Letters & Opinion

I saw it coming, But not so soon!

By  Earl Bousquet
By Earl Bousquet

BELIEVE me or not, I saw it coming. But I never saw it coming for Christmas.

Like everyone else, I had great hopes that the first Black Man in the White House would have left more than just his skin colour or his Muslim name in the Oval Office or in US history. I wasn’t sure how or what he would do, when and where. But I didn’t fall victim of the instant optimism of immediate expectations of people of African descent worldwide that came with his election in November 2006 and his move to the White House in January 2007. However, I always had that measured hope that by the time his two terms ended, Barack Obama would have left a few of his fingerprints next to Uncle Sam’s.

Since taking office six years ago, Obama has done everything right to stay ahead of the game on Capitol Hill and the American Street. He pulled US troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and supervised the vengeful killing of Osama bin Laden for his role in 9/11 — live and direct. He did a little bit of everything to reach everybody needing social care. He’s continued to champion his Obama Care project to take healthcare to 43 million uninsured Americans – and that despite the continuous Republican railroading.

At the beginning of the end of his second term some time ago, I wrote that Obama will most likely use his last two years to deliver on some of his major promises held back by the Republican filibusters on Capitol Hill – especially Obama Care. He was forced to backtrack on his early promise and attempt to close down the Guantanamo prison in Cuba. But he’s also successfully railroaded his Immigration Bill over the heads of those in its path, even as the Democrats lost even more control on Capitol Hill.

The early move to normalize relations with Cuba announced this week was largely unexpected. But there were signs — since the Clinton presidency — that the Democratic White House was prepared to consider raising the dark curtain over Cuba.

Early signs of changing times came when Attorney General Janet Reno stood up to and defied the anti-Castro Cuban exiles and their Republican backers in Florida, over the return of Elian Gonzales to his homeland after his mother died trying to get to America by boat. Following that incident, Reno left office and Clinton was forced to tone down his rhetoric. But President Clinton and President Fidel Castro did meet (before their respective exits from power) in a carefully coordinated accidental exchange in the privacy of an elevator while attending a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Soon after Clinton left office (as if to make a point) he lit a Cuban cigar in a ‘no smoking’ zone London’s Heathrow Airport VIP Lounge, in full view of the gathered press. He didn’t get to return to the White House as America’s first ‘First Man’, Obama trouncing his wife to win the Democratic candidacy to replace him as President. But Clinton would have had some undocumented but certain influence on White House foreign policy while his wife served as Obama’s first Secretary of State.

Like Clinton, Obama also sent early signs and signals. He and President Raul Castro shook hands – in the eyes of the cameras – while Obama was greeting fellow world leaders attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa just over a year ago. Panama has now invited both Presidents Castro and Obama to the next Summit of the Americas in April 2015 in Panama City, when they’ll again sit at the same table, but this time without the distance and restrictions imposed to keep Cuban and American Presidents out of the same room as much as possible for the past 52 years.

I suspect Obama moved early on the Cuba reconciliation path to send a clear message to the Republicans that never mind their numbers on Capitol Hill, he has the testicular fortitude to exercise his Executive Authority when and where necessary in the last two years of his final term. Needing Congress to vote for a lifting of the US Embargo, Obama has opted instead to put the item on the agenda early enough. He may or may not succeed in getting the Republicans to support easing – far less lifting — the senseless and punitive embargo and related sanctions. But Obama has certainly carved his name in bold letters into US presidential history by doing what no other predecessor has even considered doing for more than five decades.

The Cubans naturally wish the US Embargo was also lifted on Wednesday and President Castro has even told Obama how he can reduce its punishing effect on millions of Cubans deprived of medical equipment and needed daily supplies, simply because countries and companies the world over are forbidden by Uncle Sam from using US dollars to do business with Cuba.

Obama has obviously decided to offer Cuba the lower-hanging fruits while holding back on the prized one at the very top. We can only hope that Presidents Obama and Castro, with Pope Francis’ prayers and blessings and the backing of the rest of the world, will be able to pick that elusive fruit together before Obama changes address from 16 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But in the meantime, Cubans will certainly get a better taste from the lower hanging fruit, considering that neither neighbour has ever been below the forbidden tree in all of five long decades.

7 Comments

  1. Earl:

    This is a major step, but there are some major battles ahead. Joanne Chesimard, Assata_Shakur is one major hurdle ahead. She escaped from New Jersey and was given political asylum in Cuba after she was convicted of a Framed-up charge of killing a State trooper. The police unions, governor and politicians are already demanding she is handed over to be imprisoned before any progress will be made with normalizing relations with Cuba. Assata Shakur is a very progressive African American sister who was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I. Co and tel oppression of Black people. She would not put up with the oppression of these Racist Caucasians Christians, who hate all Black People.

    Pope Francis has to be given credit, along with Kenny Anthony who demonstrated courageous leadership by keeping a friendship with Cuba.

  2. Despite Outcry from NJ Gov. Christie, Cuba Signals It Has No Interest in Returning Assata Shakur to the U.S.

    Despite the flood of New Jersey officials loudly seeking the extradition of Assata Shakur from Cuba—including NJ Gov. Chris Christie—now that the U.S. and Cuba have normalized relations, a high-ranking Cuban official indicated yesterday that Cuba has no interest in returning Shakur to the U.S. to finish out a prison sentence after her conviction for killing a New Jersey state trooper, a crime Shakur has long denied.

    Read the rest of the story: And she looks all the princess that she is in the photo.

    http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/12/23/despite-outcry-nj-gov-christie-cuba-signals-interest-returning-assata-shakur-u-s/

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  3. “… his election in November 2006 and his move to the White House in January 2007.”
    ————————————————————————————————————————————-
    Earl, I know you meant to say “his election in November 2008 and his move to the White House in January 2009”. Anyway, the history of the United States, from this day, will be divided into two epochs: Before Obama and After Obama;

  4. ………………. that came with his election in November 2006 and his move to the White House in January 2007…………………….. Choopz,,, What crap you talking about.

  5. Why the long mistrust? In addition to USSR missiles camping but 100 km away -thousands of school kids had to endure the fright and high anxiety of daily bomb blast shelter drills. They grew up but the terror threats are even more vivid albeit not as doomsday threatening as the nuclear midnight posed by the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    This missile threat so close to an adversary wlll go down as the greatest FOPAH in the annals of Socialist strategy. Expecting a young charismatic president to blink was a foolish bluff. Kennedy had nothing to lose .
    Obama may signal the start of a walk and talk to reseal hemispheric peace and ind integrity _BUT thats all for nought if a a mutual peace treaty is not ratified with bipartisan blessings.
    The peace treaty framework must favor unilateral US intervention if internal domestic affairs in Cuba backslide to a scenario equivalent to missile emplacement. Moreover, it behooves Cuba to clear a path towards scaled back militarization and dealings with rogue nations that have nuclear ambitions contrary to standard international agreements or protocols.

    The conservative and Tea party extremists will settle for nothing short of a treaty the gives the US leverage and strong elbow clout to take action if Cuban domestic affairs deteriorate to allow any foreign enemy power to play gunslinger on Cuban soil.
    Go ask Randolph Scott and John Wayne, yup they never left the west.

  6. I see that Earl Bousquet doesn’t have the balls to come on here and admit a mistake. He screwed up on Obama’s election date, and the entering of the White House date; and eventhough he was corrected by the bloggers, he never admitted to a mistake nor said thanks.

    What a low-life piece of crap.

  7. Recently, President Obama declared that the United States would seek to normalize political relations with the Cuban government. Almost immediately, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sent the president a letter urging him “to demand the immediate return of Joanne Chesimard/Assata Shakur before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government.”

    I thought it odd that a governor of a state as troubled as New Jersey (Bridge-gate, toddlers carrying heroin into day-care centers, scores of high school seniors burglarizing and defacing schools and Newark’s violent crime rate, which nearly triples that of the average U.S. city) would concern himself with a faulty and convoluted case such as Chesimard’s.

    Chesimard’s alleged crimes occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike when the governor was a 12-year-old child. Since then, the state troopers who patrol the turnpike have been sued countless times for their deep- seated racist practices. In fact, 40 years after the Chesimard confrontation, the ACLU, along with multitudes of motorists, continue to sue and win hefty settlements for un- warranted acts of abuse, racial profiling and police misconduct.

    For example, two of the many litigants, Lalia Maher and Felix Morka, received $200,000 each. According to the lawsuit, in January 1996, Maher, an Egyptian-American woman, and her co-worker, Morka, a Nigerian national, who at the time headed the International Human Rights Law Group’s work on Africa, were driving along the New Jersey Turnpike when they were pulled over by New Jersey State Police.

    During the traffic stop, Morka was strangled by one officer while the other cop held Maher at bay with a pistol pressed to her head (Sound familiar?).

    Also, in 1999, then Attorney General Peter Verniero admitted that citizens were stopped and/or searched on the New Jersey Turnpike based on the color of their skin. In addition, in 2001, in accepting plea bar- gains for shooting minority motorists, two troopers, John Hogan and James Kenna, acknowledged that racial profiling was taught by the state police, that it was encouraged by supervisors and that they and others tried to cover up racial profiling by providing false stop data.

    In the end, the New Jersey Supreme Court stepped in and outlawed consent searches where no reasonable suspicion exists.

    But I’m sure Gov. Christie is well aware of all this, being that he is a lawyer and practiced throughout the 1990s, before becoming United States Attorney for New Jersey. But, then again, Texas’ Route 10 and the New Jersey Turnpike are most infamous for racial profiling, and it was Texan President George W. Bush who appointed Christie as United States Attorney.

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