CubaNews Notes from Los Angeles, May 21, 2004
- CUBANEWS NOTES FROM LOS ANGELES
by Walter Lippmann, May 21, 2004
MAY 20th EVENTS
May 20th has been an occasion when US politicians have issued
statements about Cuba. In 1902 it was the date when the Cuban
national legislature adopted a constitution which limited the
island's sovereignty by including the PLATT AMENDMENT, which
authorized the United States to militarily intervene in Cuba
at any time it saw fit. Washington exercised this "right" on
three occasions between 1902 and 1934 when Platt was formally
abrogated by the United States. Washington has continued its
intervention in the island's politics by other methods, of
course...Read the text of the Platt Amendment:
While the world witnesses the growing Torturegate scandal with
graphic depictions of how Washington imposes "freedom" on the
people of Iraq, the Bush administration scrambles to try to
keep a lid in the scandal and to prevent still further images
from coming to light. Check these horrible accounts out:
NEW DETAILS OF PRISON ABUSE EMERGE
published in today's Washington Post
SWORN STATEMENTS BY TORTURE VICTIMS
published in today's Washington Post
These horrible exposes are likely to have contributed to Bush's
decision not to go to Florida, as he had done two years ago for
a public media opportunity together with his rightist militant
exile associates. In fact, Bush himself didn't even bother to
read the one-paragraph statement he issues. It was read by his
press secretary, Scott McClellan.
STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH ON CUBA May 20, 2004:
On behalf of the people of the United States, I send greetings
to all people of Cuban heritage who celebrate the anniversary
of the birth of the Republic of Cuba. We stand firmly with the
11 million Cubans who still suffer under the repressive Castro
dictatorship and who dream of a prosperous and free future.
The United States is working for the day when a free Cuba will
rejoin the community of democracies in America. We will
vigorously implement the recommendations of the Commission For
Assistance to a Free Cuba, so that Cuba will reflect the vision
of the great Cuban patriot, Jose Marti: Con todos y para el
bien de todos -- With all the people, and for the good of
all the people. May God bless the Cuban people."
CORPORATE AND OTHER LEADERS OPPOSING THE EMBARGO:
A group of prominent corporate and other leaders lead by financier
David Rockefeller issued a strong statement against the travel ban
and restrictions on US investment on the island. These individuals,
who include some of the most prominent figures in the US political
establishment have met with Cuba's Fidel Castro in the past and
issued statements along these lines previously as well. They frame
their arguments in terms of what they see as a better strategy for
bringing about political change on the island. Nevertheless, it's
important that these figures continue their efforts.
CONGRESSIONAL MEASURES PROPOSED AGAINST THE EMBARGO:
In Congress, Senator Max Baucus and others introduced legislation
to end the travel ban and [what they refer to as the] "embargo",
continuing the struggle by a majority of the members of Congress
to reorient US policy toward Cuba. Activists around the nation
called congressional representatives asking them to oppose the
newest Bush policy decisions. We'll receive reports in time of
how these were received.
LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY LEADERS SPEAK AGAINST THE BLOCKADE:
Concerned community leaders in Los Angeles and Miami took the
initiative to organize public events in opposition to the new
Bush administration moves against Cubans and Cuban Americans.
So while Bush himself didn't come out in public to speak on
Cuba, critics and opponents of US policy took strong steps all
over the place.
Yesterday's news conferences held in Miami and Los Angeles were
very pleasing. Media reports on the Miami conference have come
out nationally. Francisco Aruca is likely to discuss the Miami
event on his radio programs there today. You can listen to his
programs via www.progresoweekly.com
Four Spanish-language television stations came to our news
conference in Los Angeles, as did our main Spanish-language
daily newspaper, LA OPINION. Their report can be seen:
Six local leaders participated, all speaking eloquently about the
impact of the Bush Commission recommendations on Cuban-Americans,
Cubans and everyone from the United States. The speakers were:
Alberto Valdivia, Treasurer of United Teachers of Los Angeles*
Carlos Ugalde, Latin American Studies Professor, Glendale College*
Jose Estevez, Cuban-American attorney affected by the restrictions
Juan Jose Gutierrez, Latino Movement USA
Robert Farrell, representing State Senator Mervyn M. Dymally
Ian Thompson, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
*organizations for identification only
STATEMENT BY CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER MERVYN DYMALLY
"Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally Statement Concerning Anti-Cuba
"By announcing the financing of a program to destabilize the
government of Cuba, President George Bush may be putting this
country into a more difficult position with the international
community which has for almost 40 years accepted and believed
the American policy that it would not invade Cuba.
"It is another step that will clearly damage the credibility
of our nation and its traditional policies.
"This is another example of the neoconservatives resurrecting
policy that has been rejected by enlightened American Presidential
leadership -- even former President George Herbert Walker Bush --
in the conduct of Cuba affairs.
"President George Bush is sadly mistaken if he believes that
harassing President Fidel Castro and Cuba will distract the
American people from the failures and cruelties of his Iraq
"Let's all remember that it is election season.
"Attacking President Castro and the Cuban people makes for good
Republican politics in Florida, but this strategy will not work.
Not in Florida, across the United States, or in the eyes of the
Assemblyman Dymally has a long and distinguished career in
California politics, having been a state Senator, Lieutenant
Governor and member of the Unite States House of Representative.
He also co-edited, with Jeffrey M. Elliot, the book FIDEL BY FIDEL,
an extended book-length interview with the Cuban leader which was
first published as NOTHING CAN STOP THE COURSE OF HISTORY by
Pathfinder Press in 1986.
VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN TERRORISM AND INTIMIDATION IN ORANGE COUNTY
In recent weeks we've seen a new outburst of rightist militancy in
Orange County, California, where Vietnamese exiles activists, who
are every bit the kith and kin of their Cuban cousins in Miami,
have acted to prevent public visits by diplomatic and political
leaders from their home country. The United States maintains full
and normal diplomatic and economic relations with Vietnam, yet it
is obvious that the encouragement Washington has long given to the
rightist exiles in Miami has also been extended to the Vietnamese
in Orange County. This story has not been publicized outside of
the Southern California area. I've been meaning to send material
out about this in hopes that some national and international light
can be shed on this festering situation.
This situation does, however, help us to see two possible future
scenarios for the United States. First, normalization of relations
is possible between the US and Vietnam, even though the Vietnamese
succeeded in defeating the United States militarily after a long
and bitterly-fought war in 1975. And productive economic relations
are possible in this context.
At the same time, intractable opponents of the Cuban Revolution in
the United States have long succeeded, with encouragement they've
received from Washington, in creating an atmosphere of fear and
intimidation in Miami. Vietnamese militants have done the same in
Orange County, though they've received far less media attention.
Long-time Southern California residents will recall Professor
Ed Cooperman, who headed the United States Committee for Scientific
Cooperation with Vietnam. He was murdered in 1984 by a 21-year old
Vietnamese student. I haven't followed up on that, but here's one
article gleaned via Google:
The Bush administration and Washington are fully responsible for
these problems due to their passivity and encouragement in Florida
and elsewhere through the past 45 years. Imagine, if you will, the
situation when a country with which the United States maintains as
normal a diplomatic relationship as is possible, with a country,
and there are parts of the United States where diplomats from that
country are unable to publicly enter the area!
EMIGRATION AND NATION CONFERENCE OPENS IN HAVANA TODAY
Cubans resident on the island and off will begin meeting in the third
EMIGRATION AND NATION CONFERENCE which kicks off in Havana later today.
There will be reports in the Cuban and US media. With luck, we may get
some updates from participants, though none have been arranged to date.
Part of the timing of the Bush Administration's latest moves against
travel to the island by Cuban-Americans was aimed at cutting down on
attendance at this event. This conference was cancelled last year in
the wake of the US invasion of Iraq and the trials and executions in
Cuba. Keep in mind as well that Washington's effort to close doors to
Cuba have kept pace with Cuba's efforts open doors to the island.
PASTORS FOR PEACE 15th ANNUAL FRIENDSHIPMENT CARAVAN
Please be advised that I will be joining the 15th Annual Friendship
Caravan organized by Pastors for Peace next month. This will result
in some change in my ability to keep up the work here, but the work
will be done. I'm very excited at the prospect of being able to get
out and meet people along the route of the Caravan, telling everyone
about the many gains of the Cuban Revolution and why we all have a
strong moral and political obligation to participate in the defense
of the Cuban Revolution.
Those of you who have the time and ability are strongly encouraged
to apply to participate in the Caravan. We'll be collecting medical
supplies to donate to the Cuban people, and educating as many people
as we can reach about the Cuban process and how we can make positive
contributions to the normalization of relations between our nations.
READ ABOUT PASTORS FOR PEACE AND THE CARAVAN:
FOR MORE NEWS, VIEW AND INFORMATION ON CUBA: