Fidel answers sex tourism smear
Campaign News | Tuesday, 24 August 2004
July 26 speech questions the ability of Bush to govern
Speech made by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Republic of Cuba, at the ceremony for the 51st anniversary of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes fortresses. Ernesto Che Guevara Square, Santa Clara, July 26, 2004.
Dear fellow Cubans;
On this 51st anniversary of the attack on the Moncada fortress on July 26, 1953 I shall address a sinister character that keeps threatening, insulting and slandering us. This is not a whim or an agreeable option; it is a necessity and a duty.
On June 21, at the Anti-imperialist Forum I read Epistle Number Two to the president of the United States, responding to an infamous State Department report on trafficking in human beings, one of those reports the government of that country usually issues, as if it were the supreme moral judge of the world. In that document Cuba is accused of being one of the countries that promotes sexual tourism and child pornography.
Hardly two weeks went by, and instead of keeping a decent silence about the irrefutable truth contained in the Epistle, the wire services brought news of an election speech by Bush in Tampa, Florida containing new, more perfidious accusations and insults, the clearly aimed at slandering Cuba and justifying the threats of aggression and the brutal measures that they had just taken against our people.
The French press agency AFP reported the following from Tampa on July 16:
“President George Bush launched a harsh attack on Cuba when he defined it as ‘a major destination for sex tourism’ and said that the United States has a special duty to lead a world struggle against human trafficking for forced labour or sexual purposes.”
“Cuba is one of the 10 countries cited by the State Department in a report issued in June in which it lists the governments which tolerate human trafficking or fail to fight this crime.”
“The regime of Fidel Castro has turned Cuba into a major destination for sex tourism replacing Southeast Asia as a destination for pedophiles and sex tourists from the United Sates and Canada," Bush claimed.
“At a conference in Tampa, Florida, the president pointed to Cuba as one of the worst offenders in this area.”
“Sex tourism is a vital source of hard currency to keep his corrupt government afloat,” he claimed.
“Bush said that putting an end to human trafficking will be an essential part of his foreign policy.”
“The traffic in human beings brings shame and suffering to our country and we shall lead the fight against it,” he promised.
“You are in a fight against evil, and the American people are grateful for your dedication and service,” he told those at the conference.
“Human life is the gift of our Creator and it should never be for sale.”
A dispatch from the Spanish press agency EFE indicated:
“We also face a problem only 90 miles off our shores, Bush said in Florida.”
“He quoted a study which found that Cuba has "replaced Southeast Asia as a destination for pedophiles and sex tourists."
“As restrictions on travel to Cuba were eased during the 1990s, the study found an influx of American and Canadian tourists contributed to a sharp increase in child prostitution in Cuba."
“My administration is working toward a comprehensive solution of this problem: The rapid, peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba.”
“We have put a strategy in place to hasten the day when no Cuban child is exploited to finance a failed revolution and every Cuban citizen will live in freedom.”
“Bush said that ‘Human life is the gift of our Creator and it should never be for sale.”
“It takes a special kind of depravity to exploit and hurt the most vulnerable members of society. Human traffickers rob children of their innocence; they expose them to the worst of life before they have seen much of life. Traffickers tear families apart. They treat their victims as nothing more than goods and commodities for sale to the highest bidder.”
And to top off this odd news, the same press dispatch added some words spoken by John Ashcroft in his speech introducing Bush to the National Training Conference on Human Trafficking:
“In the 19th Century President Abraham Lincoln held firm to a vision of freedom for all and was rightly called the great emancipator.”
“In the 21st Century we have a great leader who has made us see that liberty is not a gift from the United States to the world but a gift to humanity from the Almighty.”
Another wire report from the English news agency Reuters read:
“Friday, the US president accused the Cuban president of having turned his Caribbean island into a sex tourism destination and of contributing to the world problem of human trafficking”.
The Italian press agency ANSA reported:
“The regime in Havana is adding to its crimes: it welcomes sex tourism”, said Bush who even repeated a supposed quote by Castro, ‘Cuba has the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world.’"
Later, wire services have reported that the quotation of something I supposedly said on this subject, which the US President used in the Tampa speech I just mentioned to back up his serious accusations, was taken from a paper on Cuba written by Charles Turnbull a law student from Vanderbilt University in the United States who has emphatically stated that Bush’s speech misconstrued the real meaning of a sentence included in his work, and clarified this and other matters in the following way:
“Prostitution boomed in the Caribbean nation after the collapse of the Soviet Union?”
“Castro, who had outlawed prostitution when he took power in 1959, initially had few resources to combat it. But beginning in 1996, Cuban authorities began to crack down on the practice.”
“Although it still exists, it is far less visible and it would be inaccurate to say the government promotes it”.
On Monday, July 19, Bush administration officials admitted they had no other source for the quote except the paper written by the aforementioned student.
Given the fact that it was shown that the US President had launched an extremely grave accusation based on a sentence found in a paper written by an American student, who himself refuted the deliberate way Bush misconstrued it, it’s hard to imagine a more bizarre response than that given by a Whitehouse spokesperson when told about this refutation.
According to the news agency report, the spokesperson simply, “?defended the inclusion [of the sentence] arguing that it expressed an essential truth about Cuba”, in other words, for the White House “the essential truth about Cuba” is anything that the president conjures up in his mind whether it has anything to do with reality or not.
This is exactly the kind of fundamentalist approach that the President constantly resorts to when there are more than enough data, arguments, truth, reasons, and facts on a particular subject but the only determining factor is the idea he has in his mind or the idea that suits him: anything becomes the absolute and irrefutable truth simply because Mr. Bush imagines it to be so.
Many people in the world who know very little about the Cuban Revolution might fall victim to the lies and tricks the US government spreads through the huge media available to it.
But there are many others, especially in poor countries who are aware of what the Cuban revolution is about, of its marked dedication, from the very beginning, to provide education and healthcare services to all its children and the whole population; its spirit of solidarity that has led it to cooperate selflessly with dozens of Third World countries; its strict adherence to the highest moral values, its ethical principles, its lofty concept of the dignity and honour of its homeland and its people for which Cuban revolutionaries have always been willing to give up their lives. There is no doubt that these many friends, all over the world, will be wondering how it is possible that such unspeakable, foul slander is hurled against Cuba.
This obliges me to give a most serious and honest explanation of the causes, which in my view, give rise to these inconceivable, irresponsible statements by the President of the most powerful nation on the planet, the same who is threatening to wipe the Cuban revolution from the face of the Earth.
I shall do this as objectively as possible, making no arbitrary statements or shamelessly misconstruing other people’s words, sentences and concepts. I shall avoid any petty sentiment of vengeance or personal dislike.
A theme that has been widely documented in several books by outstanding American scientific authors and other personalities is the current US President’s alcoholism which lasted two decades when he was between 20 and 40 years old. This feature has been rigorously and impressively dealt with, from a psychiatric point of view and using scientific criteria, by Dr. Justin A. Frank in a now famous book called “Bush on the Couch”.
Dr. Frank begins by saying that it is important to scientifically define whether Bush was an alcoholic, or if he still is one. He has literally said:
“? the more pressing question involves the influence his years of heavy drinking and subsequent abstinence still have on him and those around him”. (p.39)
He goes on to explain and I quote verbatim:
“Alcoholism is a potentially fatal, lifelong disease that is notoriously difficult to arrest permanently” (p. 40)
Later, referring to the man who is now President of the United States, he says:
“Bush has said publicly that he quit drinking without the help of AA (an organization dedicated to helping alcoholics) or any substance abuse programme, claiming that he stopped forever with the assistance of such spiritual tools as bible study and conversations with the evangelist Billy Graham”.
On page 40 of the book he recounts that, according to ex-presidential speech writer David Frum, when Bush took over the Oval office he summoned a group of religious leaders, asked for their prayers and told them:
“There is only one reason that I am in the Oval Office and not a bar? I found faith, I found God. I am here because of the power of prayer”.
Dr. Frank thinks that this statement might be true and goes on to say the following:
“?surely all Americans would like to believe that the president no longer drinks, even if we have no way of knowing for certain. If so, he fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated”.
He then adds:
“ Former drinkers who abstain without the benefit of the AA program are often referred to as “dry drunks”, a label that has been bandied about on the Internet and elsewhere in reference to Bush. “Dry drunk” isn’t a medical term, and not one I use in a clinical setting. But even without labelling Bush as such, it’s hard to ignore the many troubling elements of his character among the traits that the recovery literature associates with the condition, including grandiosity, judgmentalism, intolerance, detachment, denial of responsibility, a tendency toward over-reaction and an aversion to introspection.” (p. 41)
Dr. Frank insists that he personally has treated alcoholics who held their addiction in check without proper treatment but that they are generally not very successful in learning to control the anxiety that they once tried to suppress by drinking and he explains that:
“Their rigid attempts to manage anxiety make any psychological insight hard-won. Some can’t even face the anxiety of admitting their alcoholism.
Dr. Frank then goes on to say:
“Without that admission, I have found, even former drinkers cannot truly change, or learn from their own experience”.
And then referring to Bush specifically he argues the following:
“The pattern of blame and denial, which recovering alcoholics work so hard to break, seems to be ingrained in the alcoholic personality; it’s rarely limited to his or her drinking. The habit of placing blame and denying responsibility is so prevalent in George W. Bush’s personal history that it is apparently triggered by even the mildest threat”
“? The rigidity of Bush’s behaviour is perhaps most readily apparent in his well-documented reliance on his daily routines -the famously short meetings, sacrosanct exercise schedule, daily Bible readings, and limited office hours. A healthy person is able to alter his routine; a rigid one cannot”. (p.43)
“Of course” -the eminent US doctor goes on, and I quote- “we all need rest and relaxation, time to regroup, but Bush appears to need it more than most. And this is hardly a surprise -among other reasons, because the anxiety of being president might pose a real risk of leading him back to drinking.” (p. 43)
“Along with rigid routines go rigid thought processes -another hallmark of the Bush presidency. We see it in the stubborn, almost obsessive way in which he holds on to ideas and plans after they have been discredited, from his image of himself as a “uniter, not a divider” to his conviction that Iraq held weapons of mass destruction (or, in absence of such weapons, that somehow “America did the right thing in Iraq” nevertheless). Such rigidity of thought is not motivated by simple stubbornness; the untreated alcoholic, consumed with the task of managing the anxieties that might make him reach for a drink, simply can’t tolerate any threat to his status quo”.
And Dr. Frank adds that such intolerance generally leads to responses that are out of proportion to the magnitude of the actual threat.
“This may help to explain the dramatic contrast between George W’s response to Saddam Hussein and that of his father, who carefully built a coalition, took action only after Kuwait had been invaded, and then proceeded with prudence and caution once the fighting was underway - the behaviour of a seasoned leader who knew he was responsible for countless others’ lives, not an alcoholic accustomed to taking dramatic measures to protect his own.”
Continuing his analysis, Dr. Frank indicates:
“Two questions that the press seems particularly determined to ignore have hung silently in the air since before Bush took office: Is he still drinking? And if not, is he impaired by all the years he did spend drinking? Both questions need to be addressed in any serious assessment of his psychological state”. (p.48)
With regard to the first question, he points out the possibility that Bush is managing his anxiety with medication to keep him off alcohol and he makes special reference to his strange behaviour at press conferences. On this point he says:
“In writing about Bush’s halting appearance in a press conference just before the start of the Iraq War, Washington Post media critic Tom Shales speculated that “the president may have been ever so slightly medicated”.
“More troubling though, are the appearances that arouse suspicion not because of how he talks but what he says. He has repeatedly engaged in confabulation, filling in gaps in his memory with what he believes are facts -most notably on July 14, 2003, when he stood next to Kofi Annan and made up the idea that America had given Saddam “a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in”. (As the Washington Post noted, “Hussein had, in fact, admitted the inspectors and Bush had opposed extending their work because he did not believe them effective”. Confabulation is a common phenomenon among drinkers, as is perseveration, which is evident in Bush’s tendency to repeat key words and phrases, as if the repetition helps him remain calm and stay on track.” (p. 49)
And Dr. Frank concludes his analysis of these two questions with the following words:
“Even if we assume, moreover, that George W. Bush’s drinking days are behind him, the question remains how much lasting damage may have been done before he stopped -beyond the considerable impact on his personality that we can trace to his untreated abstinence. Any comprehensive psychological or psychoanalytical study of President Bush would have to explore how much the brain and its functions are changed by more than twenty years of heavy drinking. In a recent study out of the University of California/San Francisco Medical Centre, researchers found that heavy drinkers who do not call themselves alcoholics reveal that “their level of drinking constitutes a problem that warrants treatment”. The study found that the heavy drinkers in its sample were “significantly impaired” on measures of working memory, processing speed, attention, executive function and balance. Serious research about long-term recovery from alcohol abuse is still underway. Science has established that alcohol itself is toxic to the brain, both to its anatomy (as the brain gets smaller and fissures between and around the hemisphere get larger) and to its neurophysiology. But recovery does occur with continued sobriety, extending over a five-year period for many alcoholics. Bush claims to have been sober for more that fifteen years, and very well may have improved to pre-alcohol levels. However, even chronic alcoholics who recover their compromised mental functions often suffer lingering damage to their ability to process new information. Important neuropsychological functions are impaired: The new information is essentially put into a file that is lost in the brain.
“Former heavy drinkers often have trouble distinguishing between relevant and inconsequential information. They also may lose some of their ability to maintain concentration. All one has to do to observe Bush’s inattention is watch him listening to a speech given by someone else, watch his behaviour at times on the campaign trail, or consider the obviously desperate effort he makes to retain focus in every speech he gives.” (p.50)
Finally, Dr. Frank points out that Bush would reduce the fear of many Americans by submitting himself to psychological tests that could scientifically measure the effects of alcoholism on his brain function and warns:
“Otherwise, we are left to suspect -with reason- that our president may be impaired in his ability to make sense of complex ideas and briefings” (p. 51)
And he ends up by saying:
“We all may be a little afraid to find out: after all, he has already held office for three years and has led our nation into war. But if we fail to do so, the consequences may indict every one of us”. (p. 51)
Another aspect discussed in depth and in detail by Dr. Justin A. Frank in this book, “Bush on the Couch”, is that of President Bush’s religious fundamentalism.
Dr. Frank explains how, in trying to find relief from the internal chaos that drink sometimes appeased but eventually intensified, Bush may have found in religion a source of peace, not totally different from that given by alcohol, as well as a set of rules which help him to manage both the external world and his inner spiritual world.
He suggests that an analysis of the role of fundamentalism in Bush’s life would show that one of the many ways that Bush employs religion as a defence mechanism is by using it as a substitute for illegal substances and says that Bush uses religion to simplify and even replace thought so that, to a certain extent, he does not even need to think. He adds that Bush, by putting himself on the side of good -on God’s side- places himself above mundane discussion and debate. Religion serves as a shield to protect him from challenges, including those that he himself would otherwise create.
Dr. Frank wonders how Bush reached this point and then explains that, the Bush family tradition has long been fuelled by faith, by the belief in a God linked closely to moral rectitude but he makes this distinction:
“Yet President Bush’s religious orientation represents an important departure from his family. Though certain aspects of the family tradition have been maintained -notably the formality of religious participation- his mid-life conversion to a more fundamentalist approach stands in dramatic contrast to the spiritual life of his father?” (p.56)
“And a review of the events leading up to Bush’s conscious embrace of fundamentalism shows that it clearly occurred at a moment when he was reaching for solutions, in a time of almost desperate need.”
Dr Frank goes on to explain that fundamentalist religions narrow the universe of opportunities and divide the world into good and bad, in absolute terms that leave no space for questioning and on this point he argues:
“The view of the self is similarly simplified. Just as fundamentalist creationist teachings deny history, the fundamentalist notion of conversion or rebirth encourages the believer to see himself as disconnected from history. George W. Bush’s evasive, self-serving defence of his life before he was born again displays just this tendency. “It doesn’t do any good to inventory the mistakes I made when I was young”, he has insisted. “I think the way ? to answer questions about specific behaviour is to remind people that when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible. I changed?” To the believer, the power of spiritual absolution not only erases the sins of the past, but divorces the current self from the historical sinner”. (p.60)
Dr. Frank makes it clear that there is nothing inherently unnatural in the fact that Bush seeks protection from his faith and that, even when this makes him stronger, the rigidity of his thought and speech patterns and of his agenda point to a considerable fragility. He explains that Bush’s fear of everything -from disagreement to terrorist attacks- are sometimes painfully visible, even (or especially) through his denials and that he is a man desperately seeking protection. Dr. Frank wonders: “But what is George W. Bush so eager to protect himself against?” and he answers the question with the following analysis:
“His tightly held belief system shields him from challenges to his ideas -from critics and opponents, but, more important, from himself. Just beneath the surface, it’s hard not to believe that he suffers from an innate fear of falling apart, a fear too terrifying for him to confront.” (p.64)
“For someone so desperate not to lose his way, clinging to a belief (or even a few key phrases), and sticking to them, is yet another way to protect against falling apart. President Bush’s press conferences have offered disturbing evidence of this ongoing anxiety -evidence so unmistakable that it’s little wonder that the White House has proven so hesitant to schedule such events at all. After one particularly disastrous performance in July 2003, the Slate political columnist Timothy Noah noted that: “Bush seemed jangled”; in a damning editorial the following day, the New York Times noted that the president’s answers were “vague and sometimes nearly incoherent” -suggesting, perceptively, that Bush was “bedazzled by his administration’s own mythmaking”
He gives some examples of phrases Bush used repeatedly during that press conference:
“And so we’re making progress. It’s slowly but surely making progress of bringing the -those who terrorize their fellow citizens to justice, and making progress about convincing the Iraqi people that freedom is real. And as they become more convinced that freedom is real, they’ll begin to assume more responsibilities that are required in a free society?
“And the threat is a real threat. It’s a threat that where -we obviously don’t have specific data, we don’t know when, where, what. But we do know a couple of things?obviously, we’re talking to foreign governments and foreign airlines to indicate to them the reality of the threat?
“I don’t know how close we are to getting Saddam Hussein. You know -it’s closer that we were yesterday, I guess. All I know is we’re on the hunt. It’s like if you had asked me right before we got his sons how close we were to get his sons, I’d say, I don’t know, but we’re on the hunt.
“Well first of all, the war on terror goes on, as I continually remind people? The threat that you asked about, Steve, reminds us that we need to be on the hunt, because the war on terror goes on?
“I just described to you that there is a threat to the United States. There is no doubt in my mind, Campbell, that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States’ security, and a threat to peace in the region?
“Saddam Hussein was a threat. The United Nations viewed him as a threat. That’s why they passed twelve resolutions. Predecessors of mine viewed him as a threat. We gathered a lot of intelligence. That intelligence was good, sound intelligence on which I made a decision? (pp. 65-66)
And Dr. Frank goes on to say:
“So powerful are his fears that he can’t even face them. His infamous early advice to Americans less than two weeks after 9/11 -when he told Americans to continue to shop and travel as before, in apparent denial of the radical measures he was at the same time taking in response to the nation’s newfound vulnerability- suggests just how simplistically he viewed the situation, closing himself off to worry and anxiety. Compare his response to that of New York’s mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who faced his fears, rolled up his sleeves and got to work -making people feel far safer than Bush’s stilted denial ever did.
“Bush has continued to cite divine instruction to explain his actions since assuming office. As reported in Israel’s Haaretz News, Bush said, “God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did”.
Finally, Dr. Frank offers these thoughts:
“The Biblical struggle of good and evil has resonated throughout his discourse since 9/11, from his repeated use of the term “crusade” to his characterisation of the terrorists as “evildoers” and grouping of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the “Axis of Evil”. At the same time, he presents the United States as nothing more that a nation of wholly innocent victims.
“In externalizing evil in this way, while absolving America of responsibility, Bush has transformed his unintegrated infantile worldview into a starkly combative (and primitive) foreign policy.
“Bush’s rhetoric” -Dr. Frank concludes- “highlights how he identifies the concepts of himself as president with both God and America: for him these three appear to have become somewhat interchangeable. Unable to mourn the dead of 9/11 enough to allow for a full investigation of how it happened -and what responsibility we might have had- he blindly attacks the “enemy” he perceives to be everywhere, a terrorist suddenly hiding under rock”.
In his book “Stupid White Men”, Michael Moore points out that Bush exhibits obvious symptoms of not being able to read at an adult level and writes the following as part of an open letter to Bush:
“1. George, are you able to read and write on an adult level?
“It appears to me and many others that, sadly, you may be a functional illiterate. This is nothing to be ashamed of? Millions of Americans cannot read and write above a fourth grade level.
“But let me ask you this: if you have trouble comprehending the complex position papers you are handed as the Leader of the Mostly-Free World, how can we entrust something like our nuclear secrets to you?
“All the signs of illiteracy area there -and apparently no one has challenged you about them. The first clue was what you named as your favourite childhood book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, you said.
“Unfortunately, that book wasn’t even published until a year after you graduated from college.”
“One thing is clear to everyone -you can’t speak the English language in sentences we can comprehend.
“If you are going to be Commander-in-Chief, you have to be able to communicate your orders. What if these little slip-ups keep happening? Do you know how easy it would be to turn a little faux pas into a national-security nightmare?
“Your aides say that you don’t (can’t?) read the briefing papers they give you, and that you ask them to read them for you or to you.”
“Please , don’t take any of this personally. Perhaps it’s a learning disability. Some sixty million Americans have learning disabilities”.
In his book “Against All Enemies”, Richard Clarke writes that when Bush got to the White House, “Early on we were told that the president is not a big reader”.
Bob Woodward’s book “Bush at War” tells that, in a National Security Council meeting during the Afghanistan war, Bush said: “I don’t read the editorial pages. I don’t --the hyperventilation that tends to take place around those cables, every expert and every former colonel and all that, is just background noise”.
Thus far I have given a very brief summary of what has been said on some points by outstanding Americans, things which help to explain the strange behaviour and aggressiveness of the US President.
I do not want to elaborate now on more sensitive issues like those whose exposure cost his life to J.H. Hatfield, author of the book “Fortunate Son”, and others of great interest analyzed by truly brilliant, brave, eminent authors.
Mr. Bush’s lies and slanders and those of his closest advisors were fabricated in a hurry to justify the atrocious measures taken against Cuban-born people living in the United States who have close family ties in Cuba.
This outrage, as we warned on June 21, might have adverse political consequences in Florida which could play a decisive role in this year’s elections. The idea of a punishment vote is gaining ground among thousands of Cuban-Americans, many of whom would normally have voted for Bush.
Hatred and blindness have lead this administration to take a stupid, immoral action under pressure from the terrorist mob which gave Bush a fraudulent victory when he had a million votes less than his rival nationwide, and a narrow majority of 537 votes in Florida where thousands of black Americans were prevented from exercising their right to vote whereas many dead people ‘exercised’ theirs. Fifteen or twenty thousand voters could sink his hopes of re-election. These brutal measures have also been criticized all over the country.
The overwhelming majority of those who are members of or run that terrorist mob -which decided no less a thing than the election of the President of the United States- are former Batista supporters and their descendents; or they are groups who for years have been involved in the terrorist actions, pirate attacks, assassination plots against Cuban revolutionary leaders and all kinds of armed aggressions against our country; or they were big landowners and relatives of the upper middle classes who were affected by revolutionary laws and who previously had all kinds of privileges and many of whom have amassed huge fortunes and have gained influence in important power circles in the US governments.
Over 90 percent of those who have emigrated from Cuba since the triumph of the revolution have done so through normal channels and for economic reasons, their leaving authorized by the Revolution that placed no obstacles. But Cuban immigrants were forced to go under the Caudine Forks of that powerful mafia whose influence they could not easily ignore.
Unlike many millions of Latin Americans, including Haitians and other Caribbeans, that emigrate legally and illegally to the United States and are called immigrants, Cubans, with no exception whatsoever, are called exiles.
On the other hand, the absurd Cuban Adjustment Act has caused the loss of countless Cuban lives by rewarding and encouraging illegal emigration and giving Cubans extraordinary privileges that are not granted to citizens of any other country in the world.
Nevertheless, years ago, even before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the special period that ensued, and despite the risk of espionage and terrorist plans originating in the United States which the measures