba should finally release Alan Gross

TWO LEADERS of Cuba’s Jewish community have visited American Alan Gross at the maximum-security military hospital in Havana where he has been confined since Dec. 3, 2009. They lighted Hanukkah candles with him, emerging later to pronounce him healthy and hopeful. But for Mr. Gross’s family in Bethesda, this report was cold comfort. Gaunt and depressed, the 62-year-old was not among nearly 3,000 prisoners granted amnesty by President Raul Castro on Dec. 23; though an ailing mother and daughter await back home, Mr. Gross remains under a 15-year sentence for “acts to undermine the integrity and independence” of Cuba.

Cuba’s accusations stem from Mr. Gross’s humanitarian work, on behalf of a company that operates with U.S. democracy-promotion funds, to support his fellow Jews on the island. Specifically, he helped them establish an intranet and improve their access to the Internet.

Much has been made of the fact that Mr. Gross brought computer and cellphone equipment with him when he came to the island, but on at least one occasion, Cuban authorities searched his bags and let him bring the equipment into the country after paying a tax. “I did nothing in Cuba that is not done on a daily basis in millions of homes and offices around the world,” Mr. Gross told the court that found him guilty last March. Alas, that’s just the point: In Cuba, helping people communicate freely can be a crime.

The Castro government sees Mr. Gross as a potential bargaining chip in its campaign to win the return of five Cuban spies from the United States. This effort has unfortunately received support from Hollywood celebrities, Nobelists and even, after a fashion, former president Jimmy Carter, who called for the spies’ release when he visited Havana in March (while saying their fate should be “separate” from that of Mr. Gross).

There is no equivalence, moral or otherwise, between the illegal espionage of the Cubans and the conduct of Mr. Gross. The five Cubans were sentenced to long prison terms in 2001 for, among other things, operating as undeclared foreign agents and infiltrating U.S. military installations in South Florida. All are acknowledged intelligence officers, unlike Mr. Gross, a would-be humanitarian who got himself caught up in the U.S.-Cuban dispute over U.S. efforts to promote civil society on the island.

Yet Cuban officials now link the cases. Referring to the five intelligence agents, the president of Cuba’s parliament, Ricardo Alarcon, has cynically called on “the Jewish community in the U.S.” to “persuade American politicians that it’s time to put an end to this injustice and, in the process, find other humanitarian solutions.”

Though the Obama administration is working diplomatic channels for Mr. Gross’s release, it has wisely refused to entertain swapping the Cuban spies for him. At most, once Mr. Gross is free, the administration might consider asking the federal court in Florida to permit the exit to Cuba of the one convicted spy who has finished his prison time. A dual U.S.-Cuban citizen, he is now serving three years of parole.

But former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson floated that idea during his visit to Havana in October, and the Cubans turned him down flat. Such are the vagaries of the Communist state, whose long list of victims has tragically grown to include Alan Gross. The U.S. government should keep trying to bring him home — without yielding to Cuban extortion.

Cuba Policy Could Cost Obama Election

From Newsmax:

Obama's Cuba Policy Could Cost Him the Election

President Barack Obama has said that unilaterally easing sanctions against the Castro regime in Cuba is an "adequate" policy supported by Cuban-Americans.

That "support," however, is "never reflected where it counts — the ballot box," writes Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC and founding editor of CapitolHillCubans.com, in an opinion piece for the Miami Herald.

He points out that Obama received only about 30 percent of the Cuban-American vote during the 2008 election, "when just about every other constituency was overwhelmingly looking for 'change' after eight years of the Bush administration."

"Obama won Florida by only 2.5 percent. Today, he's treading on thin ice politically. Thus, any drop in Cuban-American support could easily cost him Florida — and given Florida's political importance, perhaps the election."

Obama's political rationale regarding Cuba is based on the belief that Cuban-Americans — although they consistently vote to support candidates who favor maintaining strong sanctions against Cuba's dictatorship — support more travel to and engagement with the island.

"Here are the facts: The Cuban-American community has never elected a candidate to federal office who has supported lifting sanctions," Claver-Carone writes.

"In the most recent example, during the 2010 congressional race in the heavily Cuban-American 25th District of Florida, Obama's candidate — an outspoken cheerleader for his Cuba policy — got less than 18 percent of the Cuban-American vote."

He notes that in September, as Obama was discussing his "adequate" policy, the Castro regime arrested 563 people for political "crimes." That's the highest monthly number of political arrests in 30 years.

"Why does President Obama continue this policy of unilateral appeasement with the Castro brothers?" Claver-Carone says. "After all, with unemployment in Florida reported to be as high as 11 percent, it would seem that Obama and his re-election campaign don't have much wiggle room."