[News] Cuba. Again. Still. Forever.
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 8 10:41:13 EST 2010
Cuba. Again. Still. Forever.
by William Blum
More than 50 years now it is. The propaganda and
hypocrisy of the American mainstream media seems
endless and unwavering. They can not accept the
fact that Cuban leaders are humane or rational.
Here's the Washington Post of December 13 writing
about an American arrested in Cuba:
"The Cuban government has arrested an American
citizen working on contract for the U.S. Agency
for International Development who was
distributing cellphones and laptop computers to
Cuban activists. . . . Under Cuban law . . . a
Cuban citizen or a foreign visitor can be
arrested for nearly anything under the claim of 'dangerousness.'"
That sounds just awful, doesn't it? Imagine being
subject to arrest for whatever someone may choose
to label "dangerousness." But the exact same
thing has happened repeatedly in the United
States since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. We
don't use the word "dangerousness." We speak of
"national security." Or, more recently,
"terrorism." Or "providing material support to terrorism."
The arrested American works for Development
Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), a US government
contractor that provides services to the State
Department, the Pentagon, and the US Agency for
International Development (USAID). In 2008, DAI
was funded by the US Congress to "promote
transition to democracy" in Cuba. Yes, Oh Happy
Day! -- we're bringing democracy to Cuba just as
we're bringing it to Afghanistan and Iraq. In
2002, DAI was contracted by USAID to work in
Venezuela and proceeded to fund the same groups
that a few months earlier had worked to stage a
coup -- temporarily successful -- against
President Hugo Chávez. DAI performed other
subversive work in Venezuela and has also been
active in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other
hotspots. "Subversive" is what Washington would
label an organization like DAI if they behaved in
the same way in the United States in behalf of a foreign government.1
The American mainstream media never makes its
readers aware of the following (so I do so
repeatedly): The United States is to the Cuban
government like al-Qaeda is to the government in
Washington, only much more powerful and much
closer. Since the Cuban revolution, the United
States and anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the US
have inflicted upon Cuba greater damage and
greater loss of life than what happened in New
York and Washington on September 11, 2001. Cuban
dissidents typically have had very close, indeed
intimate, political and financial connections to
American government agents. Would the US
government ignore a group of Americans receiving
funds or communication equipment from al-Qaeda
and/or engaging in repeated meetings with known
leaders of that organization? In the past few
years, the American government has arrested a
great many people in the US and abroad solely on
the basis of alleged ties to al-Qaeda, with a lot
less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its
dissidents' ties to the United States, evidence
usually gathered by Cuban double agents.
Virtually all of Cuba's "political prisoners" are such dissidents.
The Washington Post story continued:
"The Cuban government granted ordinary citizens
the right to buy cellphones just last year."
What does one make of such a statement without
further information? How could the Cuban
government have been so insensitive to people's
needs for so many years? Well, that must be just
the way a "totalitarian" state behaves. But the
fact is that because of the disintegration of the
Soviet bloc, with a major loss to Cuba of its
foreign trade, combined with the relentless US
economic aggression, the Caribbean island was hit
by a great energy shortage beginning in the
1990s, which caused repeated blackouts. Cuban
authorities had no choice but to limit the sale
of energy-hogging electrical devices such as cell
phones; but once the country returned to energy
sufficiency the restrictions were revoked.
"Cubans who want to log on [to the Internet]
often have to give their names to the government."
What does that mean? Americans, thank God, can
log onto the Internet without giving their names
to the government. Their Internet Service
Provider does it for them, furnishing their names
to the government, along with their emails, when requested.
"Access to some Web sites is restricted."
Which ones? Why? More importantly, what
information might a Cuban discover on the
Internet that the government would not want him
to know about? I can't imagine. Cubans are in
constant touch with relatives in the US, by mail
and in person. They get US television programs
from Miami. International conferences on all
manner of political, economic, and social
subjects are held regularly in Cuba. What does
the American media think is the great secret
being kept from the Cuban people by the nasty commie government?
"Cuba has a nascent blogging community, led by
the popular commentator Yoani Sánchez, who often
writes about how she and her husband are followed
and harassed by government agents because of her
Web posts. Sánchez has repeatedly applied for
permission to leave the country to accept
journalism awards, so far unsuccessfully."
According to a well-documented account,2
Sánchez's tale of government abuse appears rather
exaggerated. Moreover, she moved to Switzerland
in 2002, lived there for two years, and then
voluntarily returned to Cuba. On the other hand,
in January 2006 I was invited to attend a book
fair in Cuba, where one of my books, newly
translated into Spanish, was being presented.
However, the government of the United States
would not give me permission to go. My
application to travel to Cuba had also been
rejected in 1998 by the Clinton administration.
"'Counterrevolutionary activities', which include
mild protests and critical writings, carry the
risk of censure or arrest. Anti-government
graffiti and speech are considered serious crimes."
Raise your hand if you or someone you know of was
ever arrested in the United States for taking
part in a protest. And substitute "pro-al-Qaeda"
for "counterrevolutionary" and for
"anti-government" and think of the thousands
imprisoned the past eight years by the United
States all over the world for . . . for what? In
most cases there's no clear answer. Or the answer
is clear: (a) being in the wrong place at the
wrong time, or (b) being turned in to collect a
bounty offered by the United States, or (c)
thought crimes. And whatever the reason for the
imprisonment, they were likely tortured. Even the
most fanatical anti-Castroites don't accuse Cuba
of that. In the period of the Cuban revolution,
since 1959, Cuba has had one of the very best
records on human rights in the hemisphere. See my
essay: "The United States, Cuba and This Thing Called Democracy."3
There's no case of anyone arrested in Cuba that
compares in injustice and cruelty to the arrest
in 1998 by the United States government of those
who came to be known as the "Cuban Five,"
sentenced in Florida to exceedingly long prison
terms for trying to stem terrorist acts against
Cuba emanating from the US.4 It would be lovely
if the Cuban government could trade their DAI
prisoner for the five. Cuba, on several
occasions, has proposed to Washington the
exchange of a number of what the US regards as
"political prisoners" in Cuba for the five Cubans
held in the United States. So far the United States has not agreed to do so.
1 For more details on DAI, see Eva Golinger, The
Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in
Venezuela (2006) and her website, posting for December 31, 2009.
2 Salim Lamrani, professor at Paris Descartes
University, "The Contradictions of Cuban Blogger
Yoani Sanchez," MRZine, November 12, 2009.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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