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New US "Axis of Evil" includes Cuba

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Here we go again ... guess it's sablerattling for the Miami audience, but you never know ...

https://www.vox.com/world/2018/11/1/18052338/bolton-cuba-venezuela-nicaragua-speech-troika-tyranny?fbclid=IwAR2vQIGekYY7XaGhmuPdmc-YGfy1KlSNI31zmwejtwsm1C6VaL8iqJSqPP8

 

John Bolton just gave an “Axis of Evil” speech about Latin America

The US will now go after a so-called “Troika of Tyranny”: Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

By Alex Ward@AlexWardVoxalex.ward@vox.com Nov 1, 2018, 3:10pm EDT
1045106914.jpg.0.jpg National Security Adviser John Bolton gave a speech changing America’s stance toward three Latin American countries — Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua — on November 1, 2018. Alex Wong/Getty Images

National Security Adviser John Bolton just gave a modern-day “Axis of Evil” speech, this one focused on three countries in Latin America.

In a 30-minute address at Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower, Bolton said the Trump administration will take a hard line against Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua by sanctioning the countries and cutting off diplomatic relations with them until they meet US demands.

“This Troika of Tyranny, this triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua, is the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the Western Hemisphere,” Bolton said. “Under President Trump, the United States is taking direct action against all three regimes to defend the rule of law, liberty, and basic human decency in our region.”

Bolton’s speech seems intended to usher in a new era of US relations with Latin America. It portends a massive escalation in US foreign policy: one where America is trying to dictate how three sovereign countries should operate.

The Obama administration famously said that it wouldn’t interfere much in the Western Hemisphere’s affairs. The Trump administration, however, just announced it will do the opposite.

“This is not a time to back away. It’s a time to increase the pressure, not reduce it,” Bolton told the audience after the speech.

The Trump administration’s new policies for Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua

Cuba

The Trump administration will minimize diplomatic ties with Cuba. Some reports indicate that Cuba — or at least some other country with Cuba’s permission — has attacked US personnel in Havana for the past two years. In response, the US will remove some of its diplomats from the embassy in Cuba. But that’s not all: Washington will also cut off any secret backchannels between the two countries.

The US also won’t allow US cash to reach Cuba’s military, security, or intelligence services. Instead, it plans to impose financial penalties on Cuba until it frees political prisoners, allows for freedom of speech, embraces all political parties, and ensures fair elections.

Venezuela

Bolton said Caracas must release all of the country’s roughly 340 political prisoners. What’s more, it should allow for humanitarian aid to reach those in need, allow for free elections, and champion the rule of law and democratic institutions.

President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order to place new sanctions on Venezuela, Bolton said, which “will target networks operating within corrupt Venezuelan economic sectors and deny them access to stolen wealth.”

One of the biggest moves is to stop people around the world from engaging with Venezuelans involved with its gold sector, which Jason Marczak, a Latin America expert at the Atlantic Council think tank, told me is a lucrative illicit market for the country.

Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s president, has been criticized for undermining democracy in his country since he assumed power in 2013.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro at a memorial service for former Cuban leader Fidel Castro on December 3, 2016. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro at a memorial service for former Cuban leader Fidel Castro on December 3, 2016. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Maduro ramped up the imprisonment of political opponents. He has cracked down on growing street protests with lethal force. He has repeatedly postponed regional government elections in order to stave off threats to his party’s power. And last year, he held a rigged election for a special legislative body that supplanted the country’s parliament — the one branch of government that was controlled by his political opposition.

Trump has heavily criticized Maduro in the past, and at one point openly considered a military invasion to overthrow him. It’s no surprise, then, that Venezuela featured so heavily in Bolton’s address.

Nicaragua

Bolton also criticized Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega for his “regime’s violence and repression against its citizens and opposition members.”

The US doesn’t want Ortega’s government to detain protesters or target civilians anymore, though that’s unlikely to change anytime soon, as more than 300 people died during protests against the government this year.

Bolton said that the Trump administration wants fair and democratic elections soon, or “the Nicaraguan regime, like Venezuela and Cuba, will feel the full weight of America’s robust sanctions regime.”

Put together, it’s a marked change for how the US deals with these countries specifically and the region writ large.

“Bolton’s speech today signaled a ratcheting up of pressure on Venezuela and Cuba, but also a new level of administration focus on the crisis in Nicaragua,” Marczak said. “What will be critical is using this moment to strike up new ways in which the US can work jointly with regional and global governments to put even further pressure on Maduro and his cronies.”

Bolton’s speech is troubling

Though Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua do indeed have repressive governments, there are still major problems with the speech.

The first is that it sounds like a renewal of America’s Cold War stance toward Latin America. The US spent decades opposing, and in some cases fighting, communist forces. From Nicaragua to Guatemala to Chile, the US used its power to squash many left-leaning movements in the region mostly because of its opposition to the Soviet Union.

Sandinista fighters man barricades during fighting in the streets of Leon during the civil war. The war, fought between the Sandinista government and US-backed Counter-revolutionaries (Contras), lasted from 1981 to 1989. Sandinista fighters man barricades during fighting in the streets of Leon during the civil war. The war, fought between the Sandinista government and US-backed Counter-revolutionaries (Contras), lasted from 1981 to 1989. Alain Dejean/Sygma via Getty Images

While Bolton didn’t offer Cold War-like policies, the speech definitely echoed many of that era’s sentiments.

Second, Bolton just aligned the US with a repressive politician. He called Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right firebrand who won Brazil’s election on Sunday, a “likeminded leader.”

That’s scary. Bolsonaro has expressed fondness for his country’s past military dictatorship and wants to bring back torture to his country as a way to stem rising crime rates. He may not be a dictator, but he could usher in an era of massive repression and imperil human rights in Latin America’s most populous country. To align the US with Bolsonaro implies the goal really isn’t about improving “freedom,” but about eradicating far-left leadership in Latin America.

Some experts don’t find Bolton’s overture that odd, though.

“It is not surprising that Bolton and the US government would see the president-elect of Brazil as an ally,” Jana Nelson, a Brazil desk officer at the State Department from 2010 to 2015, told me.

“Jair Bolsonaro is an open admirer of Trump. He believes a closer relationship with the United States will be beneficial to Brazil and so do his followers,” she continued, and “it may the first time in over a decade that Brazil will be a reliable ally in the region.”

And finally, Bolton made statements that don’t correlate much with the Trump administration’s policies.

Take this passage aimed directly at members in the audience:

You breathe the free air of this beautiful city. Your children have experienced the possibilities of liberty. And your grandchildren will never know the firsthand heartache of repression. Your descendants can be anything, and achieve anything. ...

And as they grow and flourish in America, they will carry with them your history, your sacrifice, and the memories of your incredible triumph. Their success will be your enduring legacy.

It’s a moving, uplifting message about how people around the world can escape tyranny and thrive in the United States. The problem is the Trump administration wants to deny that opportunity to thousands of people.

About three hours after Bolton’s Thursday address, Trump will give a speech about how he plans to restrict those seeking asylum in the United States. That continues the president’s extremely hard line against immigrants coming to America, which has hit time and time again ahead of midterm elections next week.

He’s even massively curtailed the number of refugees who can come to the US. From October 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, the US admitted only 10,500 refugees. That’s down roughly 74 percent from the same period the year before during the Obama administration. Estimates show the US may only accept around 21,000 refugees in 2018, which would be the lowest total since 1980.

The Trump administration may praise those who sought a better life in the US, then, but it has done little to help those seeking the same fortune.

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I really wish we would get off the Cuba rhetoric. The embargo has not worked. And, based on this recent position, the US could possibly put an embargo on Nicaragua.  That would really limit what cigars could be imported to the USA !!

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The UN just voted AGAIN to lift the Cuba embargo. And those "attacks" on American diplomats...ha! I bet the CIA did that on their own. Have you been to Cuba? It's a failed state. I don't see them puling off something like that and there's absolutely no proof. Just alleged attacks. If it had happened, we would have found the proof by now.

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30 minutes ago, Derboesekoenig said:

The UN just voted AGAIN to lift the Cuba embargo. And those "attacks" on American diplomats...ha! I bet the CIA did that on their own. Have you been to Cuba? It's a failed state. I don't see them puling off something like that and there's absolutely no proof. Just alleged attacks. If it had happened, we would have found the proof by now.

Been to Cuba, our driver took my wife and I right by the US Embassy, he even joked "you may want to cover your ears so you don't lose your hearing," we were rolling on the ground laughing, all a bunch of nothing. 

I agree, Cuba is a failed state. One of my colleagues grew up there, she went to the University in Havana, was able to come to the US and she is now an AP Spanish Language teacher. Amazing woman and stories she has from growing up there, in the thick of it. She hates communism, and will be the first to tell you Cuba failed, Venezuela failed, etc. Oh, and BTW, she is the biggest Trump supporter I have ever met.  

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Pretext in my opinion to curry favor of Cuban expats and their kin in the upcoming midterms.  Nothing to see here, move along.

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29 minutes ago, El Presidente said:

3  The minute one person mentions Trump, Obama, Republicans or Democrats, the thread is done and they go on a short break :D

Can you add Kim Kardashian to the list.....pleeeaaase?:P

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It’s Election Day next week - some strong rhetoric would be expected.

Selfishly, I am most worried about a potential rollback of the personal allowance to bring in cuban goods with you, particularly in light of the many boxes I have stashed at my parents house to bring with me in a couple of weeks...

I think everything that needs to be said about the embargo has been said already.

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My wife and I took our first trip to Cuba in October, 2012.  In the December, 2012 issue, Cigar Aficionado's Gordon Mott and Marvin Shanken argued for a continuation of the People to People program, which we were a part of on our trip.  I was moved to send a letter to them with my thoughts and feelings about that program.  Imagine my shock when I opened the February, 2013 issue and saw my letter headlining the Letters to the Editor page.  Here's what I wrote followed by photos of the cover of that issue and the Letters page:

"In the December issue of CA, Gordon and Marvin's editorial argues the virtues of the People to People licenses awarded to various travel companies in the U.S. by our government. Their editorial points out that these licenses are no longer available to these companies due to our government's assertion that they are really just tourist trips in disguise. I just don't understand that logic.
 
As a recent participant on one of these trips (Oct. 7-14), I can attest that our daily itinerary was strictly adhered to by Chamber Explorations (the licensed company), and it included personal interaction with the Cuban people almost hourly. Our daily contact with the Cuban people changed our lives, and it also changed our view of our government's policy regarding Cuba, to a great extent.
 
As a very conservative Republican, I viewed the embargo as a necessary evil to effect change within the Cuban government. But my view of that policy changed as a result of the trip and the human interaction we all had with those wonderful people. Based on my personal interactions with our group (which included a healthy mix of conservatives and liberals), the vast majority felt strongly that our policy toward the "Cuba problem" should be changed. In reflecting on that after reading the editorial, I have come to the conclusion that, perhaps, THAT is the reason the licenses were stopped. That's the only logic I can apply to our government's discontinuation of these licenses. But, then again, very few things the people in Washington do ever make logical sense.
 
My wife and I treated this trip as a "vacation" of sorts, but our primary purpose in going on the trip was to experience that mythical land and to see first hand the daily lives of the Cuban people. Did we consider ourselves "tourists"? Most definitely, yes. But however you label us on the island, we were there to witness the plight of the Cuban people under a tyrannical regime and to see a place stuck in the fifties. And we did, and it changed us and to some extent I think it might have changed some of the Cuban people with whom we interacted. Our goal in those interactions was to be as absolutely loving and friendly as we could possibly be.
 
If the purpose of the relaxed restrictions and loosening of the license requirements was to promote interactions with the Cuban people and thereby act as a reagent for positive change, it is working, in my view. I know that all of our group of Americans from all parts of the U. S. were moved by this experience.
 
So, I have to ask this question of those in the U. S. government who are making the decision to stop these trips: just what is the purpose of the "People to People" license?
 
I hope the U. S. government takes another look at this policy and decides to continue the program. In my opinion, based on the reaction of the twenty plus people in our group, the vast majority of participants in this program come away from those trips with sympathy for the Cuban people and most leave Havana with the hope that positive change will come soon. We don't know how that change will come about; but we all, almost to a person, felt that positive change would indeed come, and sooner rather than later, especially if we are able to continue our interaction with those wonderfully positive and friendly people."
1799269139_CAcover.jpg.b410f572569edc1ef6d85adf4765e43f.jpg
 
1553048563_LettertotheEditor.jpg.cab087486e813c50cc791162048b537b.jpg

 

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Kennedy initiated the embargo. Every administration since has had opportunity for change. How many countries have chosen U.S. dollars over Cuba...

 

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1 hour ago, Colt45 said:

How many countries have chosen U.S. dollars over Cuba...

 

I suspect that is about to change should the Euro's manage to set up the alternative banking system that leaves the US out of the loop. Then it will be a whole new world. 

US control has been through banking/money transfer.   If it allows Castro Inc to freely send money (and receive it) around the world with nobody risking being penalized by the US fed (funds seizure and blackban) then it will be a good outcome. 

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40 minutes ago, El Presidente said:

I suspect that is about to change should the Euro's manage to set up the alternative banking system that leaves the US out of the loop. Then it will be a whole new world. 

US control has been through banking/money transfer.   If it allows Castro Inc to freely send money (and receive it) around the world with nobody risking being penalized by the US fed (funds seizure and blackban) then it will be a good outcome. 

I guess this simply reaffirms that it's always been about money ( perhaps along with some animosity ) and not any sense of compassion.

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19 minutes ago, Colt45 said:

I guess this simply reaffirms that it's always been about money ( perhaps along with some animosity ) and not any sense of compassion.

I see it more about blackmail and stunning hypocrisy. 

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And I thought this thread got nuked.....one minute here, one minute gone, then back. Like a time machine. 

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To me, the embargo is like those small town laws where it’s illegal to ride a horse backwards through town on Wednesdays. Most people don’t remember or care why it exists, but one guy wants to keep it on the books, so it stays.

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1 hour ago, FatherOfPugs said:

And I thought this thread got nuked.....one minute here, one minute gone, then back. Like a time machine. 

In the interests of complete transparency, I hid the thread in the very early hours of Saturday morning (Australian Eastern time) due to tiredness. I pm'ed El Pres to get confirmation as I wasn't 100% about the thread and I was very tired from the end of the work-week. Anyway, I figured Nino is an experienced member and knew what he was posting so I was confident it would be okay, but I wanted to check with El Pres first. Hence why the thread came back this morning, my time. As long as we adhere to the post that El Pres shared above in regards to the rules, then all will be well! 😉 👌

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I knew it wouldn't take long for Bolton to get bored and start agitating.

I do like "Troika of Terror" though. Sounds like a pro wrestling trio. 

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10 minutes ago, NSXCIGAR said:

I do like "Troika of Terror" though. Sounds like a pro wrestling trio. 

A “made for tv special” of the times.

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I knew it wouldn't take long for Bolton to get bored and start agitating.
I do like "Troika of Terror" though. Sounds like a pro wrestling trio. 
He thought of the phrase first then found three countries to fit. Took weeks.

Sent from my ActionMan walkie-talkie

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3 hours ago, bpm32 said:

To me, the embargo is like those small town laws where it’s illegal to ride a horse backwards through town on Wednesdays. Most people don’t remember or care why it exists, but one guy wants to keep it on the books, so it stays.

not sure the cubans would see it quite like that. 

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