US Official Insults Cubans

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US Official Insults Cubans
by Stephen Lendman
On January 22, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson visited Cuba.
The most senior US diplomat doing so in decades. Calling US/Cuban relations “particular and peculiar. (N)ot built on confidence and trust.”
“Built on” decades of illegal embargo. Hundreds of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. 
Support for Miami-based anti-Cuban fascist groups. Violence destabilizing Cuba. Efforts to topple its government. Attack it with biological weapons. Murder its people.
More on Jacobson’s visit below. Her actions were an affront to the Cuban people.
Obama’s announced mid-December thaw is more about regime change than rapprochement. 
Wanting pro-Western stooge government replacing Cuban independence. Returning the nation to its pre-revolution Mafia-run days. 
Making it another US colony. A casino capitalism/brothel state masquerading as a legitimate nation.
Letting US corporate predators carve up the country for profit. Exploit Cuban workers. Destroy social justice.
Normalization means rogue CIA agents operating freely. Pro-Western profit-making NGOs grabbing all they can. The way they exploit Haiti and other vulnerable countries.
Obama’s gambit promises nothing good for millions of Cubans. America is all take and no give. It takes giant leap of faith to believe otherwise.
Fidel Castro commented publicly for the first time since Obama’s mid-December announcement. 
In a letter to the Federation of University Students. Read by a student on state television.
Saying “(m)any friends of Cuba know the exemplary conduct of our people, and to them I briefly explain my position.”
“I do not trust the US policy nor have I exchanged a word with them, without this meaning a rejection of a peaceful solution of conflicts and dangers of war.” 
“The president of Cuba (Raul Castro) has taken the appropriate steps according to his prerogatives and powers granted by the National Assembly and the Communist Party of Cuba.”
“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all peoples of the world, including those of our political opponents.”
Fidel is aged 88. His silence for some weeks raised concerns about his health. Rumors speculated about his death.
He’s very much alive. Hopefully in good health. The world’s preeminent elder statesman. A consummate political leader. 
Heroic and then some. Enjoying decades of popular support for good reason. 
Unjustly vilified by America. Well aware of its duplicitous history. Based on conquest, dominance and exploitation.
Expect largely business as usual ahead. Jacobson’s visit was insulting. Described as a first step toward normalization. Effrontery is no way to do it.
Saying “(a)s a central element of our policy, we pressed the Cuban government for improved human rights conditions, including freedom of expression and assembly.”
“There is no doubt that human rights remains the center of our policy and it is crucial that we continue to both speak out about human rights publicly and directly with the Cuban government.”
No nation abuses human rights more egregiously than America. On on unprecedented global scale. Jacobson didn’t explain.
Instead, meddled in Cuba’s internal affairs disrespectfully. Met with dissidents a day after talks with Havana officials.
Said “(i)t was incredibly important for me to hear from them about their struggles, about whether they agreed or disagreed with the US policy.”  
“Most important was the discussion of what comes next, what they are going to do, how they want our support, what we can do to help them.”
Suggesting continued US disruptive meddling in Cuban affairs ahead. Supporting elements wanting its government toppled.
Josefina Vidal headed Cuban talks. Expressed legitimate displeasure over Jacobson’s actions. Her meeting with dissidents. Insulting Cuban people and officials deserving respect.
Vidal saying “(t)his is exactly one of the differences we have with the US government because for us, this is not just genuine, legitimate Cuban civil society.”
“This small group of people doesn’t represent Cuban society. (T)he interests of the Cuban people. So that’s a big difference with the United States government.”
Jacobson met with dissidents at US Interests Section head Jeffrey DeLaurentis’ residence. Some invited chose not to come. 
Citing a lack of “balance in terms of the diversity of opinion of the participants.” Moderates aren’t welcome. 
Ladies in White leader Berta Soler boycotted Jacobson’s Friday breakfast and later reception. So did other dissidents. Saying  Washington only wants individuals and groups agreeing with its policies.
Supporting the worst of hardline elements. Consistent with its longstanding regime change plan.
Real rapprochement requires entirely lifting embargo restrictions. Total normalization. Treating Cuba like other nations.
Respecting its sovereign rights. Refraining from meddling in its internal affairs. Paying reparations for decades of economic harm.
Washington won’t institute any of the above policies. Intends business as usual wrapped in modest changes too little to matter.
Granma reported “removal of limits on travelers’ expenses in Cuba…” Permission to use credit and debit cards. 
Family member remittances to Cuba increased from $500 to $2,000 every three months.
Travel agencies, airlines and insurance companies allowed “to organize service for travel to Cuba.”
“(T)ourism and maritime travel remain prohibited.” What should have been permitted straightaway. With no restrictions.
US export restrictions remain unchanged. Including “on advanced technology products. (L)imited sales to private parties, via Cuban import-export companies” are OK.
Including for construction materials and agricultural equipment. How much allowed is unclear.
“Prohibitions on the export of Cuban products to US markets remain in place, although visitors will be able to return with purchases of up to $400 dollars, including $100 worth of cigars and rum.”
US cigar smokers wanting Cuban Cohibas, Montecristos or other brands have to go to Cuba, Canada, Mexico or other foreign countries to get them.
Telecommunications services “is the only sector in which US investment in infrastructure is authorized, along with sales of services, software and equipment,” said Granma.
Excluding advanced technology. US financial institutions may open accounts in Cuban banks “for transactions related to authorized activities.”
Cuban counterparts aren’t granted the same privilege. Key blockade restrictions remain in place.
Including prohibited international dollar transactions. Technology products and equipment bought in other countries containing more than 10% of US made components.
Commercial relations with US subsidiaries in other countries. US imports with Cuban raw materials.
It’s unclear whether easing turns out precisely as announced. Or if Washington intends less openness than claimed.
After over half a century of toughness, assume nothing unless or until proved otherwise.
Granma called new measures announced “a step in the right direction…” Lots more needs to be done, it stressed.
Key is total normalization. Executive and congressional action lifting all blockade restrictions “once and for all.”
What never should have been imposed in the first place. Most of all, instituting an entirely new relationship with Cuba in all respects.
Not with fascists in charge in Washington. Change requires a political clean sweep. 
A complete makeover. Revolutionary change. Instituting governance of, by and for everyone equitably. 
Ending foreign wars. Closing overseas bases. Turning swords into plowshares. Waging peace, not war. Holding government, military, and corporate criminals accountable.
Establishing even-handed relations with all nations. Maybe some day. Not while lunatics in Washington run things.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.