If the National Post was a true champion of 'market forces' it would do us all a favour & go out of busisness, for the paper has never made a profit and is the subsidized spout of bile of the ruling class in Canada.- RY eds
Letter to the National Post Editor on "Don't go to Cuba"
There is a lot of disinformation about Cuba. But why does the National Post seek to get a viewpoint from a US-based institution, Human Rights Watch (HRW)? This organization presents itself, according to its web site, as "one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization...supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly."
According to its own web site, it garnered total revenues for 2008 of over $41 million dollars.
Of the 100,000 $ plus donors, 22 are anonymous, but of those who are not so, the list includes companies such as Adobe. There is a long list of foundations, most based in the US. This includes the NY-based Ford Foundation. This foundation, stemming from the Ford Motor Company family, boasts $15.6 billion distributed worldwide for 2008.
One cannot say that HRW is really distancing itself from governments if we notice the name of Arturo Valenzuela as a member of the advisory Committee in the HRW Americas Section. He was a strong Bill and Hillary Clinton Democratic Party supporter and major fund-raiser; once Hillary lost the presidential bid, Valenzuela went on to finance and support the Obama campaign. He has since been nominated by President Obama as the US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. One has to keep in mind that the Obama Administration maintains the blockade against Cuba and which includes what the National Post is suggesting, but applied to US citizens: the banning of non-Cuban American tourists from the US to visit the island. The reason for this policy is the very raison d'être of the blockade being pursued for 50 years, that is, to starve the Cuban people into submission.
The Washington-protected anti-Castro terrorists in Florida even organized the 1997 bombings in Havana tourist installations with the admitted goal of disturbing the tourist industry on the island. In one of these bombings, a Canadian/Italian tourist Fabio Di Celmo was assassinated. By the away, Luis Posada Carriles (who is according to his own admission responsible for these activities), can be seen today walking the Miami streets, a free man. What does the National Post or HRW have to say about this? Where is the documented proof furnished by HRW that there are five political prisoners, internationally known as the Cuban Five, who are in US jails since 1998 on trumped-up charges? The "crime" of the Cuban Five: to try and stop these terrorists activities against their own people which have resulted in thousands of deaths and incalculable material damage. Where is the outcry about human right violations in the US?
Instead of believing the foreign-based HRW, why not come a bit closer to home and take into account the direct experience and study of so many Canadians, going "far beyond the comfortable resorts", as you say? I am one of the many.
Fact Number One: no one in Cuba is arrested, tried and convicted for having different views. Cuba is a country exhibiting amazing diversity of views. The National Post and HRW normally refer to a small group of about 75 individuals who were arrested and later tried in the spring of 2003, of which about 50 are still imprisoned. There is plenty of documented evidence, in English, available to the National Post and HRW showing that all of these individuals were financially and organizationally tied to the US Interests Section in Havana (the equivalent of an Embassy when there is no diplomatic relations). These individuals were acting in support of the US blockade policy and the disruption of the constitutional order in Cuba. Canada, like most other countries including the USA, also has laws such as the one existing in Cuba, a law which prohibits its citizens from collaborating with a foreign power against the interests of their own country. It is called treason. There is even a law in Canada which prohibits companies and individuals in Canada with complying with the US Helms-Burton extra-territorial law that seeks to hinder non-US companies in its commercial dealings with Cuba.
Fact Number Two: As far as the accusation that unemployment is considered to be ant-social, implying that people can be imprisoned for this, this is also false. There is indeed a publicly acknowledged problem in Cuba: a very small section of the population does not want to work. However, the Cubans deal with this through their usual method of persuasion and education. If a member of the National Post Editorial Board would ever wander off the "comfortable resorts", one could not help but not notice bill boards. They appeal to those people who do not want, to work. Those who do not work still have all their basic material, social and cultural needs satisfied-quite an accomplishment for a blockaded Third World country-. The government appeals to them to do their share for the society which offers so many benefits to all. The approach is so patient that I at times find it frustrating, knowing full well what the Cubans have gone through over so many decades to arrive where they are now. But no one is punished for not working. This problem of not working and the possible solutions are the subject of so much public and lively debate in the Cuban media and amongst the population in general.
Fact Number Three: "Dangerousness" is not a "legal catch-all" as the National Posts asserts without any facts. "Dangerousness" is applied only to those who are committing illicit economic and social activities-but even then persuasion and education are the guidelines-. However, Cuba remains one of the most peaceful, crime-free places in South and Central America and the Caribbean. One can even compare this situation favourably to many major Canadian cities and surely to American ones whose inner poor sections have in many occasions deteriorated into a law-of-the-jungle situation.
If Cuba really dealt with vagrancy and dangerousness in a heavy-handed manner, than the situation in Cuba would also exhibit serious social tensions, which in general, it does not.
Cuba is in a no-win situation with the National Post and HRW. The Cuban government openly deals with problems of vagrancy and economic problems. The National Post and HRW jump on this; however, if the Cuban government hid this from its own people and the world, than the Cubans would be accused of hiding the truth.
The National Post Editorial Board "Don't' go to Cuba" is so biased, unfounded and such as provocation against a sovereign nation with which Canada has diplomatic relations, that the Editorial Board should withdraw it; instead it should print all the letters that it is now getting from readers. Many of them are surely contesting the allegations against Cuba and the Editorial's appeal to Canadians so that we follow in the footsteps of Washington and thus do damage to the Cuban economy of which the tourist industry is one of the most important sectors. As far as the people, academics, business people, open-minded members of Parliament, and all sections of society, we will continue to visit Cuba as much as we want. It is quite ironic (and a bit pitiful) that the National Post, at a time when it is asking for a self-imposed ban for Canadians to visit Cuba, the majority of American people, a respectable number of members of Congress, and many mainstream media are currently pressuring the Obama Administration to allow US tourism to Cuba!!
Author, journalist, lecturer
November 20, 2009.
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