Thursday, September 17, 2020

McAuliff Comments on the Biden-Harris Campaign

 Article published by the Quincy Institute.  

"Joe Biden can display a new diplomacy-first US foreign policy by re-engaging Cuba"


Response to the Foreign Minister

The goal of Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to reassert the concept and treaty agreement of Latin America as a zone of peace and equal rights is indisputable and indispensable.

While understandable, his focus on the Monroe Doctrine requires more nuance.

When John Kerry was Secretary of State, he buried the Monroe Doctrine in a speech at the Organization of American States.  However, John Bolton explicitly resuscitated it as National Security Adviser.  From Joe Biden's statements to date, I expect reinterment, even regarding Venezuela.

This does not mean that the US will cease trying to influence events in other countries in the Western Hemisphere, nor that it will stop pushing back against the role of other big powers.

However, that is the hegemonistic characteristic of virtually every country in the world with the power to subjectively conceive that the logical interests of neighbors are inherently compatible with its own.

Countries bordering or close to China and Russia are no less sensitive to overt and covert threats to their sovereignty than is Cuba to the U.S.  Just ask Georgia, Ukraine, India and the countries surrounding the South China Sea.  As an American of Irish extraction, I can cite chapter and verse about centuries of English depredations, including the continuing forced separation of northern Ireland.

It was not noticed, but during her impeachment testimony Fiona Hill reported that the Russians had broached the idea that they would accept US Monroe Doctrine tenets about Venezuela if the US reciprocated for Russia's relationship to Ukraine.

For those that geography has condemned to permanent existence in a near abroad, an extraordinary and inescapable challenge is how to maintain economic and political self-determination against both explicit demands and unspoken natural attractions leading to cultural and financial dominance by a wealthier more powerful neighbor.

A classic response is to develop enough of a relationship with one or more other global players to motivate more respect close to home, albeit also self-interested.  The hard part is those ties can add the dimension of national security to the hegemon's self-justification.   US concerns about Russian and more recently Chinese influence in Cuba were earlier expressed about other European countries supplanting a collapsing Spanish empire.  Russia makes no secret about the self-defense dimension of its actions in Ukraine, nor China about its anger against Viet Nam and the US finding common cause.

Hopefully we are at the conclusion of the Trump/Rubio era in Latin America.  Foreign Minister Rodriguez will be able to redirect his attention from the old crude war to the new more subtle one.  With imagination and creativity both Cuba and the US will this time find a path to mutual respect and benefit.

ACN: Cuban FM urges to confront the Monroe Doctrine that US intends to impose in the Americas
From: Abel Gonzalez Alayon
Date: Mon, 07 Sep 2020 09:15:11 PDT

Cuban FM urges to confront the Monroe Doctrine that US intends to impose in the Americas

HAVANA, Cuba, Sep 7 (ACN) Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez today urged on his Twitter account that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean respect their commitments as the only way to confront the Monroe Doctrine that the United States intends to impose in the region.

Rodriguez referred to the importance of observing the principles of national sovereignty and equal rights, which is the basis of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as Zone of Peace.

He added that only thus, we can face the US everlasting wish of imposing the Monroe Doctrine in the Americas territory.
Abel Gonz�lez Alay�n
Chief-Editor Language Department
Cuban News Agency


Comments on column by Andres Oppenheimer

If the Biden campaign wants to gain support from Cuban Americans, especially from younger ones, he and Senator Harris should aggressively promote their determination to undo the attack by Trump and Rubio on the freedoms and interests of Cuban Americans: restore unrestricted remittances, reopen consular authority in Havana for family visit and immigration visas, enable again commercial and charter flights to regional cities.

Human rights can and should be part of US dialogue with Cuba as it is with Vietnam, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc. However efforts to force change will backfire over the natural issue of sovereignty and mutual respect.

Secretary Kerry certainly would understand that greater political openness is unlikely in Havana as long as Cuba is the victim of a unilateral US embargo and we hold onto the Guantanamo base in violation of international law and our principles.

Given his ideological orientation, it is not surprising that Mr. Oppenheimer does not recognize the civil society and economic openings that were produced by the Obama policy.


Cuba is gradually moving to lift the internal blockade. It is harder to do when the external blockade remains in place because it further undermines social and economic equity while still under external threat.

What do you think of this idea?

President Biden should suspend the embargo for Cuban cuenta propistas and small and medium enterprises--for imports, exports and investment.

That would pose a challenge to both countries to put their money where their mouth is.


Response to column by Dan Restrepo

Dan Restrepo was a status quo influence in the first Obama term. It is good he is supporting Joe Biden and writes in favor of Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans. However, his visceral hostility to Caracas and Havana offer little guidance to the kind of leadership Biden could provide to fulfill Obama's potential.

Biden's first step must be to restore all of Obama's policies that benefited Cuban Americans, including consular authority for family reunion and immigration visas, unrestricted remittances and commercial and charter flights to regional cities.

For other Americans, independent and group travel and cruises must be immediately enabled. Investment that supports increasingly enfranchised small and medium enterprises should be encouraged.

Over time creative diplomatic initiatives can produce a political solution to sanctions against both Venezuela and Cuba. Biden can separate the question of credible inclusive elections in Venezuela from the regime change pretense of creating a pretender President courtesy of a reborn Monroe Doctrine.


Comment to ??

What would be the impact if the Biden campaign aggressively focused on Trump/Rubio punishments targeted at “disloyal” Cuban Americans who put family above ideology: virtual elimination of family reunion and immigration visas by closing consular facilities in Havana, destruction of commercial and charter flights to regional cities in Cuba, and attacks on remittances.

Will the new economic reforms in Cuba help motivate Cuban Americans to see greater personal and family benefit from better bilateral relations under Biden? Is there anything else that Havana can do to heighten interest in Florida, e.g. ending the requirement of holding a Cuban passport or paying special visa fees?


Comment on statements by Biden supporters in Miami

The Republicans are hypocritical. The Democrats are opportunistic.

 Frank Mora and Kevin Muñoz can play gotcha on Susana Pérez but the spirit of their candidate is to reopen the door to complicated and honest interaction between Cubans wherever they live and whatever their history.

 The goal is mutual respect and recognition of the legitimacy of engagement. 

Annette Taddeo scores points by noting that Pérez has made trips to Cuba. If Joe Biden becomes President, the door will reopen for travel of Cuban Americas on direct flights to provincial capitals and for Cubans to get visas for family reunions and immigration.

If Pérez recited poems glorifying Che in Cuba because of accommodation to the one party culture of Havana, how much are her new lines shaped by the one party culture of Miami?


Comments during New America web program with Jim Sciutto

 John McAuliff (You) 01:25 PM

Can we understand Trump's policy towards Cuba as another example of carrying water for Putin?  The evolutionary consequence of the Obama opening was to increase US presence and influence.  Because of Trump's hostility, Cuba once again finds Russia a necessary partner and Putin has taken advantage of the opportunity.

 John McAuliff (You) 01:48 PM

There are always other reasons for Trump's policies, e.g. on Iran,  Syria, Ukraine, as well as Cuba, but at the end of the day are his actions more compatible with Russian than US interests, Nancy Pelosi's noted "through line"?  Certainly one effect of Trump's fatuous Venezuela policy was a greater role for the Russian oil company. How much will growing tension with China increase the likelihood of a China-Russia alliance?


Response to Otto Reich

 The distortions and dishonesty in Mr. Reich's article echo his record in the Reagan and Bush Administrations.

 His reliability is badly compromised by his record in the Iran Contra scandal.

 For background, go to

 Like others in the hard right Cuban American world, he must be frantic about the political collapse of President Trump and the prospective return of an engagement policy under President Biden.


 John Suarez Brain damage was more thoroughly investigated in Canada. It was confirmed as chemically caused. The Canadians blamed overspraying of insecticide. It could have also been done by the Russians who wanted to preserve space for their reentry or, despite Sen. Rubio's odd voluntary denial, extremists in Miami, probably the only ones who would have also targeted the Canadians.

 More here


Response to article equating Biden and Trump

Venezuelan origin Democrats will characterize and try to shape Biden's policies in accordance with their own views.  The same happened among Cuban origin Democrats in the Obama campaign.  A campaign will take support from wherever it comes.

Progressives should not use ideological assumptions to rationalize disengagement or to deny that life will be substantially worse for the people we care for in Cuba and Venezuela if Trump is reelected.  Biden is the only alternative.

Additional links

Biden and Harris Statements on Cuba are here

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