For those familiar with recent Bush administration actions concerning Cuba, his lofty words at inaguration calling for greater “freedom and liberty” in the world ring with a certain bitter irony.
Under Mr. Bush’s direction, his administration has instituted multiple criminal prosecutions of those who “would dare” to travel to Cuba without specific governmental authorization, as if such needed authorization was even constitutional. In fact, if rumor is correct, the federal government has now begun deploying secretive “travel police” in foreign airports to spy on traveling Americans, under the guise of “Homeland Security”.
In his tenure, Mr. Bush has also severely limited the travel of Cuban-American citizens to their former home. This has had the effect of depriving families the ability to nurse, care for and comfort their ailing and dying mothers, fathers and grandparents. Mr. Bush has significantly decreased the ability of sons and daughters to help ensure adequate food and basic nutrition for their parents, sisters and brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles by cutting or eliminating the dollar amounts that can be sent to them in Cuba. As a direct result Mr. Bush has greatly increased human suffering on both sides of the Florida Straits and extended the heavy hand of the federal government into areas it was never meant to go.
In a recent “proclamation” Mr. Bush would make criminal, prosecute and impound-for-sale a sailor and his vessel on the “suspicion” that they “may” travel to Cuba. Imagine being boarded while out for a sail, arrested—-your boat empounded and sold, all your possesions searched and confiscated, and sold at auction, and you imprisoned; based on what what someone says you “may do”. Can you imagine? And, unbelievably, this new dictate includes every vessel in U.S. waters, even foreign vessels who may be visiting these shores before journeying to Cuba. What a surprise. Yachtsmen formerly free in their world journey to travel anywhere, and without fear, now arrested and thrown into jail and their boat sold at auction…for having a Cuban nautical chart on board. No wonder Mr. Bush had to call it a “proclamation,” surely no one else in their right mind would have signed such a hair-brained, flagrantly unconstitutional dictate.
In Guantanamo, Mr. Bush’s military and intelligence agents have reportedly mimicked the torturous tactics of the Cuban communists in dealing with those caught up in population sweeps in Afganistan. These “detainees,” (An Orwellian word if there ever was one) have been deprived of even the basics of due process as outlined in the Geneva Accords. Such procedures represent a clear violation of international treaty; you know, those agreements among civilized nations we signed in the past to prevent governmental abuse of prisoners of war. Mr. Bush’s new Attorney General has described these internationally agreed protections and human rights as “quaint”. Recently three British subjects, Arab men, were proven completely innocent after enduring more than two years of prolonged isolation, grueling mental and physical interrogations, sleep deprivation, and 24 hour light treatment. They were eventually driven to the point of such mental, physical and emotional collapse that they finally signed false confessions just to end the psychic torture. They were proven to be relief workers in Afganistan, caught up in maelstrom.
If true “freedom and liberty” mean anything, they mean the ability to travel anywhere in this world without being made criminal and prosecuted upon your return home. By what right does any country tell a person where they can and cannot go once leaving their shores? No other nation, to my knowledge, fosts such flagrant extra-territorial claim. Of such presumption tyranny is born. The fundamental human right to unfettered travel has even been confirmed by our own Supreme Court during the Eisenhower years.
Are not such “universal rights and ideals” of human life supposed to be reflected in us, U.S. citizens, historically the champions of liberty and freedom to the world, the shining beacon on the hill? Such rights also include the idea that all individuals, regardless of status, should have access to certain due processes under law when accused, incarcerated and prosecuted by government.
Mr. Bush’s inaguration call for greater freedom and liberty in the world sounded great, glad to hear it.
But it is what we do in this old world that tells the tale, not what we say.