At Least Katrina's Honest About Her Sources

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel just returned from a trip to Cuba and penned an op-ed in The Washington Post with some familiar talking points.

For those unfamiliar with vanden Heuvel, she's a New York City heiress, whose magazine espouses far-left causes.

In other words, a "champagne leftist."

Predictably, during her trip to Cuba, she ignored Cuba's courageous democracy leaders, and instead focused on Castro regime officials.

But at least she's honest.

Unlike other advocates, who simply regurgitate talking points, without revealing their origins, vanden Heuvel cites her sources.

She writes:

"My recent trip to Cuba, as part of The Nation’s first educational exchange trip to that country, reaffirmed what Josefina Vidal, head of the North American Division of Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, told our delegation in a wide ranging 90-minute conversation: 'The U.S. is facing the risk of becoming irrelevant in the future of Cuba.'"

This talking point is an oft-heard rationale for lobbying the U.S. to immediately lift sanctions and invest billions in Castro's monopolies.

Unfortunately, vanden Heuvel forgets to mention that Vidal is actually a Cuban intelligence official, whose husband was expelled from the United States for espionage activities in 2003.

More importantly, we'd like to correct both Vidal and vanden Heuvel:

It's the Castro regime that will be irrelevant in the future of Cuba. Therefore, the last thing the U.S. wants to do is become associated with its sinking dictatorship.

She then writes:

"In discussions with our delegation, former Cuban foreign minister Ricardo Alarcon noted that the fact the White House is prepared to negotiate with the Taliban but not its neighbor raises questions about how 'rational' U.S. policy is."

This was part of the pitch for vanden Heuvel to return and espouse an exchange of Castro's American hostage, development worker Alan Gross, for three Cuban spies tried, convicted and sentenced in U.S. federal court. And that she did.

Notice how the Castro regime is no longer even subtle about its ransom demands.

And then, there's the silly and hypocritical.

According to vanden Heuvel:

"At the last Summit of the Americas in 2012, the presidents of Brazil and of Colombia, one of the few remaining U.S. allies, joined several other countries in announcing they would skip the next summit in 2015 if Cuba is not invited. And well they should, as the summits become increasingly irrelevant, with regional trading and political ties developing with the United States, not Cuba, on the sidelines."

First, it's outright silly to compare Latin America's trade ties with the U.S. vs. Cuba. While Latin America's trade with the U.S. is thriving, totaling hundreds of billions a year and with robust trade agreements in place; Latin America's trade with Cuba is limited to a handful of ideological, state-subsidized projects (which will never get paid back).

More importantly, as regards the Summit of the Americas, which was specifically created by the hemisphere's "democratically-elected" heads of state (34 out of 35 nations in the Americas) based on a commitment to "representative democracy" (Quebec City Declaration) -- would vanden Heuvel be so inviting if Cuba was a right-wing dictatorship (a la Pinochet)?

Of course, not.

Finally, she engages in the customary insult against Cuban-American Members of Congress:

"U.S. policy is frozen in large part because bureaucratic inertia is reinforced by the hold anti-Castro zealots have on our policy — most notably Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who represents Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). But these zealots are growing ever more isolated."

They're not isolated, Katrina. They're proudly supported by the constituents that overwhelmingly elect them to office.

(Zealots are those in you met and praised in Havana, who've never been elected to anything and only represent one dictator.)

Don't get so caught up in talking points that you forget we live in a representative democracy.