April 11, 2009
As the United States moves toward a government-managed economic system that bears a certain resemblance to socialism, six black Democrats from the U.S. House of Representatives paid a visit to the "socialist paradise" of Cuba. They met with President Raul Castro on Monday, and four of them met with his predecessor, Fidel, later on. Rep. Barbara Lee made it clear that she and her colleagues were not there on behalf of President Obama, "but had come only to 'listen and talk' with the Cubans." See washingtonpost.com. She also said that Fidel Castro was "very engaging, very energetic," as reported by FOX News, and Gateway Pundit. The Cuban government said that one of the congresspersons said that the United States should apologize to Cuba, and another said that American society is still "racist," but they all denied that such things were said. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) called for Cuba to be removed from the U.S. list of terrorist nations; he was a member of the Black Panthers in the 1960s. (Isn't it strange how little coverage that visit got in the Mainstream Media?)
This visit comes as President Obama is moving toward ending all restrictions on trade and travel with Cuba. The embargo hasn't had the desired effect in nearly a half century, so why not? Actually, there are very good reasons to wait, as Marc Thiessen recently argued in the Washington Post:
The dumbest thing we could do today would be to enact legislation unilaterally lifting the embargo. Set aside questions about the embargo's efficacy. Like it or not, it is our only leverage, aside from our military, to affect the transition in Cuba. Why would we fritter away that leverage just as time prepares to do what the embargo could not -- bring about the end of the Castro regime?
The conviction of Alberto Fujimori, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for having ordered death squads into action, is getting a sharply mixed reaction in Peru. The former president is regarded as a valiant hero by some, and a terrible ogre by others. The BBC calls attention to the paradox that "many poorer Peruvians ... are grateful to him for stabilising the economy" and for defeating the Shining Path terrorist movement. Ordinarily, leaders who impose harsh stabilization programs are favored by wealthy classes. Fujimori's daughter Keiko, a member of Congress, is popular and may run for president in 2011. Neither she nor her father's movement are considered strong enough to make a decisive impact on politics in Peru, let alone win a majority of votes. Now the speculation is turning to what President Alan Garcia will do to retain influence after his term ends in 2011. He is not eligible to run for reelection in consecutive terms, but he apparently cannot count on any of the rising leaders in his party, APRA.