Sociedad Jose Marti

sábado, mayo 21, 2005

The Castro Caucus

------ Original Message ------
Received: Thu, 12 May 2005 04:09:57 PM CDT
From: Eloy Gonzalez

Subject: Quienes votaron contra la democracia en Cuba!

The Castro Caucus
Why would 22 House members oppose a Cuban democracy
by Duncan Currie
05/12/2005 9:00:00 AM

CRANKY CONSERVATIVES often dismiss symbolic
pro-democracy legislation as so much claptrap. Of
course everyone supports the flowering of liberty on
foreign soil, they insist. Of course everyone wants to
nourish oases of civil society in the deserts of
despotism. So why bother with all these vacuous "Yay
for freedom" acts? Aren't they kinda like resolving,
"We love our Moms"? Shouldn't it go without saying
that every member of Congress favors democrats over

Yes, it should. But then there's Cuba. To endorse the
sociopolitical spadework of Cuban democrats is, of
course, to rebuke Fidel Castro. And that, apparently,
is too much for a handful of House Democrats--and one
Republican--to stomach.

On Tuesday, the House passed a measure first
introduced by Miami-area congressman Mario
Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican. HR 193
expressed support for the Assembly to Promote the
Civil Society in Cuba, an umbrella structure of over
360 dissident and civil society groups led by
economist Marta Beatriz Roque.

The Diaz-Balart bill, which gained some 55 cosponsors,
contained four basic planks:

(1) The House "extends its support and solidarity to
the organizers and participants of the historic
meeting of the Assembly to Promote the Civil Society
in Cuba on May 20, 2005, in Havana."

(2) The House "urges the international community to
support the Assembly's mission to bring democracy to

(3) The House "urges the Administration and
international community to actively oppose any
attempts by the Castro regime to repress or punish the
organizers and participants of the Assembly."

(4) The House "shares the pro-democracy ideals of the
Assembly to Promote the Civil Society in Cuba and
believes that this Assembly and others will hasten the
day of freedom and democracy for the people of Cuba."

The legislation passed with 392 supporters--and 22

Those voting "nay" included the following Democrats:
Reps. John Conyers (Mich.), Sam Farr (Calif.), Maurice
Hinchey (N.Y.), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio), Carolyn
Kilpatrick (Mich.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Barbara
Lee (Calif.), Jim McDermott (Wash.), Cynthia McKinney
(Ga.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), George Miller (Ga.), John
Olver (Mass.), Donald Payne (N.J.), Charlie Rangel
(N.Y.), José Serrano (N.Y.), Pete Stark (Calif.),
Edolphus Towns (N.Y.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Nydia
Velázquez (N.Y.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), and Lynn
Woolsey (Calif.).

Joining the "nays" was Texas Republican Ron Paul, a
maverick libertarian. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Democrat
Gwen Moore voted "present."

This was perhaps not surprising, given a separate
House vote on human rights in Cuba two weeks earlier.
Another Cuban American, Democrat Bob Menendez of New
Jersey, had spearheaded a bill--with 56 cosponsors--to
mark the second anniversary of Castro's massive
anti-dissent crackdown and jailing of 75 opposition

Among other things, the Menendez bill condemned the
arrests, demanded the release of all Cuban political
prisoners, and urged U.N. member countries to boot
Havana off the Human Rights Commission (yes, Cuba
currently has a seat).

But when it came up for a vote in late April, some 26
Democrats opposed it. This group consisted of all
those Democrats who later rejected the Diaz-Balart
bill, save four. (Reps. Conyers, Miller, and Udall
backed the Menendez bill, while Rep. Jones didn't

The remaining Democratic opponents were Reps. Julia
Carson (Ind.), Lacy Clay (Mo.), Danny Davis (Ill.),
Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), Jesse Jackson Jr. (Ill.), Eddie
Bernice Johnson (Tex.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Bennie
Thompson (Miss.), and Albert Wynn (Md.).

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was again the lone Republican
to vote "nay." Two Democrats, Reps. Peter DeFazio
(Ore.) and Mel Watt (N.C.), voted "present." The
Menendez bill passed 398-27.

What to make of all this? Well, for one thing, not all
pro-democracy resolutions are created equal. Nor, it
seems, are all freedom fighters. Cuba's small-d
democrats, whatever their liberal credentials, are
still viewed with suspicion by certain capital-d
Democrats in America.

Put another way, Castro still has allies in the U.S.
Congress--some witting, some perhaps not.

Duncan Currie is a reporter at The Weekly Standard.

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