Cuban International Terrorism? What!?

On Jan. 11th, the New York Times and the AP reported that Trump’s State Department lead by his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated Cuba as a U.S. deemed state sponsor of terror. The label was applied to the nation from 1959 to 2015; the time between the Socialist Revolution of the Castro Brothers, Che Guevara, and the countless members of the People’s Socialist Party, and the détente under Barack Obama. In 2015, Pres. Obama took Cuba off the list and renewed diplomatic relations with the Socialist experiment that is Cuba, and Joe Biden is expected to thaw relations even further.

The Socialist Caribbean island-state is designated by Pompeo as a terror-supporting state for three reasons:

  • Cuba has taken in several members of the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) and defied extradition requests from the leaders’ home country. Peace talks between the ELN and the Colombian government took place in Havana beginning in December 2015 and lead to the ELN leaders never leaving. The Colombian government wants them to pay for an ELN bombing of a police station in Bogota that took place in 2019. Cuba refuses to send them back because it would violate protocols established between the two groups during peace efforts that were broken off after the bombing.
  • Cuba is the protective home of Joanne D. Chesimard, a.k.a. Assata Shakur. Shakur is a former member of the Black Liberation Army and is still wanted for a killing of a New Jersey state trooper in the 1970’s. Two other fugitives now call Cuba home along with Shakur, and they have never been extradited back to the U.S. for over some 50 years now.
  • Cuba is a strong ally of Venezuela and Nicolas Maduro; the U.S.’s biggest Latin-American boogey man right now (probably the biggest since Fidel Castro.) Despite crippling sanctions on this oil-rich nation of South America, the U.S. government, and most of the media, blame socialist reforms implemented during the time of Pres. Hugo Chavez as the source of every Venezuelan ill. It’s never the sanctions, always the radical left ideology.

The State Department says Cuba has, “…provided support for acts of international terror.” Therefore they join only three other countries on the list: Iran, Syria, and North Korea. (Cuba’s a little out of place, don’t ya think?)

According to a Reuters report, Cuba has already got a cash-strapped economy that shrank 11% in 2020 due to the pandemic, tougher U.S. sanctions, and domestic inefficiencies, according to Economy Minister Alejandro Gil. And the NYT reports, Cuba has began having shortages of both medicine and food, as the article describes,

“…Cubans have been forced to stand in line for hours in the hope of getting their hands on the meager stocks that exist.”

If you go back into the past posts of STL. you will see my obvious sympathy for the nation of Cuba. There are terrible, terrible lies that are spread about Socialist Cuba all over regarding accusations of large executions, brutal forced labor camps, and any and everything Che Guevara related (If you can stomach it, check out this short YouTube clip of Joe Rogan stating on his popular podcast that Guevara was a “mass murderer.”) And most of these lies come from former rich Cubans who were not interested in showing any humanity towards the country’s poor after the Revolution. They all packed their bags, headed north for Florida, and they still cry for their exploitative businesses, like their sugarcane plantations where the peasants did all the work, living in ignorance and filth. This is why Trump won Florida in 2020. “Little Havanna” knew that both Trump’s and Pompeo’s massive egos cannot handle this little island shaking it’s fist at the monolithic United States.

My point, finally, is that it is ridiculous for Cuba to be designated as state sponsor of terror. And second, these sanctions only hurt the people there. The long lines, lack of food, and absence of electricity and cooking fuel in Cuba (and in Venezuela) are a result of sanctions. And now there are new one’s levied by our ruler on his last days in office.

Tell me, have sanctions worked in North Korea, Iran, Iraq under Saddam, Venezuela, or Cuba? No, they have not. They have just hurt the people.

And on a lighter note, check out this comedy sketch about Cuba’s designation as a terror-supporter at the State Dept. from Breakthrough News:

Expert on Venezuela Stand-off says Attempted Aid Delivery: “It was a farce, and it failed.”

Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who advocates a negotiated end to the political crisis (said),

”The ‘humanitarian aid’ this weekend was a public relations stunt, since the aid was just tiny fraction of the food and medicine that they are depriving Venezuelans of with the sanctions….As the Trump administration admitted, it was an attempt to get the Venezuelan military to disobey Maduro. It was a farce, and it failed.”

What Got Overshadowed in Colombia

As the Secret Service scandal continues to rage in the media (we can’t get enough of meaningless sex scandals, can we?), someone at Foreign Policy was apparently not distracted by the shiny object and actually reported something of value from the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.  Clearly he did not get the memo that anything involving a prostitute and high level government employees takes center stage over relevant information at all times.  He should have been spending his time finding a way to tie the Secret Service story to a Kardashian instead of being a real journalist.

But he didn’t and Mr. Traub penned a really good article giving a great general overview of the summit.  Lots of tidbits to chew on in his piece but two particular elements stuck out.

The first being: why do we continue to seemingly fear Cuba?  Everyone is aware of the failure of the trade embargo to dethrone the Castro brothers and some have even argued they have kept their grip on power because of the policy.  But the U.S. stills refuses to deal with Cuba whenever and wherever possible as stated by Traub:

The immediate (and yet seemingly ageless) provocation was the question of whether Cuba should be admitted to the next summit, in 2015, which the United States and Canada opposed and all 30 Latin American countries, both left-wing bastions like Ecuador and traditional U.S. allies like Colombia, favored, thus bringing the meeting to an end without a planned joint declaration.

So the U.S. still won’t invite Cuba to the summit and they are in a majority of approximately…2.  Versus 30.  Aren’t we supposed to be the world’s light for democracy?  Great way to be an example for the rest of the world on that one.  Two votes apparently beats all in a democracy regardless of the larger numbers against it.  Now if I can just get someone else to write in Gallagher for president with me in November we can Sledge-O-Matic the debt to oblivion.  Yay democracy!

The second interesting piece of info was kind of pleasantly surprising.  President Obama did something U.S. officials have maybe never done before in discussions with Latin American countries.  He listened.  Shocking, I know, and if Fox News got a hold of this info they would proceed to announce the weakness of the president along with the oncoming zombie apocalypse.  But this is actually a very positive sign (albeit seemingly meaningless as indicated by the Cuba stance.  On a side note, if this had been reported of Biden I’m pretty sure we would have all assumed he had just fallen asleep.)

At the very least, indicating a willingness to listen shows a sign of wanting to improve relations with these countries which is something the U.S. has not done in the past and is proven by the justified skepticism of the United States in Latin American populations.  The U.S. has a long and well documented track record of behaving badly in Latin America and many countries have suffered weaker economies and governments because of U.S. intervention.  This has led to worse and more dangerous conditions pertaining to the drug trade and a higher desire for Latin Americans to immigrate to the greener pastures of the U.S. looking for work and safety.

If the U.S. changes course and engages the countries to the south, it could mean greater improvement in their economies and stronger and more effective self-governance.  This in turn would help the U.S. stem the flow of some of the more dangerous drugs into its borders and improve the economy through increased trade with emerging markets in our region.  Obama has made a nice first step in this process by simply listening.  Let’s hope he will not be distracted by the media circus surrounding the Secret Service scandal and will take more important steps in engaging and working with the countries of Latin America to improve all of America, both North and South.