Thursday, February 06, 2014

State Department official praises 'tone' of talks in Havana with Cuban gangsters

(My new American Thinker post)

Thanks to Alberto de La Cruz for bringing this to our attention.

Can someone explain this to me and anybody who believes in freedom of the press and the rule of law? 

Senator Rubio has just sent a letter to Secretary Kerry about something that just happened in Cuba
"Dear Secretary Kerry,   
I am greatly disappointed and concerned about the unprecedented decision to allow Mr. Alex Lee, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere to hold a press conference while visiting Havana in the context of the Administration's migration talks with the Cuban regime. I am particularly troubled that his press conference and remarks in Havana, as reported by media outlets, diverged from and were incoherent with the goals of U.S. policy. 
As you know, the Cuban regime has maintained its enduring and close ties to U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations, such as the FARC, continues to support regimes allied to Iran and their proxies, and has yet to take any meaningful actions to stop harboring American fugitives responsible for the death of U.S. law enforcement officers. The regime holds a dubious record as the worst human rights violator in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, while Mr. Lee was praising the "tone" and "constructiveness" of his discussions with the Cuban regime, human rights activists were being brutally beaten and arrested by the authorities. Among those arrested was renowned blind lawyer and dissident leader Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leyva. 
It was particularly distasteful to read Mr. Lee's praises of the tone of his discussions with Cuban officials while Mr. Alan Gross, an elderly American humanitarian worker, remains unjustly incarcerated by Mr. Lee's interlocutors. As you know, Cuban authorities have steadfastly refused several appeals for Mr. Gross' unconditional, humanitarian release, despite numerous requests and widespread concern in the United States for his condition. Furthermore, I am concerned that, while you have previously declared the Cuban regime's demand to exchange Mr. Gross' freedom for the release of four Cuban spies imprisoned in the U.S. a non-starter, Mr. Lee was reported as merely "taking note" of the regime's reiteration of this demand, rather than reaffirming your previous clear stance on this sensitive matter. 
Given these facts, I question the wisdom of authorizing an unconfirmed, mid-level official to conduct an unprecedented press conference in Havana, which gave a much needed propaganda coup to a beleaguered totalitarian regime desperate for international credibility. Please clarify the reasons behind such a decision, as well as the role of officials in your department, including Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson, Mr. Alex Lee, and Chief of Mission Caulfield in that decision and the drafting of Mr. Lee's comments."
Why Cuba?  Why a country that has no free press?

I think that we need an explanation for this.

Who authorized this? I can't believe that a State Department bureaucrat just got on a plane and went to Cuba without getting clearance from someone on Secretary Kerry's staff. 

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.

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Keep an eye on the elections in El Salvador

(My new American Thinker post)

Not long ago, Central America was a big part of our foreign policy discussion in the US. 

Remember the contras? Noriega and the Panama invasion?  El Salvador civil war?

We don't have those problems anymore and we've spent a lot of time looking at Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and so on.  Nevertheless, the region faces violence and economic challenges.   It is also a source of illegal immigration to the US.

Last Sunday, the left won the first round of the El Salvador election, as reported in The NY Times:
"In El Salvador, a divided right may have benefited the front-runner of the left-leaning Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, known as the F.M.L.N., which appeared in good position to hold on to the presidency. It won the office for the first time in 2009, after a string of losses to conservatives following peace accords in 1992 ended one of the bloodiest civil wars in the Americas. The F.M.L.N. candidate, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla commander and the vice president, got 49 percent of the vote, but not the majority needed to avoid a March 9 runoff, according to preliminary results."
The right should do better in the 2nd round because many of the 3rd party votes are more likely to go right then left.  At the same time, the left goes to the "runoff" with 49% of the vote in the first round.  As they say, I'd rather go to the runoff with 49% in the first round than 39%!

No matter who wins, the people are not happy with the political class because of a sluggish economy and rampant gang violence.The winner of the election will have a very brief honeymoon and face citizens who want quick results. It won't be easy governing El Salvador.

Central America has come a long way from "contras" and "the civil war" of the early 1980s in El Salvador.  Unfortunately, they face a new set of problems, such as mindless gang violence and insecurity.  

And let's not forget that Central America is a source of illegal immigration to the US. It's in our interest to have jobs and economic growth in the region. 

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