Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cuba beware

Cuba beware
·                                 Written by  Ken Fuller 
·                                 Tuesday, 13 January 2015
·                                 Daily Tribune
The news last month that the remaining three of the imprisoned Cuban Five had been released from their unjust incarceration in the USA was understandably welcomed by people around the world. Also welcome was Obama’s decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with the small Caribbean socialist republic. 

While Obama is able to unwind some of the blockade measures which have been in place for half a century, however, it will fall to the US Congress to dismantle the whole disgraceful apparatus, as it is embedded in legislation.

It would almost certainly be a mistake, though, to interpret this development as marking a fundamental shift in Washington’s strategic designs. This is readily demonstrated by looking first at the global context in which the USA’s new Cuba policy was announced, then taking a closer look at Obama’s public announcement of said policy.

A few days earlier, Obama approved a bill imposing sanctions against Venezuela on the hypocritical basis (for a country which tortures its perceived foes and where police kill unarmed civilians with impunity) that the government of Nicolas Maduro had condoned human rights violations when it responded to anti-government protests earlier last year. Washington’s new measures triggered mass demonstrations in Caracas, while other Latin American nations rallied to Venezuela’s defense. 

Bolivian president Evo Morales charged that Washington, having failed politically in its campaign against Maduro and his late predecessor Hugo Chaves, was now waging “economic aggression” against Venezuela.

Shortly after announcing the new policy on Cuba, Obama issued an executive order banning exports to Crimea and imposing further sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian companies and individuals (the European Union had agreed similar measures a few days earlier). It is probably safe to assume that the Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, which last year appointed US Vice-President Joe Biden’s son to its board of directors, will not be affected.

Let’s just remind ourselves, stating the matter bluntly, just how the situation in Ukraine came about. In late 2013, Ukraine’s president’s Viktor Yanukovych had second thoughts about signing an agreement with the European Union (EU), calculating that this would involve forsaking the undoubted economic benefits of Ukraine’s association with Russia. The EU was upset, and doubtless encouraged the demonstrators who soon began to assemble in Kiev. This would lead to the toppling of Yanukovych in February 2014.

Quite apart from EU involvement, it is now clear that the demonstrators in Kiev (who, it should not be forgotten, were extremely violent) were funded by the USA. Such was acknowledged by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Newland, who stated in a speech in Washington in December 2013 that Washington had provided $5 billion. More recently, George Friedman, founder and CEO of “intelligence” company Stratfor, has said that the USA was behind the coup against Yanukovych, as it was concerned about Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East, and in particular by its pro-Assad position on Syria.

The anti-Yanokovych forces contained neo-fascists, and these now made their way into government. It was in these circumstances that the population in Crimea voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia (it had been transferred to Ukraine in 1954 by Khrushchev). At the same time, people in the eastern Ukraine were equally concerned by the re-emergence of neo-Nazi elements in Kiev and began to agitate for separation (although not, as repeatedly reported in the West, necessarily union with Russia).

It should never be forgotten that the former Soviet Union lost almost 30 million people in World War II; this indelible memory has informed the actions of people in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and has also conditioned Russia’s own position, as it has watched Nato forces, despite agreements to the contrary, move ever-closer to its borders.

We now have a situation, therefore, where Washington and the EU, having interfered in a sovereign nation and caused the overthrow of an elected president (good or bad, honest or corrupt — none of this was their business), now impose sanctions on Russia and Crimea for taking measured and moderate steps to safeguard their interests.

Rightly or wrongly, many suspect that the hand of Washington is behind the recent steep fall in oil-prices which, along with sanctions, is having a major depressant effect on the Russian economy. The fact that Venezuela, another oil-producer, is similarly affected has done nothing to dispel such suspicions.

So, coming as it did in a period when Washington was following up its previous regime-change adventures in Venezuela, Ukraine and now Russia (to say nothing of Libya and Syria), and braying about the right of Hollywood “comedians” to conduct international diplomacy, what must we look out for in the USA’s new tack toward Cuba?

There was, in Obama’s speech, no hint of neighborliness toward Cuba’s regime, no note of apology for past crimes committed in the name of “demarkracy.” 

Alan Gross, the American released from a Cuban jail on humanitarian grounds, was portrayed as an innocent hero, and warmly welcomed home. Gross had been employed by a contractor of US Aid for International Development (USaid) which had been awarded a $6 million government contract for “democracy-promotion” in Cuba, for which Gross himself received over $500,000.

The Cuban Five, on the other hand, were merely referred to as “agents.” Not a word about the fact that they had penetrated terrorist groups run by Cuban exiles in Florida, or that their evidence had been handed to the FBI at a meeting in Havana. 

The all-important question: why? Why now? Was it because Washington had undergone a Damascene conversion and would no longer interfere in the internal affairs of other nations? No, we have seen above that this is certainly not true. Obama himself stated quite flatly that the previous policy of isolation and embargo had simply not worked and thus needed to be discarded.

But what had been the aim of the previous policy? Regime change, and that has not altered, as evidenced by the recent revelation that USaid, the same outfit for which Gross was working, had infiltrated Cuba’s hip-hop fraternity with the notion of recruiting dissidents, leading to a youth revolt.

Thus, the new policy will be directed at achieving that aim by alternative means. Although, if the embargo is lifted, there will be economic opportunities for Cuba, it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that it is entering its most dangerous period yet. Cuba beware!