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RELATIONS with CUBA: "And then there were none"

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magbana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-19-09 09:10 AM
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RELATIONS with CUBA: "And then there were none"
"And then there was one
La Alborada - March 19

The new president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, has announced that he will fullfill his campaign promise and re-establish relations with Cuba. The president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, not wanting to be the sole remaining regional supporter of Washington's blockade, held out an olive branch and offered to Cuba the normalization of relations. That leaves the US as the only country in America that persists in its policy of isolation and economic strangulation of the island nation. Canada is a major investor in and source of tourism to Cuba, and the other NAFTA partner of the US, Mexico, has moved to restore its former close relations with Cuba.

In the 1990s, before the election of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, it seemed that Cuba was alone, adrift on the sea of neoliberalism called the Washington Consensus. Times have changed rapidly since then. Yesterday, Thomas Shannon of the State Department declared that the US will "respect" the decision of the FMLN--heir to the guerrilla group that fought the US-supplied and -financed Salvadoran armed forces during the 1980s--if it decides to renew diplomatic relations with Cuba.

No wonder. Pretending to dictate policy to the government of a small country within a week of its elections and only weeks before the Trinidad Summit would have resulted in a disastrous backlash for the US. It had to accept the new realities.

Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, on Monday called directly for an end to the blockade. Speaking to a group of New York investors, he said: "There is nothing any more from the political perspective, from sociological perspective, from the humanitarian perspective that impedes the reestablishment of relations between the United States and Cuba...It's not possible in the 21st Century to make policy looking toward the 20th Century; let's think about looking toward the 22nd Century."

Lula has also said plainly that he wants the US to accept the new left-wing governments of the region. This is the leadership challenge he poses to President Obama: If you choose to go it alone, Brazil is ready and able to lead Latin America and the Caribbean. Of course, if the US agrees, Lula will have shown his leadership anyway.

Lula is not the only one. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has promised to go to the Summit prepared to tackle the issue head-on. Other heads of government will support the regional demand.

President Obama will need all of his charm and rhetorical ability to thread the needle at Trinidad. He faces angry opposition at home from sectors within the Republican party who are already calling him a socialist, and from the remaining pro-blockade forces within his own party and in Congress.

Will Obama offer more than a relaxation of family-travel rules? His State Department yesterday sent a signal to Cuba, calling for the release of people the US deems political prisoners and for an improvement of its observance of human rights. The demand could be an expression of Obama's stated policy of conditioning better relations on what the US considers sufficiently good behavior by the Cubans, or a feint that might allow him to offer something different at the Summit.

At the April Summit, President Obama will surely be received with enthusiasm and great expectations for better South-North relations. On the particular issue of Cuba, however, he could feel a chill, even in tropical Trinidad, if he fails to live up to those expectations.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-19-09 04:17 PM
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1. He needs to be introduced to the well concealed FACTS about who these guys are.
No time like the present for the truth to get out.

Sooner the better.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-20-09 01:31 AM
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2. Agreed. We've apparently been following South/Central American elections and alliances
among the many new leftist and center-left leaders better than anyone in the State Dept., career or Bushwhack, and, indeed, it seems, better than anyone in Obama's circle of advisers. I remember back in 2006, when Chavez was running for a second term, and the Bushwhacks and the Venezuelan fascists and the corpo/fascist press, there and here, were demonizing him like crazy--this was just after his remark at the UN that Bush is "the devil"--and Lula da Silva made a highly visible public visit to Venezuela, just before the election, for a ceremonial opening of the new bridge between Venezuela and Brazil over the Orinoco River. I was very surprised by this obvious Lulu endorsement of Chavez. I didn't know much about Lulu, so I began following that aspect of things--various alliances that were forming--closely. Lulu may be a centrist on Brazil's economy, and walking a tightrope there between corporatism and social justice, but he has played a key role in support of, and in solidarity with, the other leftist leaders--including both Nester Kirchner (former president) and Cristina Fernandez (current prez) of Argentina, Chavez, Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador. It has been a remarkable thing to watch.

And this is what Obama's team doesn't seem to know, as they have let their candidate and president make several blunders, in a very mixed signals policy that has had those of us who have been following things holding our breaths. Are they going to make the stupid blunder of continuing to alienate nearly an entire continent with more "divide and conquer" bullshit? That's where they were heading. Then they seemed to pull back, and have been smarter on Cuba and on El Salvador. The leftist tide in Latin America is overwhelming. There is no going back to U.S. domination, except by blunt force, and even that would fail, in my opinion. The leftist lineup is already amazing: Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba, with center-left leaders allied with them--Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, and, on critical issues, Chile. Now joined by Costa Rica, at least on the Cuba issue. Honduras is leaning left. Mexico may well go left in the next election. So might Peru. Panama, I don't know--lot of U.S. military there. Colombia is the heaviest fascist dinosaur, with $6 billion in Bushwhack military aid, and a potential major troublemaker.

I've seen efforts by Chavez, and also by Lulu, and, at one point, a number of additional leaders (Correa, Fernandez, Batchelet in Chile, and French, Spanish and Swiss leaders) trying to bring about a change in Colombia, most particularly to end the 40+ year civil war with leftist guerrillas. But with so much U.S. military aid, the Colombian fascists don't want peace. Lulu and Batchelet have been effective at pulling Colombia aboard the new South American common market, and I was surprised to see Lulu speak favorably about the U.S./Colombia "free trade" deal the other day. Like Chavez, he seems to feel that economic cooperation and interaction--positive contacts, and development--will help things. I was equally surprised, last year, when Chavez had a friendly meeting with Colombia's fascist president, Uribe--after so much treachery by Colombia around the FARC hostage negotiations, and the U.S./Colombia very nearly starting a war with Ecuador/Venezuela--about building a new railroad between Colombia and Venezuela, and other economic initiatives. I've realized since that this was to buck up Uribe and the vestiges of civilian authority in Colombia, over against Defense Minister Santos, who would gladly head up a military dictatorship.

In any case, what is clear is that Chavez and Lulu are working cooperatively and in tandem on certain problems, and with a lot of in-put/cooperation and mutual goals with many other leaders.

And this is what Lulu was talking about, when he said "if the U.S. wants to go it alone"--and continue alienating most of Latin America--Brazil will lead the continent in its own direction. Brazil, plus nearly everybody else. The people of South America have had with being dictated to by the U.S. They will not put up with it any longer. They have their own, democratically elected leaders, with boffo approval ratings, and they will forge their own destiny. The U.S. can play its own stupid and sometimes horrific geo-political games, or join with Latin America in creating the most spectacular economic and political recovery the world has ever seen.
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