Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The reason why Brigade 2506 endorsed Donald Trump

Why in a tight race in Florida the Cuban vote could be decisive

Mr. Donald Trump accepting endorsement by Brigade 2506 on October 25, 2016
The Brigade 2506 Veterans Association formally endorsed Donald Trump for President yesterday afternoon and received him at The Bay of Pigs Museum in Little Havana. This is the first endorsement for President ever made by the Brigade in its six decade long history. 

As the insults rain down from those partisans upset with the Trump endorsement a natural question arises: Why after more than a half century of formal neutrality in Presidential elections did the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association decide to endorse a candidate?

There are a number of reasons for this decision and why Cuban Americans may vote for Trump in huge percentages:

Freeing a murderer of four Cuban Americans and downplaying state terrorism
On December 17, 2014 President Barack Obama announced that he was normalizing relations with the Castro regime, and he commuted the prison sentences of three Cuban spies. One of them Gerardo Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the murder of four members of Brothers to the Rescue on February 24 1996.  To add insult to injury two days later on December 19, 2014 at a year end press conference President Obama downplayed the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down as a "tragic circumstance" and not the premeditated act of state terrorism that had been plotted weeks in advance of February 24, 1996.

Armando, Mario, Carlos and Pablo murdered on February 24, 1996
The Clintons' terrible record on Cuba policy: then and now
The Clinton Administration engaged in unilateral concessions to the Castro regime and ended up with a mass exodus in 1994, a worsening human rights situation in Cuba, four young humanitarians murdered in an act of state terrorism over international airspace ordered by Fidel and Raul Castro on February 24, 1996. Despite all of this Bill Clinton refused to enforce the law tightening sanctions in 1996 in response to the shoot down, shook hands with Fidel Castro in 2000 and opened up trade with the Castro regime. In 2015 former President Clinton warmly greeted and met with Raul Castro despite his role in the murder of American citizens.

Clinton shook hands with Fidel Castro in 2000 and opened trade to Cuba
Meanwhile the Obama policy that Hillary Clinton championed in 2014 and 2015 has not had the desired results.  Human rights violations are at record levels in Cuba, there is a mass exodus of Cubans fleeing the island not seeing a future there  with the U.S. legitimizing the regime and assisting in a generational succession, and the U.S. is more isolated than ever in Latin America with its embrace of the Castro regime alienating it from democrats. The Colombian peace initiative,backed by the Obama administration, mediated by Raul Castro in Havana was rejected by the Colombian people in a national vote. The situation in Venezuela has descended into crisis as Nicaragua slides into dictatorship.

Three high profile instances of U.S. Cuba policy discriminating against Cubans

Protesting anti-Cuban discrimination by Carnival (2016)
It is not only civil liberties in Cuba that have taken a beating over the past two years but also in America to satisfy Castro regime demands. Below are three examples.

First, Carnival Cruise Line signed an agreement with the Castro regime on March 21, 2016 to sail to Cuba from the United States. In order to conduct their core mission Carnival had to agree to enforce General Castro's policy that bans all Cubans from traveling into the island by water. It did not matter if Cubans born on the island were now citizens of another country. Obama's Treasury Department on July 7, 2015 signed off on the Carnival Cruise Line - Castro alliance ignoring that an entire class of Americans would be discriminated against based on their national origin. Mass protests, boycotts and lawsuits led the Castro regime to blink when it became apparent that popular outrage would lead the cruise ship company to cancel its cruises.  
Second, the U.S. embassy in Cuba floated a trial balloon that announced that the United States government accepted that U.S. citizens of Cuban descent born in the United States are not recognized by the Castro regime as Americans but as Cuban nationals subject to the dictatorship's laws and regulations. Even though one was born in the United States and has never applied for dual nationality in Cuba they are treated as a Cuban born by the Castro regime in terms of responsibilities but not rights and the Obama State Department went along with it in order to have "normal relations." This also means that these U.S. citizens would be denied consular access in Cuba. The State Department had to back track in May of 2016 when this trial balloon sunk amidst negative press coverage and popular outrage.  
Third, American Airlines is pulling Cuban-American pilots and flight attendants off flights to Cuba in order to placate demands by the Castro regime. Fabiola Santiago, of The Miami Herald, obtained an American Airlines memo announcing the policy as follows: “Please remember that those who are Cuban born should be removed with pay from Cuba flights until we can verify what requirements the Cuban government has for these crew members.

Clinton, Trump called on to denounce violence against Cuba's Ladies in White

President Obama went to Cuba earlier this year to hobnob with Raul Castro and the rest of the elite communist leadership in Cuba. However the President remained relatively silent about the Ladies in White beaten up the same Sunday he and his family. 

On the eve of the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, “The Rebel Yell”, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas student newspaper published a full page ad from the Center for a Free Cuba urging them to “prod the Obama Administration to condition any future negotiations and affirmative responses to General Raul Castro’s requests to … the immediate end to beatings and abuses of peaceful dissidents by the regime’s police.” The ad “calls on all Americans to petition General Raul Castro to stop beating and abusing these women.”

There are reasons, some of them listed above, that Cuban Americans who are single issue voters on the Cuba issue would be upset with the Obama Administration's Cuba policy. 

Furthermore Mrs. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State advocated for this policy and gave a lecture at Florida International University focused on ending economic sanctions on Cuba.  The Obama administration and Clinton's running mate Senator Time Kaine have declared this policy irreversible.  

Mr. Donald Trump on the other hand has declared that he will undo it and try to reach an accommodation that improves the human rights situation of Cubans and protects U.S. interests. At the same time he praised Cuba's Ladies in White and blasted the Obama-Clinton Cuba policy.

These contrasting visions explain the decision of the Brigade to endorse Donald Trump today and reject the Obama-Clinton Cuba policy. 

In a tight race in Florida where three points separate the two candidates the Cuban American vote can play a decisive role in deciding who the next President of the United States will be. 

On November 8th we will see how Cuban Americans will vote and what impact they have in Florida. 

Meanwhile the testimony of Miriam de la Peña, whose son Mario was one of the four men murdered on February 24, 1996 who met with Donald Trump this morning, explains the behavior of the Obama administration that so outraged her.

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