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Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri May 9 10:44:51 MDT 2003


This article, submitted by Walter Lippmann to the Cuba news list,  has the
ring of  a rather well-informed piece about the escalating U.S. attack on
Cuba, The aricle also makes it possible to place ithe attack on Cuba in the
framework of the
broader drive to world domination.

Military confrontation (with the pretext of
another emigration crisis) is clearly UNDER CONSIDERATION(there are other
options than a
direct invasion, including bombings and attempting to starve the country
into submission through a prolonged naval blockade).

If remittances of money from Cubans in the US to their relatives are
barred -- not the most likely option but entirely possible -- we should
assume that a military option has been chosen.  The ending of remittances
would leave the Cuban government literally no choice but to either permit a
mass emigration to the U.S. or to turn the country into a kind of
penitentiary for a large number of Cubans in order to enforce U.S.
immigration policies.  The latter is an option the Cuban leadership has
never chosen as a matter of principle.

More broadly the policy course toward sharper confrontation with Cuba
reflects the greater confidence -- and quite broad support in the ruling
class and the media -- with the administration is pursuing the aggressively
expansionist policies which it was chosen (if not exactly elected) to
pursue.

There have been rumors that the administration may be backing off from
further foreign adventures until the election.  But doing this, in the face
of continuing economic problems which require imposing the costs of the
crisis on others -- and especially the peoples of the semicolonial
countries -- in the United States and around the world.

A lengthy abstention from new conquests will undermine rather than
strengthen Bush's support in the ruling class and increase the chances that
a Democrat -- perhaps even a "peace" Democrat -- will be chosen to continue
the drive to make  U.S. military power as the decisive factor in world
politics (and world economy).

I think the current war drive will be sustained until one of its targets --
Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, or some other -- demonstrates the capacity
of the people to fight the United States to a standstill or better.  The
illusion of invincibility will be shattered only by proof that it is an
illusion.

So Fidel Castro is completely right to focus attention on the military
threat and we should follow suit.
Fred Feldman


Bush favors confrontational approach to Castro, Cuba

By Alfredo Corchado
The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON, May 08, 2003
(The Dallas Morning News
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
via COMTEX) --

Without fanfare, U.S. government efforts to promote
political change in Cuba have shifted away from the subtle
"people-to-people" contacts favored by the Clinton
administration to a more confrontational approach, including
direct support for dissidents, two U.S. officials say.
One senior U.S. official called the new focus a "pressure
cooker" approach.

He and another official, who is also a former diplomat, said
that recent developments in Cuba, including the crackdown on
opponents of Fidel Castro's government, the execution of
three ferry hijackers, and a Cuban government threat to
close the U.S. Interests Section, were Cuba's reply to a
"significant shift" in U.S. Cuba policy. The two officials
spoke separately and on condition of anonymity.

Officials at the State Department, also speaking on
condition of anonymity, insisted that there has been no
change in Cuba policy. They denied that the U.S. government
is fomenting unrest in Cuba, and called the recent crackdown
on Cuban dissidents a totalitarian government's harsh
reaction to growing internal dissatisfaction.

"There is absolutely no change in policy, no change
whatsoever," said a senior State Department official. "This
administration will not waiver from its aggressive pursuit
of the support of Cuban civil society. There will be no
stepping back. The question is how do we affirm where we are
now, and the vision that the president has articulated in
terms of seeking a transition on the island."

The conflicting messages from different U.S. officials are
evidence of a "contentious" debate within the U.S.
government over Cuba, analysts said. An internal policy
review, aimed at updating Bush administration views on Cuba,
is under way, and the results may be announced by May 20,
officials said.

Those who say that the U.S. government has already adopted a
harder line cite several recent steps, including direct cash
payments to individual dissidents - an allegation denied by
the State Department; frequent and direct criticism of the
Cuban government by the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, James
Cason; a sharp reduction in the number of U.S. visas issued
to Cubans; and new limitations on the "people-to-people"
contacts. The Clinton administration promoted these contacts
between ordinary Americans and Cubans as a way to promote
democratic change and spread American ideals.

The Bush administration has chosen "a different paradigm
from that of the Clinton administration" to accomplish the
goal of bringing democratic government to Cuba, the senior
U.S. official said. "There are two sets of analysis and two
sets of policies. Some people (in the Bush administration)
prefer the pressure cooker" strategy.

Castro has launched the harshest crackdown on dissidents in
decades, with the arrests of at least 100. After summary
trials that drew international condemnation, 75 dissidents
were jailed - some for as long as 28 years. Castro branded
the activities of the dissidents a U.S. provocation. In
addition, Castro ordered the execution of three people who
hijacked a ferry in an attempt to reach the United States.

(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)

These steps have squelched efforts by moderates in the
United States to promote closer trade and cultural ties with
Cuba. As late as last fall, American business people,
farmers, politicians and others were streaming to Cuba for
trade shows, tours and conventions.

"Castro's harsh actions have been a momentum stopper here,"
said Stephen Johnson, a Latin America analyst at the
Heritage Foundation.

(END OPTIONAL TRIM)

"Our policy isn't very smart," said Phil Peters, a State
Department official in the first Bush administration and a
veteran Cuba observer who's advising members of Congress
pushing for an easing of the 42-year-old trade embargo.
"It's a policy that embraces Cuban dissidents too closely,
is too much in the face of Castro, and gets under the skin
of too many Cubans."

Buoyed in part by victory in the war in Iraq, anti-Castro
elements within the Bush administration - backed by
hard-line Cuban exiles - favor funneling money to individual
dissidents under Section 109 of the 1996 Helms-Burton law,
the senior U.S. official said. The Clinton administration
declined to take such action.

"The Bush administration, as is its prerogative, has agreed
to do direct cash payments," the senior official said. "The
Clinton logic was, 'We do not want these people to later
have their homes raided by the police and have a whole bunch
of receipts and American cash hanging around because then
you'll be setting them off and later being paraded as agents
of the U.S. government' . . . which is what happened.

"This (policy) shift cuts to the heart of national dignity
for Cubans," said the senior official. "And it really helps
the hand of those in Cuba who say this is subversion, that
this is really to overthrow the government."

In the recent dissident trials, government infiltrators of
dissident groups produced what they said were cash receipts
from U.S. officials.

A State Department official acknowledged that direct cash
payments to dissidents wasn't prohibited but said, "We're
not doing that." Another U.S. official said allegations that
U.S. dispensed cash to individual dissidents were "patently
untrue."

(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)

The State Department official acknowledged that money issued
under U.S. Agency for International Development grants and
earmarked for Cuban non-governmental organizations,
including dissident groups, had "increased slightly."

In fact, the total amount in U.S. taxpayer grants earmarked
for Cuban non-governmental organizations has doubled, from
about $6 million during the last four years of the Clinton
administration to more than $14 million in the first years
of the Bush administration, with an additional $7 million
sought for next year, a State Department official said.

(END OPTIONAL TRIM)

To be sure, U.S. support of dissidents within a totalitarian
society is consistent with a fundamental policy of promoting
human rights throughout the world, officials said.

The chief U.S. diplomat in Cuba, Cason, has also been on a
high-profile campaign criticizing the Cuban government. For
example, on Feb. 24, the day Cubans mark as the beginning of
Cuba's war for independence from Spain, Cason met with
dissidents and questioned Castro's legitimacy.

But a U.S. State Department official said the diplomat's
actions weren't so different from those of the head of the
Cuban office in Washington, Dagoberto Rodriguez. Rodriguez
regularly travels in the United States promoting economic
and cultural ties with Cuba and thereby undermining U.S.
policy to Cuba, the State Department official said.

But the senior U.S. official challenged the comparison,
saying, "changing policy is one thing, overthrowing a
government is another."

(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)

The U.S. government has been sharply limiting the number of
U.S. visas issued to Cubans. Under a 1994 immigration
agreement, the U. S. government promised to issue at least
20,000 travel documents a year to Cuban nationals. For the
first five months of the current fiscal year, which began
Oct. 1, only 505 visas were issued, said Cuban Foreign
Minister Felipe Perez Roque. That compares with 7,237 in
2002; 8,300 in 2001; and 10,860 in 2000.

A senior State Department official said the U.S. government
has the entire year to issue the 20,000 visas and will meet
that commitment.

And a federal regulation announced in March virtually cut
off the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba legally to
take part in trade and professional exchanges. Over the
weekend, the White House announced further restrictions on
educational exchanges, saying that the trips were becoming
"too Cancun-like," a U.S. official said.

The growing U.S.-Cuba animosity has resulted in
unprecedented travel restrictions for some Cuban diplomats
and their children, a Cuban diplomat said. In one case, the
daughter of a Cuban diplomat was denied a trip to a nearby
zoo with her elementary school classmates. U.S. officials
said they had no knowledge of the incident.

Another U.S. official, the former diplomat, said that the
endgame of some Bush administration hardliners is to "create
enough of a political and economic turmoil" on the island to
help precipitate another mass exodus across the Florida
Straits, possible armed conflict and "ideally justify some
type of U.S. intervention" aimed at ending the reign of the
last communist leader in the Western Hemisphere.

A State Department official called that scenario "utterly
ridiculous, stuff of wild fantasies. The only migration this
administration wants is a safe, orderly and legal
migration."

---

(Dallas Morning News correspondent Tracey Eaton contributed
to this report.)

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