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The Hypocrisy of the United States, Cuba Edition

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair

One can only marvel at the blatant, outrageous hypocrisy of the United States. This is on clear display in many areas: proclaiming support for self-determination while financing the oppression of the Palestinians; citing international law when it suits its needs, but violating international law, such as in the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and stating that ‘all men are created equal’, as U.S. police officers gun down unarmed people of African descent. Multiple examples abound.

The government’s officials do nothing to hide this hypocrisy; rather, they seem to seek opportunities to flaunt it.

The most recent opportunity came when the U.S. called a special meeting of the United Nations to spotlight, it said, Cuba’s political prisoners. According to the U.S., Cuba has imprisoned 130 political prisoners. The U.S. called this a “blatant affront” to basic democratic freedoms.

Over the course of several years, nearly 800 of the U.S.’s political prisoners have been jailed in the U.S.’s Cuban base, Guantanamo Bay. Currently, about 55 are housed there. These prisoners are often jailed for years, without charge or access to family or legal assistance, and are tortured.

One such shocking case was the incarceration and torture of Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, arrested in Afghanistan at the age of 15 after having been badly injured by U.S. soldiers (please note that child soldiers cannot, according to international law, be arrested). After being tortured in Afghanistan, he spent 10 years in the U.S.’s Cuban-based torture chamber (yes, Canada was complicit in these crimes, and compensated Mr. Khadr with $10 million dollars, far less than he should have received).

We will look at a few of the statements the U.S. made prior to and after the U.N. meeting on Cuba. What was said during the meeting is hard to discern, since Cuban diplomats shouted over the U.S. speakers, disrupting them constantly.

The first quotation manifests in just thirty-two words the hypocrisy that is so emblematic of the United States.

“Holding the Cuban regime responsible for its human rights violations and supporting the Cuban people’s aspirations to live in freedom are key components of President Trump’s National Security Presidential Memorandum of 2017.”

Trump and the U.S. government are very selective in who they hold “responsible for its human rights violations”, and whose “aspirations to live in freedom” they support. Israel and Saudi Arabia are two of the planet’s most brutal violators of human rights, yet the U.S. supports them completely, with the U.S. providing more foreign aid to Israel than it gives to all other nations combined. The United Nations has issued more resolutions critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians than it has of any other nation, and that number would be higher if the U.S. didn’t generally veto them.

As this is being written, Palestinians demonstrating for the right of return, a right guaranteed under international law, are being slaughtered by Israel in the Gaza Strip. More Palestinians are losing their homes in the West Bank so that Israel can build illegal settlements on Palestinian land that only Israelis can live in. Yet the U.S. is proclaiming its support for the people of Cuba to “live in freedom”.

We should also point out the Cubans can leave Cuba at will; they can travel for business, pleasure, education or any other reason, with no restrictions by the government. Palestinians in the West Bank are forbidden by Israel from visiting the Gaza Strip, let alone leave the country altogether, and those in Gaza can’t visit the West Bank. Why doesn’t Trump’s ‘National Security Presidential Memorandum of 2017’ apply to the Palestinians?

A State Department statement regarding the Cuba-focused U.N. meeting proclaimed that the 130 political prisoners allegedly held by Cuba are “…”an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the regime and represent a blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support.”

There are so many things in this statement that demonstrate U.S. hypocrisy. We will attempt to sort them all out.

If having 130 political prisoners is a sign of “the repressive nature” and a “blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States” supports, what, then, is the incarceration of 55 political prisoners of the U.S? Is 55 too low a number? Is it only when the number reaches, say, 130, that it is “…an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the regime and represent(s) a blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support”?

And we must remember that that number, 55, is just those in Guantanamo. There are numerous other political prisoners in the U.S. Chelsea Manning, pardoned by President Barack Obama, was imprisoned for exposing U.S. crimes; she was sentenced to 35 years, and spent seven incarcerated, must of in solitary confinement. Edward Snowden fled the U.S. to avoid becoming a pollical prisoner. His ‘crime’, too, was exposing U.S. crimes.

And what about Mumia Abu Jamal? Convicted of the killing of a police officer in Philadelphia in 1981, a crime for which the evidence of his guilt is limited, at best, he has spent nearly 36 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement.

And then there is Leonard Peltier, an activist in the American Indian Movement. Since its founding, the U.S. has had nothing but disdain for the ‘Indians’ (indigenous population of the U.S.), and silencing a ‘trouble-maker’ like Peltier, someone who actually advocated for the indigenous population, wasn’t hard to do. He was convicted of killing two FBI agents. During his appeal, the government admitted that it had no evidence connecting him with the crime. The FBI withheld evidence that would have exonerated him. He has been imprisoned for nearly 40 years.

The U.S. is never a fan of people advocating for social change, and will reach its deadly tentacles around the world to prevent any people’s movement from succeeding. Simon Trinidad, also known as Ricardo Palmera, is one such activist. He was a negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). During a negotiation session in Ecuador, he was arrested, extradited to the U.S. and charged with drug trafficking. On his fourth trial (the government was unable to get a conviction on the first three), he was found guilty.

Several members of the Black Panther Party, arrested during the 1960s and 1070s, remain incarcerated in U.S. prisons. Their crime was attempting to obtain equal rights for U.S. citizens of African descent, another minority group which the U.S. government holds in contempt.

This is not an exhaustive list; these names, and the unnamed 55 in the Guantanamo Bay torture center, are just a few. The U.S. also uses infamous ‘rendition sites’; it kidnaps political opponents and sends them to different countries around the world to be tortured.

Certainly, there are countries with worse human rights records than the U.S. But there are many, many whose human rights practices are far superior. It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. to criticize any other nation for any alleged human rights violations, when it supports Israel and Saudi Arabia, and holds countless U.S. political prisoners in its own jail cells.

It is unlikely that this will change soon. Trump, through his own behaviors and statements, has made racism, misogyny and repression acceptable. Much of his base supports these ugly sentiments, and the Republican Party has accepted this as the new normal. Things on the Democratic Party side aren’t much better, when the government which purports to be a democracy is, in fact, an oligarchy.

It is important for people around the world to oppose the U.S. and support Palestine, Cuba, Iran and other nations victimized by the imperial United States.

More articles by:

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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