As sent by a reader: some love from the Castro propaganda machine (if he's still alive) for Sen. Barack Obama.

The article appeared in the publication Granma this Sunday. It refers to Obama's proposal to drawn down punitive sanctions against the island country.

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This reader, who is not sympathetic to Obama, provided a full translation, which, because I cannot verify the word-for-word renderings, I've pasted after the jump.

Barack Obama, Academics and Religious Leaders of the US Reject Sanctions-
http://www.granma.cu/index.html
By Gabriel Molina

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama set himself apart from the traditional declarations against the Cuban Revolution in American electoral campaigns, marking a programmatic difference with the historic majority of the major candidates.

A few years earlier, the Dade County Democratic Party, which Miami belongs to, agreed to oppose the government against traveling to Cuba, just like almost 500 US academics creators of the Emergent Coalition to Defend Educational Trips (ECDET). They have joined Christian American churches that recently demanded from Members of Congress a vote to suppress the measures that President Bush has taken to block visits and sending remittances.

Academics compare these restrictions to the ones dictated by Nazis in Germany towards Jewish professors and they state similar arguments to those from Christian leaders, both Catholic and Protestants, who met with or sent letter to Members of Congress a few days ago to pressure them to approve bill that would eliminate restrictions to travel to Cuba.

Obama is scheduled to speak in Miami this Saturday. His statement was discussed by Cuban foreign minister Felipe Pérez Roque on Wednesday, August 22, who said that he expresses the feelings of the majority in the USA, since these draconian measures adopted by President Bush’s administration violate the constitutional rights of Americans and represent an anachronism and a “barbarian act”, according to a report from AM. In 2003 the Senate and the House of Representatives in Washington approved a bill that annulled the effect of those sanctions, but it was eliminated with procedural maneuvers by a minority led by Cuban-American legislators such as the Díaz Balart brothers.

The Democratic candidate, who is on second place in the public preferences, criticized, through a spokesperson, the “strategic and humanitarian” mistake by George W. Bush, by approving those actions. In an op-ed in The Miami Herald, Obama said that the connections with the Cuban families are “the best tool to help take the principle of democratic roots to the island”.

Since 1959, the first candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, turned the Cuban “case” in a domestic policy issue. “Fidel Castro is part of Bolivar’s legacy. We should have given the young and energetic rebel a warmer welcome after his triumph”, admitted Kennedy when he was still a Senator. But later he became involved in opportunistic positions against Castro during his electoral campaign, calling Nixon’s position towards the Revolution as weak.

In March of 1959, Nixon played the main role, as Eisenhower’s vice president, in that “not warm at all welcoming” to the victorious hero [Fidel]. Since that wasn’t enough he focused from that day on trying to bring down the new revolutionary leader.

Unfortunately, the electoral attitude cost Kennedy his life, when as President he tried to change his country. In the last months of 1963, the extreme right, the complex military industry and the Pentagon, decided that the CIA, the Mafia and the Cuban gangsters –the same that had become Kennedy’s allies to kill Castro- should conduct the scandalous murder. Later, they did the same with his brother Robert, who was also determined to modify the establishment.

Since then, the main presidential candidates have assumed and “anti-Castro” position, to prove they are more hawks than doves. The only exception was, James Carter, who won the elections, unlike the others, by keeping in his plans the issue of normalizing relations with Cuba. But for different reasons, he didn’t go beyond taking them to the level of creating the Section of Cuban Interests.

Obama underlined this Monday, August 20, according to press wires, that if he gets to the White House, “he will lighten the restrictions imposed by Washington over the Island so that Cubans residents of the United States can visit their family or send them money”.

The chairman of the local party, Joe Garcia, has said now that Obama’s words “reached the heart of the community. The Senator has understood that most Cuban-Americans are convinced of the value of the trips for freedom and democracy. He has shown courage and a commitment to change a rhetoric that has been moving here by all politicians for the last 50 years”, said the politician from Miami.

Garcia was one of the directors of the Cuban American National Foundation that has adopted a moderate political position since the dead of their Chairman Jorge Mas Canosa and since the failure with the case of the child Elian [Gonzalez]. That moderation is rejected by a group mostly comprised of old batistianos, who created that the Cuban Liberty Council, of which most of the Miami mafia was a militant that supports all kinds of measures against Cuba.

None of the other candidates has made a statement in these terms. Although both Obama and Hillary Clinton voted in 2005 to end the travel restrictions and money to Cuba that had been implemented by Bush in 2004, last May, Clinton declared that she does not support right now lifting the travel restrictions.

However, the irrational, illegal and almost desperate measures implemented by Bush, have contributed a lot to rescue the image of Cuba in the US. In fact there’s a line of thought in the country that has gone as far as approving amendments to change a policy that they consider a failure. But they have crashed against the influence of the Mafia that claims to have put Bush ahead in Florida and thus, in the national [elections].

The academics of the ECDET will appeal the recent decision in a court in Washington, DC, that dismissed their legal arguments against the prohibitions implemented by the Treasury.

The ECDET considers those measures adopted by the government in 2004 as unconstitutional. But the federal court decided less than a month ago, on July 30, to support the motion of Bush’s government that denies the validity of ECDET’s arguments over the restrictions imposed by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), to prevent American professors and students to take or teach classes in Cuba.

The ECDET is the second coalition of academics that is organized to fight against the measures that president Bush declared towards Cuba. In 2004, in an open letter signed by more than 100 prominent Cuban American academics, writers and artists –eleven of them from New York—was published as paid advertising in the Miami Herald.

The document called the US policy towards Cuba as a “moral and political failure that has lasted almost half a century” and announced the formation of a national organization to prove that there is not a monolithical position among Cuban Americans, but rather, the same small group that is consulted and interviewed all the time even when the community has many different positions.

Doctor Lillian Manzor, an associate professor of Latino and Latin American literature, one of the academics that signed the letter, said that the group had formed an organization called Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and Artists for Change in U.S.-Cuba Policy (ENCASA/US-CUBA), to repeal a US policy that is more than 50 years old and that has as the central piece an embargo that has been legendary for its cruelty towards the Cuban people.

MORE RESTRICTIONS TO THE FREEDOM OF TRAVEL
But in another tightening of the restrictions, the US government deauthorized then more than 25 travel agencies, suspended at least six licenses to travel for religious reasons, and issued a strong regulation for all operations related to the island. The irrational measures limited the visits to the island by Cuban Americans to one every three years, without even admitting exceptions for illness or death. Bush also declared that only the children and parents are considered relatives. He doesn’t believe in cousins, nieces, nephews or [travel] for religious or academic purposes.

The ECDET also considers a violation of the academic freedom the absurd regulations about who can or cannot teach classes, who can take them, the duration of the classes or where they are taught. According to those regulations from the OFAC, adjunct professors cannot teach classes [in Cuba]; degree candidates are allowed to attend only those universities where the degrees are taught; they cannot last more than 10 weeks and they cannot be taken in Cuba until all these conditions are fulfilled.

“We don’t see a rational reason to prevent adjunct professors from teaching a class. Wayne Wmith [sic] for example, is an adjunct professor, he has never had the intention of being a full time professor, but he has taught at John Hopkins University for more than 20 years, he is one of the top experts on Cuban issues in the country, and year after year he has taught special, short-term courses about Cuba. But since 2004, he and other short-term faculty have been prevented from doing so the group expressed in their statement.

“Among other points that should be revised and are appealed is the fact that OFAC has not presented any evidence –as required by the Administrative Procedural Law- that it has conducted an independent evaluation of the need to restrict US academic programs in Cuba. Instead, like the agency admits, the OFAC was ‘directed’ by the White House to impose these sanctions and it did exactly as ordered.


The most recent prosecution has been the 182,750 dollar fine to Travelocity for booking trips to Cuba. This has been the first sanction of its kind from the Department of the Treasury to an Internet travel agency.

In summary, it’s difficult for a politician in the US to stray away from the path marked by the electoral interests that have been created. Because doing it not only means to distance himself from the extreme right represented by Bush, it also means risking losing Florida that has been decisive in the presidential elections. But the environment created by Iraq helps. It’s so unpatriotic to take this type of democracy to Cuba, as it is to take it to Iraq. And it’s also truth that “those with audacity will get to Heaven”.

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