Monday, April 16, 2007

What's a Polisario? (Part 9)

It seems that many have been suffering from a stupor when it comes to the Polisario.

Its clearly evident that Tew-Cardenas LLP are not interested in who the Polisario Front really are. Their main interest, shared by the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS), is to continue and strengthen their anti-Castro position at the expense of the facts. The allegations of the Moroccan government and the Moroccan American Center for Policy are baseless. And, it is unacceptable that an academic organization like the ICCAS should repeat those false accusations.

It is also the height of hypocrisy that members of Tew-Cardenas LLP (Al Cardenas and Roger Noriega), who are vehemently opposed to totalitarian regimes, "develop positive messages" for a nation whose King rules with "ultimate authority" over the government with the power to appoint his own prime ministers and "rule by decree" if he so wishes.

As for Oscar Corral of the Miami Herald and his decision that "it would be a good time to revisit the story of some of the victims" of the Polisario Front, Corral forgot to mention a very important fact in his "Special Report." The same month Corral wrote his article in September 2005, the UN Refugee Agency released a brief report on their recent monitoring mission of Sahrawi children in Cuba and their student scholarship program. They specifically gave "special attention" to the allegations of abuse from a 2004 Moroccan delegation. The UN mission found that "this [Cuban] scholarship programme meets the standards of treatment and care required by the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, notably in the following areas:

* minors are protected from all forms of discrimination while in Cuba, and enjoy equal educational opportunities as well as slightly more advantageous treatment in terms of material and health support provided in Cuban schools;

* the rights of the students are fully respected and guaranteed in regard to health, nutrition, culture, personal liberty and security;

* the children are not subjected to any form of abuse or exploitation of any type whatsoever. This also covers military recruitment and training and child labour activities that would qualify as exploitative as defined by the CRC;

* all information gathered during the mission affirms the voluntary nature of participation in the programme of the children, the direct role of the parents in determining whether their child would participate, and the opportunity for the children who do not wish to continue the programme, to abandon it and return home."

This scholarship program is no longer planned for extension with the UN Refugee Agency once all Sahrawis who entered in 1994 have graduated. The Polisario Front is hoping that the Moroccan government will accept their peace plan at the UN later this month, with obligation to a 1991 UN mandated referendum for independence. Polisario's struggle at the UN since 1991 is summarized well by Stephen Zunes and Ian Williams.

The Polisario Front is a legitimate movement of self-determination and independence of the Sahrawi people in the Western Sahara. Their real name is "Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y de Río de Oro." That's what Polisario means.

[For those interested in updates on the Western Sahara/Morocco stalemate, check out these excellent Bloggers : One Hump or Two, Western Sahara Endgame, Sahara Views, and W-Sahara.]

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8]


Will said...

Thanks for the link! I've been following your series on Polisario with interest. It's great to see someone in the Cuban community providing the other side of the issue--Tew-Cardenas and Rep. Diaz-Balart so often seem like the only Cuban-American voices talking about Polisario, and often what they have to say is factually inaccurate at best.

I'm going to write about your post series on my blog soon. Do you know a lot about Tew-Cardenas? I'd never heard of them before they started working with Morocco, and now I'm intrigued.


Mambi_Watch said...

I'm humbled by your interest Will. Your blog on Western Sahara is filled with great info and your effort deserves equal (and much more) praise on the topic.

All I know about Tew-Cardenas is what has been written about them on their website, and what has been written about their members from credible sources (representing Havana Night Club, their lobbying clients, some court cases, and advisers to Mitt Romney). I tried to capture in my prior posts who makes up Tew-Cardenas and the work they do and have done in the past. Their ties with individuals who have worked closely with the US government, and as supporters of current policy towards Cuba, indicate where their main interests are.

Given that two current and principle partners at Tew-Cardenas are vehemently opposed to the Cuban government, its not at all surprising that they are representing an organization (MACP) that shares their indignation towards Cuba. But, its appalling that they stand behind false accusations of the MACP to justify their indignation. Furthermore, its especially hypocritical when the source of the allegation is a totalitarian regime not much different in structure of Cuba's.

If I get any more info on Tew-Cardenas I'll let you know. I actually have a friend who is gonna attempt to get an interview with Al Cardenas. I'll let you know if it happens.

Mambi_Watch said...

Also, I look forward to reading your post about my blog. I can't say enough how humbling it is. If you need any additional information feel free to email me.

Best of luck, and let's hope that the UN Security Council will come to their senses and approve the Polisario plan.