Schepers: Bush Hypocrisy on Cuba Rights

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Fri May 2 23:22:10 MDT 2003

From: Zola2642 at
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2003 9:48 PM
Subject: Bush Hypocrisy on Cuba Rights


Emile Schepers

The bacchanalia of hypocrisy on the subject of the recent
actions by the Cuban government goes on unabated.

Now the Bush administration has denounced the failure of the
United Nations Human Rights Commission to expel Cuba because
of the recent jailing of 75 hangers-on of the US diplomatic
mission and the execution of three violent terrorists who
hijacked a passenger ferry.

Ari Fleischer went so far as to say that Cuba should be
expelled from the Commission because, among other things,
Cuba has refused to accept the sending of a special
rapporteur to the island.  All this is said in a strident
tone of righteous indignation.

If  Bush, Powell and Fleischer want to see who is mocking
the authority of the United Nations, trampling on due
process, and violating human rights, they should look in the

The United States is leading a campaign of contempt toward
the United Nations as part of its claim of the right to
unilaterally carry out "preemptive" attacks against other
countries.  Further, the United States itself has, for
years, stonewalled efforts by the Human Rights Commission to
look into well-documented abuses of the criminal justice
system in this country.

This contempt for international bodies and international law
is not a new phenomenon, of course.  During the Contra wars,
the US was found guilty by the World Court of acts of
terrorism against Nicaragua, but thumbed its nose at the

A few months ago, Mexico sued the United States in the World
Court because of this country's refusal to carry out its
obligations under the Vienna Convention of allowing Mexican
nationals arrested in the United States to contact Mexican
consulates.  George Bush, when governor of Texas, openly
mocked the Vienna Convention obligations, saying that they
did not apply to Texas!

If the use of the death penalty in the case of the hijackers
is the problem, the Bush administration had better shut up
before someone notices that there are many times more
executions proportional to the population in the United
States than in Cuba, or, in fact, in just about any
developed country.   And as governor of Texas, Bush was the
undisputed champion hangman, and proud of it.

It gets worse.  For a long time, civil libertarians have
been complaining of the great discrepancy in the frequency
with which federal prosecutors ask for the death penalty in
some areas of the US as opposed to others.  Now, Attorney
General John Ashcroft has "solved" this problem by demanding
that all federal prosecutors who work under him radically
increase the number of  death penalty requests they make--so
as to even things out.

And violations of due process?  Give us a break!  At least,
the Cuban "dissidents" got a trial, with the right to
attorney and to present evidence in their defense.  Bush and
his Attorney General, John Ashcroft, are not so fastidious
when it comes to our own country.   There are, in fact,
hundreds of political prisoners being held without right to
trial or attorney on Cuban soil right now, some of them

The joke is that they are not being held by Cuban
authorities, but by US authorities in the Guantanamo Bay
naval facility.   When civil liberties organizations have
demanded clarification as to these people's legal rights,
they have been told that they have no legal rights at all
under US law, because they are physically in sovereign Cuban

Think about that. Cuba is supposed to be such a terrible
place for due process rights, but the hundreds of people
dragged to Guantanamo from Afghanistan and wherever are
told, in effect,  that they should apply to the Cuban courts
for relief!

Of course, should it happen that some Cuban court issues a
writ of  habeas corpus for the Guantanamo prisoners, or
demands that the be allowed to have legal counsel because
they are being held without probable cause on "sovereign
Cuban territory", the response of the US government would be
not only to refuse to recognize the Cuban court's authority,
but use the matter as proof of Cuban love of terrorists and
hatred for the United States.  For this reason, my bet is
that no such Cuban writ will be issued.

All the accused in the Cuban trials had attorneys, some
independent and some government assigned.   None of the
attorneys have, as far as we know, been arrested and
indicted for trying to serve their clients, as happened
recently to a noted criminal defense attorney in New York.

As concerns  the ferryboat hijackers, we must remember that
who gives or denies permission to go from Cuba to the United
States, not Cuba, with few exceptions.

Truth be told, the ferryboat hijackers had long criminal
records and would likely never have been given a visa by the
US State Department.  In other cases, visas are not given
because the person is an ordinary Cuban without special
professional skills and without well-off relatives in the
United States.  This was the case with the mother of the
child Elian Gonzalez, most likely.

So what put into the heads of the hijackers the idea that if
they grabbed a ferryboat full of innocent people, Cubans and
foreign visitors, and threatened to kill the passengers by
stabbing or drowning if they were not allowed to proceed to
the United States, they would get away with it?

Basically, it is the wet feet-dry feet policy of the United
States towards Cuba.  If Cubans crossing the straights of
Florida are caught by US authorities before they touch land,
they are sent back to Cuba as "illegal aliens". (If there
was no hijacking or other violation of Cuban law, they are
not punished when they are sent back to Cuba).

If, however, they make it to US territory, they are
automatically considered "political refugees" and are
allowed to stay, even if their motives, as is usually the
case, were purely economic.

In several recent incidents, Cubans who have hijacked
airplanes have made it to the United States and have been
allowed to stay (in some cases the main hijackers have been
arrested here but people who were clearly accomplices have
been given a pass), while the US government has returned
crew and passengers who want to go back to Cuba, but has
simply kept the aircraft in question, selling them to settle
various claims against the Cuban government by private
parties in the United States.

So while the United States refuses to issue visas to Cubans
who wish to leave the island in a legal and orderly way
(only 700 of the 10,000 promised for the past half-year have
been issued), it in effect encourages to come illegally.

This is the extent of the hypocrisy of the Bush
administration in its fulminations against Cuba.
By whipping up public opinion against the terrible Cubans,
the Bush administration is once more distracting the world
from its own crimes, as well as peddling a lot of lies.

While everybody has a right to criticize, this is why it is
a mistake for progressive people to join in the frenzy of
Cuba bashing that is in vogue right now.  This is what you
play into when you do that.

While Jorge Saramago, Eduardo Galeano, Noam Chomsky, Howard
Zinn, etc;. may think they have produced a nuanced critique
of the Cuban government, the right-wing media cynically cite
them as having repudiated Cuba without quoting their actual
statements, to give the impression that all of these people
are on the same side as Bush on the Cuba issue.

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