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  • Castro Brothers' Charm Offensive

    Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) and his brother Raul, chat on December 23, 2003 in Havana, during a meeting of the Cuban Parliament. Raul Castro succeeded his brother Fidel Castro as the president of Cuba on February 24, 2008, in a historic power shift expected to keep Havana firmly on its communist path, officials said.

    On April 6, Ambassador Jeffrey S. Davidow, White House Advisor for the Summit of the Americas, said very plainly: “It would be unfortunate if the principal theme of [the Summit of the Americas] turned out to be Cuba. As I’ve told you, I think there are a lot of very important issues that warrant discussion, whether it’s the economic issue, social inclusion, the environment, public safety. We would prefer, obviously, to focus on what we have been preparing for, but there is no effort on our part to try to stifle conversation on any topic.”

    Some in Congress believe exactly the opposite. This became quite apparent during a visit by members of the Congressional Black Caucus to Havana this week. The trip included dinner with Cuba’s President Raul Castro and a rare opportunity for three members of the delegation to speak with Fidel Castro. The delegation, according to the press, did not meet with any dissidents or opposition figures.

    Several members of Congress want to force President Obama’s hand and pressure him to remove as quickly as possible all restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba. They want this done largely on Cuba’s terms, without leveraging a single concession from the Castro brothers. They also seek to convey the impression that the climate in Havana is ripe for dialogue and negotiation.

    “I’m convinced Raul Castro wants a normal relationship with the United States,” reported Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chair of the Caucus, after meeting with Raul. “He’s serious.” But added Ms. Lee, “We didn’t get into any of the details. We just want to see a dialogue. You don’t have to offer anything to talk.”

    Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL), who downplayed the importance of human rights in Cuba before the trip, reported that Raúl Castro was “very engaging” and “laughed at himself.” ‘Rush added “He was a down-to-earth kind man, someone who I would favor as a neighbor.”

    Ms. Rush has apparently forgotten that Raul, a Marxist-Leninist since the 1950s, was among other things the ruthless executioner of Cuba’s opposition, trigger man in the shoot down of the unarmed civilian aircraft of the Brothers to the Rescue, and architect of recent leadership purges and intrigues that mark the behind scenes jockeying for control in a one-party state.

    It was almost like listening to an old friend,” enthused Representative Rush, after meeting with the ailing Fidel Castro, adding that he found Castro’s home to be modest and Castro’s wife to be particularly hospitable.

    In Cuba where the monthly earnings of the average citizen are less than $20 and where hunger is a real problem because of the disasters of the communist command economy, it is wise to appear to live modestly when receiving foreign visitors.

    Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA), also selected to meet with Fidel, giddily commented, Castro “looked directly into our eyes” and asked how Cuba could help Obama change U.S-Cuba policy.

    Did Ms. Richardson reply: “Free your political prisoners; remove restrictions on travel, internet access, and the media, or engage in a serious dialogue with civil society and dissident groups?” Or did she raise the case of political prisoner and Cuban-African, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet? Apparently not.

    In his reflections following the meeting, Fidel Castro wrote glowingly of the conversation with the Americans that touched on Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, apparently elevating himself to a similar moral stature, but Fidel testily concluded, that since Cuba has never attacked and threatened the U.S., his country was in no position to take any initiatives to improve relations with the U. S. Read: the ball will as always remains in the U.S. court.

    The well-timed, Castro charm offensive coupled with the troubling amnesia on the part of the American delegation reads like an updated version of “Innocents Abroad.”

    President Obama certainly will have in part members of his own party to thank when he is placed in the hot spot at the Summit of the Americas on U.S.-Cuba relations. Let us hope that his sense of historical memory, his capacity not to be seduced by the siren calls of aging tyrants, and his solidarity with the Cuban people is stronger than that demonstrated by the visiting members from the U.S. Congress.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Castro Brothers' Charm Offensive

    1. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      I have no use for the Congressional Black Caucus or any other "Fool on the Hill" that wants to "make nice" with Communist Dictators! If they think that it is so great in Cuba, go live there! Within two weeks, they will be singing a different tune. The US has spent the last 60 years trying to keep Communism away from the US but the Congressional Black Caucus seems to think that they can be friends. Simply put, if you think your ancestors had it bad as slaves, go talk to some REAL Cubans. You know, the ones that are trying to ESCAPE to the US!

    2. cj, medford, Or says:

      Let's be clear on a couple of issues. First, the principle focus of the Summit will not be Cuba. Give the President at least a bit of credit in knowing what are the real issues facing our neighbors. Second, the United States Cold War policy against Cuba has failed and will continue to fail. Why continue with a failed policy? Yes the regime is repressive, human rights are violated, political prisoners number in the hundreds. Yet that is no reason not to have a dialogue. If those are good reasons to continue travel restrictions, and an embargo why are those reasons not applicable to many other nations we have relations with such as China, Vietnam, etc. etc. It is time for a measured change lest we continue on the same non productive path for another forty plus years.

    3. moran,ks. says:

      doesn't anybody remember the cuban missle crisis. the only thing that has kept it from happening again is the so called failed policy of 40 years.

    4. Trent, ND says:

      How is that these useful idiots for the left keep getting re-elected into office? If they like communism so much…move to a communist country and leave the greatest country on earth alone!!!

    5. Dirty Harry , AZ says:

      If the black caucus and Hollywood socialist likes Cuba and Fidel Castro so much and wants to enjoy their health care system, I am sure Castro will welcome their move to Cuba with open arms.

      We wan't miss them !!!

    6. joan t connecticut says:

      The black caucus kissing up to the Castros sickens me! I worked with several women who had family members tortured by the evil Fidel. If this black caucus group think they represent me, they are sadly mistaken. Why don't they travel to Miami to speak to the Cubans who suffered under the leadership of the despot? What are these people thinking? It is certainly not for the good of America. Cuba is in bed with Russia,China and others who want us to collapse. This unthinking group traveled on our dime and for the photo ops it represented. If they love cuba so much let them move there and take Sean Penn and all the other actors who kiss the A##es of Fidel type dictators!!!

    7. Harry Snyder Michiga says:

      It is a terrible thing to see an important group of Congress to go To Cuba and return as propagandizers for the despot Castro brothers. Of course, there have always been people here who support enemies of the U.S. eg the 1860's Copperheads, the America Firsters of c. 1940 and the "SDS" of 1969-1970. It truly is a sad day for us.

    8. Tami, Nashville says:

      I am reminded of several Cubans who I went to school with who managed to float over here on rafts back in the 50s-60s who's families had been executed for trying to defect. I wonder if anyone has asked them what they think about this latest trend. Many of my Cuban friends have no intention of returning to their homeland. They hate the Castro regime. And their families are long since dead…Why don't we look into the beginnings of Liberation theology and the movement spurred by Che Gevarra and what that has now done in the US with some of these black caucus members..are they being brainwashed by their pulpit ministers to buy into what Che's movement was all about in Cuba and So America which infiltrated the thinking of religion now happening in the US? Another step in embracing communism which is infiltrating the ranks of politics and religion redefining who we are as a democratic America! The lines are blurring and we are reminded that no one, especially Obama, learns anything from history. He is attempting to rewrite our history which completely erases the history we have…making the ignorant think these things never happened. They will be crying in their milk when once again certain of our foes have pointed their missiles at us again and we are asleep letting it happen on our southern shores!

    9. Marshall Hill MI. says:

      We are not forgetful of what has happened to the Cubans with Castro!

      Our new POliticians think they are smarter than everyone else! When things go badly,will we be able to find them?

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