[Marxism] Castro foes testify, support the U.S. (Miami Herald)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 4 02:42:48 MST 2005


This MIAMI HERALD story is informative, in more ways than
the reader might imagine. In time we'll get a transcript 
and be able to assess this with more than a MIAMI HERALD
article, but a few comments based on just THIS matierial.

Where else on the entire planet would local oppositionists
go to the diplomatic mission of a hostile foreign power to
stage a media event of this type? Washington has just put
out a gigantic world report on what it sees as human rights
violations in every country in the world, except in the US.
But, as far as I know, it has staged no other media stunts
of this kind with any other country ON THE PLANET.

It's worth noting that criticism or opposition to the US
blockade was reflected here among those who were on the US
panel, which included two representatives who are more in
accord with the congressional majority which has voted to
end travel and trade restrictions with Cuba. They of course
are far more representive than the ultra-militant fringe in
control of the Congressional leadership.

First, it reflects the ongoing efforts of the United States 
government to intervene in, and to destabilize and disrupt 
Cuban society. Second, as this article demonstrates, this 
is being led by the Cuban exile rightist militants in the
US. It's important not to dismiss or underestimate this
quite influential group as some do. Third, it not only
represents US intervention inside of Cuba, but even more
it demonstrates US intervention within the splits among
the Cuban oppositionists themselves. You'll notice that 
none of the dissidents who've made public statements that
Washington should NOT meddle inside of Cuba testified here.

As we've read in the HERALD in recent days, there's a split 
between Oswaldo aya and Marta Beatriz Roque and the forces 
backing her, which tend to be the most extremist among the 
dissidents, over the provocation Roque is planning May 20th. 

May 20 is the date when Cuban exile militants, and their
backers in Washington regime "celebrate" what they call 
Cuban independence. But May 20th is the date that the Cuban
constitution of 1902 was adopted, a constitution which
included the Platt Amendment, which formally authorized
the US to militarily intervene in Cuba. Washington DID
intervene militarily in Cuba three times over the next
thirty years.

Finally, some background on  Marta Beatrize Roque who
has more then once strongly and publicly supported the
efforts of Washington to blockade Cuba openly:
http://www.granma.cu/documento/ingles/012-i.html


Walter Lippmann, CubaNews
http://www.walterlippmann.com 
========================================================

MIAMI HERALD
Posted on Fri, Mar. 04, 2005	

CONGRESS
Castro foes testify, support the U.S.
In a first-ever phone link, three top Cuban dissidents 
testified before members of Congress and endorsed 
President Bush's tough anti-Castro policies.
BY PABLO BACHELET
pbachelet at herald.com

WASHINGTON - Three top dissidents in Havana testified
before two congressional panels Thursday in the first use
of a phone link to bring the words of Fidel Castro's
domestic opponents directly to American lawmakers.

Martha Beatriz Roque, René Gómez and Félix Bonne used the
occasion to strongly endorse President Bush's hard-line
policies on Cuba, including restrictions that make it
harder for Cuban Americans to visit relatives on the
island.

The hearing marked the second anniversary of a Cuban
government crackdown in 2003 that sent 75 dissidents to
long jail terms, a move that prompted Bush to tighten
travel and trade restrictions on the island.

Roque, who was among the 75, was sentenced to 20 years in
prison but was released last year for health reasons.

She said she has been warned by Cuban officials that she
could be rearrested if she did not behave, but continues
speaking out against the Cuban leader.

The three dissidents, who spoke from the U.S. diplomatic
mission in Havana, belong to the Assembly to Promote a
Civil Society, a group that is trying to organize a May 20
gathering of more than 300 dissident groups in Havana to
discuss a possible transition to democracy.

Roque, Gómez and Bonne were praised by lawmakers for their
courage in testifying before a joint meeting of two House
subcommittees, one on international relations and the other
on Africa, human rights and international operations.
Several referred to them as ``heroes.''

''I want to extend my gratitude, in addition to my most
profound admiration and solidarity, with the three
extraordinary Cubans who have honored the Congress . . .
with their participation this afternoon,'' said Rep.
Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican and a Cuban
American.

When Rep. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and Cuban
American, asked if they feared being arrested for their
testimony, Bonne -- who spent time in jail in the late
1990s -- said that he had told his wife earlier that day
that he was ''simply a soldier of liberty and democracy''
and was prepared to return to jail ``to defend the
interests of the Cuban people.''

State Department officials tried to set up a videophone
link between the Congress members and the dissidents in
Havana, but were unable to establish the connection for
technical reasons.

But the audio connection was clear, and photographs of the
three dissidents were flashed on screens in the hearing
room as they spoke -- Bonne in Spanish, the others in
English.

The hearing came as congressional opponents of U.S.
sanctions on Cuba, especially the ban on most travel to
Cuba, are again preparing to try to weaken them in the next
congressional sessions. Such efforts have repeatedly
failed.

Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., said Castro should be provided
with ''incentives to stop attacking the dissidents.'' Rep.
Donald Payne, D-N.J., argued that open contacts had helped
bring about democratic change in the Soviet Union.

René Gómez said he ''disagreed with that theory'' and that
the communist governments in Eastern Europe fell because of
the ``firm hand of the government of the United States.''

In written testimony, Roger Noriega, assistant secretary of
state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said the Cuban
government had intimidated potential participants in the
May 20 gathering by detaining them and warning them the
event would not take place. He said the Cuban security
forces even circulated a mock newspaper article dated May
19, which described how Roque and her supporters were
arrested during the assembly.

Noriega also said the crackdown in the spring of 2003
initially succeeded in forcing the dissident movement to
lower its profile, but that dissident activity was starting
to pick up.





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