[Marxism] Ricardo Alarcon's Thesis IMPORTANT

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue May 25 21:32:55 MDT 2004


Yesterday CubaNews posted an article referring to the
remarks made by Cuban National Assembly President 
Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada at the Emigration and Nation
conference which met in Havana over the weekend. Read it:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/26227

Today, May 25, Francisco Aruca broadcast an interview
he conducted with Alarcon on his program BABEL'S GUIDE
which is broadcast in Miami. This message just came from 
Mr. Aruca. I'd like to encourage everyone who has access
to radio, particularly local non-commercial and education
oriented programming to try to get this program broadcast.
The sound quality of broadcasting on Mr. Aruca's show is
excellent and it should be playable directly via the net.

Please report this message to as many other lists as
you possibly can. Thanks very much, in advance.


Walter Lippmann, Moderator, CubaNews
http://www.walterlippmann.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews 
========================================================

From: Progresoactionet at aol.com 
Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2004 9:18 AM
Subject: Alarcon's Thesis 

I wish to let you all know that you can listen to an
interview that I did with Ricardo Alarcon in Havana. 

In that interview Alarcon makes the case, based on
Congressional Record, that in October 2000 the U.S.
Congress codified into law what up to that moment had been
the executive's power to regulate travel to Cuba.

Therefore, the recent measures announced by the Bush
administration, according to Alarcon, are illegal and in
violation of the U.S. constitution as to separation of
powers.

You may listen to the interview by visiting
www.progresoweekly.com Click on "Listen" and then click on
"Tuesday, May 25th". Please call media attention to this.

Also, we have just received a transcript of the interview
which will be available on the Progeso Weekly/Progreso
Semanal website beginning Thursday. I'll include it now
just as we received it.

Best wishes to all,

Francisco Aruca

Interview in Havana

By Francisco Aruca

On May 6, 2004 the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, created by
President Bush in 2003, submitted to the president a report with its
recommendations for accelerating the downfall of the Cuban revolution.  In
an apparent electoral move to gain the backing of extreme rightist Cuban
Americans in South Florida, Bush promised to implement several of its
measures that target the Cuban family, particularly the right to travel to
Cuba on family visits.  One of the measures allows Cuban Americans only one
trip every three years, instead of the previous annual visit.  The new
attacks against Cuba should be in force as of June 1.

Coincidentally the Cuban government hosted the 3rd. Conference The Nation
and Emigration to discuss with Cubans who live abroad different matters of
mutual interests, among them the new regulations that ease their travels to
Cuba, with the objective o facilitating family relations and the ties with
their country of birth.  Over 500 Cubans who reside in 49 countries, among
them 241 from the United States, attended the Conference on May 21 to 23,
and met and discussed with top government officials on the issues on the
agenda.

On Saturday, May 22, Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, President of the Cuban
National Assembly (parliament) gave a keynote address to the Conference in
which he commented on the new measures and pointed out what seems to be a
bungling error on the part of the Bush Administration.  

The following interview with Mr. Alarcón de Quesada was broadcast on
Tuesday May 25, by Francisco Aruca, director and host of Radio Progreso
Alternativa, in his Miami program Babel’s Guide. 

Francisco Aruca (FA): In my opinion you may have lifted the lid from a
Pandora’s box, and have presented al the Conference what could be a very
serious legal constitutional situation in reference to these measures. 
Would you comment on the issue?

Ricardo Alarcón (RA): I referred to one area of those measures that
theoretically will be applied on June 1st.  I am talking about the travel
regulations.  In order to fully understand we would have to go back to
October 6, 2000.  On that day, the Conference Report regarding the
Agricultural Appropriations Bill was presented.  Previously on both Houses
–the House of Representatives and the Senate– an amendment had been voted
regarding unilateral sanctions imposed by the US in terms of trade of
foodstuff and medicine, with the aim of eliminating those unilateral
sanctions.  That included Cuba and other countries.  At the end of a very
complicated process the Conference Committee drastically changed the nature
and the spirit of the original draft.  Finally it authorized exports of
American foodstuff to Cuba under very stringent conditions –cash payments,
no credit and a number of other limitations.

But due to the efforts of some congresspeople, particularly Cuban Americans
Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, working together
with Tom DeLay and other House leaders, they managed to strengthen the
embargo against Cuba, not just with the limits that they imposed on that
restricted trade, but also because they codified the administrative
regulations regarding travel to Cuba, which means that what until that
moment had been executive privilege was transformed into law.  I remember I
watched Ms Ros-Lehtinen and Mr. Díaz-Balart on Miami TV claiming not just a
victory, but a historic victory, the most important victory of their lives.
Why?  Because until that moment travel regulations was the only area
regarding Cuba that remained in the hands of the executive.  The
Helms-Burton law took away from the administration the conduct of policy
towards Cuba and converted it into a matter of law.  That means that before
restoring diplomatic relations, before having normal trade, exchanges, and
so on, any administration will have to go to Congress and obtain a
modification of the Helms- Burton law.  But traveling was not covered by
the law. I don’t know the reason, perhaps they got so confident they forgot
that area, and remember that during the 90s the Clinton Administration, the
same president that signed into law the Helms-Burton bill, also created new
areas for traveling, such as the people-to-people approach, which he
believed was in the best interests of US policy, so as not to close down
the doors between both countries, but to open them up, to facilitate travel
and so on.  In October 6, the Conference Committee discussed an
agricultural bill that had a section 910 on travel to Cuba related matters.
Essentially, section 910 stated that: first, it authorized travel for
commercial sales of agricultural products.  So they had to add a new
license to the existing regulations.  But then, immediately it came down to
say that besides that new category and those existing categories for
traveling to Cuba at that moment, there would be nothing more, no more
traveling, no more categories.  With that action they transformed what was
until October 2000 an executive privilege into a law, froze it, transformed
that area into “a stone”, as President Clinton called it.  

What happened on that day was the codification of the previous
administrative regulations, specifically in relation with traveling to
Cuba, making it impossible for any US administration to introduce any
change in those regulations.  Let me quote this little phrase from Section
910:  “This Title shall take effect on the day of enactment of this Act,
and shall apply thereafter in any fiscal year.”

In other words, as Representative Ros-Lehtinen said, it was a necessary
complement to Helms-Burton, to fill the gap they had left inadvertently in
the law in relation to travel, because only traveling remained at an
administrative level until October 2000.  

FA: In your speech at the Conference at one point you quoted Senator Dodd,
saying something like he predicted that those people would live to regret
that action, precisely because they had taken away not only the power to
make travel more flexible, but also the power to make tighter rules in
relation to travel to Cuba.  In other words, senators and congressmen from
both parties said at the moment, “Hey, you are tying the hands even of the
president who may want to toughen the traveling regulations to Cuba”, just
as Bush has done now.

RA: Let me quote the exact words of Senator Christopher Dodd. He said:

“With respect to the codification of existing travel restrictions on
Americans wishing to travel to Cuba, I think this action is shameful and
irresponsible.  I predict the authors of this provision will live to regret
deeply having taken away this and future administrations’ discretion.”  It
was the end of administrative discretion not for that fiscal year, but for
any fiscal year.

FA: And not just for that president, but for any future president?

RA: For any future president.  Dodd said that.  But there were others.
Senator Baucus from Montana, another Democrat, said: “To rub salt in the
wounds, the Republican conferees agreed to codify into law the current
administrative restrictions on travel to Cuba.  That action removed the
flexibility of this president and future presidents to liberalize or not to
liberalize (the regulations)”.  

FA: It’s crystal clear, then.

RA: Let’s take the other side of the aisle, the Republicans.  Congressman
Sanford, who was a member of Congress at the time and at present is the
Governor of South Carolina, was very active, as many other Republicans, in
terms of ending the travel ban in general, for anybody.  These were his
words:  “By codifying the present travel restrictions, it prohibits this
president or any future presidents from making changes to the current
travel regulations.”

FA:  Of course, lawyers will have to examine this argument to see its legal
merits, but basically the case you have made here in Havana is that the
Bush Administration may have violated the law and may have, in a way, gone
against the Constitution of the United States by implementing or trying too
implement administrative measures that Congress has taken away from the
president.  Is that the case you are making?

RA: Definitely.  Those quotes are from the session in Congress when the
report of the Conference Committee was presented.  At that moment the
conferees explained the meaning of the bill, the intentionality.  It was
crystal clear that both sides saw it as taking a power away from the
presidency.  They were doing it on the eve of the election, which both
sides believed they were going to win.  A few weeks before the famous 2000
election.  They were taking the authority away from the next president and
the ones after that one, for they were making clear that it was not a one
year legislation.  It “shall apply to any fiscal year.”  From that moment
on, no president of the US had any authority to eliminate or to reinforce,
to liberalize or not the regulations on traveling to Cuba.   

FA: And ignoring Congress this administration is trying to take that power
back, although the law says, “You don’t have it any more”.

RA: I don’t want to be rude, but technically speaking that’s simply
illegal.  The administration is interfering in an area that is prohibited
by law, a law that was welcomed by the same people that are now trying to
deprive Cuban Americans from very fundamental rights  Allow me to turn  now
to the October 8 Washington Post, when a very serious and respected
journalist, Karen DeYoung, wrote an article on the issue.  And she began
her article quoting Representative Lincoln Díaz-Balart as saying that was
“a tremendous victory”.  And Karen explains the “victory”.  She said: “The
agreement also removes the president’s ability to ease or tighten
restrictions on American travel, freezing current regulatory bans on all
but one annual Cuban American trip, and narrowing licensing of all others,
and freezing them into law, despite the overwhelming House vote to do the
opposite”.  

Remember that year the House voted precisely in favor of eliminating the
travel ban altogether.  

“‘I think it’s wrong’, President Clinton said Friday.  He also said that
the situation had been frozen into ‘a stone’ and depriving the executive of
any prerogative in that area.”

FA: Mr. Alarcón, you have quoted from US Congressmen, you have quoted from
The Washington Post.  Do you have anything in relation to this issue that
was reported in South Florida specifically?

A.: Well. I’m sure The Herald and El Nuevo Herald  have plenty of
statements from the Cuban American National Foundation, from Cuban American
congresspeople, who were very talkative, because for them it was the most
important victory in their careers, that action of taking authority away
from the executive.  But there was also more coverage, specially a
Sun-Sentinel editorial on October 19.  The editorial described what
happened with these words: “The proposal also would take the power to set
travel restrictions away from the president and give it to Congress”.  This
is a very simple, straightforward way to describe it.  Remember that piece
of legislation was appended to an agricultural appropriations bill.  It
would have been extremely unadvisable for any politician, particularly in
October in an election year, to oppose a bill that involves tens of
billions of dollars for the farming community.  That was part of the trick.
But the Sun-Sentinel considered the importance of the issue of traveling,
considered it so relevant that they even called on President Clinton to
veto the bill.  Allow me to quote the last part of the editorial. 
“President Clinton should be encouraged to stand tall against a bad idea,
even if it means vetoing the Agricultural Spending Bill.”

FA: It remains to be seen what lawyers and elected officials have to say
about this, but in my opinion your arguments shed new light on this and
other measures in relation to President Bush’s policy on Cuba.

A.  There are many fundamental issues involved.  Of course, the most
prominent one is the violation of human rights, of the individual family
rights of Cubans, in Cuba and in the US.  It’s a violation also of the US
Constitution.  Cubans and Cuban Americans are discriminated against, and
the US Constitutions prohibits any discrimination of US citizens or legal
US residents.  Cubans are the only ethnic group that has limits, even
before this cruel attempt.  Legally they have the possibility of visiting
their country once a year, under a general license.  And in addition Cubans
could apply for specific licenses for coming to Cuba. That was codified by
Congress on October, 2000. That is the legal situation.  That legal
situation, the current situation, is still a violation of their rights,
because the federal government doesn’t interfere in the relations of other
ethnic communities –Irish Americans or Italian Americans, anybody.  They
can travel back and forth to and from their country of origin as they may
wish, send remittances, whatever.  Cubans have been discriminated against. 

These measures that the administration wants to impose now against the law
would make it even more cruel and more violating of the rights of those
Cubans.  But I think it’s important to realize that apart from the
importance that this issue has for us, for Cubans living over there or
here, it is also a violation of other constitutional principles.  It’s a
clear violation of the prerogatives of Congress.  The foundation of the US
Constitution is the so called “separation of powers”.  In exercising their
power Congress passed a law in 2000 that took away any authority, any power
from any president to introduce any change, any modifications on the travel
to Cuba regulations.  But if the president is able to impose his will he
would be attacking the prerogatives of Congress and creating a very
dangerous precedent that goes beyond the Cuba issue.  Americans should be
concerned about living in a country where law may mean nothing, where an
administration such as the current one can ignore and violate what is
clearly written into law and also attacking a fundamental principle such as
the prerogatives of the legislative power.  Could they get along with that
–senators, congressmen, American public opinion?

FA: I believe your question is a very good way to end the interview.  Now
it’s up to the readers to find an answer.



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