By Guillermo Martinez in Sun-Sentinel:
Kerry's visit to Cuba a disgrace to democratic principles
An open letter to John Kerry, Secretary of State
Dear Sec. Kerry:
Friday you are scheduled to embark on the first visit by an American Secretary of State to Cuba in 70 years.
That visit was by then Secretary of State Edward Stettinius and was a celebratory visit. The United States was close to winning the World War II, and Cuba had been its first ally in the Western Hemisphere.
The one prior to that was from Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and it lasted 13 days from July 19 to Aug. 1, 1940.
These two visits were bookends to a world war. Friday, you travel with much ballyhoo to raise the American flag at the re-opening of the American Embassy in Havana.
As television station KTLA in Los Angeles said: "A Cuban delegation of diplomats, artists and veterans of the revolution were to commemorate the breakthrough with about 500 guests and more than likely down a few celebratory mojitos and shots of Havana Club rum."
Unbelievable Mr. Secretary! This is a disgrace.
Your predecessors went to visit America's first ally in the Western Hemisphere during the United States' time of need. You go to raise a flag and down a few mojitos.
All this is fine and refined for a French-speaking diplomat who represents a president who wants his legacy to show he re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba despite all the obstacles Cuban President Raul Castro could put in his path.
Since the Dec. 17 announcement, Castro has said the Cuban communist government will not change. It's iron grip on all dollar producing businesses will continue, as will its repressive policies of beating up and arresting anyone who dares dissent from the regime.
Certainly some of your assistants may have told you that since President Obama made his historic announcement, the Cuban government has made it a point to increase its repressive measures against those in opposition to the regime.
Verifiable reports out of Cuba say the government and its squad of goons have doubled the number of dissidents beaten, harassed and imprisoned — anyone who dares say they want a democratic regime with free elections, freedom of expression and freedom from a totalitarian government that monitors every one of their moves.
What say you, Mr. Secretary, to these human rights abuses?
At some point during the last six plus months, I recall there was a weak statement from a State Department spokesman saying how disappointed the United States was by the human rights abuses in Cuba.
Baloney, Mr. Secretary!
And please pardon my lack of diplomacy. I am a simple journalist who was born in Cuba, who came to this country 55 years ago and love both countries with all my heart.
That is why I cry today, Mr. Secretary!
I cry because you have not given any indication that you will meet with any of the dissidents in Cuba.
You do not have what it takes to do honor to the many secretaries of state who have preceded you that defended the principles this country stands for in the face of enemy representatives.
And do not doubt it, Mr. Secretary. Cuba is a sworn enemy of the United States. If it can help Iran, it will. Russia is already readying itself to open "monitoring" facilities in the island.
Yet your president and you have taken it upon yourselves to shake hands, raise a flag and have a few drinks with 500 Cuban dignitaries. Maybe the five convicted spies will be in attendance. Be sure to shake their hands. also.
At this point Mr. Secretary there is only one thing you can do to avoid making this trip the disaster that it already is. You could, if you truly believe in the principles of what our founding fathers said in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago, demand to see the Cuban dissidents.
Go shake hands with them and say that freedom-loving Americans believe in their cause. Give them hope for a better tomorrow. Show them that the United States truly is looking for a day when Cuba will be a democracy again.
Guillermo Martinez, a Cuban-born, American citizen. One who loves both countries with all his heart.
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