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CUBA REACHES THE WHITE HOUSE (July 16, 2021)
CUBA REACHES THE WHITE HOUSE
The first question was about Haiti and Cuba at Biden's White House press briefing yesterday with Angela Merkel. A CBS reporter asked, "With respect to Latin America and the developments there in the last week-plus, what are the circumstances under which you would send American troops to Haiti? When it comes to Cuba, what is your current thinking on American sanctions toward Cuba and the embargo? And today, your Press Secretary said that communism is a “failed ideology.” I assume that’s your view. I was wondering if you could also give us your view on socialism."
Biden's press conference was widely covered including by Reuters ("Biden says no U.S. plans to send troops to Haiti at the moment"), NPR ("U.S. would offer aid to Cuba if given assurances")and the Miami Herald. Biden is prepared to send vaccines to Cuba if it is assured an international organization would administer them but he is not considering easing U.S. policy around sending remittances to the country., reported Reuters. All this "concern for Cuba" is a preview for U.S. intervention, according to Counterpunch.
Lots of advice for Biden on what to do about Cuba. A column in the Miami Herald makes the case for "humanitarian intervention." Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen writes, "The one thing [Biden] should not do is ease the embargo." Rather, Biden should "go to Miami and deliver a speech declaring America’s solidarity with the Cuban people and laying out a strategy to rally the world’s democracies to help them." Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson writes, "U.S. policy should be to end the travel and trade embargoes and flood Cuba with American tourists, entrepreneurs and ideas." (Robinson is a former correspondent in Latin America.). Also: the government of Vietnam has also called for the lifting of the blockade in Cuba.
The U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on Cuba on Friday to release protesters and several journalists arrested at demonstrations and denounced alleged excessive use of force against some of them. according to Reuters. Meanwhile, a WOLA statement states, "the administration should prioritize measures that will concretely aid the Cuban people, reversing Trump era sanctions, beginning with the removal of limits on family and donative remittances, and the specific licenses required to send medical supplies, as a number of members of Congress have suggested. At the same time, the Cuban government should respect the right of peaceful protest, refrain from violence and repression." Bloomberg reports on balseros riding the ways on their way to Florida.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tweeted yesterday, "We stand in solidarity with the Cuban people ... We also call for an end to the U.S. embargo and additional Trump-era restrictions ..." It produced the anticipated headline: "AOC's Cuba tweet draws fiery response from Florida Democrat" (Politico).
Bigger picture assessments on what happened in Cuba last Sunday have already started. Javier Corrales' op-ed in the NYTimes though "It’s too early to tell what happens next." Julio César Guanche suggests several ideas in an essay in NACLA. while he recognizes they are "surely insufficient, though not irrelevant." Black Lives Matter leaders don't care about the Afro-Cuban community in Cuba, according to Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago. (I couldn't find this column in English.)
Biden interjected toward the end of his press conference: "one of the things that you did not ask but we’re considering is — they’ve cut off access to the Internet. We’re considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access." (This was an idea the Florida Governor DeSantis had suggested earlier this week.) The Wall Street Journal re-emphasizes that "the wave of spontaneous protests that rocked Cuba on Sunday was propelled by social media and the proliferation of mobile internet, which Cubans have only had for the past three years." And it was an internet stoppage that seems to have halted protests. Said one protestor, "there was no way to tell people: Let’s get together at the plaza to shout and demonstrate."
The Economist continues to ask, "it is still unclear who murdered Haiti’s president or what to do about it," but leads with a historical note: "the last time a president was murdered in Haiti, in 1915, troops from the United States occupied the Caribbean country for 19 years." The BBC suggests that the Colombian connection
The Christian Science Monitor assesses foreign assistance. aid and investment to Haiti over the past few decades.
Brazil's President Bolsonaro spent a second night in the hospital and could return home as early as today, according to Reuters.
A new DataFolha survey suggests that a majority of Brazilians think the country's coronavirus pandemic is no longer "out of control". Reuters adds that this "could be a boost for President Jair Bolsonaro, who is almost certain to seek re-election next year."
The Guardian interviews presidential candidate Ciro Gomes who is running third (behind Lula and Bolsonaro). "Brazil is ‘living through the worst government in its history" and "foreign governments should send a 'forceful and explicit' message that any democratic regression would be unacceptable."
The Amazon Green Recovery Plan (Plano de Recuperação Verde) was presented to former President Lula da Silva, by the Consórcio Amazônia Legal, led by Maranhão governor Flávio Dino, according to Poder 360 and an interview with the governor on Jornal da CBN.
Mexican President AMLO has organized a national referendum on August 1 over whether to put five ex-presidents on trial, according to The Economist.
Americans can't travel to Canada, yet, but Mexico has open doors, according to the New York Times. "The coronavirus is surging, especially in tourist hot spots," but the tourists keep on arriving. American arrivals to Mexico are up over 32% (3rd Q of 2021, compared to the same period in 2019). But infections in Mexico are also up — by about 85 percent in the first two weeks of July,"
Brazil is seeing a respite in cases and deaths, according to the Washington Post, reporting from hard-hit Manaus, in the center of the Amazon. "Vendors were back selling water. People were back laughing at their phones. ... [Said one resident,] “It was total desperation here. By comparison, this is paradise.”
Church of Maradona
The first Maradonian church has opened," according to Reuters, and apparently just in time as "the Maradonian religion has spread to several countries around the world and has more than half a million followers." At the front of this church in Mexico is "an image of Diego Maradona wearing a charro hat that welcomes worshippers." Local media Almanaque Puebla has an excellent 5-minute video including this detail: neither alms nor offerings are part of the liturgy.
It's Eduardo Romero here filling in for Jordana: let me know if I missed or misinterpreted something or perhaps you have a different take.