Monday, July 12, 2021

McAuliff Messages to White House and State Department


Cuban Entrepreneurs Here and There   October 4, 2021

Dear Vice President Harris,

Your enjoyable visit with Daniella Senior at her Colada Shop might have reminded you that the same creative energy exists in Cuba in its nascent private sector.  

After years of struggle, they are finally achieving legal status as micro, small and medium enterprises. 

 https://www.reuters.com/article/cuba-economy-reform/from-dried-fruit-to-bike-repair-cuban-entrepreneurs-prepare-for-a-more-open-economy-idUSL1N2PW1CN

The best way to help them thrive is for the Biden Administration to finally restore remittances, a source of capital for small businesses, and travel, the market for local sales.

How much longer will you face embarrassing questions like this at the White House press conference on September 30th:

"Q Thanks, Jen. Just to follow up on Mike's question on what the Cuban foreign minister said. Just to be specific, he said, "It's a pity that President Biden couldn't implement his own policy toward Cuba." And I just wondered if you had a specific response.

MS. PSAKI: I don't."

Prolonging for more than eight months Trump's inhumane ban on remittances  is unconscionable and has contributed to unnecessary suffering and deaths.  

If the Administration does not act on Cuba this month, there could be another crisis in November that will make it even harder to keep your promises.

Regards,

John F. McAuliff 

Fund for Reconciliation and Development


Any Difference with Trump?  October 4, 2021

Dear Mr. President,

Can you cite any example in which your policy on Cuba and with whom you meet is different than President Trump's?                                                                                      

September 30 White House Press conference:

Q On one other separate topic: There have been a number of issues in the last, say, several weeks in which advocates -- allies of the President are describing him as “Trump-like.” Most -- less in terms of his personality and sort of tone and tenor, obviously, but in terms of policy. Even today, a representative of the Cuban government describing the frustration with the President continuing to maintain Trump-era policies vis-à-vis Cuba.

Does the -- what’s the President’s reaction? And does he accept that in some areas of policy he is, you know, in agreement with the former President? 

......

Q Thanks, Jen. Just to follow up on Mike's question on what the Cuban foreign minister said. Just to be specific, he said, "It's a pity that President Biden couldn't implement his own policy toward Cuba." And I just wondered if you had a specific response.

MS. PSAKI: I don't. 


UN and Covid Addresses by the President  9/23/21 

Dear Mr. President,

As I watched your meaningful speeches at the UN and at the Covid summit, two points occurred to me:

1)  "We’ll stand up for our allies and our friends and oppose attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones, whether through changes to territory by force, economic coercion, technological exploitation, or disinformation."

The US embargo of Cuba is a near universally condemned example of a stronger country seeking to dominate a weaker one by economic coercion.   Restrictions on remittances, travel, etc. imposed by Trump and continued by your Administration are more of the same.

Are we manifesting "Do as I say, not as I do"?

Some of your advisers will say hypocrisy does not matter because our coercion is for a good democratic purpose.

2)  If you hope to truly address the global need for Covid vaccines, it is politically biased narrow mindedness to ignore Cuba's progress on a different more affordable and more accessible medical science that  now includes children from two years old.  They have submitted their results to the WHO.  If successful, we should find ways to collaborate.

The White House has been sitting on the report you wanted on remittances for three weeks.  This is obviously lower priority in Washington but delay continues the harsh human cost on people in Cuba and on their family members in the US who desperately want to help them.  

I received this note from a colleague in Holguin, a single mother with two small children, afflicted with covid.  I am unable to send her any assistance through Western Union:

Te cuento que el virus me cogio los riñones y los pulmones, pero no hay medicinas, estoy tomando te y cocimiento. A mis niños si los tengo tomando antibióticos, resolvi unas medicinas, vencidas pero todavia se la pueden tomar los niños. Me duele mucho el cuerpo, y la tos se me mejoro, pero no me puedo ingresar en el hospital, no tengo con quien dejar a los niños, y mami no puede sola con los dos y menos los niños enfermos. 

John McAuliff 

Cardinal O'Malley 9/10/21

Dear Mr. President,

After writing to you yesterday, I learned of the visit by Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley to Cuba.  (links below)  

I hope you will have an opportunity soon to speak with him.

He was treated as a very high level guest and met with your counterpart, President Miguel Diaz-Canel, as well as visited the Center of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, the place Cuba's other Covid vaccines were created.

As I wrote some weeks ago, a donation of five or ten million syringes from USAID through the Catholic Church would have a great impact on Cuba's ability to vaccinate its entire population.  

Announcing such a donation and restoration of remittances and travel during a meeting with the Cardinal would be humanitarian initiatives hard to rebuff in both the Senate and in Havana.

It could also create the basis for mutually beneficial collaboration with Cuba on a vaccine for children.

In addition such a humanitarian gesture will contribute in a positive way to the potential for evolutionary change in response to the social upheaval of July 11.

I was going to say "Have a good weekend" but that hardly seems possible during the 20th commemoration of the tragic events of 9/11.

John McAuliff

https://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Boston-cardinal-tours-vaccine-laboratory-in-Cuban-16446630.php

https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba/cuban-authorities-meet-with-visiting-u-s-cardinal-sean-patrick-omalley/


Covid, travel   9/9/21

Dear Mr. President,

Your Covid remarks today were spot on. 

Everything must be done to defeat this plague and you have brought many strong options to the table.

May I suggest an unusual path that could help address the gap of vaccinations for children under 12.

I was on a Harvard webinar today featuring a presentation by Dr. Vicente Vérez Bencomo, Director of the Finlay Institute of Vaccines in Havana, moderated by Marcia Castro, Professor of Demography and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard  School of Public Health.

Dr. Verez discussed Cuba's positive trials of a vaccine for children.  If it receives WHO approval, the US should explore collaboration with the Cubans to make it available here and in other countries.

The Cubans have enough confidence in their locally developed vaccines that they plan to begin reopening for visitors on November 15th.   Prospective US visitors and our travel industry need you to restore all general licenses without further delay so they have time to prepare for business and to hire staff.

John McAuliff 


Remittances   9/3/21

Dear Mr. President,

By now you must have received the report you requested on remittances to Cuba.  I hope you will quickly move to restore them.

For more than seven months your Administration has perpetuated the cruelty of the Trump Administration, denying to Americans the ability to provide $2 billion in desperately needed assistance to family members in Cuba.

 One of the participants in your White House meeting with Cuban Americans tweeted:

         Ricardo Herrero

@ric23

Sep 2

We live in a bizarre time when allowing Western Union to resume operations in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is considered less problematic than allowing it to resume operations in Cuba. twitter.com/reuters/status…

Quote Tweet

Reuters

@Reuters

· Sep 2

EXCLUSIVE Western Union resuming services to Afghanistan - senior exec http://reut.rs/3mXCZQC https://pic.twitter.com/Uf7ePZPwnk

The vast majority of Americans and most Cuban Americans will welcome your action.  The self-interested voices of a few Senators who fantasize about regime change should not dissuade you.

 Regards,

 John McAuliff

P.S.  Restoring remittances also provides support for long overdue economic reforms permitting private micro, small and medium enterprises.


Ending the Afghanistan War and Intervention in Cuba 9/1/21

Dear Mr. President,

Your speech on ending twenty years of war in Afghanistan was difficult but essential and in marked contrast to the silence that came from the White House when the war in Vietnam came to a similarly complicated and tumultuous end.
 
It seems inherent in undeclared wars where US intervention is defeated by indigenous forces that a classic end of hostilities and orderly withdrawal of combatants, much less of local allies, is not possible.
 
Your characterization of the conflict as "civil wars with the Taliban" was significant because it allows for a reasonable post-war relationship with the nation of Afghanistan, despite Mr. Klain's inappropriate and premature preclusion of normal diplomatic recognition.
 
Your words about the cost in deaths and injuries to Americans were eloquent and moving.  I wish you had also acknowledged the costs to Afghans on both sides of the conflict as well as to innocent civilians.  That is not only more just in moral terms but also would have resonated favorably with the people of Afghanistan and with international opinion.
 
Finally, you said correctly, "When I was running for President, I made a commitment to the American people that I would end this war.  And today,  I’ve honored that commitment."   It is past time to also honor your commitment to promptly restore remittances, travel and other steps of normalization and engagement with Cuba.  

You noted your rejection of "nation building ­ trying to create a democratic, cohesive, and unified Afghanistan".  The unilateral US embargo amplified by Trump's sanctions, seeks a similar goal by other means with Cuba.    I do not dispute the economic and political faults of Cuba's government, just the wisdom and effectiveness of our interventions to address them.

Sincerely,
 
John McAuliff



Maintaining the Embassy, Remittances Report

(To the President)

The Washington Post reported today:

"President Biden is planning to withdraw the U.S. ambassador and all diplomatic staff in Afghanistan by Tuesday, and it is unclear when or if they might return to the country, according to two U.S. officials."

Please do not act unilaterally on this matter.  The US more than any other country in the world acts as though diplomatic recognition is a reward rather than a function.

Recall that it took 20 years to restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam and more than 50 years with Cuba.  What was accomplished by those gaps other than egotistical political posturing?  It is easy to break relations; hard to restore them.  We create a big moral and political crisis around a question of practical self-interest when we finally get around to normalization.

Especially in a situation where there are tens of thousands of Afghans and hundreds of Americans who have a legal or moral claim on entry to the US, some official diplomatic and consular presence in Kabul is essential for travel documents.

Continuing US representation may also give Afghans who are prepared to risk staying because of the contribution they hope to make more confidence to try.

My daughter has not been able so far to arrange for the departure of any of the staff in her USAID funded legal training program and surely her organization is not the only one. (She reports incidentally that the Taliban did not release all the ISIS-K prisoners in Bagram, because at least one of them to whom they were providing legal aid is still imprisoned.)

By the way, Monday marks the 30 day deadline you set for a report on renewing remittances to Cuba.  I do not argue that this takes priority one day from final military withdrawal from Afghanistan.  However we had a good system in place with Western Union.  For seven months you have allowed the unconscionable restrictions of Donald Trump to continue despite the more than 50% of Cubans whose suffering would have been less.

Afghan Deaths

 (To the State Department)

The Secretary's speech about Afghanistan today was quite good.

It was welcome that he mentioned the number of displaced Afghans but he should have also cited the number who have lost their lives and been injured.  The media only mentions US losses which is one reason we are as unlikely to learn lessons from Afghanistan as we did from Vietnam.

Regardless of what our media picks up, understanding of and sympathy for their suffering would be heard by the people of Afghanistan, regardless of their politics, and by international opinion.

 


Senator Menendez Misleads on Afghanistan and Cuba

Dear Mr. President,

Senator Menendez was opportunistic, unrealistic and unreliable in his remarks reported by the Washington Post about the tragic deaths of Americans and Afghans yesterday:

"The most vocal Democratic criticism came from Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who questioned whether Taliban guards had failed in letting the ISIS bombers get so close to the Kabul airport." ...

 “As we wait for more details to come in, one thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security,” Menendez said in a statement, before the full details of the death toll had been officially announced."

Providing security at the Kabul airport is not an easy problem, but whom does he propose should provide additional perimeter security?   If Americans did it, they would become even more vulnerable.

Senator Menendez is equally opportunistic, unrealistic and unreliable about Cuba.   Show courtesy to his important Senate position by informing him of your policy to restore remittances, the embassy and travel, but do not ask for his permission.

Regards.

John McAuliff


Following the Afghanistan Model with Cuba  8/23/21
 

Dear Mr. President,

Stay strong on Afghanistan.  Ignore the people who kept us there uselessly and want to provoke a way to return.

1975 in Saigon was worse.  After April 30th when the South Vietnamese government and military collapsed, all we did was pick people up at sea for the next three years.

Phnom Penh two weeks earlier is less remarked upon because we did almost nothing to save people allied with the US from the Khmer Rouge.

Even more important than how you assist those who leave is whether the US can influence positively how the Taliban forms a new government and how it treats the hundreds of thousands of people affected by our twenty year effort to remake their society and culture.

If you show equal political courage by renewing engagement with Cuba, it will actually be easier and have a more visible short to mid term positive outcome.  Your call for a solution to restore desperately needed remittances is due in one week. 

Restoration of travel must be announced at the same time so Cubans who benefit from American visitors will find hope and US businesses can hire staff for the coming winter season.

Both you and President Diaz-Canel face a problem of domestic opponents who fear more than anything else peaceful evolutionary change.   Neither of you should allow yourselves to be immobilized by the necessary words of the other. 

As soon as remittances resume, the Vice President, the First Lady  and USAID director should visit Cuba to discuss substantial medical and food assistance for distribution through the Catholic Church.

Ulises Aquino of Opera de la Calle is still in Miami, collecting assistance for his theater company.  Change the mood: bring Opera to Washington; send Hamilton to Havana.  Enjoy a performance on line  https://youtu.be/zfy7y9cm6cQ


Regards,

John McAuliff 


On Afghanistan and Echo Chambers

Dear Mr. President,

 Your just completed presentation on Afghanistan was courageous and correct.

 As a country we have come to confuse pride in our values and institutions with expectation they will be universally shared by people with substantially different histories and cultures.  We also are prone to be misled by an echo chamber.  We hear only the local people who agree with us and find it hard to distinguish between principled honesty and expedient self-interest.

 You need to make clearer the path to insure that Afghans closely linked to the US presence are able to leave the country.  My daughter who  works with  a  US  NGO that had a legal defender training program is now preoccupied about how their staff will find a safe route for emigration.

 Presumably the Taliban will find it preferable that people leave whose religious, political, military and cultural loyalty they doubt if a system can be developed that respects their sovereign authority and governmental legitimacy.

 I hope you are successful for the benefit of both our peoples and the larger agenda of your Administration.

 John McAuliff

 

Vietnam-Cuba Parallels

 Dear Vice President Harris,

I was very exciting to hear you will be visiting Viet Nam in a few days.  After SNCC and the Peace Corps, the next thirty years of my life were focused on Vietnam, first in the peace movement, then working for post-war normalization of relations with the US.  After that happened, in the late 1990s my attention shifted to the same objective with Cuba.

Which leads me to suggest you find some time to speak with the Vietnamese about Cuba.  The two countries have extremely warm relations, in part because of a similar history with the US. 

Havana is frustrated that it has not been as successful in achieving reconciliation with us after sixty years as the Vietnamese were after twenty years--despite their similar single party controlled democracies.  

Hanoi is frustrated that the Cubans have not been able to break through their ideological blinders and paranoia about American intentions to move to a market economy—despite the dramatic example of what that means for popular well being.

It is also worth reflecting on comparisons between Vietnam's 3,000 year history with China and Cuba's 300 year history with the US--their common problem of maintaining independence in the face of deeply interlinked cultures, economies and histories.

Have a great trip, and enjoy the food.  You probably won't have time but the restaurant that President Obama and Tony Bourdain famously enjoyed is worth a stop.  Or, if you like fish, go to the original Cha Ca in the Old City.

John McAuliff


Appeal to the President to be Joe Biden With Cuba  8/6/21

Dear Mr. President,

You are on the verge of a phenomenal achievement, adoption of an one trillion dollar infrastructure bill with real bipartisan support. 

I appeal you to apply similar personal skills to your interaction with Cuba.  

For that to happen you should fire whomever gave you the description of Cuba as a "failed state".  It is so wildly inaccurate that it could lead to disastrous policy choices and strengthen Trumpian forces within the Cuban American community.  Regime change rhetoric blocks all productive communication with Cuban leaders, in and out of government.

I have traveled to Cuba 60 times since 1997--as a Cuban security screener informed me at the airport in March 2020, a visit that was to have included celebration of St. Patrick's Day with the Ambassador of Ireland, based in Mexico, accredited to Cuba.  (You may have met Barbara Jones when she was Consul in New York.  She had to cancel because of Covid.)

Cuba has serious problems as reflected in the July 11 protests but they do not affect the underlying stability and functioning of a well educated and culturally rich country (as Dr. Biden can attest from her visit).  There have been serious debates for more than a decade about economic and structural reforms.   Leaders in the government have supported many of them but implementation has been agonizingly slow.  (Sound familiar?)  Your staff would be surprised if they review the critical comments we have posted on our blog.

In particular today's article from the Spanish paper El Pais provides honest insight into the views of Cuban students https://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/2021/08/opinions-of-cuban-students-post-july-11.html

You could dramatically change human parameters within Cuba and between our countries by using USAID funds to send via the Catholic Church ten million syringes for Covid vaccinations.  Caritas could provide them through local churches to health clinics. (Private US groups have already sent six million.)  

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/


Response to President Biden's Opening Remarks at His Meeting with Cuban Americans 7/30/21

Dear Mr. President,

I appreciate your desire to stand with the Cuban people but you are being badly misled about what that means.

In your statement on Friday, you characterized the July 11th protests as a "historic demonstration of the will of the people".  They were historic, but realism requires recognition that, as with protests in the US, only part of the people were represented.   It would be presumptuous of me, as it is of your advisers, to say how most Cubans feel, and in particular whom they most blame for their current difficult situation.

Many Cubans who are critical of their government are at least as critical of the US embargo and of your prolongation of the Trump attack on remittances and travel and on visas for immigration and visits.  You won't know that if you only hear the words of Cubans who are supported by right wing Cuban Americans or by USAID, NED, NDI, IRI, etc.

However you feel about the validity and utility of years of US democracy funding for regime change, you have to worry about the problem of a closed circle of US agencies receiving the information they want to hear and indeed have helped to create.  

There is a double edge to "expanding our assistance to political prisoners and dissidents".  From the viewpoint of many in Cuba that is further evidence of self-interest and disloyalty, much as many Americans in the 1950s distrusted the relationship between members of the US Communist Party and the Soviet Union.  

You should also consider why your goal of "rallying nations to speak out and increase pressure on the regime" has been such a failure, including the effort to engage the OAS.  Our closest allies in Europe and the Americas share our criticism of Cuba's governance and economic system but believe our embargo is a significant contributing factor and are disappointed in your six month failure to undo Trump's damage.

When will you meet with Americans, including over 80% of Democrats, who favor engagement over hostility?

Contact Us | The White House  8/1/21


RESPONSE TO WHITE HOUSE FACT SHEET


Dear Mr. President, 

The remittance section of the White House "FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Measures on Cuba" starts out OK but makes no sense at the end.  

"without a portion of the proceeds being siphoned off by the regime"  

WRONG  The fees received by FINCIMEX come from the up front payment by the sender to Western Union.   They are only 22% of the Western Union fee, low by international standards.  When I sent donations for our Irish music programs, the only deduction was the normal 3% foreign exchange charge.  FINCIMEX funded a network of 420 Western Union branded offices and had to pay for rent, salaries and computer infrastructure.

"do not reach their intended recipients, including some of the most vulnerable populations"   

DISINFORMATION  I have never heard this before or seen any evidence.  My guess is you are being spun by Miami urban legends or deliberate falsehood.

"instead are being used as a stopgap to treat their government’s failures"

POLITICS  This is a non-sequitur but may reveal the actual agenda of opponents of remittances.  Their real objective is to punish/stop Cuban Americans and Americans from helping family and friends because we are transferring dollars into Cuba's national economy.

That is the money the government uses to import food from the US and buy medicine and consumer goods for sale to the recipients of remittances and other people.

You could set a humanitarian example by negotiating directly with the Cuban government to move FINCIMEX from the military linked holding company GAESA to another corporate home.

This is a diversion from your essential and worthy agenda.

John McAuliff


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Response to President Biden re Remittances

Dear Mr. President,

Last Thursday you mischaracterized how remittances work with Cuba.

"I would not do that now because the fact is it’s highly likely that the regime would confiscate those remittances or big chunks of it."

Having used Western Union several times to send funds to friends in Cuba who play Irish traditional music (more on that in another message), it did not ring true so I double checked my memory and spoke with experts.  My report is here  https://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/2021/07/remittances-how-they-work.html

The bottom line is that recipients in Cuba receive 100% of funds sent, minus only the 3% applied to all foreign currency exchanges.  All fees are paid up front to Western Union by the American sender.  Fincimex, the Cuban company that handles disbursement, receives less than the norm for its services.  You can get the exact amount from Western Union, but it is less than 1/3 of the prepaid fee.  Fincimex must pay the cost of 420 Western Union branded pay outs nationwide, including rent, staff and computer infrastructure.

You could enable reestablishment of this totally credible system immediately.  

If the fact that Fincimex is part of the military-linked Gaesa holding company is problematic because of the political optics in Florida, I suspect that mutually respectful conversations between your personal representative and a representative of Cuba's president could quickly solve that problem.

Because of the eruption of legitimate popular dissent in Cuba, and the police repression that greeted both peaceful and destructive protest, you are faced with a choice.  You can double down on the dead-end policy that preceded the Obama-Biden Administration or take the political heat from Republicans in Florida and restore remittances, travel and consular authority.  

The former leads to additional instability and bilateral acrimony; the latter offers a path to peaceful economic and political evolution with growing US influence.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Response to Statement by President Biden on Protests in Cuba

JULY 12, 2021•STATEMENTS AND RELEASES


We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime. The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves.


My message in response through White House contact form:


First, strong appreciation for your decision to end the US military presence in Afghanistan and the clarity of your press conference.  Comparisons to the situation in Vietnam in April 1975 should note that the US people and Congress struggled for years to end aid to the Thieu regime.  No such opposition exists to aid to the government of Afghanistan.  Kabul will have the resources to succeed if it has the will, integrity and ability.


I am glad you are concerned about the situation in Cuba but today's statement does not show the same vision and courage.


Suffering and repression in Cuba are real but your Administration's failure to promptly reverse Trump's policies has been an undeniable contributing factor.


Most dramatically the continued ban for over five months of family remittances and personal gifts has blocked desperately needed humanitarian assistance from Cuban Americans and American friends.


If you are serious about "relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic", provide the syringes and components for production and distribution of Cuban developed vaccines.


Cuba, like our own society, becomes more repressive when threatened.  


By echoing Trump's terrorism accusation, his voting against the UN embargo resolution rather than abstaining and his denigration of Cuban medical assistance to other countries afflicted by Covid, your Administration has reinforced fear in Havana that the US is falling back to regime change for domestic political reasons.


"Fundamental and universal rights" that must be respected include the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba and freedom for international trade and investment as endorsed with virtual  unanimity by the UN for twenty five years.


Moral support of protestors if they are not US linked is legitimate but can lead to simultaneous migratory crises from Haiti and Cuba.


The accusation that, "the Cuban regime" is "enriching themselves" in this crisis echoes a Republican theme in Miami and diminishes your statement. 


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


A Letter to the Secretary of State Regarding His Misguided Words About Cuban Medical Teams and Covid


Secretary Blinken might want to consider the extant Trumpian influence within his Department.


https://www.c-span.org/video/?513120-1/secretary-state-blinken-delivers-remarks-human-trafficking-report 12:12 is the Cuba reference during his introduction to the annual Human Trafficking Report



Dear Secretary Blinken,


You gave an excellent and thoughtful presentation at your introduction to the “2021 Trafficking in Persons Report” except for your comments on Cuban medical aid programs.  That section sounded like political propaganda from the Trump era, especially with an implicit comparison to China's treatment of the Uighurs.  

 
Politicized verbal excess does give you something in common with your Cuban counterpart.  Hopefully there will come a day when the two of you can reflect on the deleterious impact of domestic politics on your role as diplomats.

 
It was regrettable to give prominence to a shoddy section of the report based on biased attacks from hard line Cuban Americans and hold-over allies in the State Department rather than objective professional analysis.

 
It appears that some balancing language was inserted, no doubt a struggle.   But the authors should feel shame to have written, "the government used the pandemic as an opportunity to expand the reach of its exploitative export medical services, sending more than 2,770 workers to 26 countries to provide medical care."
 

Would it have been too hard to acknowledge the motivation of the volunteer participants, the value of the short term services they provided and the appreciation of the countries that hosted them?  Rather than offering tribute to their sacrifice, lost lives are used as a basis of criticism, "at least four Cuban medical professionals died after contracting COVID-19, three in Venezuela and one in Angola."


Trump's response to Covid was to force every Peace Corps volunteer in the world to abruptly abandon her or his post without approval of or even consultation with the host country.  For whatever mix of motives Cuba acted more honorably in sending medical volunteers to provide humanitarian assistance despite the danger.


On the topic of more conventional analysis of human trafficking, this language would be funny if it were not symptomatic of the inherent bias that distorts the credibility of the report, "The government did not report investigating cases of trafficking in 2020, compared with 15 potential cases of trafficking investigated in 2019.... Authorities did not report any new investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of foreign nationals for purchasing sex from child sex trafficking victims, compared with five foreign nationals imprisoned in 2019 from Italy, Serbia, India, France, and the Netherlands."


Because of Covid there were far fewer foreign tourists in Cuba in 2020 to be charged.  In addition, Cuban police had higher priorities, as did ours, from the pandemic crisis.


It was not only the US embargo vote at the UN that was a step backwards.  Ambassador Power's abstention address honored the work of Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade and the spirit of international medical collaboration. 

 
I hope that the Administration’s review of Cuba policy can include an honest and balanced evaluation of its medical assistance programs, treating them as soft-power we should compete or cooperate with positively rather than attempt to destroy.


Sincerely,


John McAuliff


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

US Embargo Vote at the UN


Dear Secretary Blinken,

 It was retrograde, even shameful, to follow the Trump path rather than Obama on the embargo vote at the UN yesterday.  Not surprisingly neither US Ambassador was associated with our rather lame intervention.

 I suggest you read and take seriously the statements by the European Union, ASEAN and CARICOM  https://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/2021/06/speeches-at-un-during-embargo-debate.html

 This is the letter I sent to the New York Times:

To the Editor,

 In 2016 when Ambassador Samantha Power eloquently explained to the UN General Assembly why the US would abstain on the resolution condemning our unilateral embargo of Cuba, she received a rare ovation.   On Wednesday, the Foreign Minister of Cuba received the only ovation when he criticized the Biden Administration for abandoning its own campaign promises and supporters.

It is hard to understand why an Administration that was bragging last week about rebuilding relations with allies in Europe could so blithely ignore the unanimous message from the European Union not only that the embargo is wrong, but also that the policies of the Trump Administration worsened the lives of the Cuban people and hopes for change on the island.

A policy review of US relations with Cuba that is concluded in a timely fashion has merit.  But backsliding to Trump's position on a symbolic UN vote hurt Biden politically and damaged his credibility in the world.

Even more disturbing in humanitarian terms is that for five months of bureaucratic dithering Biden has joined Trump in denying Cuban Americans the ability to send remittances to desperate family members.  Economically Biden's inaction on restoring travel has cost jobs in a beleaguered industry that needs months to prepare for Cuba's post Covid reopening.

John McAuliff


Dear President Biden,

Congratulations for all you achieved in Europe.  On Wednesday you have another opportunity to affirm your collaboration with allies and respect for international opinion.

You will choose whether the US returns to Ambassador Samantha Power's historic abstention on the annual UN condemnation of the US embargo of Cuba, an action that prompted a rare ovation from the General Assembly. 

Instructing Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield to follow the Trump path of voting against the resolution would disgrace your Administration.

It is time to stop hiding behind "not a priority" and "a very thorough review".  For five months you have unconscionably prolonged Trump's attack on Cuban Americans by forbidding them to send remittances to family members in desperate need.  You have also frustrated the creation of jobs by businesses and organizations that need months to prepare for return to Cuba.

This is our newsletter that was posted to more than 8,000 subscribers this morning, most of whom supported your election.  https://conta.cc/3d1L5l8 

Thanks for returning sanity to the White House.  Don't forget Cuba.

John McAuliff

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

 

Dear Secretary Blinken,

Congratulations for all you achieved in Europe.  On Wednesday you have another opportunity to affirm your collaboration with allies and respect for international opinion.

You will choose whether the US returns to Ambassador Samantha Power's historic abstention on the annual UN condemnation of the US embargo of Cuba, an action that prompted a rare ovation from the General Assembly. 

Instructing Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield to follow the Trump path of voting against the resolution would disgrace the State Department.

It is time to stop hiding behind "not a priority" and "a very thorough review".  For five months you have unconscionably prolonged Trump's attack on Cuban Americans by forbidding them to send remittances to family members in desperate need.  You have also frustrated the creation of jobs by businesses and organizations that need months to prepare for return to Cuba.

This is our newsletter that was posted to more than 8,000 subscribers this morning, most of whom support this Administration.  https://conta.cc/3d1L5l8 

Thanks for returning sanity to Foggy Bottom.  Don't forget Cuba.

Regards,

John McAuliff

https://register.state.gov/contactus




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