The death of Fidel Castro on Friday brought a newly intensified focus to the island that has been the subject of so much political controversy.
Castro orchestrated a violent coup in 1959 and has remained in power ever since. His brother Raul officially took over about 10 years ago but Fidel hardly removed himself from the equation.
Fidel ousted the former president, Batista with a significant military force and the promise of a more fair system. The rich people were living off the blood and sweat of the poor and he wanted it to end. Those who could, fled and their property was seized. Those who stayed found themselves beholden to a brutal dictator who had no tolerance for political dissension.
Food was rationed and citizens who objected to the oppressive policies were tortured, imprisoned and often slain.
The first major conflict with the US was the Bay of Pigs.
John F Kennedy sent a CIA military team into Cuba to assassinate the new leader. Americans didn’t care for his militaristic totalitarian regime but they really resented the financial hit that they took as a result of the coup. (Cuba produces plenty of fine crops but more importantly, the island served as a gambling Mecca and money laundering locale for the American mob.) The budding friendship with Mother Russia put things over the top.
The assassination attempt failed and Castro wasn’t pleased. He invited the soviets to store some nuclear missiles in Cuba, which, for point of reference, is a short 90 miles off the US coastline.
That invitation resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, which is the closest that we’ve ever come to nuclear war. Relations with Cuba have been strained ever since. They’ve harbored american criminals who have fled from justice and Fidel’s, not infrequent, efforts to tweak the United States have posed a significant irritation to no less than 11 presidents.
In yet another attempt to unilaterally implement globalization, president Obama decided to dance his pen across a few executive orders, lifting previously imposed sanctions on Cuba. You might not recall that part because the negotiations took place under a veil of secrecy for two years but you might remember the celebratory visit to the Cuban baseball game in which Obama did the wave. To refresh your memory further, it was the day after the terror attacks in Belgium.
Trump has vowed to invalidate all of those executive orders. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to establish relations with Cuba. It means that he wants our criminals extradited and illegally detained prisoners released, in addition to some human rights provisions, as part of the deal.
Free trade and tourism with Cuba benefits both countries as does a less adversarial relationship between such close neighbors. You can be certain that this topic will come up within the first 100 days of the Donald Trump’s administration.
The New Secretary of State
It looks like both Romney and Giuliani are out. Our best guess is that David Petraeus will be the top pick. The question is, will he make it through the confirmation process?
By all accounts, Petraeus is a highly qualified candidate. He’s exceedingly bright and has an impressive resume. He also had a little email problem. Democrats are already making a fuss. The standard level of moral outrage has come into play. If Hillary was raked over the coals for her email business how could Trump even think of nominating Petraeus?
Indignant republicans respond by calling that, a lot of nerve, but of course, they condense the sentiment to their favorite refrain.
If they thought the email ordeal was so inconsequential that it didn’t disqualify Mrs. Clinton, they can’t use it against this guy.
Where this wheel will stop, no one knows. It’s sure to be a lively debate. The chances are pretty good that the Dems will suck it up and confirm him though. They’re saving their chits for the Supreme Court nominations.
Ugh! This is a frustrating one. Jill Stein, the unsuccessful Green Party candidate, seems to miss the limelight. She has raised over $5 million to initiate recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Absolutely no one believes that this will change the outcome of the election. It is costly, time consuming busy work.
Over the weekend, the Clinton campaign agreed to join forces with Stein. Hillary has made no statement. There are several theories.
The democrats are trying to create real discord and division within the country because they are infuriated by the resounding defeat.
This is a scandalous fund raising scheme by Jill Stein.
Hillary will step up to the mic on Monday and disavow the entire project in order to regain some authority and credibility. She can take the high road and start the healing process, throwing herself on the proverbial sword to bring the nation together. After all, her surrogates have made it perfectly clear that she won the popular vote.
This one will either end quickly at Hillary’s request or it will play through right up until December 19 when the electoral college ultimately votes. There has been some effort to corral a band of ” faithless electors” or members of the electoral college who will violate their obligation to cast their vote for the rightful winner, elected by the people of their state. There is some precedent for such behavior and while it is illegal, the penalties are minimal.
This spiteful little scheme is not only unlikely to succeed but it would set into motion such civil unrest that the office of the presidency would hold no authority whatsoever. Undermining our democracy would be the least of our problems. We would be on the brink of a second civil war. Presumably, Mrs. Clinton will resist the urge to pull such a reckless stunt.
Exciting times ahead!