This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on May 26, 2015.
Archive for May 2015
A review by Fr. C. John McCloskey of my latest book, Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy, appeared on The Catholic Thing web site on May 24, 2015.
The following appears in the May 15-21, 2015 issue of the Long Island Business News:
Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo attempted to portray himself as the Henry Kissinger of Albany by leading a so-called trade mission to Cuba. Being the first U.S. governor to visit the communist nation, he argued, would help convince Congress to lift sanctions and secure agreements that benefit New York’s economy.
The trip, however, was nothing more than a boondoggle – political theater to enhance Cuomo’s international profile just in case lighting strikes and he jumps into the 2016 presidential race.
It’s ludicrous for the governor to think money can be made in Cuba. European and Asian countries have been trading with Cuba for decades and the result has been meager. Oppressed Cubans are desperately poor and can’t afford to purchase imported goods. Computers and the Internet, for instance, are not only unaffordable, but access is limited to high-level officials because the regime fears information freedom.
Thanks to Cuba’s state-controlled economy the average worker earns 400 pesos a month – about $17 U.S. dollars. A medical doctor makes about 700 pesos or $30. The average pension payment to retired workers is $9.50 per month.
Also, Cuba’s economy is rated the most repressed in the South and Central American region. The small private sector barely survives because it is hampered by burdensome regulations and oppressive state controls. To circumvent the state-controlled labor market there is an extensive underground economy in which more than 90 percent of the population participates. (The governor contributed to Cuba’s informal economy when he ate in a home restaurant. Eating in a state-managed restaurant is like dining in a New York Department of Motor Vehicles office.)
Before leaving the island, Cuomo announced an agreement between Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology to develop a U.S. clinical trial of a lung cancer vaccine. (Frankly, I’d be leery of partnering with Cuban medical professionals who earn only 30 bucks a month.)
To avoid criticism back home, Cuomo threw a sop to human rights activists, saying basic freedoms “are an issue that is very important to the people of the U.S…and those issues have to be worked through.” But the governor went on to make this bizarre statement: “The people in New York and the United States are very excited about the courage that your president has shown.”
Raul Castro is courageous alright – a courageous thug and murderer. Doesn’t the governor know that Fidel and Raul Castro have abolished human rights, civil liberties, free elections, political parties, independent unions, religious and cultural organizations, and instituted political prisons and forced labor?
Since 1959, over 500 thousand people have spent time in a Cuban gulag. The authoritative “The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression” reports there have been 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners of conscience, 12,000 to 15,000 political prisoners and 15,000 to 17,000 prisoners shot. More than 2 million Cubans out of a population of 11 million “voted with oars” and settled in other countries.
In 2009, when President Barack Obama first called for the lifting of the embargo if some political prisoners were released and Cuban taxes on remittances from the United States were reduced, Fidel Castro poked Obama in the eye. He accused the president of showing signs of “superficiality” and made it clear that Obama had “no right to suggest that Cuba make even small concessions.”
This time around, Raul rolled Obama. He persuaded Obama to give away the diplomatic store and in return agreed to release only 53 political prisoners out of a total of 8,400. (And since they were let out of jail in January 2015, a number of them have already been re-arrested.)
Cuomo disgraced himself by gushing over Raul Castro. He proved to be nothing more than what Castro’s hero, Vladimir Lenin, called a “useful idiot.” That is a dupe who Lenin said “will sell us the rope with which to hang them.”