Castro's New Republican Friends

Castro's propaganda ministry is not notorious for fawning over Republicans. But lately they've been gushing over the Ranking Republican member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Richard Lugar.

"Changing Cuba Policy-Staff Trip Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate," is the title of the report Senator Lugar released on Tuesday February 24rd to delirious and unanimous acclaim from the mainstream media. This acclaim-- to the surprise of no Cuba-watchers--was quickly echoed in Havana.

Typically, as with anything spoken or written regarding Castro and Cuba that receives such Beltway media acclaim, the report is a compendium of idiotic cliches that historical knowledge, a few minutes of research, or even a command of the English language render asinine.

"After 47 years," starts this report, "the unilateral embargo on Cuba..." Let's stop right here. Webster's defines "embargo" as "a government order imposing a trade barrier." As a verb it's defined as "to prevent commerce."

Yet according to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce (that one would surely hope the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations could easily access!) the U.S. transacted $710 million with Cuba in 2008, and has transacted more than $2 BILLION worth of business with Cuba in the last eight years. Currently the U.S. is Cuba's biggest food supplier and 4th biggest import partner. The U.S. has been Cuba's biggest donor of humanitarian aid including medicine and medical supplies for decades. The so-called embargo merely stipulates that the Castro regime pay cash up front for all U.S. agricultural products; no Ex-Im (taxpayer) financing of such sales. Much of the glee in Havana stems from Senator Lugar's report bemoaning this eminently wise policy enacted by the Bush team that has kept the U.S. taxpayer among the few in the world not screwed and tattooed by Castro.  

OK, this cliché aside, let's proceed with the rest of Senator Lugar's report: "(the embargo) has failed to achieve its stated purpose of bringing democracy to the Cuban people."

Who said that was "it's stated purpose," Senator Lugar? You have a large staff, Senator. Have them look up the speech Secretary of State Dean Rusk gave to the Organization of American States at Punta del Este Uruguay on January, 21, 1962 recommending the members' vote for an embargo on Cuba. There is not a single word-or even an inference-that this was the embargo's stated goal. Indeed, Secretary Rusk, went out of his way to stress that this was NOT the embargo's goal. "The United States objects to Cuba's activities an policies in the international arena not its internal system or arrangements." Get your crackerjack staff to look it up, Senator Lugar.

"It is clear that the recent leadership changes (in Cuba) have created an opportunity for the United States to reevaluate a complex relationship marked by misunderstanding, suspicion, and open hostility," continues the Lugar report.

What "leadership changes," Senator Lugar? This very week Raúl Castro promoted to "Vice presidents" of Cuba's Council of ministers" two gentlemen. One is named Ulises Rosales del Toro; the other Ramiro Valdes Menéndez. Both are septuagenarians and military cronies of Raul Castro for over half a century. In perfect keeping with Raul Castro's policies, they're among the most rigidly Stalinist among the Cuban nomenklatura. In fact, Valdes was Chief of Cuba's KGB and STASI-trained, funded and mentored secret police for over a decade. After Che Guevara was kicked upstairs as Cuba's "Minister of the Economy" Valdes took his place as Stalinist Cuba's version of Stalinist Russia's Lavrenti Beria.

Perhaps Senator Lugar's report refers to the "leadership change" in July of 2006, when Raul Castro himself grabbed the torch from his big brother? "If any Gorbachev raises his head around here,we'll promptly chop it off!" That was Raul (not Fidel) Castro admonishing his former foreign minister, Roberto Robiana, in 2002.

Romanian General Ion Pacepa was the Soviet bloc's highest ranking intelligence defector. He knew Raul Castro well for over two decades. "Raúl has been instrumental in the killing and terrorizing of thousands of Cubans," reports Mr Pacepa. "I saw nothing in him suggesting he might ever want to democratize Cuba..there is no question in my mind but that he would fight tooth and nail to preserve his powers. Otherwise, sooner or later Raúl would have to account for his crimes, and I do not know him to be suicidal."

In this years' Index of Economic Freedom, The Heritage Foundation ranks Cuba as more economically repressive under Raul than under Fidel. Under Raul's (nominal) rule, Cuba slipped down 1.1 notches to number 155 where it ranks almost neck to neck with North Korea.

So again, Senator Lugar, just what "leadership changes" in Cuba strike your Committee as so heart-warming and promising? As a rule, any Republican mouthing as many easily refutable idiocies as Lugar did this week, could expect a media pile-on-- a veritable feeding frenzy of rebuttals from snarky commentators. But not on this issue. Castro has most of them in his bag also. The rest are too stupid and/or lazy to comprehend the verifiable historical record. Do any of your learned staff, Senator Lugar, have a clue regarding the mind-set (or even the names) of Cuba's current leadership? I sure hope not. Otherwise their report could be attributed to something worse than gullibility or ignorance.

Which brings us to the sponsors and bankrollers of your Committee's recent "fact-finding" junket to Cuba, a Washington D.C. think-tank named the Lexington Institute, habitually described in the mainstream media as "non-partisan" and "free-market." Regarding this "non-partisanship", a little background:

During the summer of 1960 Castro's KGB-trained security forces stormed into 5,911 U.S owned businesses in Cuba and stole them all at Russian gunpoint -- $2 billion were heisted from outraged U.S. businessmen and stockholders. Much of this stolen U.S. property was then occupied by Canadian and European companies (many of the same Europeans still waxing indignant about the Nazi looting of some of their their properties, by the way.)

Among Castro's most notorious partners-in-armed theft is a huge Canadian mining company named Sherritt International. In a joint venture with Cuba's Stalinist regime, Sherritt occupies and operates the Moa nickel mining plant in Cuba's Oriente province, stolen at Soviet gunpoint from its U.S. managers and stockholders in July 1960 (when it was worth $90 million) by Castro gunmen. Applying legal standards recognized universally since the code of Hammurabi, Sherritt qualifies as a trafficker in stolen U.S. property and an accessory to its theft.

Which again brings us to the sponsors and bankrollers of the recent junket by Senator Lugar's Senate Foreign Relations committee to Cuba, the above-mentioned Lexington Institute. Phil Peters, is Vice Presdient of the Lexington Institue -but also serves as a "consultant" to Sherritt International.

Here's a legal memo from a lawyer named Robert L. Muse who specializes in property claims in Cuba. This information was uncovered by intrepid bloggers at Babalu Blog as part of a recent court case discovery by Mr Muse.

From Robert L. Muse:

"Canada's Sherritt works quietly in Washington...recently it has given money to a former State Department employee, Phil Peters, to advance its interests. The money to Peters goes through contributions to the Lexington Institute, where Peters is a Vice-President. Because the Lexington Institute is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, there is no public record of Sherritt's funding. This has allowed Peters to advise and direct the Cuba Working Group (a Congressional anti-embargo cabal) in ways beneficial to Sherritt while presenting himself to the Group as an objective think-tank scholar with a specialization in Cuba."

Let's step back and consider the above: an accessory to the theft of millions in U.S. property by a Stalinist regime sponsors and funds a senatorial junket to visit the Stalinist criminals. The junketeers then return with a recommendation that the U.S. Government essentially drop all charges against a criminal regime and its accessories--then permit the Stalinist regime to resume stealing from American citizens (taxpayers this time) by allowing sales on credit to Cuba. 

Per-capita-wise, Cuba qualifies as the world's biggest debtor nation with a foreign debt of close to $50 billion, a credit rating nudging Somalia's, and an uninterrupted record of defaults.

But hey, what's one more bailout?

Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including Exposing the Real Che Guevara. Visit
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