The Bill Clinton-Raul Castro handshake is hard to watch
Former president Clinton and Cuban dictator Raúl Castro had a friendly handshake at the U.N. To be fair, these handshakes are part of the phoniness of this U.N. week, when all of the world's leaders drop in for their big speeches. Nevertheless, the Clinton-Castro love fest took many of us back to that day in 1996 when CNN reported this:
Two small planes operated by a Cuban-American group were shot down by Cuban fighters over the waters north of Havana and the four people on board were missing, President Clinton and the U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday.
Clinton said he had been briefed on "the shooting down Saturday in broad daylight of two American civilian airplanes by Cuban military aircraft."
"I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms," Clinton told reporters in Seattle, Washington.
The two planes with four people on board were twin-engine Cessna aircraft operated by the group "Brothers to the Rescue," a Miami-based group of Cuban exiles funded by private donations. The group has flown hundreds of missions to spot Cuban rafters attempting to flee their island nations.
Group founder Jose Basulto was on a third plane that escaped the gunfire and returned to Miami.
Basulto said all three planes had radioed Cuban air traffic controllers to identify themselves and report their intentions to search international waters for Cuban refugees who may be on rafts.
An act of war? I would say that shooting innocent citizens over international waters is pretty close to an act of war.
President Clinton announced new sanctions against Cuba, again as reported by CNN:
In addition to pursuing international sanctions, Clinton pledged Monday to work with Congress to pass the so-called Helms-Burton legislation which would tighten the existing U.S. embargo against Cuba.
The president said he would ask Congress to permit him to use some of the approximately $100 million in frozen Cuban assets in the U.S. to compensate the families of the four missing Cuban-American pilots and crew members.
Clinton also announced additional punitive measures, among them:
- tighter restrictions on the movement of Cuban officials in the United States;
- efforts to increase funding to help the U.S. government's Radio Marti overcome Cuba's jamming of its broadcasts;
- suspension of all commercial charter flights between the U.S. and Cuba
It's hard for me to watch that handshake at the U.N. without asking two big questions:
1) How desperate is Bill Clinton for contributions to the Foundation? Will Raúl Castro be the new despot to put money in the Clinton machine?
2) Will anyone in the Cuban government ever be held accountable for the shooting of these four individuals?
Last, but not least, let's remember that the U.S. wanted to indict Raúl Castro for his "cocaine connection" back in 1993. It had to do with Raúl Castro letting cartels use Cuban airways to move cocacine into the U.S.
That was then, and this is now. And frankly, now makes no sense!