Cuba: Victory lap at the VII Summit

April 14th, 2015

How’s this for a proposal?
Stay the hell away from any Summit of the Americas and stop elevating the clowns.

What the US Got From Cuba Deal: Zilch
That pointless pow-wow between Raul Castro and President Obama over the weekend only underscores how Havana is giving up nothing for normalization.
(emphasis added)

But the president’s trolling of Cuba-defending Republicans ought to result in mockery, not outrage. Because the real problem with the Obama administration’s approach to normalization with Cuba isn’t the normalization itself. It’s that this normalization came without getting the United States any of their long-stated policy priorities for the Cuban people in return. Normalization is President Obama’s gift to the Castro regime—a gift with no strings attached.

This is, not coincidentally, the exact same problem we see with the administration’s approach to negotiations with Iran (with far more at stake, of course). In both cases, an avowed enemy of the United States is handed huge strategic concessions by the Americans—in exchange for what amounts to nothing.

Unilateral sanctions on Cuba have been oppressive and largely ineffective, and that’s why the public largely supports lifting them. But rolling them back should have come through the normalization process in Congress, and it should have come in return for tangible reforms in Cuba.

The government in Havana is best understood as a cross between violent left-wing radicals and organized crime. And we are normalizing our relations with them now—for what, exactly?

Summit Ends In Triumph For Castro

Things are so bad in Venezuela that its citizens are starting to pick up rifles. A nascent guerrilla movement is rapidly forming in the western region of Venezuela, according to Reuters. Such is the desperation that comes of Cuban control of all levers of power, as well as fraudulent elections to preserve a facade of democracy.
It also has been seen before — in spontaneous rebel movements that sprang up in Central America in the 1980s and in the military “Dirty War” that gripped nearly all of South America in the 1970s. Anyone attempting to fight back was smeared by the Castro propaganda machine as a human rights violator. But people fought back anyway, and some, such as Chile, really won.
There is also terrorism, which Cuba has spread through every country in the region in the past. Incredibly, it’s still going on as two large caches of smuggled weapons from rogue states in the Caribbean show.

Apartheid in Cuba: When will Cuba end its ‘internal embargo’? (h/t Babalu

When I travelled for two weeks in working class areas of Cuba last year, a Cuban worker explained to me that while they hear endlessly from the government about the “American embargo against Cuba,” the real problem is the “internal embargo”—the embargo that the government elite has imposed on the Cuban people to keep them from participating in the economies of the elite and the outside world.

The internal embargo is so complete that, not only is there physical separation from the elites, but there is even a separate currency.

You can bet that embargo won’t end.

How’s this for a proposal: Stay the hell away from any Summit of the Americas and stop elevating the clowns.

Brazil: The demonstrators are not going away

April 14th, 2015

In fact, now some are calling for military intervention:

700,000 protest against Brazilian government with some calling for military intervention
Anti-government rallies continue as calls for Dilma Rousseff to be impeached grow. Some even urge the military to get involved

Anti-government rallies drew an estimated 700,000 protesters to the streets around Brazil on Sunday amid calls for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff
. . .
The protests were aimed at the Workers’ Party (PT), which has been beset by a massive corruption scandal within state-owned oil company Petrobras.

The Workers’ Party has been implicated by an investigation that found some Petrobras contracts were inflated and profit creamed off for executives and politicians.

Elvis left the building, and was on the street:

As I’ve been saying, the outcome is entirely up to the Brazilians.

More at the circus: Correa & Obama, BFFs

April 13th, 2015

From the VII Summit of the Americas circus, 2 items:

Rafael Correa managed to tear himself away from Twitter to give a speech condemning the U.S., and portraying Latin America (and especially Ecuador) as a paragon of freedom and human rights. Mercifully, he did not try to inflict it on his audience in English.

You can watch the whole speech (subtitled in English):

Barack Obama was next, and, as you can see, he agreed with Correa (emphasis added),

I wanna make one last comment, er, addressing er, some of the points that er, president Correa raised that I’m sure will be raised by a few others during this discussion. Er, I always enjoy the history lessons that I receive, er, when I’m here.

Having prefaced that, Obama continued,

I am a student of history so I tend to actually be familiar with many of these episodes that have been mentioned. I am the first one to acknowledge that America’s application to concern around human rights has not always been consistent. And, I’m certainly mindful that there are dark chapters in our own history in which we have not always observed the principles and ideals upon which the country was founded. Just a few weeks ago I was in Selma, Alabama celebrating the 50th anniversary of a march across a bridge that resulted in horrific violence and the reason I was there and the reason it was a celebration is because it was a triumph of human spirit in which ordinary people without resort to violence were able to overcome systematic segregation. There voices were heard and our country changed. America never makes a claim about being perfect, we do make a claim about being open to change.

Here’s a quick glance at International rankings of Ecuador, and you can read the Human Rights Watch report on Ecuador.

How’s that for history lessons?

The Summit of the Americas circus Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

April 13th, 2015


This time the circus was in Panama, where OBAMA-CASTRO MEETING OVERSHADOWS ANTI-US LINE AT SUMMIT

ARGENTINA
CFK: ‘It’s ridiculous to consider Venezuela, Argentina a threat’

Argentine court orders arrest of Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber will be arrested if he ever sets foot in Argentina, following an alleged fracas outside a Buenos Aires nightclub in 2013

BRAZIL
Brazil Ignites Union Fury with Outsourcing Bill
State Employees Warn Hiring-Policy Changes Threaten Labor Rights

Protesters Return to Brazilian Streets
Antigovernment protesters returned to the streets of several Brazilian cities Sunday to express dissatisfaction with President Dilma Rousseff and her ruling Workers’ Party.

The end of the BRICs

CHILE
Chile Fights Off Creeping Crisis as Graft Accusations Escalate.

Bachelet: I Will Not Resign, Government Is Not Covering Up Scandals. Bachelet didn’t attend the VII Summit.

Chile prisoners ‘extorted Spaniards’
Spanish police break up an extortion ring run by Chilean jail inmates who allegedly cold-called Spanish civilians demanding kidnap ransoms.

COLOMBIA
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
Could Colombia play peacemaker between U.S. and Venezuela?

Colombia Navy Finds 21 Cuban Migrants on Border with Panama

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica finishes work to close artificial canal built by Nicaragua in disputed territory

CUBA
Menendez Unloads on ‘Alarming’ Reports of Pressure from White House to Rush Removal of Cuba from Terror List

The President meets the General: Dictatorship legitimized and misbehaviour whitewashed

Obama Mau-Maued By Tinpots At Latin Summit After Conceding So Much To Cuba

HAITI
Haiti’s Hillary Headache: Clinton to announce Presidency Bid Sunday

IMMIGRATION
TWO GOOD REASONS TO CURB IMMIGRATION

JAMAICA
Watch Barack Obama and Usain Bolt do sprinter’s trademark lightning pose on presidential visit to Jamaica

LATIN AMERICA
Latin America Will Tackle Corruption Later

MEXICO
N Korea urges Mexico to free detained ship

Meet Mexico’s fastest growing drug cartel. It even builds its own rifles

PANAMA
Pro-Castro Panamanian groups threaten Cuban activists

Dos Amigos: President Obama and Raúl Castro Shake Hands in Panama
I guess we should be glad he didn’t bow.

PARAGUAY
Paraguay peasants resist soybean agribusiness activities

PERU
6.5 Million Ounces of Gold LOST in Peru!

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico exports its drug addicts to Chicago
Island police and mayors direct heroin addicts to Chicago and other cities with promises of housing and treatment
.

URUGUAY
UN to help Guantanamo refugees with houses in Uruguay

VENEZUELA
Panama OAS summit for dummies

Sign or Else: Venezuelans Coerced into Anti-Obama Petition

PBS NewsHour Laments Smell of ‘Imperialist Meddling’ and ‘Bullying’ Venezuela — by Obama?

Meeting under trees in the dark of night, and other stories from Venezuela’s struggling guerilla resistance

The week’s posts and podcast:
Today’s hashtag

Ecuador: Correa tweets!

Breaking: Dissidents attacked again in Panama by Cuban gov operatives

Cuba, the “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society” country

Biden: Like taking a binky from a baby

Colombia: Hillary changed her mind on FTA over $50 million, oops, $130 million

Panama: Cuban agents assault dissidents

Coming up next: The Summit of the Americas circus

Venezuela: Opposition leaders’ wives to attend the Summit of the Americas

Jamaica: Vendors angry about Obama visit

Nicaragua’s steps to dictatorship

Panama: Rosa María Payá detained

Podcast: On the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama



Today’s hashtag

April 12th, 2015

#GoAwayClintons

Also useful for everyday.

Ecuador: Correa tweets!

April 11th, 2015

Ecuador’s president tweets ‘Heil Hitler’

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Thursday tweeted a slogan famous for praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

Correa posted the controversial message after a Twitter critic accused him of being a fascist. The South American leader responded with a chant first heard in World War Two-era Germany.

“Heil Hitler!” Correa tweeted at @WKybalion on Thursday.

Breaking: Dissidents attacked again in Panama by Cuban gov operatives

April 10th, 2015

Telemundo 51 (video at the link in Spanish) reports that Cuban government operatives are again harassing dissidents attending the VII Summit of the Americas.

Blogger Yoani Sanchez stated that the dissidents had to take shelter from their aggressors at the Salón Topacio of the Panama Hotel, while the police and the military try to regain control outside the premises.

On Twitter,
@RosaMariaPaya THREATENED WITH BEATINGS. They told her she can not coincide >Raúl Castro!

As I was saying this morning, Cuba’s “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society.”

Cuba, the “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society” country

April 10th, 2015

Read all about Cuba, the “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society” country

Biden: Like taking a binky from a baby

April 10th, 2015

To quote Duane,
“. . .the thought of pulling a pacifier from a baby’s mouth and inserting it unwashed, sterilized or otherwise de-cootied into my mouth is a thought that has never entered my head.”

Biden puts Bloomberg’s grandson’s pacifier in his mouth

Craig Ramsay for the win!

Colombia: Hillary changed her mind on FTA over $50 million, oops, $130 million

April 9th, 2015

LANGUAGE WARNING

Ace posts, Hillary Clinton Reversed Position on Trade Deal With Colombia After Huge Donation to Clinton Foundation

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Frank Guistra, a mining magnate — that means oil — who gave the Clinton Foundation up to fifty fucking million fucking dollars.

Make that $130 million, Ace,

Oh. I guess I lowballed it.

As Colombian Oil Money Flowed To Clintons, State Department Took No Action To Prevent Labor Violations

The details of these financial dealings remain murky, but this much is clear: After millions of dollars were pledged by the oil company to the Clinton Foundation — supplemented by millions more from Giustra himself — Secretary Clinton abruptly changed her position on the controversial U.S.-Colombia trade pact. Having opposed the deal as a bad one for labor rights back when she was a presidential candidate in 2008, she now promoted it, calling it “strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States.” The change of heart by Clinton and other Democratic leaders enabled congressional passage of a Colombia trade deal that experts say delivered big benefits to foreign investors like Giustra.

Just how much money are we talking about?

In a Wall Street Journal story from 2008, Giustra is described as a “friend and traveling companion” of former President Clinton who donated more than $130 million to Clinton’s philanthropies.

This is not the first time the Clintons were dealing from both sides of the deck. As you may recall,

Mark Penn, her campaign strategist was also working for the Colombian government towards pushing the agreement.

Penn was fired by the Colombians on Saturday and lost his job as Hillary’s campaign strategist on Sunday, but will remain as pollster and adviser to the Hillary campaign, whatever that means.

Frank Giustra now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation,

Just the other day Bill was saying his foundation

is, by a good long stretch, the most transparent of all the presidential foundations and more transparent than a lot of other major foundations in the country.”

It all depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is:

Since it’s Throwback Thursday, coinciding with the Summit of the Americas, a quick glance back to 2012, when Hillary tied one on and led the conga line at the Summit,

Is Hillary Clinton becoming an embarrassment as Secretary of State?