Posts in Orlando Bosch

What lies across the Water- Why History, International Law and American Values matter in the case of the Cuban five

Cubadebate

The following text is my presentation at the panel organized by Wayne Smith about the book "What lies across the Water", at the Center for International Policy, April 18, Washington DC.

I want to thank Dr. Wayne Smith and the Center for International Policy (CIP) for the invitation to discuss the book “What lies across the Water”. As a Cuban-American who thinks constantly about the difficult relations between Cuba and the United States, it is an honor to be part of the effort of the CIP to improve the knowledge about the complex history of these links and the need to approach them with creativity and goodwill.

Whatever you might think about the Cuban Five, if you want to know how their case fits into the history of relations between Cuba and the United States, you must read this book. The author Stephen Kimber presents a well written short narrative about how the Cuban five ended up in US prisons. The book reads more as reportage for the general public than as an academic report.  The author has studied the long history of conflict between Cuba and the United States and the use of terror as a political weapon by Cuban right wing groups in Florida.

Terrorist on the Dais at University of Miami's ICCAS

This morning, a congressional staffer forwarded the latest "Cuba Facts" received from the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS).  The Institute regularly produces briefing papers and shares them with interested colleagues in the academic and policy community, and, of course, with staff on Capitol Hill.  The Institute isn't afraid to take a policy position when it comes to Cuba and U.S. sanctions, or - in this blogger's opinion - to sacrifice an honest representation of the facts in order to convey a particular point of view.  (And, let's not forget that until this year, the University of Miami's ICCAS received millions in taxpayer-funded support from USAID.)

But the latest Cuba Facts memo isn't what interests me.  I'm more stunned by the quaint little event the Institute hosted last week to celebrate the "50th Anniversary of the Guerilla Struggle Against Totalitarianism."  But what does it meant to honor the "guerrilla struggle" anyway?  Perhaps taking a look at the honorees might give us a clue?

Twitter, Terrorism and Tightropes Over Cuba

Where’s a good ombudsman when you need one?  Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve received comments from readers on two very sensitive topics that remind me just how hard it is to find middle ground when it comes to Cuba.

Two days ago, a contributor for THN passed on what seemed - to him - plausible news.  A group of Cuban bloggers, especially prominent abroad for their criticism of their government and prolific use of social media, were unable to send their 140 character messages to Twitter.  One of them, the much-admired and maligned Yoani Sanchez, made instant headlines for publicly wondering if the Cuban government had blocked their access.  After all, her blog is blocked in Cuba, so maybe it wasn’t a leap too far?

“Bloquearon la publicacion desde moviles cubanos a twitter. Parece que pusieron el filtro aqui dentro.1 amigo publica por mi este tweet”

Sanchez then went on to wonder – via friends to whom she dictated her tweets – whether Twitter had been the one to block access.  That too had (an even more) plausible precedent.  In May 2009, to avoid getting in trouble with U.S. authorities, Microsoft blocked access to its instant messaging software for countries subject to U.S. sanctions, including Cuba.  And that, observed Sarah Stephens of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, was, ironically, just weeks after the Obama administration announced it would issue new regulations to increase telecommunications access for the Cuban people. 

As it turned out, nobody was censoring anybody.  Tomas Bilbao, who originally posted Sanchez' s concerns, did some investigating.  And, as he reported here yesterday, Twitter simply made a change to how customers must dial in.  That broke the Twitter link to which Yoani Sanchez and others in Cuban had become accustomed.  Bilbao admitted that he jumped the gun without all the facts in hand, and I hope that Sanchez will do the same.  If she doesn’t, she’ll only prove her critics right, who accuse her of being more interested in building the momentum her creativity and criticism have won her, than in building a constructive dialogue.  And that’s where the real damage is done.  Unfortunately, both sides are too quick to judge, take names and call the press.