Truth be told, The Scrapbook leans toward agnosticism on the question of diplomatic relations with Cuba, which were broken off in 1961 and restored last week, with much fanfare, by the Obama administration. Since 1977, the United States has had an “interests section” in Havana that is larger than some of our embassy complexes around the world, and the Cubans have had an “interests section” inside the Swiss embassy in Washington. With luck, from our perspective, a bigger and better American embassy will mean a bigger and better CIA station in Havana.
Nor will the “normalization” of relations mean very much beyond words—and, perhaps, a partial relaxation of the economic embargo. The Washington Post ran a long story on the ceremonial reopening of the Cuban embassy, which featured remarks by the visiting Cuban foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, largely composed of a lengthy complaint about the Platt Amendment (1901), which once governed U.S.-Cuban relations and was repealed 81 years ago. If we needed a reminder that the aging Castro regime is still very much in charge on that unhappy island, Señor Rodriguez’s bumptious speech provided it.
What intrigued The Scrapbook was the Post story by Karen DeYoung. For some reason, it failed to mention that among the Americans in attendance at the ceremony was the famous actor Danny Glover, whose perspective on the subject may be summarized by his view that “one of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country”—and by “this country,” of course, he does not mean Cuba. More interesting still was the photograph that accompanied the Post story, showing a middle-aged woman holding aloft a heart-shaped sign that read “To Cuba With Love.” Here is the Post caption, in its entirety: “Medea Benjamin of Washington joined those celebrating the raising of the flag at the 16th Street mansion that houses the Cuban Embassy.”
As The Scrapbook feels constrained to point out, “Medea Benjamin of Washington”—actually, Susan is her real name—is no ordinary citizen with a casual interest in foreign policy but the ubiquitous, customarily screaming, face of Code Pink, the all-woman, hard-left political organization best known for its affinity for totalitarian regimes, and for shouting down American public figures ranging from Condoleezza Rice to Barack Obama.
It is no surprise that Medea Benjamin would be publicly demonstrating her fealty to the Communist dictatorship in Cuba. What is surprising is that the Post should have failed to mention—indeed, seems to have deliberately omitted—the better-known names among the handful of enthusiasts who appeared at the reopened Cuban embassy last week.
Or perhaps not. The last time The Scrapbook saw Karen DeYoung was in 1978, when she was hanging out with Strobe Talbott in the lobby of the Havana Riviera Hotel. Karen DeYoung is now senior national security correspondent for the Washington Post, and Strobe Talbott is president of the Brookings Institution. The revolution has come home.
The State Department will hang the Cuban flag in the lobby of the State Department building on Monday in recognition of the imminent reopening of the communist nation's embassy in Washington. The AP's Matt Lee reports:
Some Republican leaders are sharply criticizing the Obama administration for establishing official diplomatic ties with Cuba, the Caribbean island nation that has been under the control of Communist dictator Fidel Castro and his brother Raul since 1959. A number of GOP presidential candidates and the speaker of the House of Representatives have noted the continued oppression of the Cuban people under the Castros.
Last week, Pope Francis hosted a Vatican summit on global warming where one of his cardinals called for a “full conversion of hearts and minds” to the fight against the “almost unfathomable” effects of fossil fuels on the environment. The pope will soon issue an encyclical on the subject, which—according to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon—will “convey to the world that protecting our environment is an urgent moral imperative and a sacred duty for all people of faith and people of conscience.”
The day President Obama believes relevant history began. Rather like the French revolutionaries who decreed that the establishment of their Republic be dated Year I of the French Republic. August 4, 1961 was the day on which Barack Hussein Obama arrived on this earth in Honolulu, Hawaii. Anything occurring before the world received this blessing is irrelevant, the President told the gathering of heads of state at The Summit of the Americas. Not directly, but in effect. “The Cold War has been over for a very long time.
Secretary of State John Kerry will be meeting with Cuba's foreign minister tonight. The meeting will occur in Panama.
".@JohnKerry will meet with Cuban Foreign Minister Rodriguez tonight in Panama City, where they're both attending the Summit of the Americas," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf announced this evening on Twitter.
.@JohnKerry will meet with Cuban Foreign Minister Rodriguez tonight in Panama City, where they're both attending the Summit of the Americas.
President Barack Obama will not be meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week when the Israeli leader comes to Washington. Neither will Secretary of State John Kerry. And though Netanyahu will deliver an address to a joint session of Congress (thanks to an invitation from Republican John Boehner), he will not be getting a photo op from the Democratic administration at either the White House or State Department.
Unlike a Cuban diplomat, who will be getting a State Department photo-op later this morning.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and eight other members of a congressional delegation that recently headed to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, spoke positively of the trip at a press conference on Tuesday. They not only met with government officials in each country, but they also visited the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba, and spoke with Cuban members of civil society. “People in the streets were very enthusiastic,” said Pelosi.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a possible Republican presidential candidate, is using a crowdsourcing platform to try to reach dissidents and human rights activists in autocratic regimes. In particular, Rubio is trying to help those oppressed by the governments of Iran and Cuba.
"I'm a member of the U.S. Congress looking for Iran and Cuba human rights cases to highlight," the headline for Rubio's post on the platform Movements.org reads.