The Last Summit … Thank God

Fidel Castro scored one big political victory last week, without speaking or even leaving his house – and one sort of amusing little win. By a lopsided score at the Summit of the Americas meeting in Cartagena, Fidel beat President Obama 31-2. The USA and Canada still want to exclude Cuba from future meetings, but the rest of the Hemisphere rejected the US position. Excluding Cuba, most Presidents maintained (Ecuadorian President Correa Nicaragua’s Ortega refused to attend this session because Washington insisted on excluding Cuba), would mean they would not attend future meetings.

Fidel has indeed persevered as the little win illustrated when Marlins’ Manager Ozzie Guillen said he admired Fidel’s ability to persevere in the face of hundreds of assassination plots.  He was subsequently suspended and received tons of hate mail. The incident showed that Fidel’s Miami-based enemies remain obsessed and can’t think clearly. Two hundred or so picketed the stadium and demanded that Marlins’ owners fire Guillen because he said, “I love Fidel Castro,” meaning, he clarified, “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother—— is still here.”

“Guillen knows he has much work to do [for expressing himself]  to win back a segment of fans. Some may never forgive him.” (Edgar Thompson NY Times, April 17)

“No matter what I do,” he said, “it’s not going to be enough.” Guillen realized that Fidel has obsessed his foes.

One old enemy, Luis Posada Carriles the assassin, in between continued violence plotting and visits to his proctologist, finagled an exhibition of his paintings at a Coral Gables bank – not the kind of art he tried practicing against Fidel’s life and a Cuban passenger airplane he bombed out of the sky in 1976 with 73 aboard.

Obama lost in Cartagena because his agenda didn’t match the needs of countries of his fellow heads of state. Indeed, his pushing a free trade treaty (neo-liberalism incarnate) in an area that has witnessed the devastating impact of this economic model and suffers from poverty and inequality did not win him admiration. Obama also insisted on maintaining the drug war that has turned several countries into murderous narco-states. Maybe Obama thought he could apply to drugs the old “nothing succeeds like failure” formula?

The nonsense he spouted on Cuba, however, provoked all the attendees with the exception of Canadian Prime Minister. Central American and the Caribbean nations’ leaders argued to repudiate the exclusion and embargo. They all recognized Cuba’s legitimacy and sent a clear message. Only the right wing Canadian Prime Minister voted with Washington.

US policy toward Cuba is at best “an anachronism,” conservative Colombia President Santos said, a stupid and stubborn obsession that has outlived both the Cold War and all semblance of reality

Obama’s predictable election year response? Cuba had not yet made the democratic changes Washington demanded to justify a US policy change. One could imagine the chorus of groans. The ignorant or obsessed – extremist Cuban exiles inridden Miami – might buy the “no free elections or press in Cuba” line, given US affinity for Saudi Arabia and other sexist monarchies. Once historical facts enter the equation the US case goes down the proverbial drain.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman (D) reflected majority feeling at Cartagena: “We are out of step with our policy with Cuba. It is past time to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and end the embargo.”

Indeed, Obama even admitted, “sometimes those controversies date back to before I was born. And sometimes I feel as if in some of these discussions, or at least the press reports, we’re caught in a time warp, going back to the 1950s and gunboat diplomacy and Yankees and the Cold War, and this and that and the other.” (Andrew Cawthorne and Brian Ellsworth, Reuters, April 16)

“Time warp?” In 2009, Obama backed a coup d’etat in Honduras. In 2002 (W. Bush), the United States supported an unsuccessful coup in Venezuela. Or maybe those examples illustrated Obama’s “this that and the other.”

In Cartagena, while Secret Service and military personnel enjoyed some no longer secret services US officials piously invoke human rights to explain Cuba policy. Yet, the world knows the US holds more political prisoners at Guantanamo Bay than Cuba has – and arguably under worse conditions.

A Century ago, Washington grabbed that piece of Cuba, and keeps it despite Havana’s demand for its return. In the 20th Century, US troops invaded and occupied Cuba three times, not including the invasion by CIA-backed Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs.

In 1952, Obama might read, to defeat anti-democratic Communism the democratic US fought the Cold War[ML3] . In Cuba, this translated into backing General Fulgencio Batista when he shredded the Cuban constitution and made himself President (dictator). No complaints came from Washington when Batista invited mafiosos to become partners with his government in gambling and prostitution. Washington sent arms and US trainers to help Batista.

In 1954, the CIA overthrew President Jacobo Arbenz and replaced him with military thugs who ruled Guatemala for over three decades of murder, torture and looting.

Past US friends and allies include Nicaragua’s Anastasio Somoza and sons,  “Our son of a bitch” as FDR called the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo, Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier in Haiti and Chile’s Augusto Pinochet – and scores of lesser-known dictators.

Washington has removed disobedient, albeit democratically elected governments, and replaced them with obedient but human rights violating military regimes.

If future Summit meetings exclude the United States that’s OK. Latin American leaders agreed: they don’t need Washington to hold a meeting. Fidel’s been saying that for decades.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP and his FIDEL films are distributed by cinema libre studio. His is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow.


More articles by:

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes