The Washington Post’s Cuban Straw Man

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scarecrow.jpgThis post, which originally appeared at The Havana Note, is a guest note by Tom Garofalo, a consultant for the New America Foundation/U.S.-Cuba Policy Initiative.
Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post, wrote this week that because ten of the Cuban political prisoners newly arrived in Spain signed a letter indicating their opposition to the European Union’s lifting the Common Position, that should justify the continuation of the U.S. ban on travel to the island. Since 1996, the Common Position has guided E.U. policy on Cuba, seeking to use “constructive, result-oriented political dialogue” to encourage a transition to democracy. The ex-prisoners’ letter calls for Europe to work “to secure for all Cubans the same rights that European citizens enjoy.” Among those rights is the right to travel, which Cubans have long been denied by their government.
Diehl, in his effort to draw a hasty (PostPartisan is billed as “a quick take” by Post opinion writers on issues of the day) parallel between the disagreement over European policy with differences over our own, failed to note a great irony: here in the Land of the Free, we are also denied the right to travel – to Cuba. In fact, four of the signers of the letter to European foreign ministers signed a letter to the U.S. Congress about six weeks ago arguing that the the United States should lift its 50-year-old ban on travel to the island. The reason they have won the world’s attention is because they’ve risked everything to champion the idea that, as the letter to Congress stated, “rights must be protected with rights.” The Post’s editors might be content, even happy, to trade away our rights in order to emerge victorious from the last conflict of the Cold War, but Cuba’s democracy advocates understand that would be a defeat for everyone.
Diehl doesn’t seem to be aware that a number of the E.U. letter signers also signed the letter to our Congress. In his “quick take” he’d rather use the E.U. letter as a bludgeon against those – he calls them “liberals” — who are calling for an “unconditional lifting of the already loophole-ridden” embargo. (I suppose one of the loopholes Diehl is lamenting is that Congress allows American farmers to sell food to Cuba. But our freedom to make our own choices about visiting Cuba is not.)
But for better or worse, the only Cuba measure being considered by the Congress these days is not about lifting the embargo. The Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, H.R. 4645, would end the ban on travel by Americans to Cuba, and would make two small but significant changes in the ways that Cuba pays for the products it buys from American farmers. Its lead sponsors, Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jerry Moran of Kansas, can be called liberals only in the Enlightenment sense of the word (don’t take my word for it – check their websites).
We’ve come to expect these kinds of strawmen from the advocates of the embargo. It is still a surprise to see them on the editorial page of the Washington Post.
— Tom Garofalo

Comments

6 comments on “The Washington Post’s Cuban Straw Man

  1. WigWag says:

    Sorry for spelling your name wrong Mr. Garofalo

    Reply

  2. Don Bacon says:

    Sarah Stephens, Director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas
    Posted: June 10, 2010 at HuffPost (extracts follow):
    “Seventy-four of Cuba’s most politically prominent dissidents — including Miriam Leiva, the well-known blogger Yoani Sanchez, and the hunger striker Guillermo Fari

    Reply

  3. WigWag says:

    Actually, what’s ironic is not the failure to note that the U.S. forbids travel to Cuba while Cuba forbids its citizens to travel to many places; the ironic thing is the picture Mr. Garofolo chose to accompany his post.
    The scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz really wasn’t dumb; as we learned at the end of the movie, he had a brain all the time, it was just a diploma that he lacked.
    I am sure that Mr. Garofolo has a diploma; it simply must be a necessary credential to work at the New America Foundation. What this post suggests, is that in the place where white matter belongs, Mr. Garofolo has straw.

    Reply

  4. Drew says:

    I read this blog to understand how people on the left think, because
    it’s been 25 years since I was a leftist and … I forgot.
    But guys like this Garofalo, who conflate Cuba’s absolute poverty
    and total ban on international travel, with the USA position (which is
    wrong) of embargo against one crappy little vestigial communist jail
    sinkhole, really make the exercise pointless. Evidently, he can’t
    think. High school kids can construct a better argument. Where do
    you find these people?

    Reply

  5. samuelburke says:

    this same reasoning comes into play every time ideologues
    refuse to be guided by the common sense.
    the cuban people are starving, they live in what can best be
    described as a fear induced adulation of the gov’t they are forced
    to worship-live under. they have no representation in govt’s
    direction.
    all the classic signs of a repressive lying ideology driven
    madness.
    so the govt in place exerts it’s right to oppress the people.
    and yet we ( the u.s ) need to sit down with them (the cuban
    gov’t) and agree to move forward for the sake of the human
    rights of the citizenry. it either matters or it doesn’t.
    in shackles but moving forward, toward a more agreeable future.
    both ideologically driven sides need to step back and play the
    best possible foreign policy card available which will lead to a
    better existence for the citizenry.
    but certainly the enmity must cease.
    american foreign policy as actively pursued does seem to be
    deleterious to it’s own self preserving interests.
    american foreign policy quo vadis.
    the “ex prisoners” is a distraction from the true to life tragedies
    of the continuation of a foreign policy the has egg on it’s face
    after forty years of animus toward the gov’t of cuba.
    no success = failure.
    change the tune.

    Reply

  6. WigWag says:

    “The ex-prisoners’ letter calls for Europe to work “to secure for all Cubans the same rights that European citizens enjoy.” Among those rights is the right to travel, which Cubans have long been denied by their government. Diehl, in his effort to draw a hasty…parallel between the disagreement over European policy with differences over our own, failed to note a great irony: here in the Land of the Free, we are also denied the right to travel – to Cuba.” (Tom Garofolo)
    The American embargo of Cuba may or may not be wise, but Tom Garofolo’s post is plainly dumb. There is nothing “ironic” about the United States restricting American travel to Cuba when Cuba restricts the travel of its own citizens to nations all over the world.
    Yes, it is hard for Americans to get permission from their government to travel to Cuba; it is harder for Cubans to get permission from their government to travel anywhere. Comparing the two situations, as Garofolo does, is dimwitted.
    An added factor making travel by Cubans difficult is the fact that most Cubans are so poor that they can’t actually afford to travel anywhere. I suppose that Garofolo thinks that the source of this poverty is exclusively the American embargo rather than the failed economic and social system that Cuban political leaders continue to force on their citizens.
    Here’s a clue for you Mr. Garofolo; the fact that American democracy is imperfect doesn’t make it ironic to fail to mention that imperfection every time the nature of Cuban dictatorship is discussed.
    Cuba proscribes freedom of speech; freedom of the press; freedom of religion and the freedom to travel. The fact that the United States grants these freedoms to its citizens in less than an ideal sense doesn’t mean that comparing the United States and Cuba (which is what Garofolo does in this post)is anything other than silly.
    The continuation of the embargo may not be the best way to alter the behavior of the Cuban Government; I tend to think its not. But with all due respect; this post is a triviality masquerading as serious commentary.

    Reply

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