[Marxism] Latin America's Moral Test in Geneva (Wall Street Journal)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Apr 2 00:29:05 MST 2004

(This is a remarkable comment from the resident raving
rightist at the Wall Street Journal, but not so much for
what it says -- that's all very famiar - but for what it
signifies politically.

(As you can see from this, the author is worried, seriously
worried, that Washington won't find a majority to vote for
its anti-Cuba resolution. There are many reasons for this,
too many to go into in a short introductory note, but it
shows that Washington's influence in Latin America is at an
all-time low, and Cuba's patient diplomacy and its steady
provision of medical care on a non-partisan basis is
bearing positive fruit.

(You'll note no expression from O'Grady of her own opinion
as to whether or not the UN body should have condemned the
Israeli assaassin-ation of Sheik Yassin. And no matter how
many times they repeat it, neither Rivero nor the rest of
his co-defendants last year were put behind bars for the
expression of their ideas, but for being paid agents of a
hostile foreign power committed by law to the overthrow 
and the obliteration of the Cuban Revolution.)

April 2, 2004
Latin America's Moral Test in Geneva
April 2, 2004

Last week the United Nations Human Rights Commission in
Geneva condemned the Israeli killing of Sheikh Ahmed
Yassin, the founder of the Palestinian terror organization
Hamas. The condemnation came quickly, just two days after
the assassination.

Juxtapose this with the agonizing ruminations now under way
at the commission on whether to condemn Cuba's dismal human
rights record -- 45 years in the making -- and you have the
case for identifying an all-time low in U.N. credibility.

For more than four decades, Cuban innocents have suffered
economic privation, firing squads, jackboots, nightmarish
dungeons and exile, all at the hands of Fidel Castro. Only
one year ago, the regime unleashed a bout of legendary
brutality against the island's dissident movement, raiding
homes, beating up suspects and subsequently sentencing 75
human rights activists, journalists, librarians and
economists to prison terms averaging 20 years.

It was a scene that only the morally depraved or
intellectually dishonest in the international community
could ignore. Yet at this moment, the U.N.'s Human Rights
Commission is locked in a great debate -- in a process that
will take three weeks -- wrestling with the question of
whether or not to denounce Cuba's record. One would think
this a great moral dilemma.

On one side, unified, are the U.S. and European commission
members, which see the Cuban assaults on humanity as
clearly intolerable. On the other side are China, Russia,
Cuba and any other sovereignties that need help covering up
their own sins.

In the middle, weighing the usefulness of Castro as a thorn
in the U.S. side, are some Latin American democracies that
ought to know better. If these decide to abstain from the
vote, Castro has a good chance of escaping the censure he
is due.

Fidel clearly would like to evade even what little moral
authority the U.N. still has left. His underlings are
pressing Latin American governments to vote against
condemnation or abstain. Argentina's left-leaning President
Nestor Kirchner doesn't seem to need much pushing. He is
ready, reports indicate, to sell out the likes of
world-renowned poet Raul Rivero -- one of those rotting in
a wretched Cuban prison -- if it means one-upping the U.S.
He is also rumored to be actively engaged in pressuring
neighboring Paraguay to follow suit.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, another man
of the left, appears poised to abstain, perhaps figuring
that by doing so Brazil challenges U.S. hegemony in the
region. Cuba's vice-chief of international relations was in
Chile this week to lobby the Socialist Party and advance
the notion that by abstaining from the vote, Chile would
"integrate itself more into Mercosur."

The trouble here for the likes of Mr. Kirchner, who seems
to fancy himself as a tactical genius leading a non-aligned
axis, is that Mr. Rivero's case is gaining international
attention and strong European support. The abstention club,
led by Mr. Kirchner, is beginning to look like the bar
scene in Star Wars.

Like many of his partners in "crime," Mr. Rivero was busted
for writing about how miserable it is to live in Cuba. With
moral clarity and a writing style that is at once
laser-sharp yet mysteriously warm and tender, Mr. Rivero
was growing into a real threat to Castro's dictatorship. 
In 1995 he founded CubaPress, an independent news agency.
Whether in journalistic prose or award-winning poetry the
Rivero pen cut lethally through Castro's propaganda.

Take for instance, "The Broken Wings of Oppressed Poets" a
Nov. 20, 2000 Miami Herald op-ed that anticipated the March
2003 crackdown. "I do want to talk about the special
situation in which these people find themselves in Cuba,"
Mr. Rivero offered. "Some are independent journalists;
others are human-rights activists, free-lance librarians or
militants in opposition parties. . . Those are the real
writers of the "inxile" movement, baring their chests at
the repressive density of government, protected only by
their verses and the feeling of invincibility produced by
the slivers of freedom they have won."

Or, consider a column published in the May 17, 2001 Chicago
Tribune: "A man riding the Chinese-made Forever-brand
bicycle under the Caribbean sun after eating a single slice
of bread, washed down with very bad coffee, finds it
difficult to ponder America's trade embargo against Cuba.

"Such a man has lunch on his mind -- his and his family's.
For him, abstract thought is a luxury that requires time,
information, and a reason to reflect on a subject that, at
first sight, appears to be from another galaxy.

"The truth is that ordinary Cubans are more oppressed by a
personal embargo, one that has transformed them into
blindfolded and muzzled pawns. The debate over the American
embargo pales in comparison -- removed to a far corner of
the mind -- to the obstructive domestic situation that
envelops them. In this country, the real blockade, the one
that affects the daily life of the people, is the internal
governing system. It is the noose that ensures that Cuba
remains immobilized and poor."

There is plenty more where that came from. Mr. Rivero is
eloquent and unwavering and there is no mystery as to why
Castro took away his typewriter and threw him in the
slammer for 20 years. What is harder to figure is how Mr.
Kirchner will sleep at night if he acts as an enabler to
the continued torture of poet Rivero.

In a speech last week deploring Argentina's "dirty war"
against a leftist insurgency, Mr. Kirchner apologized "in
the name of the Argentine state for having remained silent
regarding such atrocities during 20 years of democracy."

That is a statement that ambitious Argentine politicians
might want to file for future use from the presidential
podium. If Mr. Kirchner decides to betray Mr. Rivero in
Geneva, a future Argentine president will undoubtedly have
to make that same statement again someday, referring to
another unconscionable silence.

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