Obama has the nerve 2 criticize Castro on human rights – perhaps a visit 2 Guantanamo would clear this up for POTUS? https://t.co/EoGOtW2zrI
— Patricia Moon (@nobledreamer16) March 22, 2016
I received a call from a friend this evening, who was extremely agitated by news that Obama had criticized Cuba for its record on human rights. I asked that it be repeated because I was certain I had not heard correctly. But, it was true and as this information was comprehended I was outraged; how could anyone who knew what had gone on at Guantanamo have the audacity to criticize anyone? I guess it is just too much to expect Mr. Obama (who promised to close Guantanamo in the first year of his presidency) to actually GO AND SEE that hellhole. He is not planning to visit the troops stationed there either. Trump complains that no officials were at the airport to greet Obama. Obama’s omission is much greater IMHO. If he did go, no amount of sanitized editing could erase the damage already done. Not going suggests an admission of guilt. What ashtonishes me is that no one inside the U.S. seems to care. They are indifferent to it now, all they hear is that this is needed for their protection so they turn a blind eye.
From The Toronto Star:
“We continue, as President Castro indicated, to have some very serious differences, including on democracy and human rights,” said Obama, who planned to meet with Cuban dissidents Tuesday. Still, Obama heralded a “new day” in the U.S.-Cuba relationship and said “part of normalizing relations means we discuss these differences directly.”
Castro was blistering in his criticism of the American embargo, which he called “the most important obstacle” to his country’s economic development. He also pressed Obama to return the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, which is on the island of Cuba, to his government.
But when an American reporter asked about political prisoners in Cuba, he pushed back aggressively, saying if the journalist could offer names of anyone improperly imprisoned, “they will be released before tonight ends.”
“What political prisoners? Give me a name or names,” Castro said.
Cuba has been criticized for briefly detaining demonstrators thousands of times a year but has drastically reduced its practice of handing down long prison sentences for crimes human rights groups consider to be political. Cuba released dozens of prisoners as part of its deal to normalize relations with the U.S., and in a recent report, Amnesty International did not name any current prisoners of conscience in Cuba. Lists compiled by Cuban and Cuban-American groups list between 47 and 80 political prisoners, although Cuban officials describe many as common criminals.
From The Globe and Mail:
Human rights remained an impediment to strengthening ties with Cuba despite the rapprochement reached by the two leaders in December 2014, Obama said, adding a “full flowering” of the relationship could happen only with progress on the issue.
“In the absence of that, I think it will continue to be a very powerful irritant,” Obama said at a sometimes tense joint news conference that was broadcast live on Cuban state television.
At Monday’s news conference, which followed talks between the two leaders, Castro responded sharply to the pressure over his record on rights, saying the U.S. stance reflected a double standard as a country that also violated human rights.He said no country met all international rights agreements, and that Cuba was strong on many areas such as health, access to education and women’s equality.
“Let’s work so that everybody respects all the human rights,” he said. Cuba frequently criticizes the United States on subjects such as racism, violence and the prison the United States maintains at its naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
From The Guardian:
Following exposés of rendition and torture, Obama has repeatedly promised to close down the Camp Delta detention facility on the base, but Congress has held up his plans. When the president arrives in Havana on Sunday, there will still be dozens of prisoners in Gitmo.
The territorial issue is certain to come up during Monday’s summit with Cuban president Raúl Castro, who has repeatedly insisted that no rapprochement will be complete without a handover of Guantánamo. Cuban sovereignty over the territory is not contested, but the US has an indefinite lease – first signed under a 1903 treaty and then revised in 1934 – that cannot be rescinded without approval of both parties. The government in Havana argues this arrangement is invalid because it was signed under duress. Since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, it has refused to cash the annual rent payment of approximately $4,000, and instead demanded the return of the land.
White House officials and Secretary of State John Kerry have said closing the base and returning the territory are not on the US agenda. This has not stopped speculation in the presidential campaign. Ted Cruz, a Republican candidate for president and a Cuban American, has claimed a handover is imminent. And the Republican-controlled Congress has passed a symbolic motion to protect US jurisdiction.
Initially, in addition the intense fear concerning FBAR penalties, one of the reasons I renounced was that I felt I could not trust the U.S. government. With regard to the expat situation, I expected conditions would likely get worse/more expensive. Still I hedged; how could I give up my identity/birthright, a citizenship thousands would give their eye teeth for? However, I had to ask myself whether or not there was any reason at the time (FBAR, OVDP, etc) to give the U.S. the benefit of the doubt. This failed because I could not ignore the reality of:
- the torture at Abu Gharib and Guantanamo
- the unlawful detainment of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo without any charges laid
- the unlawful assassination of American citizens by drones, again, without any charges being laid nor a chance to defend oneself in the courts
- entering another country’s airspace without notifying that country (Pakistan)
While I realized the American response to all this would be it is justified due to 9/11 and so forth, I started remembering other things that had always been bothersome: Vietnam, Watergate, the Contra Affair, etc. This made it exceedingly clear that cutting ties with America was absolutely necessary. There was simply nothing there anymore that I could believe in and nothing to suggest the government was trustworthy.
When I hear Obama (or any American official) make such ludicrous judgements, I know I made the right decision. I don’t believe for a moment that the “tax” part of this situation is the only part. It is the abuse,not only of oneself but of anything and anybody the U.S. wishes to impose its will on. And when additional levels of it are demonstrated, one would have to be a fool to continue to believe that the U.S. is exceptional. Or have any faith in the idea that one matters to the U.S. other than for the money it thinks it can get out of holding them captive.
Cuba on U.S. violations of civil rights: racism, violence & Guantanamo. Does POTUS really believe we can't see this? https://t.co/EoGOtW2zrI
— Patricia Moon (@nobledreamer16) March 22, 2016
Here are some of the human rights abuses the U.S. is clearly guilty of:
- forced feeding
- other forms of torture such as secret “black sites”, sexual abuse, rectal hydration, rectal feeding, sleep deprivation, suspension from poles for hours or days while naked, forced submersion
- Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
Abu Zubaydah-83 times in August 2002 & Khalid Sheikh Mohammed- 183 times in March 2003
And here is the utter irony. Many of those in Guantanamo are only there until it is decided whether to send them back to Afghanistan or for trial (and if so, where?). Some have been there without being charged for over TWELVE YEARS. Last summer I came across a set of videos on youtube that were interviews of a former CIA agent who had become a whistleblower on the issue of U.S. using torture. His name is John Kiriakou and he was sentenced to 30 months in jail. In this particular clip, he describes how some of these so-called “terrorists” (and thus worthy of such treatment as listed above) were apprehended. It is readily apparent that many of these were just a bunch of naive young boys who were not known to have actually done anything.
A Tortured Truth – John Kiriakou on Reality Asserts Itself (8/10) Published on May 4, 2015
On Reality Asserts Itself , Former CIA official John Kiriakou described his time as head of counter terrorism in Pakistan and the lie about the torture of Abu Zubaydah.
This video is timed to start with Mr. Kiriaiou’s description of how a practice of raiding houses where it was thought a “terrorist” might be; there is a section discussing Abu Zabadeh and at approximately 20:35 he speaks about human rights. Other videos in this series discuss Cheney, how “only American lives matter” etc. They are extremely interesting and definitely worth a listen.