Obama: The Betrayal
of a Handshake
By Stefano Magni
The U.S. administration has never made any secret of its soft line: The easing of sanctions, and perhaps even a gradual end to the embargo, are policies that are always floating around, though never made official.
Translated By Axel Ndianabo
12 December 2013
Edited by Keith Armstrong
Italy - L'Opinione - Original Article (Italian )
A handshake could surely change diplomatic relations in the Florida Straits. For the past two days, the photos and videos of the historic gesture of friendship and respect between Raul Castro and Barack Obama — on the occasion of Nelson Mandela's state funeral — have been circulating. The fact that the South African leader’s funeral would be turned — by all international leftists — into some sort of festival was quite predictable. Just when Lenin's statue was being symbolically toppled from the Ukrainian square, effectively wiping out one of the remnants of the old and red Soviet system, timeless leaders such as Robert Mugabe and Raul Castro seized the opportunity in South Africa to make the world believe that their old revolutionary message is still alive and full of prospects.
For them to believe this, they both must close their eyes on the reality of the countries they are leading. Mugabe's Zimbabwe, particularly, is an anachronistic example of "Afro-communism," with its Maoist tendencies. It is a system that has produced — in addition to violence against dissidents and the expulsion of white farmers — the highest rate of unemployment and the worst inflation in recent history, one that is even worse than Germany in the 1920s. As for Cuba, despite boasting of a health care system considered among the best in the world (though hospitals lack everything and patients are expected to bring all the necessities from home), the cities are falling to pieces; the cars that are circulating are the same ones from the 1950s, before the revolution; and housing, despite the liberalization, remains a serious problem for everyone.
We have no way of knowing how many still believe in the revolution: It is not possible [for residents of these countries] to vote, neither with a pencil in the ballot box, nor with their feet, if they ever decided to leave. A demonstration of loyalty to the old Marxist-Leninist ideals and the history of revolutions against colonialism, imperialism, apartheid and capitalism was very predictable. Much less predictable, however, was the handshake between Raul Castro and Barack Obama. The U.S. administration has never made any secret of its soft line: The easing of sanctions, and perhaps even a gradual end to the embargo, are policies that are always floating around, though never made official.
The circumstances and actions taken by the Cuban regime prevent these policies from being completely implemented. It is true: Reforms are in place. Raul Castro has liberalized housing, exit visas and a few businesses. He has also reformed the monetary system, by abolishing the dual currency system. The Havana regime is relatively on track. But democracy is not even mentioned. Neither is the true freedom to emigrate: The possibility of leaving the country remains at the discretion of political authorities. There still is no room for opponents of the regime: Oswaldo Paya has died just a year ago, in circumstances that the regime will not reveal, silencing his daughter and all the witnesses.
Cuba’s foreign policy is anything but friendly toward the United States. Just last summer, a shipment of arms from Cuba to North Korea had been stopped in Panama. And this happened just a few months after the violent nuclear crisis between the U.S. and the Pyongyang regime. The exportation of the Cuban revolution to South America continues to enjoy new springs, with Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, which are all countries ruled by men close to Castro in terms of purposes and methods. While we do not talk much about Bolivia (though the little we see is a tragedy) and while Ecuador remains democratic, Venezuela, with Maduro, is experiencing its communist winter, with hostages, arrests, forced nationalization. In Bolivia, the government deliberately tolerates the looting of supermarkets.
All this is happening with the blessing of Cuba, but in the name of what? The creation of a new American bloc explicitly opposed to the United States. It is with this regime and the one representing it that Obama shook hands, ignoring — among other things — the feelings and hopes of over 1 million Cubans living in the United States. They would expect a message of freedom from their president, not one of complicity with their captors. http://watchingamerica.com/News/228349/obama-the-betrayal-of-a-handshake/