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Posted December 12, 2007 by publisher in US Embargo

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The Havana Note

It speaks volumes about the moment United States Cuba policy is in that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus holds a hearing and invites three strong, articulate voices for a new Cuba policy and only two of the old guard clinging to underwhelming rhetoric of Fidel the communist and constructing painful rhetorical stretches about Cuba’s support for terrorism.

That’s just what happened today in Dirksen 215. On the realist side of the equation were Col. Larry Wilkerson, co-chair of New America Foundation’s U.S.-Cuba 21st Century Policy Initiative; Mr. David McClure, president of the Montana Farm Bureau; and Sgt. Carlos Lazo, Iraq war veteran and Cuban emigre. Representing the “stay the course” community, Mr. Frank Calzon of the Center for a Free Cuba and Dr. Jaime Suchlicki of the University of Miami.

Take a look at Col. Wilkerson’s testimony here. It’s a clear-eyed, realist case for gradual rapprochement with Cuba.

At least in this forum, the reality of modern-day Cuba is overcoming the static caricatures of the Cold War. Senators like Baucus, recently returned from Cuba, are leading the way. Cuba is ahead of the United States in access to health care, is breaking new barriers in biomedical and pharmaceutical research, and is sending doctors around the world to help countries like Pakistan and South Africa. Cuba is a major tourism destination for the rest of the world, so much so that the supply of hotel rooms cannot keep up with demand. Even Israel, which regularly votes with the U.S. in the UN against Cuba, has companies investing in Cuban citrus farms.

Senator Grassley, the ranking member on the committee, is a fascinating study in the changing mood, at least in the Senate. Grassley said today, “Given the current leadership situation in Cuba, now is perhaps an appropriate time to review the status of our bilateral relationship.” Of course, he’s talking about the transfer of power from Fidel to Raul. Grassley is no ideologue. He’s a realist from an agricultural state and Cuba is a big new market. Change is on the way.

But perhaps the most important indicator of the changing tide on Cuba policy on Capitol Hill was a verbal altercation between Mr. Calzon and Col. Wilkerson after the hearing had concluded. Mr. Calzon walked over to Col. Wilkerson’s side of the table and the conversation escalated to a polite shouting match.

The content of the argument itself was insignificant (it was about Colin Powell’s view of U.S. policy towards Cuba). What is significant is that a few years ago, Mr. Calzon would have ignored Col. Wilkerson. Today his side’s control of Cuba policy is not so certain.

—Patrick Doherty

Read the original article here for links to more information Be sure to click on all the links for great nuggets of information. Must have been one heck of hearing.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on December 12, 2007 by Curt

    This demonstrates that the hardline Cubans here in Miami are just as intolerant, maybe more so than the Cuban government. May there be pity on the Cuban people if these fascists take over Cuba after Castro’s death!

  2. Follow up post #2 added on December 12, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Fidel likes to restrict the freedoms of Cubans and Frank Calzon likes to restrict freedoms of Americans.

    Simple as that.

    Frank and his crew have the President’s ear and they give him subjective, biased information year after year.

    Ever wonder why President Bush doesn’t mention Oswaldo Paya? Maybe because Paya is not liked by the old exiles because he is not out to kill Fidel.

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  3. Follow up post #3 added on December 13, 2007 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    The stupid issue here is that Castro is as in favor of the embargo as Mr. Calzon.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on December 13, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Right. Makes you wonder if people like Mr. Calzon are even agents for Fidel Castro.

    Sure it’s far fetched but how about this scenario… thousands and thousands of Cubans left Cuba in 1959 and 1960. Who’s to say that Fidel didn’t put some of his own agents in that group telling them to go live the exile life, get into US politics and fight to keep the Embargo in place because it is actually good for Fidel. Having Fidel’s agent live among Cuban exiles gives him the inside scoop to their activities. How come Fidel was never assassinated? Maybe he knew of every assassination plot before it happened… from someone on the inside posing as a Fidel hating Cuban American exile.

    I’m sure I’ll take some heat for even suggesting it but do you think Fidel is capable of such a strategy? Of course he is.

    Am I crazy?

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  5. Follow up post #5 added on December 13, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I just finished watching the video of the Senate hearing. They did not show the exchange between the two men.

    What I found to be most interesting is that Mr. Suchlicki said in the Q&A session “I brief the CIA. They do not brief me”.

    Isn’t that interesting. Mr. Suchlicki (who I don’t not believe has been to Cuba and is probably not even allowed in) briefs the CIA on Cuban affairs?

    Sure he is tied into the University of Miami and has people going to Cuba and probably some contacts in Cuba but he is so biased, how can he get ANY objective information out of and about Cuba?

    So, if the CIA briefs the President based on what they learn from Mr. Suchlicki, no wonder why our US Cuba relations have been a failure for four decades.

    I’ve said it here many times, if the failed Plan A Embargo isn’t working, why does the US keep it going?

    It makes one wonder why Mr. Suchlicki indirectly supports Fidel Castro. Is it because his University and probably he himself benefits from USAID and other government grants to “study” Cuba. For some reason though they won’t study the failed Plan A Embargo.

    Why is that?

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  6. Follow up post #6 added on December 17, 2007 by HavanAndrew with 87 total posts

    I challenge any American politician to travel with me for a month in Cuba so they can understand the reality rather than rhetoric. Cubanos will never be dictated to by any foreign power or interest group. Most Americans need to figure out that the fascist Cuban exhile community has caused so much damage and ironically enabled Fidel with the embargo. Cubanos will figure out what is best for them on their own terms not a modified inflicted American style democracy. Parachuting a Batista like thug to please American policy will be a recipe for disaster. The exhiles of Cuba have been planning on re-making Cuba under the auspices that Cuba has not changed. One factor that has been overlooked is the demographic change to a higher proportion of Afro Cubanos. I for one am really wondering why Americans need to be spending so much time on how they can change Cuba when it is the calling of all Cubanos to make the great change. Any outside influence from any other country to change Cuba is a recipe for disaster. The solution is within Cuba and we as friends can offer help when asked as friends, as equals with a common good for the world.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on December 17, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    when i’m in cuba and talk politics lightly with a few cubans i’ve somewhat befriended, i have found they are not very fond of the miami cubans.  Dont know how much is Castro propaganda, how much is memories of negative parts of that group passed down from their parents, but they’re much more afraid of their interference than from the US govt (yes they’re worried about that too).

    Hoping Cuba can be left alone to work out its post-Castro future without interference from above or our buddy Chavez; otherwise they may end up thinking of the last few years as teh golden years, even tho they were anything but.

  8. Follow up post #8 added on December 17, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Hey Manfredz,

    What do you think about this news?


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  9. Follow up post #9 added on December 18, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    On the one side i welcome the news; on the other I read into it that fidel will still be in the sidelines and therefore no matter who runs the country they will still be afraid to make too many necessary reforms for fear of upsetting Fidel and ending up out of the picture.
    I liked the direction Raul was heading but he isnt young enough and is too “old school”  to carry out what is really needed.  Still feel though he was the right person at the right time.
    Will be very interesting to see how the elections go and who will “officially” be elected president. Thats something we will know;  will probably never know whether Raul was in on the news release.
    May we continue to live in interesting times.

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