Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Did State Department downplaying attacks on diplomats in Cuba endanger others?

The plot thickens... U.S. and Canadian diplomats harmed. French now testing their diplomats in Havana to see if they have also suffered injuries.

Diplomat woke up in a Havana hotel to a grinding, blaring cacophony. Moved a few feet noise stopped
 The Daily Mail headline today declared "Damning evidence Cuba's launched a sci-fi sonic weapon at America: How 21 US diplomats were hit by hearing and memory loss - and even mild brain damage - after suspicious attack." More disturbing is the allegation raised by CBS News that the U.S. State Department hid what was going on from Congress and the American people. In the fall of 2016 U.S. diplomats began to complain of "mild" traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing and/or memory loss. In May of 2017 two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the United States over the matter, but it was not made known until August of 2009.

Now CBS says that the State Department "only admitted the attacks were occurring after CBS News Radio first reported them August 9." According to the news agency an "internal Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs document obtained by CBS News shows the State Department was fully aware of the extent of the attacks on its diplomats in Havana, Cuba, long before it was forced to acknowledge them." Now the number of American diplomats and dependents injured stands at 21. Five Canadian diplomats and their families were also harmed. Now France has tested its own diplomatic staff in Havana for potential sonic injuries.

Worse yet "experts" such as Fulton Armstrong with a track record of "minimizing Cuba’s ability to threaten U.S. interests and its continued support to terrorists" are engaged in downplaying this latest outrage. What goes unmentioned is that under international law as described below by the International Court of Justice put it in the case of US Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran (paras 38-40):
[t]here is no more fundamental prerequisite for the conduct of relations between States than the inviolability of diplomatic envoys and embassies . . . [T]he institution of diplomacy, with its concomitant privileges and immunities, has withstood the test of centuries and proved to be an instrument essential for effective co-operation in the international community, and for enabling States, irrespective of their differing constitutional and social systems, to achieve mutual understanding and to resolve their differences by peaceful means . . . [and] the inviolability of consular premises and archives, are similarly principles deep-rooted in international law…
The Castro regime has failed to maintain the "inviolability of diplomatic envoys and embassies" in this matter but also has a decades long history of engaging in the wholesale violation of this international norm.  Former Canadian ambassador to Cuba James Bartleman described events that occurred midway during his  (1981 – 1983) posting: “[h]is family dog was poisoned, a trade officer had a dead rat nailed to their door and the embassy started receiving threatening phone calls.”  U.S. diplomat Robin Meyers was subjected to cars being used against her as weapons in Cuba in February of 1996. In 2006 The Miami Herald reported how a high-ranking member of the U.S. mission found his mouthwash replaced with urine. In another case, after one diplomat’s family privately discussed their daughter’s susceptibility to mosquito bites, “they returned home to find all of their windows open and the house full of mosquitoes.”  American diplomats, like their Canadian counterparts, have also had pets poisoned while stationed in Cuba. 

This is an outlaw regime with a track record that should not be ignored, especially when doing so is leading to diplomats and their families being seriously physically harmed.   The logical question that arises is a disturbing one: Did State Department lack of response and downplaying of attacks on US diplomats and their families in Cuba lead to more being harmed?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Remarks by President Trump on Cuba and Venezuela today at the UN General Assembly

"From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure." - Donald Trump at the UNGA

President Donald Trump addresses the UN General Assembly
The Office of the Press Secretary at the White House released President Donald Trump's full speech to the United Nations General Assembly this morning. Below is the excerpt that relates to Cuba and Venezuela. There is no mention either of the ongoing crisis involving U.S. diplomats physically harmed in Cuba that could lead to shuttering the U.S. Embassy in Havana or the thousands of Cuban soldiers in Venezuela that have been described as an occupying force by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro. Nevertheless it is a remarkable statement that exposes the terrible record of communism generally and specifically analyses what is taking place in the two Latin American countries.
In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution's noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them.  For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more.  In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes.  The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.  But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.  In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially.  Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.  My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.  This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.  To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.
 
The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing.  Their democratic institutions are being destroyed.  This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal.  That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy.  I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable.  We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.
 
We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today.  Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis.  We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. (Applause.)

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  (Applause.)  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime.  Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action.  All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their well being, including their prosperity.

Monday, September 18, 2017

UM shutdown ICCAS and Dr. Suchlicki opens the Cuban Studies Institute

UM's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies shutdown while Suchlicki's Cuban Studies Institute opens.


Back on July 10, 2017 this blog first raised the call that the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS) was under threat. The University of Miami claimed otherwise that only Dr. Suchlicki was going to retire and ICCAS would continue, but facts demonstrated otherwise. All staff at ICCAS were let go and by August 15, 2017 Casa Bacardi where ICCAS was located had been shut down. Dr. Suchlicki resigned from the University of Miami and has now announced that he, many of the former staff and other distinguished scholars are forming the Cuban Studies Institute which basically continues the mission that had been pursued before at ICCAS. Today received the following e-mail reproduced below and look forward to reading CSI's research and attending their events. 

Dear Friend:

Thank you for your support of ICCAS for the past two decades and for your continuing support now during a difficult time.

We have organized a new research, non-profit center, the Cuban Studies Institute (Instituto de Estudios Cubanos), and will continue the work of disseminating the reality about Cuba and its foreign policy.

Following is the Cuban Studies Institute staff:

Director: Jaime Suchlick, Ph.D. International Relations
Executive Director: Pedro Roig, J.D., Legal Issues
Program Coordinator/Office Manager: Maria Urizar
Research Coordinator: Jennifer Hernandez

The following colleagues are also joining us as Senior Research Associates of the new institute:

Alvaro Alba, Journalist
Jose Azel, Ph.D., International Business
Robert Cruz, Ph.D., Economist
Ignacio Uria, Ph.D., International Relations
Mario Gonzalez Corzo, Ph.D., Economist
Carlos Alberto Montaner, Author, Columnist
Sherri Porcelain, Ph.D., Public Health
Marco Antonio Ramos, Ph.D., History
Ambassador Otto Reich, American Foreign Policy

Research and Administrative Offices:
1500 South Dixie Highway (corner of Madruga)
Bank of America Building, 2nd floor
Coral Gables, FL 33146
E-mail: cubanstudies@cubanstudiesinstitute.com


Activities and Programs:
American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora
1200 Coral Way
Miami, FL 33145

We look forward to seeing you in our new offices and in our programs and activities.


Un fuerte abrazo,

Jaime Suchlicki











Sunday, September 17, 2017

Constitution Day 2017: 230 years after signing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution

In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American. - Antonin Scalia, Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, 534 U.S. 103 (1995).

Constitutional Convention completed ratification on September 17, 1787
 230 years ago by 35 of the founders of the United States signed and ratified the Constitution of the United States. First recognized by Iowa schools in 1911, Sons of the American Revolution in 1917, and finally by  September 17th is set aside as Constitution Day in observance of this important day that established the U.S. Constitution. 
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."


Today some will revere the Constitution as a sacred text but how did one of the actual signers view it at the time? Benjamin Franklin, during a speech in the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (September 17, 1787); reported in James Madison, Journal of the Federal Convention, ed. E. H. Scott (1893), p. 742:
In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. 
 The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, observed in a fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798:
"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
Today is a good day to re-read the Constitution and remind ourselves as citizens that we must hold the politicians accountable in order to preserve liberty and avoid despotism. Furthermore that over time amendments have been necessary to cautiously improve on the original document.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Remembering and honoring Winston Churchill, the greatest Briton, who was anti-Nazi, anti-Communist and pro-freedom

"Fascism was the shadow or ugly child of communism… As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism. Thus were set on foot those kindred movements which were destined soon to plunge the world into more hideous strife, which none can say has ended with their destruction." - Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Volume 1, The Gathering Storm (1948)

Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the greatest Briton
Today the United Nations is observing World Democracy Day and the United Kingdom is observing Battle of Britain Day.  This double observance heightens the importance of remembering the wisdom of Winston Churchill and honor the man who twice saved democracy from Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism.  Today in 1940, the Battle of Britain's most decisive clash saw the Royal Air Force repel the largest Luftwaffe air strike against the United Kingdom. Months earlier on June 18, 1940 in a speech in The House of Commons titled "Their Finest Hour" Prime Minister Churchill explained the stakes of World War II and the start of the existential clash for Great Britain: 
I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
The apologists for international communism  like to extol their so-called "antifascist"credentials while remaining silent or finding bizarre revisionist explanations on the connections between fascism and communism that Mr. Churchill succinctly outlined in the quote at the top of the page. Of even greater concern is the attempt to deny the fact that Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin signed a pact in August of 1939, that secretly included the division of Central and Eastern Europe between Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, that started World War II. This alliance lasted until the summer of 1941 when Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet union. Consider for a moment that it was Britain and France who honoring their alliance declared war on Nazi Germany on September 1, 1939 when Poland was invaded by Hitler's Third Reich.  Churchill did not equivocate and in a radio address on October 1, 1939 described the Russian's role as invaders along with the Nazis days after.
 "Poland has been again overrun by two of the great Powers which held her in bondage for 150 years, but were unable to quench the spirit of the Polish nation. The heroic defense of Warsaw shows that the soul of Poland is indestructible, and that she will rise again like a rock, which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave, but which remains a rock."
Britain and France were convinced that Russia and Germany were allies and plans were drawn up to attack Russian oil fields in order to deny them to the Nazis in what became known in the planning stages as Operation Pike.  Months later the reversals continued for Christendom. The Fall of France to the Nazi war machine took place between May 10 and June 25, 1940 over the span of 46 days ending in the evacuation of Dunkirk. This disaster is what led to Operation Pike being scrapped.


The British Empire was alone for almost a year between June 25, 1940 through June 22, 1941 as the sole main resistance to Nazi Germany. The United States would remain neutral until Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the Soviet Union was a de facto ally of Nazi Germany until Hitler invaded communist Russia on June 22, 1941 in Operation Barbarossa. The United Kingdom was all that stood between the survival of Christian civilization and a new Dark Age that Adolf Hitler called the Thousand Year Reich. If one is truly Anti-Nazi then one must celebrate and honor the legacy of Winston Churchill, who early on identified the Nazi threat and issued calls to to resistance with one of the most important in a radio address to London and the United States on October 16, 1938.
"Dictatorship – the fetish worship of one man – is a passing phase. A state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state of society cannot long endure if brought into contact with the healthy outside world. The light of civilised progress with its tolerances and co-operation, with its dignities and joys, has often in the past been blotted out. But I hold the belief that we have now at last got far enough ahead of barbarism to control it, and to avert it, if only we realise what is afoot and make up our minds in time. We shall do it in the end. But how much harder our toil for every day’s delay! Is this a call to war? Does anyone pretend that preparation for resistance to aggression is unleashing war? I declare it to be the sole guarantee of peace. We need the swift gathering of forces to confront not only military but moral aggression; the resolute and sober acceptance of their duty by the English-speaking peoples and by all the nations, great and small, who wish to walk with them."
Four years earlier on November 16, 1934, after the Nazis had just been in power a little over two years Winston Churchill warned of their threat to peace:
There is a nation which has abandoned all its liberties in order to augment its collective strength. There is a nation which, with all its strength and virtue, is in the grip of a group of ruthless men, preaching a gospel of intolerance and racial pride, unrestrained by law, by parliament, or by public opinion. In that country all pacifist speeches, all morbid war books are forbidden or suppressed, and their authors rigorously imprisoned. From their new table of commandments they have omitted “thou shall not kill.”
Sadly the world did not listen to Churchill until it was too late to avoid a major conflict, but at least it was not too late to stop the Nazi war machine although it came at great cost and suffering. Churchill understood that to defeat Hitler the Soviet Union would have to change sides and when the Nazis invaded Russia the British Prime Minister joked, "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.” The price of ending Hitler was cozying up to Josef Stalin, another genocidal totalitarian monster.

Churchill was not blind to the nature of his wartime ally and understood the threat of Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union and thankfully his warnings on March 5, 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri were listened to this time and may have avoided World War III, albeit with a cold peace.
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow." 
He then went on to make a remarkable statement about the circumstances that led to World War II and how it was completely avoidable:
Last time I saw it all coming and cried aloud to my own fellow-countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind. There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented in my belief without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honoured to-day; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool. We surely must not let that happen again.
Churchill was not only an Anti-Nazi but also an Anti-Communist and a conservative who on May 24, 1948 observed: "Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy." He also understood and celebrated the importance of free speech. In the midst of the war in 1943 he observed: "Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage."  Today let us remember this great statesman, democrat, and conservative and call on all people of good will to learn form this greatest of Britons.