Monday, May 28, 2007

In response to Laura Wayne's May 24 article on U.S.-Cuban relations, Mr. Tony Urbizu of Palm Bay, Florida, expressed that Cuba's healthcare and education systems do not compensate for the lack of personal freedoms on the island:


You may try to hide under the umbrella of free information, but your report is totally bias to the left. Your assumption that Cuba is a paradise because of healthcare and education is incorrect. You failed to mention that Castro has ruled Cuba with an Iron fist, he has robbed property from Cubans, the repression is impossible to tolerate. In addition, there is no civil freedom or human rights. For 40 some years, Cuba is under a ration card dictated by the government. The work force is controlled by a big union called the Government. If you decide to peacefully demonstrate and criticize the government, you are thrown in jail for several years by a kangaroo court. The lack of freedom and repression and basic human rights outweighs the other. If this was such a great paradise, why are there over 2 million Cubans in America and spread all over the world? If the healthcare was so great, why Castro asked for Spanish doctor to come to his rescue, and he didn’t use the local Cuban doctor? Do you think that we left because it was such a paradise? We were robbed of property, freedom, basic human rights, and the right to vote in a free society. In addition, the lack of ambition to be the best in this world. This does not outweigh the meager healthcare and free education that you so vehemently proclaim. Please do not insult my character with your left bias reports. This doesn’t make any sense.

COHA responds:

Dear Tony,

Let me clarify that I have in no way meant to portray Cuba as a paradise. In fact, if you would take the time to read my article in its entirety, you will see that I pay considerable attention to the hardships of life in Cuba. My point is that many of these difficulties are the direct result of an unproductive U.S. policy. There is no denying, for instance, that the trade embargo has made the acquisition of medical supplies considerably more difficult for Cuba, which might explain why Castro turned to a Spanish doctor when on the brink of death.

As for demonstrations, perhaps you should recall the hundreds of thousands of Cubans that took to the streets last November to celebrate Castro’s 80th birthday. As they marched through the streets, it was anti-Bush placards that they proudly paraded.

I disagree that Cubans were robbed of freedom, basic human rights and the right to vote etc. – under Batista, Cuba was a country of extraordinary inequalities. What indignant exiles were robbed of was a privileged way of life that was earned on the backs of the poor.

Let’s face it, the exile group in Miami has never been known for its deep concern for human rights in any other part of the world. Why have they not rallied behind the five Cubans being unjustly detained in U.S. prisons? China, which was under communist rule and is reputed for its far worse record of human rights violations, is now our second largest trading partner, soon to the first. Selective indignation in Washington demonstrates that there is much more to the picture where Cuba is involved than concern for human rights. The ugly secret is that for the White House, Cuba is not a foreign policy but a domestic one, which the exile community has long held hostage with its voting power and campaign donations.

The embargo has done nothing to alter the political system in Cuba but it continues to make life difficult for Cubans left behind on the island. As I mentioned in my article, the United Nations has called for an end to the embargo for the past 15 years. In its most recent vote, the U.S. had the support of only three other countries, all of whom are heavily dependant on U.S. economic assistance. The fact is that as we approach the end of the Castro regime, Cuba has never been more politically accepted by the rest of the world or economically stronger. The U.S. government denies the use of diplomacy to produce the goals it seeks – does it not strike you as problematic that we attempt to achieve democracy through completely undemocratic and unconstitutional means?

I am not hiding under the umbrella of free information – I am sharing my observations after having spent a considerable amount of time living with a Cuban family and studying at the University of Havana last fall. I believe that you and I share a common desire, which is to see the betterment of life on the island. Where we differ, perhaps, is in our strategies, but I hope we can both agree that increasingly draconian policies are not the answer.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Regarding "Soldiers versus Narco-Soldiers"

Alex Sanchez's recent piece on Mexico's rampant drug violence elicited a response from Mr. Ramon E. Dapena Vidal stating that COHA made no mention of "the most realistic fact present in the problem analyzed." The original text of Mr. Dapena Vidal's response is below:

In your article on the mexican drug tragedy I do not find any mention of the most realistic fact present in the problem analyzed. The problem is not a criminal problem, it's an economical one. There is a 200 billion a year market for illegal drug sales in the USA. The simplest rules of Economics say that where there is a market there will also be somebody to supply it. The solution? That the USA Congress legalize drugs, in which case the market will cease to exist and ll the money spent on anti-criminal activity could be spent in health and public education. The question is: Why does'nt Congress legalize it? In finding an answer you come before the fact that those "honest and anonymous" people who, in the shadows, finance the importers in exchange for millions in return, also finance and put pressure on Congressmen, while donating to the big Christian Fundamentalist churches. Without a market there would not be such an exhorbitant production of drugs and coca will go back to being the Andes' natives daily "coffee".

Responding to "Venezuela's Security Factors and Foreign Policy Goals"

In response to Alex Sanchez's May 2nd piece on Venezuelan security and foreign policy, Mr. Brian Souter of Canberra, Australia suggests that, "Alex Sanchez sounds as if he's working for the US State Department!" The text of Mr. Souter's correspondence regarding this piece is below:

1. 'His critics will argue that Chávez has committed some significant blunders regarding both foreign and security policy matters. One of these has been his comparison of Israel to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany. He made this statement during the summer 2006 war between the Israeli Defense Forces and the terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon.'

Whats wrong with this piece? Well, Sanchez calls Hezbollah a 'terrorist organisation', when it is nothing of the sort. And he calls Israels army 'Defence Force'; which is not how the Lebanese would view it. Israel invaded Lebanon and commited acts of terrorism, which is defined as the use of violence and intimidation to procure a political end. So bombing cities towns, airports, hospitals was done to terrorise the lebanese to abandon Hezbollah. It had the opposite effect.

So why isnt that article calling Israel a terrorist?

But why is Chavez words a 'foreign policy blunder' and not and honest assessment?! Or is Sanchez going to use the 'anti-semite' card?

The comparison to Hitler is valid, as both Zionist Israel Nazi Germany engage/d in ethnic cleansing of unwanted inhabitants. And the war on Lebanon is now known to have been planned months before, the two captured soldiers being the excuse for Olmert toi put the invasion into action.

2.The article criticises Chavez for arming his country...Now, if Chavez can cause unrest in his neighbours by arming, what are we to think of US arming itself, and with new nuclear weapons? Shouldn’t its neighbiurs be worried? And when US arms israel, with the very real wart on lebanon, shouldnt Israels neighours be worried? What is so special about Chavez that gets him singled out?

3. 'Another issue that has hurt Chávez’s international standing is his declared sympathy for the Colombian rebel movement, the FARC'

What? This is the US govt talking. What about Columbias use of US weapons to arm the death squads?

4. 'Venezuela can formulate whatever foreign policy it wants as a sovereign state, which can include pursuing relations with renowned human right violators and despotic governments like Libya and Iran'

Singling out Libya and Iran again smacks of US state dept disinfo peddling. Coming from an american, which i assume he is, this is laughable. Iran has invaded noone in 200-300 years. The original democracy under Mossadegh was overturned by US/UK, and their puppet was eventually removed by the Iranian revolution. So any crimes committed but the current iranian govt are the fruit of that initial coup.

5. 'In order to satisfy this perceived necessity, he needs to upgrade Venezuela’s military even if there are no logical immediate enemies for an offensive war' anyone paying attention knows the US has war ships close to Venezuelan waters.

Why was this piece published at all? It offers nothing new, attacks various official enemies and brings into serious doubt COHAs indendence.

6. Then theres the use of that word 'pariah' a word used by th US and its allies for govts who do not do their bidding.

Calling Syria a 'pariah' is hypocritical, since the US itself does business with Syria, or have you forgotten the use US made of Syria in the Maha Arer 'Extraorinary Rendition' case?

Finally COHA shows its colours with the following:

'he also understands that in order to gain the petro-dollars he needs to update his country’s military, he needs a stable environment, which today will only come from major oil clients like the U.S not roiling the waters. '

That is, Chavez should serve the interests of a real pariah: the US. That last paragraph sounds weasley, the sort of advice a US client would take while licking its masters boot.