Thursday, August 23, 2012

Welcome "On Two Shores"

Here's another new blog about Cuba and US policy: "On Two Shores."

They describe themselves as "a moderate, forward-thinking voice, from the heart of Miami, for Cuban Americans and Cubans in the diaspora." And their goal is "to represent the silent majority within our [Cuban?] community who believe that a change of policy vis-a-vis Cuba is long overdue, and to counteract the influence of the hardliners on both sides."

I'm not a fan of the profanity, but some of the posts are pretty good. For example check this one out titled "Leaving the Hardliners Behind" by William Vidal.

The editor is Alex Barreras, former blogger (with Giancarlo Sopo) from the now-defunct "Generation Miami" blog and "Stuck on the Palmetto" blog. He was born and raised in Cuba, so his insight about the country and our policy is enlightening.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Paul Ryan's Anti-Embargo Record

You've probably heard already. The Republican pick for vice-president, Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-1), has an anti-embargo voting record, and has been very clear about it. So, it's no wonder some hard-liners are trying to hide this fact.

A post on the (pro-embargo) Capitol Hill Cubans blog first raised my curiosity. It was apparent that the author was trying to hide Rep. Paul Ryan's voting record before 2007, and giving him an excuse by describing Rep. Ryan as an "unconditional free trader." (For hard-liners on Cuba, there is no room for other principles except unconditional sanctions.)

Even the boys at the Babalu blog did some quick work to hide Rep. Ryan's anti-embargo stance. Following the rumors that circulated on Friday, Humberto Fontova was the first to warn readers of Rep. Ryan's anti-embargo feelings. Fontova titled his post after a 2008 Ryan quote: "If we're going to have free trade with China, why not Cuba?"[cached link/screenshot] The post was soon removed. It was later responded with a post by Babalu economic super-genius Henry Louis Gomez who was an "economics major in college." According to Gomez, "99.9% of people" (including renowned libertarians like Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley who opposed the U.S. embargo towards Cuba) don't understand Cuba like he does.

In reality, national polling shows about 50% of Americans are opposed to the embargo (39% in favor, 10% undecided), so Gomez is being a little paranoid. But, it seems that Rep. Paul Ryan in 2002 was with the majority: 
"The embargo doesn't work. It is a failed policy. It was probably justified when the Soviet Union existed and posed a threat through Cuba. I think it's become more of a crutch for Castro to use to repress his people. All the problems he has, he blames the American embargo... [Cuban-Americans] have their reasons [for supporting the embargo] and they're very passionate about their reasons, I just don't agree with them and never have."
So, the question now is why did Rep. Ryan change his position on the embargo? Did a grown-man with strong free market convictions get "educated" on the embargo as Mauricio Claver-Carone told the Miami Herald?

I seriously doubt it.

--- [Below are Rep. Paul Ryan's House votes in opposition to the U.S. embargo on Cuba] ---
  • July 25, 2001: Amendment to prohibit funding to administer the Cuban Assets Control Regulations with respect to any travel or travel related transaction. Rep. Ryan (WI) voted Aye, [Roll Call 270, HR 2590].
  •  July 25, 2001: Amendment sought to prohibit the use of funds in the bill to implement, administer, or enforce the economic embargo of Cuba. Rep. Ryan (WI) voted Aye [Roll Call 271, HR 2590].
  • September 21, 2004: Amendment prohibits funds in the bill from being used to enforce certain regulations restricting family travel to Cuba. Rep. Ryan (WI) voted Aye [Roll Call 460, HR 5025].
  • September 22, 2004: An amendment to insert the following new section on page 166 after line 3: Sec. 647. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to implement, administer, or enforce the economic embargo of Cuba, as defined in section 4(7) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-114), except that the foregoing limitation does not apply to the administration of a tax tariff. Rep. Ryan (WI) voted Aye [Roll Call 461, HR 5025].
  • June 15, 2005: An amendment to prohibit use of funds in the bill to implement, administer, or enforce regulations relating to amendments made to the Code of Federal Regulations relating to license exemptions for gift parcels and humanitarian donations for Cuba. Rep. Ryan (WI) voted Aye [Roll Call 254, HR 2862].