Guest Post by Gail Reed: Reactions to Cuban Migration Talks


gail.jpgThis is a guest “note” from Gail Reed, an American journalist based in Havana. Her comments are from an email, published at The Washington Note with her permission, commenting on the recent U.S.-Cuban migration talks and Cuba’s declaration released after the talks concluded:
…it seems that the most important points to pick up from the Cuban declaration on the migration talks are:
1) Mutual respect recognized: this may seem like standard language for
such communiqués, but it certainly is not where Cuba and US government talks are concerned. It is highly significant that the Cubans publicly state that an ambience of respect reigned throughout the talks. Chalk up a point to Obama for this one.
2) Wet foot/dry foot policy: this is the policy that has allowed
illegal Cuban émigrés automatic US residency if they reach US soil by any means, plus federal monies to support them during their “adjustment” to US life. This, in sharp contrast to how Haitian refugees, in particular, have historically been treated by US authorities. During the long nightmare of the Duvaliers, later nightmares man-made and natural, they have been systematically mistreated and returned home. The Cuban government considers the Cuban Adjustment Act, which plays favorites with Cubans, to be an enticement for would-be Cuban émigrés who have not received US visas to try to get to the US by makeshift rafts or paying the Miami version of “coyotes”. (In either case, this is a dangerous undertaking-as one who witnessed ladies in curlers and bathing suits setting off for Florida on plywood rafts strapped to 50-gallon oil drums during the 90s rafter crisis, I can say many who start out on the trip have no idea how dangerous it can be, not to mention tragedies like those of young Elian Gonzalez.)
3) We can only hope that the talks also gave more opportunity for the
two governments to discuss potential cooperation in Haiti, although the overwhelming presence of US troops does not sit well for Cuba or for most of Latin America, and as such constitutes a political barrier to substantial post-quake cooperation.
— Gail Reed


19 comments on “Guest Post by Gail Reed: Reactions to Cuban Migration Talks

  1. samuelburke says:

    “An online documentary follows the lives of 12 Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits pursuing similar dreams under radically different circumstances.”


  2. drew says:

    Since design is fate, Walt’s commentary on current embassy design
    is telling — they are the contemporary equivalents of frontier
    stockades: lonely forts planted amidst the hostiles.
    Once again, policy differences don’t matter as much as the Policy
    of Good Arithmetic. We can’t afford these fortress-cum-Taj-Majal
    embassies, setting aside whether or not they project an impression
    of the USA that does more harm than good.


  3. samuelburke says:

    The Cuban American community in Miami has already started to
    reconsider it’s stance on Cuba with a more people centered
    agenda as their guiding principle.
    If this were true then the improvement of the lives of those living
    on both sides of the pond would be an achievable goal.
    What is in the best interests of the United States?


  4. samuelburke says:

    Steve Walt has this on his blog today.
    “What troubles me is what this tells us about America’s place in
    the contemporary world, and the tensions between its global
    ambitions and its willingness to accept the consequences of
    them. On the one hand, the United States defines its own
    interests in global terms: there are no regions and few policy
    issues where we don’t want to have a significant voice, and
    there are many places and issues where we insist on having the
    loudest one. But on the other hand, we don’t think we should
    get our hair mussed while we tell the world what to do. It’s
    tolerable for the United States to fire drones virtually anywhere
    (provided the states in question can’t retaliate, of course), and
    Americans don’t seem to have much of a problem with our
    running covert programs to destabilize other regimes that we’ve
    decided to dislike. We also aid, comfort and diplomatic support
    to assorted other states whose governments often act in deeply
    objectionable ways. But then we face the obvious problem that
    some people are going to object to these policies, hold us
    responsible, and try to do what they can to hit back.
    So we have to build embassies that resemble fortresses, and
    that convey an image of America that is at odds with our
    interests and our own self-image, and especially with the image
    that we would like to convey to foreign peoples. We like to
    think of our country as friendly and welcoming, as open to new
    ideas, and as a strong, diverse and confident society built on a
    heritage of pluck and grit. You know, we’re supposed to be a
    society built by generations of immigrants, pioneers, and other
    determined folk who faced adversity and risk with a smile and a
    bit of a swagger. Yet the “Fortress America” approach to
    embassy design presents a public face that is an odd
    combination of power and paranoia.”


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:
    HAITI: Private Contractors ‘Like Vultures Coming to Grab the Loot’
    By Anthony Fenton, published by Inter Press Service
    Critics are concerned that private military contractors are positioning themselves at the centre of an emerging “shock doctrine” for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
    Next month, a prominent umbrella organisation for private military and logistic corporations, the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), is co-organising a “Haiti summit” which aims to bring together “leading officials” for “private consultations with attending contractors and investors” in Miami, Florida.
    Dubbed the “mercenary trade association” by journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: the Rise of the World’ Most Powerful Mercenary Army”, the IPOA wasted no time setting up a “Haiti Earthquake Support” page on its website following the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean country.


  6. David says:

    Yes, there is a problem that the US can quite easily be seen as occupying Haiti. Wasn’t all that long ago we kidnapped their president and flew him to Africa. Fortunately, some of the military commanders in Haiti understand that problem (cf. Diane Rehm show today – I hope I spelled it right, Diane) and are bending over backwards to honor Haitian sovereignty.
    Apparently Cuban medical assistance has been and is so salutory that there is an effort to move Haitians in need of care to Cuba for treatment, but there is no way American C-130s, no matter how plain, can fly into Cuba. Pity, but at least the idea can be discussed.
    From what I can gather, the Obama administration is offering honorable efforts to provide assistance to Haiti. I could be wrong, of course. Trusting the US to pursue anything but its own self-interest can be a stretch. But it sounds like some of the decent folk are being allowed to act decently. And American service people, given the opportunity and the directives, will act decently and honorably, and damned competently.
    Dishonorable leaders too often send them to do dishonorable things, like invade Iraq. Damned shame, to put it mildly.


  7. drew says:

    Hey, Samuel Burke, maybe we ought to ignore them, especially
    when they complain we treat their citizens too well. I mean, even
    Orwell didn’t think that one up. People are unhinged if they buy
    that one. Evil USA bad!
    These vestigial communist failed states, with their
    nomenklaturas and their haute-bourgeois American apologists,
    the collapsing infrastructure and their their pimping out of their
    own children to European sex tours (only to make some hard
    currency, of course) they make me laugh. We’re talking about a
    country that cannot manufacture an automotive alternator, an air
    conditioner, or an MS-DOS computer. Cuba makes Minsk look
    like Paris, for God’s sake. The culture, the factories Oh, to be
    I admit, however, the shortstops are better in Cuba than in
    As far ask I’m concerned there should be absolutely open
    borders with Cuba. Their pathetic, revanchist regime would fall
    in minutes, Chavez would lose his octogenerian tyrant friend,
    and we could go looking for another failed tyranny on which to
    train State department dweebs. Then pseudo-intellectuals in
    tie-dye will lecture us in regard to our need to show more
    respect and improve the general diplomatic ambience. With luck
    it will be a particularly perverse tyranny, where the apparatchiks
    also complain bitterly that we treated their citizens too well.
    As for Cuba, we should just do flyovers in C-130s and drop fully
    loaded iPods, each worth about a year’s average annual income
    in that place, each fully loaded with the ephemera of
    postmodern north America and Europe, and orbit cell repeaters
    at 60,000 feet, so they can all telephone anyone they want to
    verify: yes, there really are cars manufactured after 1961 and no,
    there are places in the world where you can call the Great Leader
    a jerk and not be thrown in a hole, to die, for doing so. A few
    V-8 Mustangs, a few pallets of Miramax films for the educated
    crowd, 10 million photographs of just your basic Safeway meat
    aisle: that should blow their minds sufficiently to precipitate
    some regime change, and it won’t even cost $1 trillion.


  8. samuelburke says:

    Drew maybe we ought to send Hilary over there to tell the socialist
    communist cubans what they must do.
    “it’s my way or the highway”, hasn’t worked.
    with malice toward none…gentle as doves and wise as serpents.
    time for a change of plan. the old one has been tried and found


  9. Drew says:

    Samuel Burke, archangel of conservatism, I’m just curious why
    “rapprochement is necessary” with Cuba. It’s like rapprochement
    with Macau. Rapprochement with Belarus. Rapprochement with
    … Zimbabwe? Who the f*ck cares, they’re a bunch of thugs
    running an open-air prison, who can’t kill people in other
    countries any more because the Russians won’t send them
    money. So they kill their own.
    Incidentally, the Cubans don’t want rapprochement. 27 minutes
    after open borders happen to Cuba, it becomes the DR, with
    better architecture, and the professional class moves to the U.S.,
    once it becomes clear they don’t have to swim to get there.
    I am all in favor of rapprochement. iPods for Cuba! Cars made
    after 1961, for Cuba! Free speech, for Cuba! They’ll be happier,
    we’ll sell more stuff, it won’t be so nerve-wracking overflying on
    the way to the Caymans.


  10. Drew says:

    Gail Reed: “Journalist”?
    My dad, a daily newspaper editor, used to express disgust with
    reporters who describe themselves as “journalists”. He thought
    they were running for office.
    This is one of those times when the sobriquet “journalist” properly
    describes a phony. I do appreciate, though, how she lists her
    “M.S.” after her name, in her bio on the HuffPo. She has a Masters
    degree, in Science!


  11. samuelburke says:

    here is congressman Ron Paul asking the bellicose wing of the american party why they have gone so far afield with their revolution democracy style.
    the constitution love it or leave it.


  12. drew says:

    I guess I don’t understand this piece at all, which may be
    because she writes without example or purpose, but has done a
    good job of transforming breezy slogans and attitudes into
    complete sentences that — mirabile dictu — combine into
    paragraphs. This results in the the form, if not the content, of
    “political analysis.”
    Anyway, I’m thrilled that we stopped being such meanies with
    them, and their political class’ self-esteem is on the up-and-up,
    and they retain the good sense not to mess with the U.S.
    military, in Haiti or anywhere else, and that we have not yet
    agreed to assist them in the jailing of their entire population.
    Rarely have I heard a government complain that we treat their
    citizens better than another country’s, but here you go. How
    dare we.
    Of course, were she to turn her rapier-like wisdom on the
    Cuban government, she would be in jail in a flash, not to be
    heard from — until someone in her family pressured State to
    dig her out and bring her home, where people are not
    imprisoned and killed for their political speech — even if it is


  13. Mr.Murder says:

    Cuba normalization can ease energy futures pricing on the market expansion due offshore rig development.
    Cuba can become a hub on elevating our influence. Along the same channels of development it was shaping with Chavez and his neighbors.
    Normalize and fast track the change. Why tear down existing communications structure when you can cooperatively gain from it?


  14. Carroll says:

    Just remembered that episode not too long ago (during Bush) when the US Treasury had Cuban businessmen visiting Mexico and staying in a Sheraton owned by a American corporation kicked out of the hotel.
    MEXICO CITY (AP) — City officials moved Tuesday to shut down a U.S.-owned hotel that angered many Mexicans when it kicked out a Cuban delegation under pressure from Washington.>>>>>>>>>
    The Treasury Department said if the hotel had not expelled the Cubans, it would have been in violation of a long-standing ’embargo against the communist-ruled island.”
    Which of course is typical of US over reach, corruption and petty assine behavior. Due in great part to the hyphen-American lobbies like CANF that use political contributions to bribe politicians to set absurd foreign policies for “their” agenda for their prior or favored countries. And although I do not know this for a fact, my bet would be some Cuba centric congressman or senator or the anti Castro lobby got wind of the Cubans business trip to Mexico and called Treasury to demand they be thrown out.
    And we have an huge DC industry devoted to why some US policies are so screwed and how we can make counties and people less Anti -American.
    Look no further than this example.


  15. Carroll says:

    Posted by WigWag, Feb 24 2010, 12:55PM – Link >>>>>>>>>>
    Not relevant to the point.
    Which is that US immigration laws discriminate against Haitians. The Cubans and Haitians should be treated alike.


  16. WigWag says:

    By the way, Gail Reed’s bio on the Huffington Post website reveals that her major area of expertise is medicine not politics. It describes Ms Reed this way,
    She is a “journalist who serves as International Director of Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC), an Atlanta-based non-profit organization that develops programs bridging the US, Cuban and global medical, nursing and public health communities.”
    Reed knows more about the truly outstanding nature of Cuban medical care than most Americans and she has written about it eloquently.
    With that said, neither Steve Clemons nor Gail Reed have provided full disclosure. Neither has mentioned that Ms Reed’s husband, Julian Torres Rizo, is an official of the Cuban Government who once served as Cuba’s Ambassador to Grenada.
    That doesn’t mean that Ms Reed’s work is not of the highest quality; but isn’t it only ethical to let readers judge for themselves what, if any, impact this might have on her objectivity especially when she’s writing about political as opposed to health related issues?
    Ms Reed has a long history of leftist activism; that’s fine or even good. But other journalists, far better known than Ms Reed, whose sympathies may lie on the other side of the political spectrum (or closer to the center) do provide more disclosure.
    For example, everyone knows that Kati Marton is married to Richard Holbrooke. It’s regularly disclosed in the various bios of her that appear and it is frequently mentioned in her articles and always mentioned in her books.
    Isn’t full disclosure the better way to go?
    Shouldn’t Steve Clemons and/or Gail Reed at least mention, however briefly, this potential conflict of interest in a blurb at the top of this post?


  17. WigWag says:

    This is a very interesting post by Ms Reed; thank you for it.
    A couple of points come to mind:
    (1) Does the Cuban Government resent the Cuban Adjustment Act because Cuban citizens are treated better than Haitian citizens if they manage to set foot on U.S. soil? If so, this seems odd; why would the Cuban Government want fleeing Cuban citizens treated as poorly as the United States treats the Haitian refugees? Is it that the Cuban Government genuinely fears for the lives of its fleeing citizens who are incentivized by the Cuban Adjustment Act or is it that the Cuban Government is embarrassed that so many Cubans want out?
    (2) Do the Cubans and many others in Latin America really resent the presence of American troops trying to help Haiti cope with an unprecedented humanitarian disaster? But for the U.S. military, the situation of quake victims would be far more dire than it already is. The military has done an extraordinary job in Haiti. You would think that people of good will would be happy to see the military saving lives instead of taking lives. What does the resentment that Ms Reed mentions say about the motivations of those who harbor that resentment?
    Two other things come to mind; it is great that the Obama Administration is interfacing with the Cuban Government with an attitude of respect. It’s a welcome change from the attitudes of previous administrations.
    Ms Reed refers to “the long nightmare of the Duvaliers;” I couldn’t agree more, but then neither Ms Reed nor I are Haitians. While I found the behavior of Papa Doc, Baby Doc and their ton ton macoute allies reprehensible, not all Haitians feel that way. In my discussions with Haitians (which are admittedly anecdotal) I have been shocked to discover how many Haitians support brining Baby Doc, who is living in exile in France, back to lead the country. Shortly after Aristide left for his exile in South Africa (which may or may not have been instigated by the Bush Administration) many Haitians longed for his return. I have been perplexed to discover that if you talk to Haitians living in the United States right now, at least as many want Baby Doc to return as want Aristide to return.
    I bring it up only because sometimes the attitudes that people have are not always what we as Americans (even Americans living in Cuba) might expect.


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