FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Cuba’s Prisoner Release

by SAUL LANDAU And NELSON P. VALDES

On July 8, the Washington Post lead story [“Cuba to release 52 political prisoners, Catholic Church says”] reported Cuba had released five political prisoners with assurances of forty-seven more to come in the near future. Cuban President Raul Castro said all political prisoners would soon be released. On July 16, another group was freed.

The Post story and its July 9 editorial “Cuba’s marginal gesture” omitted facts readers would need in order to understand the significance of the prisoner release. Both pieces convey the image of a “political prisoner” who is dedicated to expressing unwelcome views – perhaps a poet, or a whistle blower who has uncovered corruption. But these prisoners were in jail for committing crimes that would have placed them behind bars if they were done in the United States including working for a foreign government without registering, and committing violence.

For example, Orlando Zapata the hunger striker who died in March was convicted of aggravated, assault — cutting off a man’s ear with a machete because the man had intervened to stop a street brawl. He developed his reputation as a “dissident” while serving his sentence in prison.

When James Cason arrived in Cuba in 2003 to head the US diplomatic mission the State Department reportedly instructed him to adopt the “ugly American” role, to interfere blatantly in Cuba’s domestic affairs. Roger Noriega, then Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, recently explained on a Miami radio talk show that the motive was to induce Cuba to expel him, thus providing the Bush Administration with a pretext to end formal contacts with the island. To achieve that goal, Cason openly organized and paid Cuban “dissidents.” Rather than expel the puppeteer, however, Cuba arrested the puppets Cason had used as human instruments for his machinations. (July 1, Que Pasa, Miami, referring to May 20 interview on WQBA Miami [Univision], “Lo que otros no dicen”)

The editorial also missed the fact that the United States holds more political prisoners in Cuba (Guantanamo Base) than the Cuban government does. Of the 181 remaining Guantanamo detainees, an Obama Task Force recommended 48 should be released since they have been cleared of criminal acts. Most of these people were kidnapped. No warrants were issued for their arrests (July 9, Financial Times).

The US government justified such “arrests” post 9/11 because Americans felt under attack from terrorists. We should thus be able to empathize with Cubans who at least issued arrest warrants for people who secretly received money from Cuba’s avowed enemy. Declassified CIA documents attest to thousands of CIA-backed-terrorist raids against Cuba since the early 1960s. More Cubans died in these attacks than perished in the 9/11 horrors. Cuba also suffered substantial property damage from CIA backed sabotage of factories and fields.

As for civil liberties, Cuba at least held formal trials for the dissidents and found them guilty of organizing at the behest of US officials as well as discussing future actions and accepting money, goods or services from US diplomats.  They were not charged for having opposing ideas — although the expression of opposition ideas may have motivated the arrests. The Post editorial, like a similar sermon in the Los Angeles Times (July 10), seems to have made its judgment by using a double standard.

The US media has also portrayed Ghandi-like attributes of Guillermo Fariñas, the other faster of conscience, which might have been tempered by the fact of his 1995 arrest for beating the female director of a hospital. In 2002, he attacked another woman who then needed surgery.

Zapata and Fariñas may qualify as legitimate political oppositionists, but would the editorial have talked of George Jackson and other former Black Panthers without mentioning their criminal records?

Nowhere do the double standards applied to Cuba shine more dramatically than in the issue of terrorism. Currently, the United States harbors individuals accused of horrific terrorist acts – sabotage of a Cuban commercial airliner killing 73 and a spate of bombings of Cuban tourist spots killing an Italian and wounding many. Instead of indicting or extraditing Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch for international terrorism — CIA and FBI cables point to their role in sabotaging the airliner over
Barbados in 1976 killing all aboard – Washington has protected them. The Justice Department has charged Posada with immigration fraud, a minor charge, and has allowed the case to drag on for six years.

Double standards and irony abound. Spain and the United States lecture Cuba on freedom after holding the island as a formal and informal economic colony respectively for 450 years. Somehow, both seem to claim they have a perennial right to dictate Cuban government behavior.

Saul Landau, a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies is author of A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD, published by CounterPunch.

Nelson P Valdes, Professor Emeritus, Sociology Department, University of
New Mexico.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

Nelson P. Valdes is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail