Must-Read: Carnival Discriminates Against Cuban-Americans

Friday, April 8, 2016
Yesterday, we learned how Google is now censoring on behalf of Cuba's regime.

Today, we learn how Carnival is discriminating on behalf of Cuba's regime.

Is this how the Obama Administration feels it's promoting American values?

By renowned maritime lawyer, Jim Walker, in Cruise Law News:

Carnival's Cruise to Cuba Discriminates Against Cuban-Americans

I couldn't believe what I was reading in the Miami Herald article "Carnival Cruise to Cuba Discriminates Against a Class of Americans"  Carnival's new Fathom "impact" brand, scheduled to be the first U.S.- based cruise line to cruise to Cuba in over 50 years (on May 1st), is refusing to permit Cuban-born Americans on the cruise.

Written by Fabiola Santiago, the article quotes Cuban American Maria de los Angela Torres, who came to the U.S. as a Pedro Pan child in the early 1960's, after she tried to book a cruise to Cuba. Everything was proceeding smoothly in booking her cruise until the Fathom agent learned that she was born in Cuba. The agent then told her that "Current Cuban law prohibits Cuban-born individuals from entering Cuba via ship or other sea vessel, regardless of U.S. citizenship status. For that reason, at the present time, Fathom cannot accommodate Cuban-born individuals."

The Herald analogized the discrimination to a cruise line refusing to take American Jews to Israel or African Americans to Africa.

Two years ago, the Tunisian government prohibited Israeli passengers from disembarking from the Norwegian Jade during a stop at the Tunis (La Goulette) cruise port. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) told the Israeli citizens that they were not welcome by the Tunisian government and had to stay aboard the cruise ship.

NCL quickly decided to boycott Tunis and issued the following statement:

We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests. We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”

Carnival, on the other hand, is acting in "cahoots" with Cuba, as the Herald points out. It's pathetic and disgraceful on Carnival's part. Carnival acquiesced to the discriminatory policies of the totalitarian Castro regime as a quid pro quo to be the first cruise line to do business in Cuba. When faced with an important principle, Carnival sold out for profits.

As Predicted: Carnival's "Social Impact" = Support Dictators, Degrade Cubans and Traffic in Stolen Property

Last year, we'd predicted how Carnival's cruises would discriminate against Cuban-Americans and traffic in stolen property.

Here's the full post (from July 7th, 2015):

Carnival's "Social Impact": Support Dictators, Degrade Cubans and Traffic in Stolen Property

Carnival Cruise Lines announced today that it has received a specific license from the Treasury Department for its "social impact" trips to Cuba.

The license would allow Carnival to take "people-to-people" travelers on humanitarian trips to the island.

Carnival would like to launch these trips by May 2016, but it still has a long way to go.

First, it needs approval from the Castro regime.

And as the head of Castro's Interests Section in Washington, D.C., Jose Cabanas, recently reminded a group of eager cruise and ferry types: "This will take time. These companies have to go to our authorities, they have to introduce their ideas. Some of them we already know. But they are not all equal."

(Pro bono advice: Brush up on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.)

Furthermore, the U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved language -- by a vote of 247-176 -- in the FY'16 Transportation Appropriations bill that would prohibit the use of confiscated property by any new flights or vessels authorized for travel to Cuba.

But -- à la Donald Trump -- this is a publicity ploy by Carnival, whose ships have been stung by a string of bad accidents, illnesses and other incidents in recent years.

Also like Trump, it's a particularly distasteful ploy, considering that Carnival is based in the heart of the Cuban-American community, which has always embraced it.

To wit:

During today's announcement, Carnival's CEO Arnold Donald said the cruise line "would have to work it out with the Cuban government as to what sorts of humanitarian programs are needed there."

Work out humanitarian programs with the worst violator of human rights in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the worst violators in the entire world?

Seriously?

Here's a summary of the humanitarian activities of the Cuban government (from the State Department's most recent report on Cuba's human rights practices):

"[T]he abridgement of the ability of citizens to change the government and the use of government threats, extrajudicial physical assault, intimidation, violent government-organized counter-protests against peaceful dissent, and harassment and detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful assembly."

They'll surely provide Carnival with some great "humanitarian" suggestions.

As if working with Cuba's vile dictatorship weren't enough, Carnival (in conjunction with the Obama Administration) further degrades the Cuban people by acquiescing to apartheid.

According to the Castro regime's draconian edicts, Cubans are not authorized to board any vessel. This includes fishing boats, yachts, catamaran, jet-skis, etc. The only exception are Cubans married to citizens of another country, which can request a special permit.

Moreover, in contravention of international law, Cubans (regardless of where they reside or their nationality) are prohibited from entering their own homeland through maritime ports.

In other words, anyone born in Cuba (regardless of whether they are now a U.S. citizen), are prohibited from entering the island through a maritime port.

Castro's Naval Command Center specifically states, "No Cuban is authorized to navigate in Cuba. The only exception are those married to citizens of another country, who must request a permit beforehand."

And according to Cubatur, the military-owned tourism agency, “Cubans — wherever they live — can’t be sold package tours that include a catamaran or a yacht. This is exclusively reserved for foreign tourists.”

Finally, Carnival would be trafficking in properties stolen from American citizens.

As Dr. Javier Garcia Bengochea, a certified U.S. claimant, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month:

"Americans assume when they invest in Cuba clear title and basic protections will be in place. Nothing could be further from the truth. Contract sanctity, an independent judiciary and transparent regulatory and enforcement agencies do not exist there. Foreign entities Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and China Harbor Engineering Company do business in the U.S. while using my stolen port."

Add Carnival to that list, as one of its planned stops would be at Dr. Garcia-Bengochea's stolen port.

As he eloquently concluded:

"Ladies and gentlemen, what is past is prologue. Unless the claims are settled any American enterprise in Cuba will have the legitimacy of a drug deal. Trafficking in stolen property is not economic opportunity; it is not 'pro-business' or normal; it is criminal and immoral."

If Carnival wants to truly make a "social impact" -- here are three easy steps:

Don't support dictators, degrade their victims or traffic in stolen property.

Cuban-Americans Need Not Apply for Carnival's Cruises

By Fabiola Santiago in The Miami Herald:

Carnival cruise to Cuba discriminates against a class of Americans

Cuban government: Cuban-Americans need not apply for cruises

Carnival refuses bookings, says they don’t set the rules

Would they ban blacks, Jews or any other class of U.S. citizen if Cuba asked?

Imagine a cruise line that won’t take African Americans on sailings to Africa. Or won’t take bookings from American Jews to Israel. One class of U.S. citizen banned while others get access. No company in contemporary America would ever survive such blunt discriminatory business practices.

But that’s exactly what Carnival Corporation is doing in cahoots with the Cuban government and with the endorsement of the U.S. Treasury — banning Cuban Americans from its upcoming cruises to the island starting May 1.

“They’re imposing repressive Cuban laws on American citizens,” says Maria de los Angeles Torres, a respected expert on Cuba and a longtime pro-engagement and anti-embargo academic who directs Latin American and Latino studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago. “It’s like they’re bringing Cuban law here.”

Torres also happens to be a Cuban American, sent to the United States as a child during the Pedro Pan exodus. She has been traveling to Cuba since 1978 to visit family and for academic research. But despite all her liberal credentials, in the age of engagement she has been refused a place on the Carnival cruises to Cuba.

“We didn’t build bridges to have others close them,” she tells me.

The Carnival Cruise Line website beckons: “Be the first to cruise to Cuba in over 50 years. Visit our sister Fathom Travel and reserve your spot now.” There’s not one mention that Cuban Americans need not apply. I’m a believer in free travel, so I proceeded to book an October sail, my U.S. passport in hand.

The itinerary promises a seven-day cruise with stops and off-shore excursions in Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba, plus all the bells and whistles of cruising. Only difference is that “cultural immersion” and designated “people-to-people” activities are mandatory, allegedly by U.S. Treasury design. I say allegedly because Cuba’s official travel office imposes or approves itineraries. They decide with whom travelers “engage.” Propaganda-peddling at its best.

Reason enough to ditch Cuba travel, but I continued booking with a Fathom agent who merrily took my personal information, put me on a waiting list for a $2,470 ocean view room and assured me I’d be generously upgraded if no one canceled. Even that far out in advance, only expensive balcony ($3,150 a passenger) and suites ($7,350 a passenger) were available. Port fees are an additional $283 per passenger. Carnival and Cuba are making a nice profit. Discrimination seems to be working for them.

After the agent said that my deposit was due in 24 hours, I asked the usual consumer questions: What happens if there’s a hurricane? I’ll get my money back or be rebooked. Finally, we get around to the passport. When I tell her it says I was born in Cuba, she asked me to hold. She returned to read me a statement from the legal department: “Current Cuban law prohibits Cuban-born individuals from entering Cuba via ship or other sea vessel, regardless of U.S. citizenship status. For that reason, at the present time, Fathom cannot accommodate Cuban-born individuals.”

Just like that, my booking was canceled.

Carnival spokesman Roger Frizzell tells me that the cruise line is “just following the laws that have been set up. We have requested a change in policy, which has not yet been granted, but our hope and intention is that we can travel with everybody. We will continue to have conversations [with Cuba] and that’s the process we would work through.”

I ask him if Carnival would have been willing to take cruise ships to South Africa during the apartheid era and not carry black people because that was the law.

He repeats that Carnival follows the laws of the countries it travels to. I guess that means the answer is yes.

Forty-seven years in this country, 36 as a U.S. citizen, a voter — and I cannot sail on an American cruise ship because Cuba says so.

Now I know how Cubans felt when they arrived in 1960s Miami and found signs like this on rentals: “No blacks. No Cubans. No dogs.” Or no Jews.

I suppose you can call it progress that at least Carnival isn’t agreeing to ban African Americans or Jews.

Something precious is lost when a foreign government dictates what kinds of U.S. citizens can sail out of the Port of Miami. 

Castro's American Victims

By Daniel Greenfield of Family Security Matters:

Castro's American Victims

In 1972, Ishmael Muslim Ali LaBeet and four other killers walked into the Fountain Valley golf club in the Virgin Islands. They rounded up four Florida tourists and four employees, forced them to kneel on the ground, and opened fire.

That was how the Fountain Valley Massacre began.

Afterward LaBeet and his fellow murderers were swarmed by civil rights attorneys eager to claim that their clients had been tortured into confessing. But the claims of torture were undermined by LaBeet.

At his trial, Ishmael LaBeet yelled, "I killed them all. I don't give a f__. I killed them all."

The killers were found guilty and sentenced. But LaBeet hijacked an airplane to Cuba. Today he is still there, north of Guantanamo, calling himself a Communist.

LaBeet is one of many terrorists who have killed Americans and who are being harbored by the Castro regime. The pain of the victims of these left-wing terrorists under the protection of the Castro crime family have not been mentioned in the rush to celebrate the "opening" of Cuba.

They are Castro's American victims even though they have never set foot in the Cuban dictatorship

Even though Obama illegally and falsely delisted Cuba as a state sponsor of terror, the Communist dictatorship still remains a haven and a hub for terrorists from around the world.

Cuba is best known for its ties to the Marxist narcoterrorists of FARC who have kidnapped and murdered Americans. But the Iran-backed Islamic terrorists of Hezbollah, who carried out the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, have a home in Cuba. As do members of the left's former terrorist networks in America.

Castro's hotel for killers hosted the murderers of Patrolman Robert Rosenbloom in New Mexico.  Two of them have since died, but Charlie Hill of the Republic of New Afrika is still a free man in Cuba and has been complaining to the media about his life in the Communist dictatorship where he is required to work for a living and smoking pot is a crime.

Discussing the murder of Rosenbloom, Hill has said, "I have never felt guilty about that cop. I never think about that dude."

William Morales, the bombmaker for FALN, a Puerto Rican separatist terrorist group that currently enjoys almost as much support from the New York City Council as it does from Castro, was linked to the Fraunces Tavern bombing in New York which killed four people and wounded dozens.

Morales was allegedly aided in his escape by his lawyer, Susan Tipograph, who was supposed to have strapped bolt cutters to her thighs. Tipograph is married to former Weathermen terrorist Cathy Wilkerson whose terrorist pals blew up her father's Greenwich Village townhouse while working on a nail bomb meant to be used on an army dance at Fort Dix. Tipograph went on to defend Lynne Stewart, another radical leftist lawyer who was convicted of aiding the Blind Sheikh who was linked to the World Trade Center bombing and future terror bombing plots in New York City.

The bombmaker and terrorist leader is still reportedly alive and well in Cuba.

And then there's Frank Terpil, a traitor who provided weapons to terrorists and worked for Saddam, Gaddafi, Arafat and other enemies of the United States before joining up with Castro to undermine America. There are allegations that Terpil died recently, but such claims have been made before.

But the most famous American terrorist in Castro's Hotel for Terrorists is Joanne Chesimard aka Assata Shakur. Shakur, a member of the Black Liberation Army terrorist group, murdered New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster. Even while the FBI had her on its Most Wanted list, Obama visited a country where cop-killers like Chesimard and Hill are protected by its Communist government.

While the families of the victims of the Fraunces Tavern bombing, the relatives of dead police officers and murdered tourists wait for justice, Obama bailed out the regime responsible for denying it.

But many of his supporters view Chesimard and Hill as heroes, not as criminals.

In Open Letter Part II, Jay Z gleefully raps about his White House connections and support for cop killers. "Boy from the hood but got White House clearance", "Obama said ‘chill, you gonna get me impeached'", "With the Obamas, I ride, I meet the president on the Southside" and pivots to "Assata Shakur, they tried to execute her, I went to Cuba to see her, We should free her, like we should Mumia."

The radical left has always celebrated the murderers of police officers. The unlikely escapes to Cuba by left-wing terrorists in America required aid and comfort from figures in the left-wing establishment.

And now Lynch's DOJ may finally give Charlie Hill the slap on the wrist he wanted in exchange for letting him come back. Joanne Chesimard may finally be allowed to do her celebratory tour of campuses in the United States. And Morales may be able to visit the city that he bombed where he will be feted by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito who supports FALN terrorists and has refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Obama would not have put in this much effort into aiding the Castro regime if the Communist dictatorship weren't such an inspiration to the American left. Castro understood that for the bargain price of providing a refuge for left-wing terrorists, he could secure the undying loyalty of extremists like Obama.

After Castro provided aid and comfort to left-wing American terrorists, the American left is finally in a position to bail out the Castros.

Why Did Google Succumb to Cuba's Censorship?

Thursday, April 7, 2016
Initially, Google offered to provide free, uncensored Internet for the Cuban people.

Kudos for that.

The Castro regime shamefully turned them down.

Instead, the Castro regime allowed Google to partner with a local (and loyal) Cuban artist, Kcho, who considers Fidel "his father."

Thus, the opening of the Google + Kcho Mor center at his studios in Havana, which was supposed to a Google-sponsored technology zone and WiFi hotspot.

But unless Google sponsors censorship technology, it's clearly not in control.

Reports from Cuba have noted that the center has been given priority use by Ministry of the Interior ('MININT') officials and trainees. The MININT is home to Castro's intelligence services.

Thus, the Google + Kcho Mor center has become a playground for Cuba's spies and future cyber-warriors.

Furthermore, after passing various security checks, when regular Cubans finally get to enter the center, they are treated to censored online access.

Webpages like Cubaencuentro, Revolico and 14ymedio remain blocked.

Thus, Google has now officially become an extension of Cuba's censors.

Are these the American values the Obama Administration purports to be promoting?

Video: Cuban Dissidents Launch Protest at Capitol Building

On Tuesday, a group of Cuban dissidents launched a protest outside Havana's Capitol building.

They disbursed leaflets that read, "Freedom for Cuba's Political Prisoners!"

The protesters, who yelled "Freedom for the Cuban People!" and "Long Live Human Rights!" formed part of the group, the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Action Front.

Two remained in prison as of this morning -- Lazaro Mendoza y Henry Rey.

Click below (or here) to watch the video.

Cuba After Obama's Departure: What's Castro's Real Agenda?

By Ron Radosh in PJ Media:

Cuba After Obama's Departure: What Is the Castro Brothers' Real Agenda?

A few weeks have passed since President Obama’s trip to Cuba, where he gave a historic speech that was broadcast throughout the country, and the next day appeared at an exhibition baseball game between the Cuban national team and an American team from Tampa, Florida. Cubans, who for years had been instructed to yell anti-American slogans, now were told to show up, cheer the American president, and hold both Cuban and American flags.

Obama’s trip was heralded throughout the United States for initiating a historic turn in America’s policy towards Cuba which until now has been hostile since the Revolution’s radical turn in 1961. Since then, as the Council on Foreign Relations notes, “successive U.S. administrations have maintained a policy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation of Cuba.” Now, full diplomatic status exists between the two countries, and the United States has its embassy functioning at full speed on the banks of the Malecon on Havana’s waterfront.

President Obama has said this change in U.S. policy will be in the interests of both countries, and hopefully will lead to major reforms by the Castro regime. Unfortunately, Obama’s rapprochement was made without asking for or receiving any concrete signs of liberalization in advance of the restoration of diplomatic relations. Indeed, it was the U.S. that gave in to Raul and Fidel Castro's demands.

As I have previously written, Obama did make some good points in his speech, including his championing of America democracy and the free market system. Yet, his critics are correct when they say that he could have done more, especially like calling for the freedom of all political prisoners and then mentioning specific names that had been provided him by various human rights groups.

Obama had plenty of information about the true situation in the prison island, and by the very gesture of being buddy-buddy with Raul Castro the day after his speech he made it appear that he approved of and was giving legitimacy to the regime. Indeed, he also publicly said that the United States was not in the business of regime change. And by praising Cuba’s health and education systems -- especially since the health system is hardly functional when it comes to treating the average Cuban, and the education system is a mechanism for producing loyal communists -- and equating them with the free political system that the U.S. has, he was making a morally equivalent comparison between American democracy and Cuban communism.

As for human rights, they are actually far worse today than they were in Batista’s time. Human Rights Watch, hardly a right-wing organization, portrays the situation in Cuba in these words:

"Prisons are overcrowded, unhygienic, and unhealthy, leading to extensive malnutrition and illness. More than 57,000 Cubans are in prisons or work camps, according to a May 2012 article in an official government newspaper. Prisoners who criticize the government or engage in hunger strikes and other forms of protest are subjected to extended solitary confinement, beatings, restrictions on family visits, and denial of medical care. Prisoners have no effective complaint mechanism to seek redress."

Today, as Humberto Fontova has noted, “Cubans are suffering a wave of terror –involving everything from thousands, upon thousands of arbitrary arrests by KGB-trained secret police to machete attacks by regime-paid mobs against peaceful women dissidents—surpassing anything seen in decades.”

Indeed, the vile treatment of prisoners has been confirmed by the recently released Cuban prisoner, the American aid worker Alan Gross, who had traveled there under a U.S. government contract to help the small Jewish community with internet access. In his recent interview with Politico, Gross revealed more details about the inhumane treatment he suffered in the Castro brothers’ prison system. Gross, who supports Obama’s policy of reconciliation, called Fidel and Raul Castro “‘fascists’ fit to be brought up on international human rights charges.”

Nor did Obama raise the issue with Raul Castro about the return of U.S. radicals who engaged in acts of murder and terror and then fled to Cuba, where they live freely protected by the Castro regime. One would think that the return of these four individuals to the United States, listed on the website of the New Jersey State Police, would be a priority of any U.S. leader. Like the first escapee listed, Joanne Chesimard, a.k.a. Assata Shakur, the other three have all been convicted of murder by American juries in fair trials in which they were judged by their peers.

And what did Obama get in return for his efforts? Immediately after his departure, Fidel Castro himself attacked Obama in the pages of Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee. Referring to the president of the United States as “Brother Obama,” Castro went on to stress that “we don’t need the empire to give us anything.” Then he complained that Obama did not honestly talk about all of Cuba’s achievements after the Revolution:

"The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind. Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before Mr. Barack Obama was 10 years old. The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution - that which would go down in history for the battle against apartheid that liberated Angola, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on a continent of more than a billion inhabitants. This was not the objective of our solidarity, but rather to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and others under the fascist colonial domination of Portugal."

Of course, Castro forgot to mention that blacks living in Cuba today are treated as second-class citizens and subjected to the equivalent of the old system of segregation in the American South.  Next Castro blasted the U.S. for the Bay of Pigs invasion conducted by John F. Kennedy’s administration. His anger is as great as it was when it happened, half a century ago. Then there was the fact of “the weapons and the assistance that racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.” “The Maximum Leader” clearly wants the U.S. to apologize for all these supposed slights before the two countries move closer together.

One day later after Castro’s open letter, a writer for Granma, Dario Machado, castigated Obama for speaking nice words but failing to do anything except “very little” gestures. It didn’t really matter that Obama called for ending the embargo -- or “blockade,” as the Cuban Communists refer to U.S. policy. Obama spoke for a nation made up of a “warmongering and expansionist military apparatus of which Mexico and Cuba – to take just two examples from our region – have been nearby victims.” After all, the writer reminds Cuban readers that the United States is a nation with an “imperialist state machinery” that demands “human rights of others and least respects them itself... [America is] a society in which violence serves as the guiding principle throughout its history.”

Mr. Machado has evidently read his Howard Zinn. That is why he argues that the rapprochement is a result of the needs of American big business, which wants profit from American interests in Cuba. Furthermore, he writes that  the president is only a “career politician” who “has always been and continues to be functional to the strategic interests of the powers that govern the U.S.” Obama may call for an end to the “blockade,” but Cubans know that he supported it during his entire administration. As Machado puts it:

"There is no doubt: Obama is the gentle and seductive face of the same danger. He made no apology for crimes against Cuba, he did not mention the Guantánamo Naval Base, he did not speak of the Cuban Adjustment Act, he did not explain why he hasn’t done more to dismantle the blockade, given the powers he possesses to do so, and there were many other incredible omissions."

Why did the ossified regime’s leaders wage an attack on Obama the minute he left? The answer is that they wanted the Cuban people to understand that Cuba will not change. Desperate and at the brink of economic collapse, the Cuban leaders were forced by the harsh circumstances, including Venezuela’s economic collapse, to make nice with the U.S. They know that a new American policy will mean new money flowing to the military and Communist Party, who control the hotels and the businesses and who will use these funds to prop up the Communist regime. (Just what the Cuban regime gets out of new investment and trade has been explained to Congress by Mauricio Claver-Carone, the executive director of Cuba Democracy Advocates. One must read the text of his testimony before a House committee to get all the details.)

Many argue that liberalization will occur as scores of new American tourists arrive on the island. Their presence will reveal, so it is argued, how prosperous the U.S. is and how unfree and poor their own country is after decades of Communist rule. The Cuban people, however, already know this. That is why the attempts to flee are escalating, before the U.S. possibly changes its policy and sends back those reaching the U.S. from Cuba. Moreover, tourists from Europe and Canada have already come in droves, and European countries have traded with and invested in Cuba for a long time. None of this has changed anything  in Cuba or weakened the regime one drop.

Observers should have learned the lesson of the old Soviet Union. In the 1920s, after a fierce civil war that virtually destroyed Russia, Lenin announced “the New Economic Policy,” or NEP. As in Cuba today, the regime halted the move to extreme measures such as nationalization of all industry and reversed itself, letting some Russians establish small businesses, such as individually owned restaurants. What they did is parallel to what the Cuban regime is doing on a rather small basis, as American tourists find out when they eat in individually owned paladars. The Soviet Union also sought foreign investment, such as that undertaken by Henry Ford in 1929. Ford sent American workers to Russia and helped build its automotive industry, including an American style assembly line factory.

In other words, like the measures adopted by the Castro regime today, NEP was meant to be a strategic retreat of a temporary nature. As Lenin famously put it, they were taking “two steps backward” in order to take “one step forward” at a more suitable moment. In addition, because the policy created a new entrepreneurial and more wealthy class of business owners, the Soviet regime intensified repression against the populace. They did not want any forced economic measures to let the people assume that they would be accompanied by political liberalization.

As in Russia in the 1920’, where the Bolshevik leadership adhered to the new “science of Marxism-Leninism,” Fidel Castro makes it quite clear that the Communist leaders of Cuba are Leninists. That is why on May 8, 2015, he penned an article for Granma titled “Our Right to be Marxist-Leninists,” and why can still praise those he calls “the heroic Soviet people, who provided humankind an enormous service.” Russian troops in World War II, Castro wrote, were not fighting simply in defense of their invaded motherland. They were fighting, he claimed—which would be news to Joseph Stalin were he alive---“for the right to think and be socialists, to be Marxist-Leninists, communists, and [to] leave the dark ages behind."

Ultimately, the Soviet communist system failed, and the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist. Fidel and Raul Castro will try their best to see that a similar fate is not in Cuba’s future. Sadly, at present the United States is helping them achieve their goal.

Lincoln and Marti Turned in Their Graves

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Embracing tyrants doesn't raise their standards. To the contrary -- it lowers the standards of those who embrace them.

Case and point is an oped today by a Cuban-American businessman, Mike Fernandez, in Univision's online portal.

In short, Fernandez argues:  If given the choice between free speech, multi-party elections and being a "cuentapropista", the Cuban people would choose being a "cuentapropista."

Of course, we'd argue: Let's ask them in an open, democratic process. (Never mind that Fernandez doesn't realize his entire premise is an oxymoron.)

Elecciones para que?

He claims to already know the answer because he's asked them "at street corners in Havana."

Fernandez is part of a handful of Cuban-American businessmen who joined President Obama during his recent trip to Havana. According to The Miami Herald, they were "helping the Cuban people" by hanging out with Castro's apparatchiks at the military-owned Hotel Saratoga. There, they enjoyed "a feast of delicacies most Cubans can only dream of: smoked salmon, prosciutto, dates, figs, four types of soft cheeses."

These businessmen like to use "cuentapropismo" as a scapegoat. But U.S. law doesn't impede transactions with "cuentapropistas" -- it's Castro that limits their freedom. What they are lobbying for is the U.S. Congress to lift sanctions on business with Castro's state monopolies, fully equipped with slave labor, stolen properties, et al.

They discard that freedom and democracy didn't stem from capitalism. It's the other way around.

They ignore that The Wealth of Nations didn't precede The Magna Carta. It's the other way around.

They forget that they were successful due to the freedom and democracy that Americans enjoy. That our freedoms and democracy aren't secondary to making a profit. That they would not have made their profits without freedom and democracy.

This is precisely why business groups are losing the American people. It's why fringe candidates have amassed such large followings. They have subjugated America's freedom-first agenda to one of profits-first.

Fernandez admits that economic engagement hasn't resulted in rights and freedoms for the people of China and Vietnam, but that we should instead recognize the "progress" there. Progress akin to Mussolini making the trains run on time, we presume.

But here's the kicker:

In this latest effort to relegate freedom and democracy, Fernandez summons the leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Jose Marti.

Lincoln and Marti must have turned in their graves.

Abraham Lincoln didn't relegate the freedom of slaves to Northern manufacturer's desire to purchase cheap cotton from Southern plantation owners. To the contrary.

Jose Marti didn't relegate the freedom of the Cuban people to Spain's mercantilism and the business interests of the merchant "criollos" that enabled it. To the contrary.

And neither Lincoln or Marti believed that the way to end slavery and colonialism was to embrace and forgive its perpetrators, particularly as they continued oppressing its people.

Fernandez doesn't seem to know much about Abraham Lincoln. But during his time, Lincoln clearly knew men like Fernandez, whom he shamed:

"On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been. When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that 'all men are created equal' a self evident truth; but now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim 'a self evident lie.'"

-- August 15, 1855, Letter to George Robertson

Over 1,416 Political Arrests in March, 498 During Obama's Visit

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights (CCHR) has documented 1,416 political arrests by the Castro regime during the month of March 2016.

Of these, 498 political arrests took place during President Obama's visit to Cuba.

Thus far, there have been 4,004 political arrests in Cuba during the first three months of 2016. This represents -- by far -- the highest tally to begin a year in decades.

It's already (in just three months) nearly double the tally of political arrests throughout all of 2010, as Obama began his presidency.

Again, it's what happens when President Obama first announces that he won't visit Cuba unless there are tangible improvements in the respect for human rights -- then crosses his own 'red-line.'

And these are only political arrests that have been thoroughly documented. Many more are suspected.

Thus, despite the Obama Administration's engagement with the Castro dictatorship and increased travel to the island, repression on the island is exponentially rising.

Why? Because the Castro regime keeps getting a pass for its repressive acts.

It's also why political repression in Iran has sharply risen since Obama's deal with the Mullahs last July.

Mr. President, legacy is not more important than lives.

Must-Read: Castro Inc., Cuba as Family Business

By renowned journalist and author, Daniel Williams, in The Huffington Post:

Castro Inc.: Cuba as Family Business

Everyone is all aflutter about the coming changes for Cuba now that US President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have attended a baseball game together in Havana and generally made nice to each other.

It doesn’t look like anything resembling electoral, multi-party democracy is on the way. Before, during and after Obama’s visit, Raul’s secret police busily rounded up dissidents and demonstrators, and his brother Fidel—now the skeletal voice of a faded revolution—was quick to let Obama know that the island would take no lessons about democracy.

Okay, so what about the economy, the long-crippled example of failed Communist planning, arbitrary control of pricing and confiscatory depression of workers’ wages?

There, changes are afoot. During Obama’s visit, foreign reporters marveled at the blossoming of little private hotels and restaurants, by the ubiquitous hustling of contraband cigars, the endless moonlighting of workers looking to increase their meager income, the farmers selling pork, and the rampant prostitution. But the bigger change was ignored: Raul Castro’s creation of a state-sponsored oligarchy of which the Castro family and its cronies are in charge.

It’s a process of dynastic consolidation familiar to any post-Communist to state-capitalist experience, be it China, Vietnam or contemporary Russia as rejiggered by Vladimir Putin to reestablish Kremlin dominance of the economy.

In Cuba, the Castros have been especially brazen in transferring important pieces of the economy to themselves and associates.

The clearest exhibit is a government organization called Grupo de Administración Empresarial SA, the “Business Administration Group,” which operates state-owned companies that account for at least half the business revenue produced in Cuba, including 40 per cent of foreign currency earnings from tourism and imports. GAESA owns the best hotels on the island, most retail store chains, rent-a-car companies and import agencies. It is set to build a new tourist complex along Havana’s old port and run a new port and free-trade zone being constructed west of the city. These are big-ticket items of Cuba’s economy.

GAESA is a family firm. It is headed by Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Raul’s son-in-law. He’s also an army general and Raul, of course, is the comandante en jefe. If you want to make money in Cuba, Rodriguez holds the keys to the vault.

This all represents Cuba’s emerging profile as a family-military dictatorship. Raul was Defense Minister when his brother Fidel ruled Cuba. Over the years, he has sprinkled military officers throughout key positions in the economy.

In the 1990s, when the Soviet Union broke up and Moscow left Cuba to its own devices, Cuba collapsed into a decade of deprivation known euphemistically as the “Special Period.” Raul, looking for ways to replace the old Soviet barter arrangements that had buttressed the country’s economy, dispatched military officers to negotiate investment deals with foreigners. Among them were mobile phone ventures and rents of free-trade zones plunked into former Soviet-built military bases. He sent elite Soviet trained officers to hotel and accounting schools abroad and encouraged them to read motivational business management books.

The 90s was also a Special Period for GAESA, which originated as an arm of the military industries department. It began to absorb more and more economic resources: Raul added CIMEX, then Cuba’s largest commercial consortium, to GAESA’s portfolio, along with Habanaguanex, which owned real estate, hotels and restaurants in the decrepit, but potentially lucrative, gem of Old Havana.

GAESA grew to run a domestic air service (using old Soviet transport planes!), tourist attractions (swim with dolphins!) and of course the important sugar, cigars and tourist industries.

In short, Raul created an olive green state-within-a-state. And at GAESA, he put his favorite son-in-law in charge of much of it.

Does this mean that the Castro family is enriching itself and friends through nepotism and cronyism? A hint of the new oligrachy’s personal advantages was published last year in El Heraldo de la Habana, the “Havana Herald.” El Heraldo, an official Communist Party newspaper, printed a story about Fidel’s youngest son frolicking aboard a yacht in the Mediterranean.

“Thanks to his father, Gulliver, Jr. travels quite frequently,” the paper wrote in a satirical mode. “He appears as a giant enjoying himself.” By the way, Antonio is a physician but also holds the post of “Global Ambassador of the World Baseball Softball Confederation.” I wonder how he has time to treat patients.

It’s not as if Cubans don’t know what’s going on. Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez commented, “Calling for austerity while living in opulence has been common practice for Cuban leaders for more than half a century.”

A few years ago, a Cuban author in the official National Artists and Writers Union of Cuba wrote: “It has become evident that there are people in government and state positions who are preparing a financial assault for when the revolution falls. Others likely have everything ready to produce the transfer of state property into private hands, like what happened in the former Soviet Union.” (The critic was quickly kicked out of the Communist Party.)

This economic-political stranglehold appears headed toward creation of a North Korea-style dynasty. On that score, Raul’s son, Alejandro Castro Espin, is in the spotlight.

Castro Espin is a colonel in the Interior Ministry, which runs Cuba’s General Intelligence Directorate, as well as the General Directorate of Counter-Intelligence and the General Directorate of Internal Order, both internal spy agencies. Last year, when Raul Castro met with Obama at regional summit in Panama, Castro Espin was part of the small group that sat in the room. He also accompanied Raul on his visit to the Vatican last year. Raul’s chief bodyguard is Castro Espin’s nephew.

In the tradition of Kremlinology, it was always important to see who is standing next to whom atop Lenin’s tomb in order to decipher who really holds power. Atop Cuba’s economic and political tomb stand the up and coming associates of Castro, Inc.

Political Arrests in Cuba Up 255% This Year

From UPI:

Report: Cuba's 'arbitrary' detentions up 255 percent this year

The Cuban Observatory on Human Rights has condemned the Castro regime for what it considers the "arbitrary detention" of more than 1,200 people in March, including hundreds who were detained during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit.

In March, there were 1,245 arbitrary detentions, made up of the arrests of 682 men and 563 women, the Cuban Observatory on Human Rights reported. The group defines arbitrary detentions as arrests made with a political motive.

Violence was used in at least 107 arrests. During Obama's visit from March 19 until March 22, at least 319 people were arrested -- 205 men and 114 women.

In March last year, there were 480 arrests -- meaning arrests increased about 159 percent this year.

This year there were 1,474 arrests in January and 1,176 arrests in February. Last year, there were 134 arrests in January and 483 in February.

So far this year there have been 3,895 arrests, a 255 percent increase over the same period last year. In total last year, there were 8,314 arrests -- meaning if the current trend continues, arrests this year would overtake last year's total by July.

Must-Read: Cuba's State-Run Human Trafficking Business

Monday, April 4, 2016
Cuba's state-run human trafficking business

Part I: Forced labor: the export services of temporary workers

“Contrary to fighting human trafficking, the [Cuban] government is likely one of the largest and most profitable traffickers in the world.” This statement was part of the recent testimony in Congress by Cuba Archive’s Executive Director, Maria Werlau, on Cuba’s gigantic human trafficking business.

A creative scheme of forced labor —temporary workers for export— accounts for Cuba’s largest, and growing, source of revenues. According to official reports, around 65,000 are serving the Cuban government in 91 countries; 75% (around 50,000) are in the health sector. The services of doctors, sports trainers, teachers, construction workers, entertainers, sailors, scientists, architects, engineers, and many other professionals and technicians are sold through large state entities, including two large health conglomerates (ServiMed-Servicios Médicos Cubanos, S.A. and the BioFarma Cuba group), and at least 84 smaller state entities. Their wages, for the most part, go directly to the Cuban government, whose annual export services net of tourism grew from US$1.5 billion in 2003 to US$7.8 billon in 2011 (the latest official data from Cuba). Recent reports put the annual figure at around US$8.2 billion (three times tourism revenues reported at around $2.7 billion a year).

The violations to universally-recognized labor rights that this practice entails are numerous. Amply documented by Cuba Archive, they include chronic under-payment of wages, subsistence stipends, mandatory long hours, poor —often dangerous— living conditions, arbitrary restrictions of movement and others, retention of travel documents, and threats of retaliatory actions to the workers and their families if they defect overseas. This type of “modern slavery” violates many international agreements to which Cuba and most countries where these workers serve are parties, including conventions and protocols against human trafficking and of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Cuba’s export business of indentured workers and its unique brand of “health diplomacy” are possible only in a totalitarian state in which a pool of guaranteed captive low-paid workers can be exploited as “exportable commodities.” The average monthly salary is $20 and $60 for doctors.

Because many Cuban workers serve “willingly,” —even eagerly— to improve their lot, it is important to note that the victims’ consent to forced labor practices does not exempt them from “human trafficking.” The legal definition is clear: “The consent of the victim to the intended exploitation is irrelevant once it is demonstrated that deception, coercion, force or other prohibited means have been used.” The Trafficking in Persons Protocol of 2000, a complement to the U.N. Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, states that abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation constitutes human trafficking.

Click here to read the entire Congressional testimony.

Billionaire Restaurateur: Not Investing in Cuba Until Castros Out, Becomes Democracy

I don't even think we understand the political climate, still. It still might take the Castros being out and having to become a democracy before it really happens, all together. I think it's going to take a few more years. Until they get a few things worked out, I would definitely not go there — because you don't know what's going to happen.
-- Tilman Fertitta, owner of Fertitta Entertainment, the parent company of Landry's and the Golden Nugget Casinos, on investing in Cuba, CNBC, 4/1/16

Cuban Consulate in Miami-Dade is a Bad Idea

A Letter to the Editor of The Miami Herald:

Cuba consulate

The first duty of government is to protect its citizens. Opening a Cuban consulate in Miami-Dade will needlessly endanger the lives and security of South Florida residents and would be a failure of governance.

However, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Ricky Arriola, apparently ignoring this concern out of the belief that there are commercial opportunities in engaging the Cuban dictatorship, are advocating opening the consulate in Miami Beach.

Their highly publicized meeting in Cuba demonstrates why this is a bad idea. They met with Gustavo Machin Gomez, a “Cuban diplomat” who was expelled from the United States for his espionage activities and in 2012 was involved in the suspicious death of Cuban opposition leaders Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

A Cuban consulate in Miami-Dade would operate as an espionage center used to target Cuban exiles, American military facilities in the area, and other targets.

The U.S. government and the American and Cuban people would like to see an end to the Cold War, but unfortunately the regime in Cuba would like to see it continue as can be seen by it smuggling tons of weapons to North Korea in 2013 and through Colombia in 2015.

Ignoring this reality will only lead to tragedy for our community and our country.

John Suarez
Miami

Cuba Must Embrace Rights, Reject Terror

By Marshall Frank in Florida Today:

Cuba must embrace rights, reject terror

Before making nice with Cuba, our government must take a tougher stance on some major issues. We already made a lopsided deal to one enemy nation who chants “Death to America,” let’s not make another blunder so close to our border.

Few Americans today understand or recall the reasons we severed diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1960. With brutal force, Cuba established dictatorial communism under our noses, and presented America as the great Satan to the Cuban people. Since then, nearly 10 percent of its desperate population has fled Cuba to find refuge in America.

In 1962, Castro and the Soviet Union aimed their nuclear missiles at the United States until President Kennedy imposed the famous blockade, establishing themselves as an enemy.

In 1980, Castro opened the exit doors to their unwanted citizens, including criminals, drug addicts, mentally ill, disabled and political dissidents via the Mariel Boat Lift, which brought an astounding 120,000 refugees into South Florida overnight. Crime tripled, unidentified bodies were everywhere, undocumented criminals hid in shadows, housing, schools and hospitals were overrun.

Today, Hezbollah is an Islamist terror hate group originating from Lebanon, now with tentacles expanding throughout the western world. That includes Cuba. So, why are we pandering to the communist nation, knowing they are aiding and harboring a terrorist organization 90 miles from the shoreline of our country?

According to Judicial Watch, a watchdog organization, and other sources, President Obama lifted the terror-state designation from Cuba in 2015, knowing that Hezbollah had already established a base of operations on the communist island in 2011. That could not have occurred without consent of the Castro regime. This was confirmed when Hillary Clinton’s 2011 communiques were revealed in February of this year citing Israeli intelligence. The email includes, “Hezbollah office has established an operational base in Cuba designed to support terrorist attacks throughout Latin America.”

Besides support for terrorism, there are more reasons not to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, as articulated by Senator Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants. Rubio recently cited a partial list of needed requirements of Cuba before acquiescing anything to the communist government. That would include:

•Initiate free elections with choices for Cuban people outside of the strict Castro communist mantra.

•Establish free speech. Cuba should stop jailing people indefinitely for speaking out with opposing points of view. (The “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation” listed 51 prisoners of “conscience,” some jailed over two decades for speaking out against the regime).

•Provide freedom of press, not limited to one state-run information network

•Guarantee that Russia and China will not be allowed listening and jamming stations based in Cuba.

•Cuba must cease being an ally to North Korea

•Cuba must release a convicted cop killer from New Jersey back to the U.S. (JoAnne Chesimard of the Black Liberation Army, who escaped from a New Jersey prison in 1979 and was granted asylum in Cuba)

Being chummy with Cuba may sound like a good idea to some folks, but there’s far more to the story. One look at Wikipedia page “Human Rights in Cuba” provides chilling data which tells much from the behind-the-scenes. Foreign tourists who travel to plush beachfront hotels are unaware about life under Cuban communism on the other side of the propaganda wall.

The Cuban constitution says that control of the press is allowed in keeping with the objectives of socialist society. Reporters Without Borders — an international non-profit watchdog group — ranked Cuba at or near the bottom of Press Freedom Index. The Committee to Protect Journalists group ranked Cuba as one of the ten most censored countries in the world.

The Castro regime has a lot of conceding to do before our taxpayers should be expected to make friends with a nation filled with hatred toward the United States, and who gives sanctuary to those who would destroy us.

Obama's Cuban Disgrace

Sunday, April 3, 2016
By Jason Emert in Real Clear World:

Obama's Cuban Disgrace

I had the opportunity to visit Havana with the permission of the U.S. government in March 2013. Thankfully, I am blessed with a vivid imagination, and I could see that it must have been an incredible city prior to 1959 -- certainly the crown jewel of the Caribbean. That is no longer the case. The torment of communism is absolute, and it eats away at buildings the same way it does mankind.

Those buildings tell their own story. Once-beautiful facades, paint chipped and fading, hid rotting wood floors and crumbling walls. Famed cars from the 1950s drove past these buildings, several now serving as taxis, driven by doctors who pick up fares to supplement their measly incomes. Nothing brought home the lasting impact on everyday life of the Castro regime so much as to see the homes along once-spectacular boulevards once bedecked with flowing water fountains. These served as single-family homes. The former owners of the remarkable buildings, however, fled long ago to American shores, and the homes now are filled by three or four families that hang their clothes on wires from window to window and sit hunched over listening to radios, while their 60+ year old car, if they have one, sits idle in the driveway.

So I wanted to observe President Barack Obama's visit in Cuba without any bias. After all, I had been to Havana, and unlike so many others I know, I do not have a personal connection to Cuba, nor was my family displaced because of the Castros and their band of thugs. But I know too much -- not just what has been written about the Cuban revolution, but the real, often unpublished, gut-wrenching personal accounts from first- or second-generation Cuban-American families who are in utter disbelief that Obama would visit the failed state of Cuba to kiss the ring of President Raul Castro when this could have been accomplished from Washington -- without the president shaking the bloodstained hands of old men in Havana. Why could he not just send a mid-ranking official from the State Department to do this dirty work, they wonder.

Nevertheless, all those feelings aside, I watched hoping President Obama would not just roll over upon his arrival. I hoped that he had learned from his past foreign policy fiascoes in Libya and in Syria, from the bad Iran deal, from the failed reset with Russia, and from the rise of the Islamic State group.

I do not, moreover, entirely disagree that the embargo has probably run its course and remains an outmoded relic of the Cold War. It is however the moral imperative of the United States to be doing all that we can to help the Cuban people break the chains of their decades-long communist bondage.

An incredible history binds the United States and Cuba. Almost since the beginning of our republic, Cuba has been held in high regard. Early American leaders advocated for the inclusion of the island into the Union at first chance. Americans fought for Cuban independence. And our nations only became closer when Cuba gained its independence -- that is, until the brutal Cuban Revolution, and the beginning of the Castros' reign of terror. I had therefore hoped that when the U.S. government eventually advocated for the end of the embargo, it would also mean the end of the Castros. Unfortunately, it does not.

The policies of the Obama administration serve to fill the coffers and prop up the Castro regime and their ilk, enriching another crop of communist thugs so that they will remain in power after the eventual death of Fidel and Raul, whenever the devil should take them. The visit of an American president should have been to usher in a new era of freedom and democracy in Cuba, not inflict another generation of Cubans with the soul-crushing disease of communism.

The United States has lost its way. Our moral compass is broken. We used to stand for something. We are supposed to be the nation that shines as a beacon for freedom and democracy. We used to believe there is only one simply truth to life: live free or die.

Yet when given the chance, we turned our back on the political prisoners and dissidents who have been killed, imprisoned, or exiled by the Castro regime. We have disgraced all Cubans who have left everything behind over the years and traveled to this nation, making perilous journeys without the guarantee they would reach our shores or borders. Obama could not bring himself to acknowledge the Ladies in White, who rallied for human rights on the day of his arrival and were subsequently imprisoned. Even Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser to President Obama, turned into a shill for the Castro regime's deplorable detention of political prisoners by stating, "It's their [the Cuban government's] belief that they are not political prisoners, that they are in prison for various crimes and offenses against Cuban law."

Furthermore, President Obama chose to stand side by side with Raul Castro, a military dictator, not a president, legitimizing the violence and brutality of a "revolution" that overturned a democracy. This would be like a future president standing side by side with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS, six decades from now. That would be incomprehensible and unacceptable, and so too should be this meeting between Obama and Castro. While Brussels burned, Obama sat coolly next to Raul, a man whose reign of terror was just as heinous as the enemy we now seek to eliminate.

This is not merely hyperbole. Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Cuban revolutionary, homicidal maniac, and the Castros' brother-in-arms, eerily echoes leaders of ISIS of today:

"The U.S. is the great enemy of mankind! Against those hyenas there is no option but extermination. We will bring the war to the imperialist enemies' very home, to his places of work and recreation. The imperialist enemy must feel like a hunted animal wherever he moves. Thus we'll destroy him! We must keep our hatred against them alive and fan it to paroxysms!"

Now, President Obama shakes the hand of a man that helped blindfold people as Che prepared to shoot them. Not to mention, he stood in front of this man's likeness for a photo-op. This is change I cannot believe I am witnessing.

The years of communist rule have taken their toll; on Cuba's buildings, on its people, on its economy. The Castros long ago submitted to Soviet overlords, only to be abandoned and left in ruins. The communist Cuban Revolution failed. The United States should have come to put them out of their misery; instead we gave them life.

Jason F. Emert is an international attorney and chairman of the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU). 

Political Cartoon: Obama Does Wave With Cuban Dissidents

No Normalization With Cuba

A Letter to the Editor of The Miami Herald:

No normalization with Cuba

The question of whether Cuban Americans should now embrace the normalization of relations and come to terms with the atrocities that occurred in Fidel Castro and Che’s Cuba that caused millions to seek exile in this country comes down to whose ox is being gored.

Those who suffered the loss of the lives of loved ones who were murdered by Che Guevara and his henchmen for speaking out against Castro’s tyranny will never just let it go.

Those who were wrongfully imprisoned for expressing their political views will also never forget.

Those who had their businesses, homes and properties shamelessly taken from them, were denied justice for generations and had inheritances wiped away by the communist/socialist regime also cannot be expected to forget.

No, many Cuban Americans will not just simply turn the page on such a past, nor should they.

I was born in Miami and am proud to be an American because our country stands for all I believe in.

There will be nothing good to be found in Cuba’s corrupt government, not now and not ever, until democracy and capitalism are restored.

Ervin A. Gonzalez
Coral Gables

On Obama's Trip to Cuba: My Police State, My Teacher

Excerpt by Jonah Goldberg in National Review:

My Police State, My Teacher

And that reminds me: President Obama went to Cuba, where the government really is in charge of everything.

While there, Obama said:

"President Castro, I think, has pointed out that in his view making sure that everybody is getting a decent education or health care, has basic security and old age, that those things are human rights as well. I personally would not disagree with him. But it doesn’t detract from some of these other concerns. And the goal of the human rights dialogue is not for the United States to dictate to Cuba how they should govern themselves, but to make sure that we are having a frank and candid conversation around this issue. And hopefully that we can learn from each other."

I was opposed to Obama’s overture to Cuba, but not because I’m against lifting the boycotts. I was against it because Obama’s goal was to simply lift the embargo, not use the carrot of lifting it as a way to get something worthwhile. If your goal is to give an adversary your biggest bargaining chip, odds are you’re not going to drive a very hard bargain. Obama wanted to check-off an item on his legacy bucket list and get some photo-ops, not help Cuba or advance American national interests. That’s what he did.

And that brings me to the above quote from Obama. It is, quite simply, disgusting. America may well have things to learn from Cuba — about culture, music, literature etc. I really have no idea what we can learn from Cuba, but I dislike the idea of saying we have nothing to learn from any culture.

But you know what I dislike even more? The suggestion that we have anything — anything at all — to learn from the evil authoritarian political system of the Castros. Obama’s moral equivalence is immoral, ignorant, and insulting.

The only thing we have to learn from Castroism is what not to do. Castro’s Cuba is like the guy who says, “Hold my beer while I take that nursing grizzly bear cub from its mother. She won’t mind. Animals love me.” It’s like the dude who sees a motorcycle parked outside a Hell’s Angels clubhouse and says, “I’m going to take a selfie on that cool Harley. The owner won’t mind.” Cuba is the country that was brought to you buy the makers of Bad Idea Jeans.

But, but, but . . . free health care! Universal education!” the useful idiots and bootlicks say.

We could spend all day debunking this nonsense. For example: Here’s what Cuba’s glorious medical system actually looks like; a de facto apartheid system where the Communist apparatchiks (mostly light-skinned) do relatively okay and the (mostly darker-skinned) masses suffer. But all you really have to do is ask yourself: If Cuba is so awesome, why are so many Cubans still risking death and prison trying to escape it?

The enduring appeal of Castroism (and Maoism, Stalinism, and so many other isms) is a perfect example of how Marxism, for all its theoretical falderal and philosophical jiggery-pokery, is nothing more than a polysyllabic rationalization for indulging our instinctual desire to have our lives run by an alpha-ape. All of these systems boil down to letting the government run everything or almost everything — because that way “we’re all in it together.” The only problem is, it doesn’t work.