Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Imperious Attitudes (Part 2)

I hardly watch my PBS channel, so thanks to the US-Cuba Normalization blog I noticed that the PBS Newshour last Wednesday had a good segment on Bush's recent Cuba speech.

The discussion on the Newshour was about US policy towards Cuba, and the show had invited Roger Noriega (visiting fellow at the "hard-line" American Enterprise Institute, and "governmental affairs professional" with Tew-Cardenas LLP) and Peter Kornbluh (director of the Cuba Documentation Project, which has helped produce several revealing books and important accounts related to Cuban history). Putting both experts together (who each hold opposing viewpoints on Cuba policy) is an example of the fair debate and discussion that should be common in democratic societies. But, note that such debates and discussions hardly occur in Miami's local media.

I urge readers to read or view the discussion on their time, especially since I will concentrate on one point: Roger Noriega's view that US policy towards Cuba is based on threats. On last Wednesday's Newshour discussion, Noriega interpreted Bush's recent speech:

"I think the U.S. is the most influential country in the world from the standpoint of Cuba. The president made that point to the [Cuban] military leaders, the would-be repressors [sic]. He made the point to the Cuban people that this is the time for a national reconciliation and to their oppressors: If you get in the way, it would be a tragedy, for one thing, if one more drop of blood, of Cuban blood, is shed in the service of this failed Fidel Castro, this project of Fidel Castro's, and they will be held accountable."

"Those are the sorts of messages and the message that we will use our leverage, economic and political relations, as an incentive to reform and a reward to people who bring about real change in Cuba."

It's not difficult to understand how the Cuban government (and even its citizens) feel threatened by a possible US intervention, especially when a former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (2003-2005) is revealing the hidden assumptions of current US policy-makers.

But, beyond the US government, Cuban officials also have to worry about threats from organizations in Miami. Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American National Association (CANF), yesterday appeared on the local Maria Elvira Live! program and discussed the organizations plan to overthrow Raul Castro.

Currently, CANF is viewed negatively by "intransigent" hard-line exiles in Miami because they introduced an idea for "negotiations" with some Cuban government officials, and also are opposed to Cuban family travel and remittance restrictions. But, they still firmly believe "that talks with a post-Castro government should not be held until certain conditions are met." Since the death of the original CANF chairman, Jorge Mas Canosa, and the subsequent splitting of some of its former members, CANF has introduced a new plan of action.

According to Jorge Mas Santos (son of Jorge Mas Canosa), CANF is open to "negotiations" with Cuba's political leaders (especially the "young military men") who wish to initiate the overthrow of the Raul and Fidel Castro power structure. The exception here is that CANF won't hold "negotiations" with those who have "blood on their hands." According to Mas Santos, CANF has spent the last "five years" establishing communication lines to the Cuban political elite, whereby they feel confident in presenting their plan "directly or indirectly" to plot an overthrow.

It should be made clear that what CANF is presenting to some in Cuba's military oligarchy is not a dialogue (firmly reject by Mas Santos) or negotiations, but rather valuable incentives to plan a coup from Miami. On yesterday's show, the host Maria Elvira Salazar asked what were the incentives to the young Cuban military men brave enough to attempt such an action. Mas Santos responded with a possible monetary reward that would go beyond the offers of the Raul Castro government, and also other intangibles like admiration and respect in a post-Castro Cuba.

But, Jorge Mas Santos made sure to describe these plans ("negotiations") as "non-violent."

[Part 1]

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