Wednesday, August 27, 2008

GOP Platform Against Cuba

Both Phil Peters, from the Cuban Triangle, and Alejandro Armengol, from Cuaderno de Cuba (in Spanish), have given readers a heads up on the recently released draft of the 2008 Republican Party Platform, and its mention of US policy towards Cuba.

The Republican Platform Committee is currently meeting in Minneapolis to debate the final draft to be presented next week at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. So far, it's being reported that the draft has several differences with Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain's policy positions. But, it seems that some question the relevance of the Party Platform in effecting the Presidential campaign. Debates of the Republican Platform Committee are currently being shown live on C-Span2.

The Cuban Triangle has very good commentary in response to several points made in the draft GOP Platform, so I'll direct readers there. But, I wanted to highlight one sentence in the draft that I feel reveals a great ignorance in US policy towards Cuba. The lines goes:

"Looking to the inevitable day of liberation, we support restrictions on trade with, and travel to, Cuba as a measure of solidarity with the political prisoners and all the oppressed Cuban people."

From my reading of news from Cuba, it's become more apparent than ever that the people of Cuba are mostly opposed to US policy towards the island, and that includes the Cubans who form the internal opposition.

- Oswaldo Paya, perhaps the most well-known dissident in Cuba, has been opposed to US policy for a long-time. He even knows that some exiles in Miami have boycotted his statements. Hosts on Radio Mambi have qualified Paya as a "traitor."

- Miriam Leiva, one of the founders of the Ladies in White has also come out strongly opposed to US policy towards Cuba. She even stated in 2004 that "[t]he majority of dissidents [in Cuba] do not support the embargo or any measures to tighten it." I've even uploaded audio from a 2006 interview with Leiva where she states her opposition to increased US funding of Cuban opposition groups because they allow those groups to be targeted by the Cuban government.

- Martha Beatriz Roque, a favorite Cuban opposition figure of the US, has also recently come out in opposition to the new travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban families. Despite being a current supporter of the US economic sanctions on Cuba, back in 2001, Martha Beatriz Roque told a PBS documentary crew: "I'm against the embargo. I would like that the embargo will be lifted."

And, perhaps there are more Cuban dissidents who feel the same way about US policy towards Cuba. Just last month, another well-known dissident inside Cuba came out in opposition to US policy: Dr. Darsi Ferrer.

According to a letter by Ferrer posted at Miscelaneas de Cuba, he opposes the US restrictions on Cuban family travel and remittances because they "harm the development of family connections" and "in most cases, [Cuban families] survive on the money sent by [families in the exterior]."

Ferrer also opposes the US embargo because the Cuban government uses the sanctions "to justify the failings of their totalitarian model." [These opinions by Ferrer have been ignored by the Babalu Blog who frequently refer to Ferrer, but only when it benefits US policy.]

One certainly should ask if anyone in the Republican party is actually listening to these voices of the Cuban opposition. The same goes for the Democrats. Where's the "measure of solidarity"? How much longer will these opinions (of brave men and women) be set aside by policy-makers in the US?