Latest posts by Nancy Thorner and Elvira Hasty (see all)
- Russian Company Buys Majority Interest in American Uranium Mine. Why it Matters - May 15, 2015
- Castro’s Message to Cubans Contradicts Obama’s Stated Reforms - January 12, 2015
It was on Wednesday, December 17, that President Obama instructed the Secretary of State to immediately initiate discussions with Cuba on the normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba to ease the U.S. trade embargo and move toward full diplomatic relations, with the possibility of re-establishing an embassy in Havana. Following Obama’s announcement the Vatican issued its own same day statement expressing Pope Francis’ “warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations.”
The White House credits Pope Francis with being an important catalyst to the diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the United States. While the eighteen month negotiations took place primarily in Canada, the final deal was worked out at the Vatican and personally attended to by the first Latin American, pope, Pope Francis. Obama said during his fifteen minute speech: “His Holiness Pope Francis issued a personal appeal to me and to Cuba’s president, Raul Castro, urging us to resolve Alan’s case and to address Cuba’s interests in the release of three Cuban agents, who’ve been jailed in the United States for over 15 years.” Cited by the White House is how the Pope raised the issue repeatedly with Obama when the two men met at the Vatican in March of 2014.
Following Obama’s December 17th statement, the Vatican issued its own same day statement expressing Pope Francis’ “warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations.” The statement also confirmed that in recent months, Pope Francis wrote letters to both Castro and Obama, and “invited them to resolve humanitarian questions of common interest, including the situation of certain prisoners, in order to initiate a new phase in relations between the two Parties.”
Raul Castro’s Victory Lap Speech contradicts Obama’s message
What the Cuban people heard were not the reforms in diplomacy as delivered by President Obama. Instead, they heard Raul Castro’s Embargo in his Victory Lap Speech as he spoke simultaneously to the Cuban people as President Obama delivered his remarks. Castro explained the release of both USAID worker Alan Gross (who had been subjected to various abuses in Cuban prison for attempting to connect Cuban Jews to the Internet) and the three Cuban spies convicted of crimes in the United States, as a promise kept by “Comrade Fidel.”
Raul Castro further noted how the new diplomatic relations were a sign that Cuba can “resolve differences through negotiations without renouncing to even one of our principles,” going on to applaud “the heroic Cuban people” for “remaining loyal to our ideals of independence and social justice.” And in a definite swipe against President Obama, Castro touted how the new reforms would help in “the actualization of our economic model to construct a prosperous and sustainable socialism.” Although Castro did note that the decision by President Obama deserved the respect and recognition of the Cuban people, he placed blame on President Obama’s shoulders and called for Obama to lift the embargo entirely through executive action.
Former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said on the Fox News Channel on the day of Obama’s announcement (December 17) that Obama’s move constituted “appeasement” and is a “very, very bad signal of weakness and lack of resolve by the president of the United States.
Anger and condemnation was the prevailing GOP reaction to Obama’s announcement of a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called Obama’s action “appeasement of a dictatorship.” House Speaker John Boehner remarked how it “emboldens all state sponsors of terrorism. But not so with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul who not only said Obama had made the correct decision to allow more trade with Cuba as it will lead to a freer Cuba, but that the president had also acted within his executive authority to do so.
Republicans who like Ran Paul support Obama’s new Cuba policy (including Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and Representatives Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Rep. Mark Sanford Mark of South Carolina), all have in common the fact that they were born after the 1959 Cuban revolution. The same describes younger Cuban-Americans who are skeptical of the sanctions against their ancestral homeland and don’t subscribe to the hardline Cold War rhetoric that accompanied the 196l embargo.
Were Senator Ron Paul and others favoring Obama’s decision aware of the measure the Cuban government declared a day before Obama announced his thawing of U.S.-Cuba relation? The mainstream media was certainly nowhere to be found.
In an official announcement in state newspaper Granma, just one day before President Obama announced sweeping changes that would allow potential American investment in Cuba on Tuesday, December 16, the Cuban government announced a new measure that would allow Cubans who work for foreign companies to keep only 8% of their salaries. In other words, even if a foreign company has the means to pay more than a Cuban company, the worker will receive the same salary as if he were working for a Cuban company, and the government will pocket the rest, 92%! In addition to the 92% of salaries being pocketed by the Cuban government, Cuban government employment offices will charge 20% of the salary of each worker they connect to the corporation for the service of finding said corporation employees. Employees will also lose 9.09% of their salaries for “vacation time.”
Given this new government measure, American companies who might like to do work in Cuba would be keeping very little of the money they invested and earned in business, but instead would line the pockets of the communist government. As Raúl Castro noted in his speech, the Cuban government made no concessions in this recent negotiation with the United States, save the freedom of Gross and one other American agent whom President Obama did not name, which leaves it open to sanctioning American companies who dare attempt to do business on the island as they see fit.
Account of one who escaped from Castro’s Cuba as a teenager
Below are excerpts from an article, “Obama, Castro and the Pope,” by Elvira Fernandez Hasty, my friend and collaborator a devout life-long Catholic. It was first published on December 18 at Canada Free Press. Elvira Hasty knows firsthand of what she speaks and doesn’t mince words. Soon after Fidel Castro came to Cuba there were rumors of the government takeover of private schools. Elvira was sent as a young teen to the USA via the Pedro Pan program to live with cousins of her mother in Tampa, Florida. It was to be a temporary situation, just until the government in Cuba changed to a democracy, but after all these years Cuba is still a communist country. It is the USA that has changed.
The Obama promise of “a radical transformation of America” is being accomplished in a blatant disregard for our constitution and our laws, and no one seems to do anything about it. Apparently not being called racist by the liberal press is more important to our elites in government and society than to save our country.
Not only it is the USA becoming a Marxist tyranny under President Obama, but even the Catholic Church leader, Pope Francis, is helping out in achieving it. What makes this Pope think he can meddle in the politics of an independent country? And this from a person who has no idea of economics, history, and what communism has done to humanity. Does he not understand that being a “do-gooder” without knowledge always ends up in disaster for those they wish to help? Father Jonathan of Fox News is happy for the Cuban people——really? For what? Nothing will change for them. There is no embargo. This is another scam perpetrated by the Marxist media and the billionaire thugs, just like Global Warming. Cuba has been for years able to trade freely with every other country in the world. In addition, the USA trades with Cuba, but on a limited basis. The problem has always been credit the Cuban government demands when trading. Just ask those countries that have traded with Cuba and never got paid. Obama will now have the funds to help out the communist Cuban government.
And help it is! Cuba is close to complete economic meltdown. It can no longer rely on Russia because it has its own economic problems. And Venezuela’s economy is suffering due to the decrease in oil prices. Cuba had been relying on Venezuela providing oil to just survive. Not to worry, Castro boys; Obama comes to the rescue! He will never let down one of his own comrades. After all, too few communist countries are left and Obama needs friends. In addition, the Chamber of Commerce can never turn down a good scam, just like with illegal aliens. As money from tourists and exported goods reach Cuba, the Castro brothers and their friends will become richer and more powerful while the Cuban workers will continue to be paid in cheap pesos.
To the Americans who so much desire to travel to Cuba, my sincere prayers that you would realize what your money would do to your country before you start packing that suitcase. Life is really not about pleasure, but about love & sacrifice for your fellow human beings in this world.
To the Catholic leaders who wish to help the Cuban people, my prayers, too, that you would realize the evil that has descended upon our country and the Church. Your purpose is to save souls, not to be used as pawns for the Devil.
The outgoing head of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the son of Cuban immigrants, noted on a Jan. 4th Sunday morning news program that he knew nothing about the eighteen month Cuba deal to normalize relations with Cuba. Furthermore, Senator Bob Menendez was not at all pleased that this nation got nothing for giving up all the Castro regime wanted to see and had lobbied for.
In so far as President Obama stated in his Dec.17th announcement that the change in U.S.-Cuban relations came about because isolation hadn’t worked, further stating that Cubans should not face harassment or arrest for expressing their views, Obama then promised to monitor human rights violations. President Obama didn’t have long to wait when only two weeks after his announcement human rights activists and political dissidents were arrested. Signaling that Cuba will continue to suppress dissent, Cuban’s President Raul Castro detained more than 50 activists on Tuesday, December 30, in what was reported a move to squelch a planned gathering in Havana’s Revolution Square on New Year’s Day. Also of concern is that although the U.S.-Cuba deal called for the release of 53 political prisoners held by the Castro regime, so far the prisoners have not been released or even identified.
In spite of the harsh response to the crackdown by the Obama administration and the State Department, the Obama administration has been stung by Cuba’s crackdown on dissidents. Little seems to have changed in Havana despite President Obama’s diplomatic outreach. What are the odds of the Obama administration taking any action other than its rhetorical protests against human rights abuses in Havana? Did President Obama just give the Castro regime in Cuba an unwarranted bailout? For more than a half century there was the bi-partisan consensus of 10 presidents with a consistent policy toward Cuba. It never occurred to any of them to surrender to Cuba.
Obama seems to relish trading Americans who hate America for foreign terrorists and murderers who also hate America, i.e., the swap of Bowe Bergdahl for five members of the Taliban’s high command. Obama also seems to hold deep affection for hardline Islamic states, so anything could happen in the next two years. Iran might even be looked on favorably by the Obama administration and given an Embassy, so desperate is Obama to sign a nuclear deal which wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on!
[First published at Illinois Review.]