Trump pressures Cuba on political refugee Assata Shakur

This video says about itself:

17 June 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump targeted Assata Shakur in his recent speech, making her extradition a demand to Cuba.

On June 16, President Donald Trump gave a speech in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood outlining his planned rollback of the loosening of travel and trade restrictions initiated under the Obama administration. Repeating his absurd claim that the deal to reopen diplomatic relations and allow US companies to operate on the island was “one-sided” and “terrible and misguided,” the Trump administration is speaking not only for wealthy, right-wing Cuban exiles who were part of his base. American imperialism’s most rapacious layers see a Cuban economic collapse on the horizon and an opportunity to take back their old property without having to give a cut to the Cuban leadership and their associates: here.

The official June 16 statement was barely uttered when the majority nationwide opposition to the Trump Cuba policy was once again reignited. Indeed, it was already extremely active and vocal before the Little Havana, Miami venue and date were announced on June 9. By stage-managing the event in Little Havana, Trump was preaching to the choir, one that does not even include the rest of Florida, where the majority of Cuban-Americans oppose the blockade, or at least support the Obama policy of making the blockade somewhat more flexible. Trump’s trademark manner of hand-picking events to spread the word across the country will not work. His Cold War rhetoric will not detract the forces that want to increase trade and travel to Cuba: here.

11 thoughts on “Trump pressures Cuba on political refugee Assata Shakur

  1. Tuesday 20th June 2017

    posted by Morning Star in World

    CUBAN Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez rejected President Donald Trump’s new policy toward the island yesterday, declaring: “We will never negotiate under pressure or under threat.”

    He also refused the US president’s demand to return US fugitives who have received asylum in Cuba, calling them political refugees.

    Mr Rodriguez said that Mr Trump’s restrictions on transactions with the Cuban military would not achieve the US’s objective of weakening the government but instead would strengthen unity behind the leadership in Havana.

    Mr Trump had told an audience of Cuban-American exiles and Cuban dissidents in Miami at the weekend that the US would consider lifting restrictions only after Cuba returned fugitives and made internal political changes to suit US demands.

    “The harbouring of criminals and fugitives will end. You have no choice. It will end,” he blustered to Havana.

    “Cuba will not make concessions that harm its sovereignty. We have never done, in the history of the revolution,” Mr Rodriguez responded.


  2. Thursday 22nd June 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    There is a healthy bipartisan sentiment in the US Congress for passing legislation that would eliminate the legal underpinnings of the Cuba blockade, including especially the Toricelli Amendment and the Helms-Burton law, writes EMILE SCHEPERS

    On Friday June 16, President Donald Trump gave one of his typically bombastic speeches in Miami. Trump accused the Cuban government of oppressing its own people, claimed the Obama administration had negotiated a bad deal with the island nation in 2014 and announced a new “strong” US policy toward Cuba. With this speech, Trump was signalling a partial fulfilment of a campaign promise he made in last year’s presidential elections.

    The changes Trump proposes — outlined in a new “national security presidential memorandum on strengthening the policy of the United States toward Cuba” — did not satisfy the most hard core anti-Castro zealots in the Cuban exile community in south Florida. However, they do represent a setback in the rapprochement between the US and Cuba, which got underway with the joint announcement by President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014.

    Trump’s new changes violate the sovereignty of the Cuban nation, harm instead of helping ordinary Cuban people and trample on the right of US citizens to travel abroad in times of peace.

    Accordingly, the new policy has produced a sharply negative response from the Cuban government, from other foreign leaders including Bolivian President Evo Morales and from organisations and individuals within the US which support US-Cuba friendship.

    The new policy has yet to be spelled out in detail — doing so will require input from the US Treasury and Homeland Security Departments. Whether there will be a mechanism for public input into this process has yet to be seen and there could also be litigation, a field of action in which the Trump administration has not fared well so far.

    In general terms, Trump’s speech and his “memorandum” indicate that the US will not break off diplomatic relations with Cuba or close the Cuban embassy in Washington DC or the US one in Havana.

    Cooperation with Cuban government agencies on a whole range of issues of mutual interest, such as fighting smuggling and drug trafficking, will not be stopped. Nor was anything said about putting Cuba once more on the US list of “state sponsors of terrorism.” Travel to Cuba will still be permitted for various purposes.

    However, trade relations with Cuban entities run by the Cuban armed forces or security agencies will be prohibited and “person-to-person” visits by US citizens to Cuba will be stopped or confined to group tours arranged by travel companies approved by the US government.

    US travellers to Cuba will also have to prove that their activities in the country did not diverge from the new policy guidelines — that they were not going there as ordinary tourists (federal courts have ruled that the government cannot forbid travel of US citizens to Cuba but previous administrations have got around this by forbidding them to spend money that would support the island’s economy).

    The fact that the new policy did not go all the way to reversing the 2014 Obama-Castro agreement displeased the most hardline Cuban-exile politicians. The relative “moderation” of the proposed changes is likely due to a number of factors.

    First, public opinion in the US (73 per cent) are favour of ending the US economic blockade of Cuba entirely with even Republicans favouring the opening to Cuba.

    Second, major corporate interests, including but not exclusively agribusiness, strongly support ending the blockade because they want to make more money by selling more of their products to Cuba.

    Even among Cuban-Americans, it is no longer the case that the majority support a hardline US policy toward Cuba.

    However, the elites of the Cuban “diaspora” are wealthy and influential — in Miami, New Jersey, and elsewhere — and thus still have a disproportionate influence over US foreign policy toward Cuba. In the person of people like Republican senator Marco Rubio — the only Cuban American in the US Congress — they claim to be the true representatives of Cuban-American feeling on the subject.

    As a result of these trends in mass and elite opinion, one city council after another and even the Alabama state legislature have recently passed resolutions calling for an end to restrictions on trade with, and travel to, Cuba. To further these efforts, the North American Congress on Latin America is distributing a model city council resolution for activists to use in their communities.

    There is also healthy bipartisan sentiment in the US Congress for passing legislation that would eliminate the legal underpinnings of the Cuba blockade, including especially the Toricelli Amendment and the Helms-Burton law.

    Obama’s 2014 announcement of changes did not, and could not, eliminate the most harmful aspects of the laws establishing the US blockade against Cuba.

    This can only be accomplished by new legislation, which is the reason for the campaign to get city and county councils and state legislatures to pass resolutions demanding such changes.

    The Cuban Foreign Ministry responded to Trump’s speech and Memorandum with a carefully worded statement on its website. It called for continued co-operation between the US and Cuba in areas of mutual benefit. However, it denounced Trump’s violent and untruthful anti-Cuba rhetoric and once more rejected hostile interference by the United States in Cuba’s internal affairs.

    It pointedly referred to the hypocrisy of Trump’s criticisms of Cuba’s human rights record by referring to well-known flaws of democratic governance and human rights in the US: “The United States is not in a position to teach us lessons. We have serious concerns about the respect for and guarantees of human rights in that country, where there are numerous cases of murders, brutality, and abuses by the police, particularly against the African-American population; the right to life is violated as the result of deaths caused by firearms; child labour is exploited and there are serious manifestations of racial discrimination; there is a threat to impose more restrictions on medical services, which will leave 23 million persons without health insurance; there is unequal pay between men and women; migrants and refugees, particularly those who come from Islamic countries, are marginalised; there is an attempt to put up walls that discriminate against and denigrate neighbour countries, and international commitments to preserve the environment and address climate change are abandoned.”

    The Miami theatre at which Trump gave his speech is named after Manuel Artime, a Central Intelligence Agency asset captured after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. No doubt the choice of that venue by Trump was intended to be symbolic of his support for the aims of the anti-Castro movement among Cuban exiles in the US.

    However, since the Bay of Pigs invasion was a disastrous failure, perhaps it will turn out to be symbolic of the failed policy of hostility to Cuba to which Trump wishes to return.


  3. Saturday 24th June 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    US-Cuba normalisation will go on despite Trump’s rhetoric slowing it down, says CARLOS ALZUGARAY

    FIVE months into his administration, US President Donald Trump announced his “new” Cuba policy on June 16. With his typical tendency to do more histrionics than politics, he did it in Miami, surrounded mostly with Bay of Pigs veterans — many of them septuagenarian and octogenarian Americans of Cuban origin who served the United States in Vietnam and the dirty wars of Central America in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The tone of his speech and the reactions sounded like the “good old” cold war days.

    This “new” policy was supposed to be the result of a profound review of the agreements reached by Cuba and the United States since December 17 2014. It has resulted in a halfway attempt at reviving a failed 55-year-old policy of using economic sanctions to impose extreme hardships on the Cuban people so that they would rebel and overthrow their government.

    The purpose of that policy was explained by a US State Department document of April 1960 as designed to bring about “hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the Cuban government.” Washington has euphemistically called it an “embargo.” The Cuban people call it a “blockade.”

    The main line of the president’s speech was quite bombastic: “Therefore, effective immediately, I am cancelling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.”

    But, as usual with Trump, it was “fake news”. After the dust settled, it was realised that diplomatic relations were maintained and embassies would not be closed. None of the 22 agreements signed by the two governments in the last two years of the former US president Barack Obama’s administration were denounced.

    Among those covenants were several very significant agreements: the immigration accord ending the “wet foot, dry foot” policy and the privileged status of Cuban illegal immigrants in the US; the civil aviation arrangement that allows regular airline connections between several cities in both countries; the co-operation covenant on combating drug trafficking and the list goes on and on.

    Probably, the different federal agencies of the “deep state” prevailed in not allowing any major changes to what was their creation under Obama.

    How did this come to happen? It was probably a combination of many factors. First, Trump’s quite inconsistent positions about Cuba — he sent a team to the island in the ’90s to find out if he could invest in the expanding tourist sector, defying the US economic sanctions that he now so eagerly embraces; in 2014, he reacted positively to Obama’s opening only saying that he would have done a better deal; he defeated his adversary Senator Marco Rubio in the Florida primary precisely adopting the opposing view to the one he rhetorically adopted on June 16; inexplicably, at the end of the presidential campaign, he hardened his pronouncements with the false presumption that it would help him win Florida in the presidential election against Hillary Clinton, something that did not happen.

    Second, apparently one of the leitmotifs of his presidency will be reversing everything his predecessor did, even if that includes successful policies, like the diplomatic opening to Cuba.

    Thirdly, he seems intent on courting Rubio, forgetting the personal bitterness and animosity that characterised their debates during primaries. Rubio has been more than ready to play the game. Probably, the key factor that both Republicans take into account is that the president is in deep trouble because of the improper (and probably illegal) contacts of his entourage with Russian diplomats during the electoral campaign and the fact that the senator can be of help, being a member of the Senate intelligence committee that will investigate the issue. Rubio has already proved his usefulness to Trump during the hearing where former FBI director James Comey testified about his conversations with the president.

    Finally, and probably most importantly, President Trump’s own views about US foreign policy. He thinks that he can bully the rest of the world into accepting US domination. Cuba, a weak and small neighbour, or so he thinks, is a good target.

    After visiting the Middle East and joining most of the authoritarian leaders of the region, there is no way that anyone can believe Trump’s justification for the mainly rhetorical turnaround.

    Trump’s decisions, pending the new regulations, will certainly impact the embryonic travel and business activities established under Obama and affect the normalisation process.

    Since Obama only marginally allowed travel and business, the only thing that Trump can do is marginally decrease them. However, three factors will remain true. First, in Cuba it is impossible to separate the private sector from the state sector, especially the so-called military enterprises. Second, travel, especially individual travel, fundamentally benefits the private sector. Third, the market will nimbly work around regulatory loopholes where found.

    Although Cuba has generally been able to adapt to changes in US policy, from former US presidents Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan and again from Bill Clinton to George Bush Jr, the government’s pragmatic, but firm, position against any concession on the basis of sanctions has remained consistent. The current policy change differs from previous US policy swings in that it does not completely do away with its predecessor.

    While Trump’s policy shuts down business transactions with Cuban entities affiliated with the Cuban military (and restricts individual people-to-people travel to the island), Cuba will continue to co-operate with US institutions to the extent possible. Barring no more new damaging rhetorical display, that co-operation, no matter how minimal, will enable normalisation to continue over the next three-and-a-half years, although certainly at a much slower pace.

    Carlos Alzugaray is a Cuban diplomat, professor and writer. He is speaking at a public meeting in London (7pm, Monday June 26, Discus Suite, Unite House, WC1X 8TN) and at an APPG on Cuba meeting in Parliament (Monday June 26 afternoon. Contact if you are interested in attending). He will also be speaking in Edinburgh (Tuesday June 27) and at a cross party group meeting on Cuba in the Scottish Parliament (12.30pm, Wednesday June 28). Please email to confirm attendance and for more details.


  4. NO to the blockade against Cuba!

    December 17 will mark three years since Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro made steps towards normalizing relations between both of their countries. Unfortunately, the new occupant of the White House decided to do away with all the progress we’ve made and turn back the clock on U.S.-Cuba relations, ignoring the will of the majority of Americans and the Cuban people. Together, we must push against his backwards policies and demand that we continue on the path of rapprochement.

    He’s doing everything wrong. While presenting absolutely no proof, the he has accused Cuba of being behind the mysterious attacks that sickened 24 American (as well as some Canadian) diplomats. His administration has then gone on to use these “attacks” as a pretext to downsize the U.S. embassy in Havana and to arbitrarily expel Cuban diplomats from Washington, D.C. The reduction of personnel in both embassies has made it even more difficult for Cuban families and individuals to travel both ways across the Florida Straits. Trump has also decided to ignore the international community, which – for the 25th year in a row–voted on November 1st overwhelmingly for the end of the blockade. And of course, he implemented new restrictions on travel to Cuba, which do nothing to help the Cuban people and everything to discourage American citizens from traveling to Cuba if only for the fact that they make the process less clear.

    In honor of the anniversary of the opening of relations, we’re calling on everyone to participate in a Twitterstorm on December 18 that’s being organized by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity.

    Together, we’ll tell the U.S. government: NO to the genocidal blockade against Cuba, NO to Trump’s Cuba policy rollback!

    How to Participate
    On December 18, go on Twitter and
    tweet at one of Trump’s handles:

    @realDonaldTrump @POTUS

    When crafting your tweets, make sure you
    include one of the following hashtags:

    #NoMasBloqueo #NiUnPasoAtras



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