After Fidel, Cuban bloggers discuss US candidates

In the last few days, mostly due to Fidel Castro's announcement to step down from power, US presidential candidates have been commenting on the situation in Cuba and discussing their planned policies for Cuba.

As reported by Penúltimos días [Es], it all started a few days ago when the media showed a Cuban flag with the famous silhouette of Che Guevara's face in a local volunteer committee to support Barack Obama's campaign in Houston, Texas. It sparked so many heated reactions, that the Obama Campaign had to release statement:

Senator Obama has made it clear that we will maintain the embargo as a way to leverage meaningful democratic change in Cuba. The office featured in this video is funded by volunteers of the Barack Obama Campaign and is not an official headquarters for his campaign.

In a televised debate in Texas last Thursday, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were asked “Would you be willing to sit down with Raúl Castro, or whoever leads the Cuban dictatorship when you take office at least just once, to get a measure of the man?”. Penúltimos días [Es] posted the video of the debate, and The Cuban Triangle summarized their answers:

Senator Clinton sticks to the approach voiced so many times by President Clinton when he was in office: U.S. action depends on
change in Cuba. Barring evidence of a clear change in direction in Cuba, she would have no talks, no moves in U.S. policy except for an emphasis on working with allies.

Obama would meet without preconditions but only after preparation of an agenda that includes human rights, political
prisoners, free press and economic opening – “It is important for the United States not just to talk to its friends, but also to its enemies.” He would also lift restrictions on Cuban American visits and remittances. He described that as “a show of good faith.”

On Friday, Republican candidate John McCain issued a statement from Indiannapolis in response to Obama's openness to meet with Cuba's leadership.

Henry Gómez at Babalu Blog quoted McCain as saying:

Not so along go Senator Obama favored complete normalization of relations with Fidel Castro's Cuba. Last night, he said that as president he'd meet with the imprisoned island's new leader ‘without preconditions.’ So Raul Castro gets an audience with an American president, and all the prestige such a meeting confers, without having to release political prisoners, allow free media, political parties, and labor unions, or schedule internationally monitored free elections.

Review of Cuban-American Blogs published another excerpt of McCain's response:

As you know, Fidel Castro announced that he would not remain as president — whatever that means. And I hope that he has the opportunity to meet Karl Marx very soon. But the point is that apparently he's trying to groom his brother Raúl [to succeed him]. My friends, Raúl is worse in many respects than Fidel was. The people of Cuba deserve to have the prisons emptied, they deserve human rights organizations working there, and they deserve free and fair elections. That's our goal for Cuba, not perpetuation of the Fidel Castro regime. And we ought to make it very, very clear that we will not provide aid or assistance until the prisons are emptied of the political prisoners… I'm very worried about people who want to extend aid and assistance now, while this regime is in power [for] that would help them remain in power. And, by the way, unless those things happen, I see no reason, whatsoever — whatsoever — to sit down and have unconditional talks with Raul Castro.

Review of Cuban-American Blogs vehemently applauded McCain's words:

[…] McCain succinctly explained the difference between morality and amorality, principles and opportunism, intransigence and
accommodation as these apply to Cuba. He also expressed without apologies, because such sentiments require none, his hope that the tyrant may soon meet his inspiration. This would surely be a greater punishment to Marx, who could not have imagined that the last Western defender of his superannuated philosophy would be a Latin American, as Marx despised all Latin Americans with a passion, from his brilliant Cuban son-in-law Pablo Lafargue whom he likened to a “gorilla” to Simón Bolívar whom he called “the most cowardly, brutal and miserable of wretches.”

Alejandro Armengol at Cuaderno de Cuba [Es], however, is less enthusiastic about McCain's declarations:

McCain is faithful to the old Cold War rethorics which have characterized the majority of Republican politicians, in dealing with the Cuba issue during the last few years. Nothing new. We can almost say there's no story. […] I wonder what type of diplomacy MacCain wants to practice if he's elected, missile diplomacy?

Phil Peters at The Cuban Triangle posted a link to Obama's returning fire to McCain on the issue.

Steve Clemons at Havana Notes, criticizes America's decades long embargo on Cuba because it “failed to alter the political path of the Cuban government” after reading an article on The Washington Post titled “Castro's departure means America has failed”:

[…] so let's drop the fiction about the US having leverage in the embargo. The only leverage America has on lifting or maintaining the embargo is with an aging, Castro-obsessed, reactionary population in Miami that thankfully is being taken over by a more rational contingent of Cuban-Americans who have either rethought their views or who just don't carry the same views as their elders in their younger portfolios of experience.

Pro-Castro bloggers such as José Miguel Vázquez [Es] also think that the embargo should be lifted and that the US policty towards Cuba should change, but for different reasons:

[…] donde debe haber un cambio es en Estados Unidos, y no el que anuncia Barak Obama en su campaña política, sino un verdadero cambio en que comiencen por renunciar a sus empeños de convertirse en gendarmes del mundo y con derecho a meter sus narices donde nadie los ha llamado.
[…] Dejar a nuestro pueblo en paz. Óiganlo bien…en paz, eliminar la criminal guerra económica contra nuestra patria, eliminar la ley de ajuste cubano, permitir que podamos comerciar de igual a igual con cualquier empresa norteamericana, en fin estos y otros muchos cambios.

[…] where change needs to take place is in the United States, and not the change that Barack Obama announces in his campaign, but a true change in which they stop insisting of becoming the policemen of the world with rights to stick their nose where no one has called them.
[…] Leave our people alone. Listen again… leave them alone, and get rid of the criminal economic war against our country, get rid of the law of Cuban adjustment, allow equal trade with any North American company. Anyway, these and other changes.

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