Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Debate over Castro Consulates in the USA: Some Observations

Today the City of Miami Beach Commission voted for the interests of Miami Beach residents by not welcoming a Castro Consulate there.

Debating Miami Beach Mayor welcoming a Cuban Consulate in Miami Beach
 Beginning on March 24, 2016 this blog has engaged in the conversation on whether or not opening consulates of the Castro regime in the United States is a good idea or not. The conversation initially focused on the wisdom of opening a Cuba Consulate in Miami-Dade County. The controversy was compounded by Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Ricky Arriola who met with Cuban diplomat Gustavo Machin, during President Obama's visit to Cuba and announced that they would welcome a Cuban Consulate on Miami Beach.

Unfortunately, these decisions at one time could be decided locally, but in 2000 the Supreme Court in the Crosby versus National Foreign Trade Council decision stripped that power from states and localities and left it in the hands of the executive branch.

Cuban spy Gustavo Machin with Mayor Levine (2016) taking part in cover up (2012)
The meeting between two Miami Beach city officials and Cuban diplomat Gustavo Machin where the question of a Castro Consulate in their city was discussed underscored the pitfalls of engaging representatives of the Castro dictatorship. Gustavo Machin turned out to be a Cuban intelligence operative who had been posted to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington DC where in 2000 he led nine other diplomats in a physical assault of 20 peaceful protesters and a secret service agent also beaten up in the diplomatic mob action. Machin was expelled in 2002 in the aftermath of the Ana Belen Montes affair in which a high ranking pentagon official was discovered to be a long term Castro agent passing secrets to enemies of the United States. In 2012 this same Cuban diplomat was involved in the cover up of the murder of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas in what was a State Security operation.

This meeting and commentary by Mayor Levine and Commissioner Arriola on their willingness for Miami Beach to welcome a Castro Consulate in their conversation with Gustavo Machin ended up creating a political firestorm in Miami Beach. This was in part because none of the other Miami Beach City Commissioners nor the Miami Beach Hispanic Affairs Committee had been consulted prior to the trip by the two politicians to Cuba last month.

Addressing the Miami Beach Hispanic Affairs Committee
This led to a five hour conversation at a gathering hosted by the Miami Beach Hispanic Affairs Committee on April 11, 2016 to a packed room of concerned citizens who in their vast majority opposed the opening of a Cuban consulate in Miami Beach. In a unanimous vote the Committee recommended that the Miami Beach City Commission explicitly not welcome a Cuba Consulate until human rights improve in the country.

Two days later the debate was held at a morning meeting of the Miami Beach City Commission where a large number of citizens again attended and 4-3 voted against establishing a Cuban Consulate on Miami Beach. Unfortunately, Mayor Levine continues to advocate for it and Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Jimenez has said he would not be against the Cuban Consulate.

Cuban diplomat attacked and bit a young woman in Oslo in 2010
This ignores a half century of violence and attempted terrorist attacks by Cuban diplomats in the United States and around the world. The argument that a Cuban Consulate is about customer service is a dangerous absurdity. Consider for a moment the following:
On May 22, 2010 Norwegian media reported that Cuban diplomat, Carmen Julia Guerra, insulted, threatened, and bit the hand of a young Norwegian woman, Alexandra Joner age 19, of Cuban descent on her mom's side while she was across the street from the Cuban embassy in Oslo filming a non-violent protest.

In January of 2012 there were reports in the media of Cuban, Iranian and Venezuelan diplomats meeting in Mexico to discuss cyber attacks on U.S. soil and allegedly seeking information about nuclear power plants in the United States.  
On January 28, 2012 in the Dominican Republic the Cuban ambassador physically assaulted a 70 year old Cuban exile who had screamed "Down with Fidel! Down with the Castros!" This same diplomat had been already expelled by the United States in 1995 for beating up peaceful demonstrators in New York City. 

On April 8, 2015 Cuban diplomats streamed out of the the Cuban Embassy in Panama attacking civil society representatives who at the time were laying flowers at a bust of Jose Marti in a public park nearby. Several activists were injured and at least one required surgery. During the Summit of the Americas Cuban diplomats disrupted official meetings in order to block Cuban and Venezuelan dissidents from taking part, despite being officially accredited
On July 21, 2015 when  Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo, a Cuban national, attempted to present a letter to the Cuban consulate and embassy in Washington, DC requesting her father's autopsy report she was not allowed to turn in the letter and a patrol car was called. She was not allowed into either the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in spite of being a Cuban citizen who still has residency in Cuba.
The fact of the matter is that on occasion due to political and security issues consulates and embassies are closed by the United States. For example, on March 18, 2014 the Obama administration ordered the closing of the Syrian embassy in Washington DC and the closing of Syrian consulates elsewhere in the United States.

The United States does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea. North Korea does have a permanent UN mission in New York City but no embassy in Washington DC or consulates in the rest of the country. This is a reasonable policy due to the Hermit Kingdom's outlaw behavior. Considering Cuba's extensive history of sponsoring terrorism North Korea is an appropriate comparison for U.S. policy makers considering opening up consulates around the United States. 

Castro regime caught smuggling tons of weapons to North Korea in 2013
  Cuba has an outlaw regime in power whose nature remains unchanged. In 2013 the Castro regime was caught smuggling tons of weapons and ammunition hidden under tons of sugar to North Korea in violation of international sanctions. In 2015 another weapons shipment was discovered being smuggled through Colombia.

Why would the State Department want to open this Pandora's box of Cuba Consulates across the United States? This position needs to be explained to the American people

The first duty of government is to protect its citizens and to protest when other levels of government pursue policies that needlessly endanger the lives and security of their community. This failure should be taken into consideration at election time.  

1 comment:

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