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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Cuba"

Is Maduro back on top in Venezuela?

Westlake Legal Group MaduroBolivar Is Maduro back on top in Venezuela? Venezuela The Blog Russia Nicolas Maduro Juan Guaido Cuba China

We haven’t checked in on what’s been happening in the failed state of Venezuela recently, mostly because there hasn’t been much movement in the stalemate. With no dramatic breakthroughs in negotiations being hosted by other nations and no major concessions from either dictator Nicolas Maduro or self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, the imploded socialist state seems to have dropped off of the international media’s radar in large part.

But it may be that Maduro has been using this lull in the action to solidify his position. The Washington Post editorial board had a rather depressing column yesterday describing some of Maduro’s moves and how he may be playing a waiting game with the rest of the world… and winning.

FOUR MONTHS after a failed U.S.-backed putsch against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, his regime has hunkered down, betting that it can outlast its domestic and foreign opponents. For the moment, at least, it seems to have the upper hand.

Having broken off negotiations with opposition leaders over a new election last month, Mr. Maduro last Monday signed an ersatz deal with minor parties that he may use to undermine the opposition-controlled National Assembly. He has partially liberalized the economy, reducing the inflation rate from seven to six digits and causing food and other consumer goods to reappear in some stores. And he has strengthened ties with Colombian guerrilla movements and deployed 150,000 troops to the border, seeking to intimidate a country that, along with the Trump administration, has pushed hardest for regime change in Caracas.

The one thing keeping the hopes of Guaido and the opposition alive up until now has been the essentially unified front being presented by the National Assembly. Even though Maduro’s puppets managed to rewrite much of the nation’s constitution and gut the Assembly’s power, they’ve remained united against the dictator and kept on the pressure.

Now, with the battle having ground on for far too long, Maduro has started making offers of minor gifts and concessions to some of the smaller parties in the opposition coalition in exchange for their tacit support. If he can weaken that alliance and set them fighting against one another, they may collapse out of sheer exhaustion.

Meanwhile, a coalition of countries including the United States have recognized Guaido, but that doesn’t have any practical impact in Venezuela while Maduro still controls the military. He also has the support of both Cuban and Russian troops and other military assets in his nation. There is no indication that any other country – including us, thankfully – has any inclination to make a military move against him, so time appears to be on his side.

Meanwhile, he’s depleted the country’s treasury to bare bones. National oil production has cratered and much of the remaining oil they do manage to process is being given away to Russia and China for free to pay off the immense debts Maduro has incurred with them.

In other words, very little appears to be changing, but the few changes that are taking place seem to be going in Maduro’s favor. And absent anything truly dramatic happening to shake things up, he may win the waiting game, maintaining his control on power even as his citizens languish or flee for their lives. It’s a tragedy unfolding before the eyes of the world as yet another story of socialism hits the rocks and produces a humanitarian disaster.

The post Is Maduro back on top in Venezuela? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Andrew Lewer: We must break with the EU’s failed policy towards Cuba and Venezuela

Andrew Lewer is Member of Parliament for Northampton South, and previously served as MEP for the East Midlands.

Will our new Government break with EU support for Cuba? Will it align itself with US efforts to pressure Cuba to stop supporting the Maduro dictatorship? This is a useful litmus test of whether a Johnson Government will develop a foreign policy independent of the EU.

Despite Cuba’s central role in propping up the disastrous Chavista dictatorship, we and other EU countries are pretending that isn’t happening and continue to promote investment into Cuba’s dying economy.

As Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the 35-nation Organization of American States, has said, “If we want to help Venezuelans, we must deal with the dictatorship in Cuba. The only military invasion of Venezuela that has occurred began slowly some 20 years ago and has been perpetrated by the armed forces and security, intelligence and counter-intelligence of Cuba.”

Dealing with Cuba is greatly helped by the fact that its Soviet-style centrally planned economy is heading downwards fast. The country has been suffering from a severe food shortage for several months and food rationing has just been made much more extensive.

One Cuban in Havana commented, “Right now, practically nothing is being sold, only rice and tomato puree (300 ml for 33 pesos, more than three working days on a minimum salary). There isn’t any meat, or chickpeas, or hot dogs, or chocolate, or crackers, or bread being sold. Nothing at all really.” Medicines are also in short supply, even pain relief tablets are unavailable. In a welcome respite for the population, state-run newspapers have cut their page count due to shortages of newsprint.

The regime has now ordered ten per cent cuts in power generation to save fuel, and blackouts are expected. Cuba lacks hard currency to buy oil and other goods, due to its inability to make enough products that anyone wants to buy.

Cuba’s foreign trade fell by 25 per cent from 2013 to 2017, with imports dropping to $11.3 billion from $15.6 billion. Sugar, mining and industrial production are now below the levels of 1989, and production of 11 of 13 key agricultural and fishing goods is in decline. Meanwhile the ineffectiveness of its collectivised agriculture forces Cuba to spend $1.5 billion on importing food.

Much of the immediate crisis is a result of the decline in support from Venezuela. The parasitic communist Cuban economy has never been able to survive without financial support from foreign benefactors. Its economic problems were offset in the past by arrangements with leftist allies. Between 1960 and 1990 Cuba received $65 billion from the Soviet Union, three times as much as the amount of aid given to all Latin America through the Alliance for Progress initiative started by President Kennedy. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was after just a few years able to replace Soviet subsidies with Venezuelan ones, due to its oil for repression services deal with Hugo Chavez.

The Cuban regime makes over $8 billion annually by over-charging for doctors sent abroad – while the doctors themselves are paid next to nothing. However, Brazil has sent thousands of Cuban doctors home, and Venezuela, while still supplying subsidised oil, can now only manage much smaller fiscal transfers due to its ruined economy.

Now is the time to apply real pressure on Cuba, both for the benefit of the Cuban and Venezuelan populations. Complying with the Venezuelan National Assembly’s decree and cutting off the 55,000 barrels of oil per day that Maduro unlawfully gives to Cuba would have two highly beneficial effects. Firstly it would greatly raise the cost of Cuba’s military adventure in Venezuela, where Cuban troops and intelligence officers are the main force keeping Maduro in power. Secondly it would help force the Cuban regime to abandon its disastrous Marxist economic system, which condemns the Cuban population to perpetual poverty.

The US Government, to its credit, has responded to the National Assembly’s request by sanctioning some of the vessels that carry oil from Venezuela to Cuba. But more needs to be done and Britain should help by imposing its own sanctions, notably on those involved in insuring such shipping. We can stop the Iranians from sending a tanker of oil to Syria but have not been prepared to support the legitimate President of Venezuela in his effort to stop the illegal shipments of oil to Cuba.

We also need to do what we can to persuade tourists to stop going to Cuba.  At a time when there is a dire shortage of food for ordinary Cubans it is quite wrong to divert limited food supplies to feed rich Western tourists.

Taking effective measures now would help Cubans free themselves from a failed economic system and help Venezuelans free themselves from Cuban-imposed repression. This win-win goal should be our target. Will this government have the gumption to break free from the constraints of the EU’s policy weakness and side with the Cuban and Venezuelan people?

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In Celebration of July 4th, The New York Times Prints a Completely On Brand Hot Take About America

Westlake Legal Group AP_080722043710-620x306 In Celebration of July 4th, The New York Times Prints a Completely On Brand Hot Take About America Ungrateful trash The New York Times Stacey Abrams Politics misleading Infant Mortality Front Page Stories Front Page Fourth of July Featured Story False dumpster fire democrats delusion Cuba anti-American

The New York Times never disappoints when it comes to publishing anti-American tripe and they served up something special for this Fourth of July.

In the buildup to Independence Day, a holiday the country used to be able to largely celebrate without controversy, the Times decided it was a good idea to give space to this piece.

This is truly the most on-brand thing the Times has ever done.

I mean, the United States has only helped lift billions of people out of poverty, won two world wars, and led medical advancements that have saved literally millions of lives around the globe. Well, that and formulating most of the major technological breakthroughs of the last century, which again has helped billions of people. Clearly those are the accomplishments of a country that’s just average though according to the Times.

So where does this article get it’s idiotic take from? Why, “studies” of course. Here’s the Washington Examiner with an explainer of what’s so wrong about the video.

Referencing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Raza and Jensen offer a graphic which says the U.S. has the “highest poverty rate.” One problem? The OECD’s own statistics show America does not have the highest poverty rate of member nations. Oops. But there’s another issue here: The OECD applies a relative poverty measurement to reach its conclusions. It relies on assessments of equality of wealth; the relative poverty rate prejudices nations such as America that have a lot of wealthy residents.

They are using a study that uses relative measures of poverty and inequality. The problem with that is that’s it’s an incredibly stupid metric. If you have $1000 and I have $100000, you are still richer than the guy in Honduras with $20 while his wealthy neighbor has $100. These are the kinds of stupid games we see played in the intellectual sphere to try to paint the U.S. as anything other than what it actually is, which is the most economically prosperous and opportunity rich country in the world.

The video also goes to the tired “infant mortality” trope. In reality, records are not kept uniformly, with many countries not counting certain deaths that we count. Only an absolute moron could possibly believe the United States simultaneously leads all of human history in medical innovation but that we can’t birth children as safely as Cuba. Yet, you have mainstream liberals who will make that argument.

But things get even dumber.

“It’s gotten to a point where I think there are specific times and places where you can confuse America for a developing country,” the narrator said, “as elections are tampered with, water can’t be drunk from taps, citizens don’t trust uniformed officers, infrastructure is crumbling, and where a dual system is emerging when public services are available to the highest bidder.”

If you look at the United States and confuse it with a developing nation, you’ve never actually been to any developing nations. Most of what’s listed there is just patently false and nothing but left-wing propaganda.

On the subject of elections being “tampered with” though, guess who they flashed on the screen?

Yes, we are still doing this. Stacey Abrams, who lost by over 50,000 votes despite there being zero evidence of voter suppression (black turnout actually exceeded historical norms), is still being bandied about by the Times as a victim who had the election stolen from her. They are never going to stop are they

I’ll say this. The United States is not perfect. The same is true for every other country in the history of humanity. That does not negate that we are still the greatest country on earth. No country has done more to help more people than the United States. Whether we are talking directly, technologically, financially, or even philosophically. It shouldn’t be controversial to say that but we’ve reached a level of such insanity in our politics that it’s now politically expedient for some to denigrate the country that’s given them so much.

Keep in mind, this is the same newspaper that did an entire series about how great life was in the Soviet Union. But when it comes to the United States, we are presented as a hell hole and you better not think otherwise.

Here’s the million dollar question. If the United States is not the greatest nation on earth, who is? Of course, you’ll never get an answer to that question because then the Times would have to actually defend that position and it wouldn’t go well for them. Easier to just crap on the United States via a bunch of vague liberal talking points and run away.

 

The post In Celebration of July 4th, The New York Times Prints a Completely On Brand Hot Take About America appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group 6935118-300x225 In Celebration of July 4th, The New York Times Prints a Completely On Brand Hot Take About America Ungrateful trash The New York Times Stacey Abrams Politics misleading Infant Mortality Front Page Stories Front Page Fourth of July Featured Story False dumpster fire democrats delusion Cuba anti-American   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Bill de Blasio Learns Quoting Che Guevara in Miami is Even Less Popular than Killing Groundhogs

New York City’s groundhog-killing mayor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill de Blasio was already unlikely to win his party’s nomination, but his trip to Florida this week was an especially epic disaster. Struggling to get attention in an insanely crowded primary, de Blasio made headlines for all the wrong reasons, as he followed an awkward debate performance with the use of a quote infamously associated with Che Guevara, drawing sharp rebukes from Florida politicians on both sides of the aisle.

The incident happened when de Blasio went to a protest of striking workers at the Miami International Airport. De Blasio gave remarks in support of the workers and ended his speech with “Hasta la victoria siempre!” which roughly translates to “Ever on to victory!”

The phrase was strongly associated with Che Guevara, the sociopathic Argentinian revolutionary who personally murdered countless Cuban civilians — including children — in his efforts to help dictator Fidel Castro rise to power, and became a mantra for Guevara and the Castro regime. In 2016, Raul Castro included it in his televised speech to announce that the elder Castro had died.

As the Miami Herald noted, Guevara is “one of the most hated historical figures in Miami,” with many Cuban exiles and their children and grandchildren living in the area.

Republicans and Democrats sharply condemned de Blasio’s Guevara quote as ignorant and offensive.

State Senators Jose Javier Rodriguez and Annette Taddeo, both Miami-area Democrats, slammed de Blasio for quoting a “murderous guerrilla,” calling his comments unacceptable and demanding he apologize, words echoed by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was born in Miami to Cuban exile parents, denounced de Blasio’s use of the Guevara quote, and posted several tweets pointing out Guevara’s murderous history.

After a few hours of the bipartisan onslaught, De Blasio offered up a bizarre apology — claiming that he did not know it was a Guevara quote and he “did not mean to offend anyone who heard it that way.”

As the Herald noted in their coverage, de Blasio is not unfamiliar with Cuba or the history of the communist revolution there, having honeymooned in Cuba (against U.S. law at the time) and actually getting busted for the exact same faux pas during his mayor’s race in 2013, using the same quote and being called out by the local press for quoting the murderous Guevara.

Rubio was among those skeptical of de Blasio’s excuse, noting the mayor’s long history studying Latin American political issues and direct experiences with the communist Sandinista movement in Nicaragua and with Castro-controlled Cuba.

“But he had NO IDEA he was quoting Che Guevara today,” added Rubio sarcastically. “It was all just an incredible coincidence.”

Few oddsmakers expect de Blasio to win the Democratic presidential nomination, or even be picked as the winner’s vice presidential running mate, but his gaffe presents broader problems for Florida Democrats who must secure a majority of the state’s Hispanic vote in order to win in 2020.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo did what she could to distance her party from de Blasio, noting that he “does not speak for Floridians or the Florida Democratic Party,” but the story had already generated a swarm of headlines and social media posts.

Meanwhile, Florida Republicans have been working to associate Democratic candidates with socialism, such as this banner hung up near the debate location. “Miami: No socialismo, no comunismo, somos capitalista” (“Miami: No socialism, no communism, we are capitalists.”)

Read my RedState article archive here.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.

The post Bill de Blasio Learns Quoting Che Guevara in Miami is Even Less Popular than Killing Groundhogs appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group De-Blasio-300x213 Bill de Blasio Learns Quoting Che Guevara in Miami is Even Less Popular than Killing Groundhogs Politics miami Mayor Bill de Blasio Front Page Stories Front Page Florida Featured Story Featured Post elections democrats Democratic Debate Cuba Che Guevara Bill de Blasio Allow Media Exception 2020 Democrat Primary 2020 #DemDebate   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Brilliant: De Blasio quotes famous Che Guevara line — in Miami

Westlake Legal Group bb-1 Brilliant: De Blasio quotes famous Che Guevara line — in Miami The Blog miami hasta la victoria siempre de blasio Cuba communist Che Guevara

In fairness to him, this is what all communists naturally exclaim when they’re excited.

All you need to know about this guy’s political instincts is this: He’s the mayor of New York and he’s an avowed Red Sox fan. Going into Miami and quoting Che isn’t unlike going to a Yankees/Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium and chanting “Yankees suck.”

If the Red Sox had literally murdered Yankee fans’ families.

Politicos in Florida who know their state and who watched that clip this afternoon are aghast:

“Quoting a murderer responsible for death & oppression in communist Cuba and throughout Latin America is not acceptable. Please apologize,” tweeted [state senator Jose Javier] Rodríguez, whose district includes Little Havana.

Miami political consultant Christian Ulvert, who is Nicaraguan, called the use of the quote “complete ignorance” and “beyond disrespectful.” State Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Colombian-American who also spoke at the event before de Blasio and left before he spoke, gasped when a reporter told her what he said…

“Does he really know who Che Guevara was?” asked Félix Rodríguez, a Bay of Pigs veteran who helped the Bolivian army capture Guevara. “I don’t think so. If he does, he’s a f****ing a**hole.”

Florida’s two Republican senators are quick off the blocks:

Westlake Legal Group 1-4 Brilliant: De Blasio quotes famous Che Guevara line — in Miami The Blog miami hasta la victoria siempre de blasio Cuba communist Che Guevara   Westlake Legal Group 2-3 Brilliant: De Blasio quotes famous Che Guevara line — in Miami The Blog miami hasta la victoria siempre de blasio Cuba communist Che Guevara

Florida Democrats are running screaming in terror, from the chairman of the state party to the Miami-Dade chapter. De Blasio, of course, is claiming ignorance…

…but is that likely? Liz Mair remembers that he raised money for the Sandinistas and found himself inspired by “the possibilities of an unfettered leftist government” when he visited Nicaragua during that era, in the words of a New York Times profile of de Blasio from 2013. He’s well acquainted with leftist Latin American revolutionary movements. And he knew the Che quote verbatim. Where did he think it came from?

He was addressing a group of public employee union members in a city with a large Latino population and probably got caught up in the moment, reaching for a Spanish-language slogan from a famous Latino leftist that seemed appropriate for the occasion. The part about Che liquidating these people’s relatives en masse naturally slipped his mind. Che gets whitewashed all the time by the left, after all; go figure that de Blasio forgot the caveat that the whitewash only works in 49 states.

He’s going to swing by a Jewish neighborhood before he leaves town and read a few of his favorite passages from Mein Kampf. Exit question: In case the very fabric of space and time tears and de Blasio ends up as the Democratic nominee, Florida’s gone for Democrats next year now, right?

The post Brilliant: De Blasio quotes famous Che Guevara line — in Miami appeared first on Hot Air.

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People whose property in Cuba was seized by the communists are now suing under a US law

Westlake Legal Group Cuba People whose property in Cuba was seized by the communists are now suing under a US law Venezuela The Blog lawsuit Cuba

Title III of the Helms-Burton Act allows people who lost property when the communists took over Cuba in 1959 to sue companies which are currently benefitting from the property. The law was passed in 1996 but had been waived repeatedly every year until the Trump administration decided that would change. Since last month, people with a legitimate claim can now sue US companies that are using their land. NBC reports:

Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Jorge Suárez-Múrias, 62, says he had always hoped that his parents would one day return to the properties in Cuba that were seized from them after Fidel Castro rose to power in the 1959 revolution…

Though Suárez-Múrias’ father, a former political prisoner in Cuba, passed away two years ago, he still holds out hope that his mother, Victoria, now 87 and in good health, could go back. “I hope my father is seeing me from up above, fighting. I hope his dream is fulfilled through me.”

The number of lawsuits filed is expected to be fairly low because of all the hurdles someone has to clear to make a claim under the law. Still, it’s a dramatic change from what was happening under the previous administration:

During the Obama administration’s thawing of relations with Cuba, negotiating the 5,913 claims held by U.S. companies and individuals and certified by the Justice Department was a thorny issue. The claims are worth an estimated $8 billion, but Cuba countered by saying the U.S. had strangled Cuba’s economy with the embargo and owed them $181 billion in damages. The issue was not settled during Obama’s presidency and the Trump administration never took up the issue…

The Trump administration said they allowed Title III to go into effect because of Cuba’s role in Venezuela. The U.S. has accused Cuban troops of propping up embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, while Cuba says the majority of its 22,000 personnel in Venezuela are health care professionals.

Among those health care professionals are spies who collect information on people through a network of clinics and then collaborate with the Maduro regime. Maduro has been paying for the health/security service with oil but that has been getting more difficult thanks to US sanctions put in place nearly two months ago.

The U.S. sanctioned four companies it says transport much of the 50,000 barrels of oil that Venezuela provides to Cuba each day in an effort to punish the island nation for its support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The companies and nine vessels they own account for perhaps half of the oil that Venezuela sends to Cuba in exchange for the social, intelligence and strategic support Havana provides Maduro, according to a senior official speaking on condition of anonymity. The U.S. is determined to sever the U.S.-Cuba economic relationship, the official said.

The hope is that cutting of Cuba’s oil would cause it to pull back in Venezuela and that would make it harder for Maduro to maintain control of the country. It’s too early to tell if it’s working. Venezuela is reportedly using various means to get around the sanctions. In any case, isolating the communist countries and making them pay a price for stealing property seems like a better plan that placating them.

The post People whose property in Cuba was seized by the communists are now suing under a US law appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump, Seeking to Put Pressure on Maduro, Threatens a Full Embargo on Cuba

Westlake Legal Group merlin_154030518_8007e09e-21da-4f3a-96aa-0860902d476f-facebookJumbo Trump, Seeking to Put Pressure on Maduro, Threatens a Full Embargo on Cuba Venezuela United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Pompeo, Mike Maduro, Nicolas Embargoes and Sanctions Cuba Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Monday accused Cuba of aiding the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who the administration evidently hoped would be ousted by day’s end, warning that it would impose an embargo and additional sanctions on the country if it did not end its support.

“If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediately CEASE military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, “a full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba.”

At the same time, the Trump administration reaffirmed its demand for the immediate installation of Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader, as Mr. Maduro’s successor.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with CNN that Mr. Maduro had planned to flee to Cuba Monday morning, but was urged by the Russian government to stay. “He was headed to Havana,” Mr. Pompeo said, without elaborating on how the administration knew about Mr. Maduro’s destination or his communications with the Kremlin.

Asked what his message to Mr. Maduro was, Mr. Pompeo was blunt: “Fire up the plane.”

The statements by the president and Mr. Pompeo reflected the administration’s frustration that the pressure on Mr. Maduro on Monday did not reach the turning point that some in the Trump administration expected it would. Mr. Guaidó traveled to a military base in Venezuela and called for a public uprising, urging the country’s military to join his effort, but by the end of the day that had not happened.

In a meeting with reporters in the White House driveway, John R. Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, called out three senior Venezuelan officials who he said could play a critical role in turning the tide against Mr. Maduro. He named the defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, as well as the chief judge of the Supreme Court, and the commander of the presidential guard, all of whom Mr. Bolton said have expressed support for the opposition in the past.

Mr. Bolton said that the administration believed the Cubans “have played a very significant role in propping Maduro up today.”

President Miguel Díaz-Canel of Cuba, who is an ally of Mr. Maduro’s, responded that the effort to topple the Maduro government was a “coup movement that aims to fill the country with violence.”

Trump administration officials have long believed that Cuba has played a role in arming and training Venezuelan police officers and forming gangs that have clashed with protesters, and have repeatedly warned the Cuban government and imposed sanctions against it. But experts say Cuba is not capable of propping up the Maduro government to the same degree as Russia, which has unloaded military planes in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.

Robin Derby, a professor of Latin American history in California, said in an interview that the administration’s fixation on Cuba was misguided.

“This is a trumped up, Cold War set of charges that make no sense at all,” Ms. Derby said. “Cuba has no resources to provide Venezuela, and I think you could make a stronger case that Venezuela has been propping up the Cuban regime” with medical supplies and subsidized oil, she said.

Ms. Derby added that the pressure the administration was putting on Venezuela had Cubans worried about their own economy further collapsing.

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Trump Administration Shifts Policy On Cuba ‘Because Dictators Perceive Appeasement As Weakness, Not Strength’

Westlake Legal Group trump-administration-shifts-policy-on-cuba-because-dictators-perceive-appeasement-as-weakness-not-strength Trump Administration Shifts Policy On Cuba ‘Because Dictators Perceive Appeasement As Weakness, Not Strength’ Venezuela socialism Mike Pompeo john bolton Front Page Stories Foreign Policy Featured Story Cuba

Westlake Legal Group john-bolton-SCREENSHOT-620x334 Trump Administration Shifts Policy On Cuba ‘Because Dictators Perceive Appeasement As Weakness, Not Strength’ Venezuela socialism Mike Pompeo john bolton Front Page Stories Foreign Policy Featured Story Cuba

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got most of the attention Wednesday in announcing that Cuban ex-pats can now sue companies who have used their property confiscated by the Cuban government, opening the door to potential lawsuits on Canadian and European companies operating in Cuba even as Cuba is attempting to bring foreign investors to the island.

But Pompeo’s announcement was just part of a larger shift in policy related to Cuba; a shift National Security Adviser John Bolton laid out in a speech Wednesday in Coral Gables, Fla., that represents a broader attempt to address socialism and the Castro regime’s support of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

Pompeo said that he would not suspend the bar on litigation in the Helms-Burton Act that has been renewed by every presidential administration since Bill Clinton. The move could affect dozens of Canadian and European companies doing business in Cuba – embroiling the businesses in litigation that could cost them billions of dollars and upending relations between Washington and its traditional allies.

“Any person or company doing business in Cuba should heed this announcement,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said the administration was acting because it recognized the “reality” that the bar on lawsuits, which has been in place since 1996, had not achieved the goal of pressing Cuba to enact democratic reforms or reining in what he called its export of oppression throughout the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Venezuela.

“We see clearly that regime’s repression of its own people and unrepentant exportation of tyranny in the region has only gotten worse because dictators perceive appeasement as weakness, not strength,” he told reporters at the State Department.

Bolton’s speech — delivered at the invitation of Brigade 2506, Cuban exiles who participated in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion — went into greater detail and depth in describing the Trump administration’s new approach to Cuba.

The presidential adviser announced the policy changes during a speech that wove together several threads, starting with a contrast between Trump and Obama policies that was warmly welcome by an audience of Cuban exiles who felt betrayed by the engagement policies of the previous White House.

“To justify its policy of normalizing relations with Cuba, President Obama said Cuba quote ‘poses no genuine threat.’ Tell that to the American diplomats who were attacked in Havana. Tell that to the terrorized people of Venezuela. The reality is that the Obama government sought to normalize relations with a tyrannical dictatorship,” Bolton said. He reminded his audience that Trump met with opposition activists like the Ladies in White and called the late Fidel Castro “a brutal dictator.”

The new approach includes tightening restrictions on travel, unveiling a new, more generous remittance plan for families traveling to see relatives, and “increasing pressure on the island’s government in response to its support of the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela.”

“In no uncertain terms, the Obama administration’s policies toward Cuba have enabled the Cuban colonization of Venezuela today,” National Security Adviser John Bolton said Wednesday during a speech at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The changes were designed to reverse “the disastrous Obama-era policies, and finally end the glamorization of socialism and communism,” he added.

Under the new rules, travel will be limited to families while “veiled tourism” in the form of cruises, etc. will be restricted. Suspension of an Obama-era policy that allowed Cuban companies and banks to perform “U-turn” transactions in other countries as a way to evade U.S. sanctions were also announced. Bolton also mentioned the recent sanctions on tankers delivering Venezuelan oil to Cuba.

While the new policy could appear to be mostly about rolling back the Obama administration’s attempt to “normalize” relations with Cuba, the focus seems also to be on sending a message to the world about Venezuela and the Maduro regime. And, more broadly, the message is a condemnation of the recent fascination with socialism and communism in this country.

Bolton also announced new sanctions against the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan governments, which alongside Cuba make up what he’s called “the troika of tyranny.”

The Treasury Department will sanction the Central Bank of Venezuela, which has helped the Maduro regime to sell gold for hard currencies, and the Corporative Bank of Nicaragua, used by Daniel Ortega as his “slush fund.” It will also impose sanctions on his son, Laureano, and wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo, accused by U.S. officials of corruption in a Nicaraguan investment company.

“These steps against the Central Bank of Venezuela should be a strong warning to all foreign actors, including Russia, against deploying military units in Venezuela to shore up the Maduro regime,” Bolton said.

“We will need your help in the days ahead,” Bolton told the Florida crowd. “We must all reject the forces of communism and socialism in this Hemisphere—and in this country.”

The post Trump Administration Shifts Policy On Cuba ‘Because Dictators Perceive Appeasement As Weakness, Not Strength’ appeared first on RedState.

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Trump to Increase Pressure on Cuba by Lifting Lawsuit Limits

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WASHINGTON — President Trump has approved a move intended to further choke off foreign investment in Cuba by lifting longstanding limits on American citizens seeking to sue over property confiscated by the Havana government going back to Fidel Castro’s revolution six decades ago, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

The decision, a sharp departure from the policy of the last three presidents, could open the floodgates to thousands of lawsuits against foreign companies and individuals accused of “trafficking” in seized property. By doing so, Mr. Trump hopes to raise the pressure on Cuba, but risks another rupture with American allies in Europe and Canada that scrambled to head off the change in recent days.

The action will be announced by the State Department on Wednesday and discussed by the president’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, in a speech in Miami marking the 58th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs operation that failed to topple the Castro government during the early days of John F. Kennedy’s administration. Mr. Trump is trying to force Havana to back off its support for Venezuela’s leader, Nicolás Maduro, whom administration officials said Cuba had propped up with more than 20,000 troops.

In his decision to lift the limits, Mr. Trump brushed aside protests by European leaders who brought their objections to Washington in recent weeks. Spain’s foreign minister met with Mr. Bolton, and other European officials pressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, arguing that such a move would harm their businesses.

The European Union threatened last week to sue the United States at the World Trade Organization if it proceeded, and suggested that counterclaims could be filed in European courts against American firms that took advantage of the new policy. “The E.U. will be obliged to use all means at its disposal,” the union’s foreign policy chief and trade commissioner wrote in a letter to Mr. Pompeo.

The policy change stems from the Helms-Burton Act passed by Congress in 1996 to target Cuba, but Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had approved six-month suspensions of the litigation provisions ever since on the grounds that it could cause international upheaval and clog up American courts.

Mr. Trump suspended the provisions as well until this year, when Mr. Pompeo declared in January that the administration would approve a waiver for only 45 days instead of the traditional six months, a move later extended by another 30 days.

Mr. Pompeo opened the door to the change last month by announcing that the administration would lift the litigation limits specifically for about 200 companies or entities controlled by Cuba’s military, intelligence or security services that are already under sanctions by the United States.

In addition to now authorizing lawsuits against a wider array of possible targets, the administration will also invoke another provision of Helms-Burton that allows the government to deny or withdraw visas from those tied to trafficking confiscated American property.

The senior administration official previewed the moves for reporters on condition of anonymity in advance of the official announcement on Wednesday.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry lashed out at the Trump administration in January for considering the action, calling it “a flagrant violation of international law” and an attack on the sovereignty of other countries.

“Cuba strongly, firmly and categorically rejects such a threat, which is construed as an extremely arrogant and irresponsible hostile action, and repudiates the disrespectful and slanderous language used in the public announcement made by the State Department,” the ministry said in the January statement.

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Has the mystery of the sonic attack in Havana been solved?

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It’s been well over a year since the series of “mystery weapon” attacks on the American embassy in Havana sickened a large number of employees. Since then the finger of blame has been pointed in many directions. The Cubans, the Russians, the Chinese, and possibly even the Lizard People have come under suspicion. As to the method used, we’ve heard stories of sonic weapons, radiation or even poison.

But now at least one group of scientists believe they’ve cracked the case. The embassy was bugged. But we’re not talking about listening devices in this case. They’re talking about literal bugs in the form of an unusual breed of crickets. (The Guardian)

The mysterious wave of illness fuelled speculation that the staff had been targeted by an acoustic weapon. It was an explanation that appeared to gain weight when an audio recording of a persistent, high-pitched drone made by US personnel in Cuba was released to the Associated Press.

But a fresh analysis of the audio recording has revealed what scientists in the UK and the US now believe is the true source of the piercing din: it is the song of the Indies short-tailed cricket, known formally as Anurogryllus celerinictus.

“The recording is definitively a cricket that belongs to the same group,” said Fernando Montealegre-Zapata, a professor of sensory biology at the University of Lincoln. “The call of this Caribbean species is about 7 kHz, and is delivered at an unusually high rate, which gives humans the sensation of a continuous sharp trill.”

If the Indies short-tailed cricket is really to blame for all of these illnesses they should at least be able to rectify the problem with a sufficient amount of bug repellent. The sensory biologist who weighed in on the controversy said that he was used to that particular bug from his childhood in South America. Their mating call rings out at a frequency that can produce an unpleasant effect on human eardrums.

But does this answer really make sense? If these crickets are indigenous to the area, wouldn’t people have been complaining about such mysterious illnesses for decades, if not centuries? Of course, I suppose it’s possible that only new diplomats showing up in the country were affected because the native folks had grown used to the sound over the course of their lives. Still, that’s a pretty drastic effect being caused by the crickets. Some of the embassy workers were severely ill with effects that lingered long after they left the region.

I suppose we can go even further down the rabbit hole on this one. Maybe the crickets aren’t really common in that part of Cuba at all. Maybe they were brought into the embassy by the Russians, Cubans, Chinese or Lizard People and intentionally released. That would explain everything nicely, except now the crickets are doubtless spreading out across the city and the entire nation of Cuba will soon be solely inhabited by deranged zombies with ringing sounds in their ears.

Either way, somebody needs to call the Orkin man.

The post Has the mystery of the sonic attack in Havana been solved? appeared first on Hot Air.

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