Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Frank Calzon: Obama shows weakness over Cuba

Article in Spanish on CubaEncuentro. Video of interview.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cuban officials complain that President Obama continues hard-line policies aimed at weakening the socialist government.
Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington, has a sharply different view.
He believes Obama’s decision to loosen travel and remittances restrictions to Cuba in April 2009, then again in January, has only prolonged the life of the socialist government. He said:
I don't think the American policy is aggressive at all. The president has gone out of his way to allow Cuban-Americans to go to Cuba (and to allow them to send money to the island). But I am sorry to say that those efforts by the president are probably interpreted by some key figures in Havana as a weakness.
And whenever the U.S. shows weakness - or makes a concession, Cuba responds with a hostile act, the latest being the jailing of Alan Gross, Calzon said.
I assume that the president sees that imprisonment as a slap in his face after having done so much to try to reach an accommodation. The Cuban government doesn't understand what the word compromise is. The Cuban government believes that it is all or nothing - all for them and nothing for the others.
Calzon said the U.S. must be willing to take a stronger stand, like a child defending himself from bullies who want his lunch money.
If you let them take it away from you, you'll be giving away your lunch money every day. That lesson...is something that American diplomats should take to heart.
Castro understands force. I think the administration should get tougher with the regime.
His recommendation?
When someone like Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez is denied a visa to travel outside the U.S., American authorities should refuse entry to "any of these folks that the Cuban government would love to send to the United States to badmouth the United States."
Eventually, Calzon said, the U.S. will have a list of hundreds of Cubans who are waiting for permission to travel to attend conferences or artistic events.
Why should Cuban musicians, basically Cuban government musicians, be singing and dancing in New York while an American remains in prison in Cuba?
At one point when Fidel Castro understands that there are 2,500 of these people who cannot travel to the United States, he might decide that it's worthwhile allowing Mr. Gross to come home.

1 comment:

Rich Haney said...

When it comes to Cuba the easiest thing for the U. S. media to do is to provide forums for anti-Castro financial/political benefactors like Frank Calzon to vent one-sided views on topics such as Alan Gross, Yoani Sanchez, and,in this case, the "Cuban musicians" allowed (sometimes) to visit this country. If a Calzon is allowed to lambast such "musicians," the review in the June 3-2011 Washington Post by Sarah Kaufman should be used as a counter-balance. Kaufman was euphoric in reporting about the scintilating performance by the Cuban Ballet on its current U. S. visit, giving Cuban ballerina Viengsay Valdes perhaps the best review since Alicia Alonso herself dazzled American audiences. Alonso, now 90 and legally blind, has headed the Cuban Ballet since 1959. Calzon's comments are an insult to Alonso, a much treasured and beloved international legend. Instead of Calzon's schizophrenic hubris, the space could have been used for the International headlines today regarding Xi Jinping's trip to Cuba where he met a healthy Fidel Castro and called him "the world's greatest defender of national sovereignty." That's interesting because Xi Jinping, now China's Vice President, will be China's new top leader and he is already considered the most pro-Cuban Chinese leader ever. In Cuba in the past two days he signed ten major financial deals, especially strengthening China's Great Wall Drilling Company's (GWDC) activity in Cuba. GWDC has drilled 63 wells along the coast from Havana to Varadero and already has five drilling rigs and six service teams (400 workers) in Cuba. Today's www.chinadaily.com (on Xi's visit to Cuba), clearly reveals that China considers Cuba the key to it's expanding relations in Latin America. CNN International led today with the Zi visit to Cuba because of the economic deals, what he said about Castro, and Zi's abiding interest in Cuba as it relates to China's burgeoning interest in Latin America. As Xi is primed to become the top leader in China, his international headlines today from Cuba should not be ignored, not even at the expense of costing Calzon a little of his self-serving (Keep the spigot open for those anti-Castro tax dollars!)rants.