Romney and Ryan are now on the same page -- the wrong one -- on Cuba

News from Cuba | Wednesday, 29 August 2012

from the New York Daily News

Here we go again.

In what has become a boring ritual, Mitt Romney and his sidekick, Paul Ryan - who contrary to his boss is supposed to abhor flip-flopping - have gone out of their way to please their party’s extreme right-wingers and the most recalcitrant segment of the Cuban-American community.

How did they do it? Easy: by rehashing the same old, failed ideas which have passed for a U.S. Cuba policy for 50 years and whose centerpiece is the anachronistic economic embargo. And as if time had stood still, the tired rhetoric of these “ideas” has been enshrined once again on the GOP’s 2012 platform.

“If I’m fortunate enough to become the next President, it is my expectation that Fidel Castro will finally be taken off this planet,” Romney told a Florida campaign crowd on Jan. 30, embracing a foreign policy seemingly based on the “bomb everybody” principle. “We have to be prepared, in the next President’s first or second term; it is time to strike for freedom in Cuba.”

In other words, in a show of supreme arrogance, Romney openly declared he intends to assassinate Fidel Castro if he is elected. It may not help his cause much even if he succeeds, though; given that Castro is not the president of Cuba anymore.

Just for the sake of keeping things in perspective, take a moment to imagine what would happen if the opposite was true, that is, if Castro would vow to have a President Romney killed.

Coming to think of it, the GOP candidate’s tough talk is not really a surprise. After all, the man who made all Miami laugh when he told a Spanish-language radio station that he loves papaya (Cuban slang for vagina), would have done anything for the support of Cuban-American Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart.

They, of course, would like nothing more than to reinstate the draconian Bush era travel restrictions, which limited Cuban-Americans to one trip every three years - and only to visit immediate family, without exception.

That recent polls show the majority of Cuban Americans favor lifting restrictions to travel and ending the embargo clearly doesn’t concern their supposed representatives.

Ironically, with regard to Cuba, Romney has been truer to his positions than his running mate.

“Rep. Paul Ryan flip-flopped on Cuba. Before voting to support the embargo in 2007, he opposed sanctions and spoke passionately against them,” said Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, in that group’s Aug. 17 Cuba Central Newsblast newsletter. “Let's be clear that Congressman Ryan opposed the embargo for a part of his Congressional career and supported unrestricted travel to the island.”

Stephens then quotes a speech delivered by Ryan before Congress, which read, in part:

“ has been a bedrock principle of American policy that travel is a device that opens closed societies. American travelers are our best ambassadors. They carry the idea of freedom to people from communist countries. There is no reason to make this exception for Cuba.”

Another Ryan quote (published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in 2002) said Cuban-Americans: “have their reasons” for supporting the embargo “and they’re very passionate about their reasons, I just don’t agree with them and never have.”

This stance, of course, would not fly with Florida’s ultraconservatives such as Ros-Lehtinen, Díaz-Balart and Marco Rubio, so an urgent and radical retooling of Ryan’s thinking was in order.

At the end of the day, Ryan, passionate free trader that he is, had no qualms in trading his principles for a chance to ride with shape-shifter Romney on the GOP Presidential rollercoaster for what could end up being a trip to nowhere.

Clearly, a match made in heaven...

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