tv Washington This Week CSPAN July 18, 2021 6:14pm-7:00pm EDT
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teaches at florida international university, here to talk about the current situations in cuba and haiti. thanks for your time this morning. can we start with cuba? what's the best way to understand what's going on there, particularly in light of the protests last week. guest: it's a very difficult question to answer. cuba's revolution has been a highly subsidized resolution.
-- revolution. it was subsidized by the soviet union. they went through a difficult economic time in the 90's. venezuela came around and subsidized cuba. venezuela's oil industry has collapsed. the same time, cuba's tourism industry has largely collapsed primarily because of the pandemic. information is so scarce. we do know that the tourism industry collapsed. cuba lives off cubans residing in the united states.
remittances have slowed down dramatically. by virtue of the u.s. sanctions against cuba. there is a combination of factors that have led to cuba's economic situation. there is one more thing that i think is fundamental. that has to do with an opening that occurred under the obama administration. that had an impact on this new generation of cubans, the younger cubans. the penetration of social media has bypassed government sanctioned against its own population. what this has done is fostered
this new generation that questions the revolution, not only appears to believe in some of the goals of the old revolution, it was 63 years ago. it no longer fears its oppression. host: this morning, the president yesterday, the president of cuba, went before cameras. one of the things he highlighted was the trade embargo and accuse international media of malicious intent. he was quoted as saying what the world sees from cuba is a lie. are you surprised by that characterization? guest: i'm not. people who've been studying cuba for decades will remember from
the beginning when the u.s. applied trade sanctions on it cuba, it has become the main talking point the regime has. anything that went wrong with cuba was largely blamed on the embargo, despite heavy soviet and venezuelan subsidies. it is a trade embargo for the most part, it has been largely a very porous embargo. there is spanish investment. there has been u.s. investment in cuba. it's been a very porous embargo. i would say that for some measure, the only country that has applied these measures is
the united states. the extraterritorial measures after 1997 hasn't been put in place. when you look at some of the things like the u.s. trying to sanction for an hours from investing in cuba, it's impossible. china has large investments in cuba. with the cuban government doesn't want to identify are the trends i talked about before. in the end, it's about how the cuban regime has this managed the economy. it thrives off the embargo in a sense of political rhetoric to maintain itself in power and to grow in international coalition that still supports cuba.
over the past week, countries like argentina and venezuela and bolivia and others essentially repeating the rhetoric that comes from cuba. host: if you want to ask questions, we will talk about that in a bit. (202) 748-8000 for the eastern and central time zones. (202) 748-8001 for the mountain and pacific time zones. if you're cuban or haitian, (202) 748-8002 is how you do that. you can text us at (202) 748-8003. the president last week addressed issues, particularly what was going on in cuba. he gave his perspective. i want to play what he had to say and get your perspective. >> the ability to sent remittances back to cuba, it's
highly likely the regime would confiscate those remittances or big chunks of it. with regard to the covid problem in cuba, i would be prepared to give vaccine if i was assured that an international organization would administer those vaccines in a way that average citizens would have access. one of the things he did not ask but we are considering is they've cut off access to the internet. we are considering if we have the ability to reinstate that access. host: start with that last first , the internet access and what it does for the people. guest: as i mentioned before, over the last decade, cuba has
benefited from the opening up of the internet. this new cultural movement, much of this uprising has really come from the artists, this new generation of cubans that has captured the essence. they have some music that now plays everywhere in the world. this is really and internet social media phenomenon. the reality is this is something they were able to do before the internet, communicate with their relatives abroad. miami television stations, they
interview cuban guests directly from the islands. the internet has provided this information. at the same time, it has allowed the world to go into cuba. that's why the regime has cut off the internet. as an attempt of going back to how things used to be in cuba, that is going to be very difficult to put the cat back in the bag. host: this is gary in new york. good morning. go ahead. caller: good morning. i have to say that i'm an american citizen and army veteran.
i am ashamed of my own government with the policies they use in cuba to make the people's lives so miserable that they will hopefully overthrow the government. it's not a new policy. let me give you one quick example going back to the iraqi people. lesley stahl and cbs interviewed madeleine albright. she said was it worth the lives of 2 million iraqi children who did not have proper medicine to constrain it saddam hussein? madeleine albright's answer was yes. this same policy exists with cuba, nicaragua, venezuela today, denying medicine and food . the american policy is if any country or any ship delivers
medicine or food in violation of sanctions, those shipping companies can never use a u.s. port. it's a stranglehold that i don't agree with. host: go ahead. guest: i think gary is voicing an idea that is very common, the idea that most of cuba's problems stem from the u.s. embargo. i'm not in favor of the embargo. i never have been. the better way to address cuba, the internet is a great example. the region begins to crumble.
-- regime begins to crumble. i think things are going to change dramatically. many people have said this over the years. that being said, the reality is cuba has been a dictatorship. it represses its people and continues to thrive politically from the embargo. the embargo is favored by the cuban regime as a political strategy to maintain the revolution. the same school of thought argues it favors the most extreme chapters of the exile community who thrive from the rhetoric of the embargo. what i think is correct, and in some measure with the president
is saying, how do you deal with a regime that does not want to open up? let's take for example the vaccine issue, right? they are not in favor of receiving any humanitarian aid because if they where to recognize they needed aid, that would also recognize the revolution is in trouble. they also claim to have their own vaccine but most of the reports out of cuba tell you the vaccine -- first of all, we do not know whether it works, but at the same time they do not have the syringe is apply the vaccine. you know, it is a very interesting predicament that both the u.s. and cuba find themselves in at the expense of the cuban people. host: from california, this is manny. caller: hello.
i am a retired law professor here in california and i was born in havana and i live in havana and i vote in havana. i find a lot of these issues are being given by experts who know nothing about cuba and i wanted to ask the professor if he has ever been to cuba. guest: yes, as a matter of fact i have. caller: when was the last time you were there? guest: i don't think that is a question that is as important. i have been to cuba several times. caller: i live there and i vote there. most people do not realize cuba is a democratic country. i vote for the capitalist candidates because i think cuba is to socialist. host: ok.
i think manny got cut off but who he votes for, talk about that perspective. guest: well, it is interesting he would say democracy in cuba. it has been governed by just one party and been governed by two brothers. their nominee has been the head of state since castro stepped down. democracy, i guess it depends on how he is defining it. frankly, democracy to me is about separation of powers and above all about an independent judiciary. it is about -- and we may
disagree on this -- but multiple political parties. more than anything else, right, it has to do in some measure with the fundamental respect for human rights. none of those are present in cuba at the moment and haven't been for the last 52 years. i did not find cuba to be democratic. not in the 1990's and certainly not now. host: what does the president face now versus how his predecessors would have dealt with it? guest: that is a very important question because in some measure the president has been carrying out economic reform. economic reforms in some measure that have -- you might argue he
faced the trump administration imposing sanctions. at the same time the real deal is that he has agreed -- even going back to the things cuba was supposed to be when the obama administration opened up with cuba when we established ambassadors. of the whole issue of how some of our officials were severely wounded. we still do not know what caused the hearing loss of u.s. officials at the embassy. there are many things that cuba appears to do in favor of
opening and then there are many others that push it back, you know, back to more stalinist view of the world. host: eduardo gamarra is our guest. brian in michigan, you are on with our guest. caller: hi. can you hear me? host: yes. go ahead. caller: spend a lot of time in cuba and haiti. the previous caller is correct. here's the deal, we should not be trading with people who are not like-minded with us. we can help out humanitarian ly. the whole deal is corruption, we all know that. we have mainly men at the top of the countries and definitely in the united states of america. this extends out to china.
we should not be trading with china. we should not be. they do not match with our ideals. guess what? they are corrupt, we are corrupt. when we bring in think tanks and people who think they are so smart, or not -- host: specifically what do you want to find out about cuba or ask him? caller: i just stated it but i will state it again. we shouldn't be dealing with it. people should have to come here legally. we can help on the margins, but we are no smarter than anyone else. i have been in 26 different countries including cuba. host: ok, caller. we will let our guest respond. guest: again, that is a school of thought that is a very important one and i agree with part of it.
countries have to assume responsibility. corruption is a very serious situation around the world including the united states and we have to deal with corruption. there are studies that calculate the impact of corruption on gdp and frankly, when you look at haiti for example, corruption is one of the most serious ills. from that with the role the u.s. autoplay, it is a world power -- the u.s. ought to play, it is a world power. this is the role it will continue to play. one thing i would like the u.s. to do and another is what it is going to give. host: you heard president biden talk about what he is -- giving thought to what to do now. do you think he could have gone
further? guest: as i have said, he is trapped by the political circumstances in the united states. we are already -- florida is a very important place and it is essentially a red state. domestic politics often has gotten in the way of cuba politics. for example, the president has said -- [indiscernible] -- he is correct that the regime is favored. for every $100 a cube and spends or a cuban in miami sends to his relatives, 40% goes to the state.
there is a big debate about whether we are in fact willing to subsidize the government. i think the president is kind of stuck. lifting the embargo is something -- i believe the embargo has been less effective than people believe. but today for the biden administration lifting parts of the embargo would be, frankly, political suicide. host: one of the issues that came up last week was from the homeland security secretary talking about migration and giving a warning to the cuban people. we will get your response. [video clip] >> the coast guard along with our state, local, and federal partners are monitoring any activity that may indicate increases in maritime
migration in the florida straits, including vessel departures from florida to cuba. the time is never right to attempt migration by sea. . to those who risk their lives doing so, the risk is not worth it. allow me to be clear, if you take to the sea, you will not come to the united states. host: professor, were you surprised by that directness? guest: i guess i was surprised like many in miami were, and it has to do primarily with the insensitivity of the secretary considering he is also a cuban-american, but at the same time when you analyze that statement it is firmly grounded in our history with cuba.
i had the privilege of working in the 1980's with the red cross processing cuban refugees. i understand, you know, the way in which the u.s. is perceived. cuba in 1980 used immigration as a tool to punish president carter and did so quite effectively. it caused president carter a serious headache, especially in florida. at the same time -- [indiscernible] -- especially the democrats understand how serious a new flotilla of cubans coming across the straits would be politically
speaking. the 1990's had another round of migration. [indiscernible] i would say that most people really understand that another wave of immigrants like this would cause very serious trouble politically speaking for the administration. and at the same time the secretary is correct. this is not the time for people to throwing themselves into the ocean. this is hurricane season. tragedy could be averted. i do not think we are going to see another government repeat what president carter did or president clinton did.
host: let's hear from rick in homestead, florida. caller: good morning. second-generation cuban-american so this is an emotional topic. you know, i think my generation, the younger generation, has seen our grandparents, parents make themselves successful in this country, die here and not be able to return to their homeland. we are tired of the rhetoric. we are tired of the embargo. i think this is the time. this is the time we have never seen before. cuban people standing up in the country. we invade countries like iraq, afghanistan that we have no family members from that have no ties for us. we call on president biden to stand up, make a decisive move, get in there, and take over freeing the cuban people.
or take the shackles off the cuban-americans and let us take care of business. but we are tired of the rhetoric. for far too long we have invaded other parts of the world and left a country 90 miles away enslaved to a communist regime. either take care of business, take the shackles off, but let's go. host: that was rick in homestead, florida. professor, go ahead. guest: that has in fact been the cry especially in the more conservative sectors of miami, particularly in the republican party. we heard the mayor of the city of miami even call for the military intervention. but again, i think the president and others, senators and representatives, have forcefully
stated that is not going to happen. we are just leaving afghanistan and there is not much appetite for another commitment of u.s. troops. and the perception it would be an easy task that we could do quickly of course is also unrealistic. i don't see, i don't think, that we are going to see u.s. troops in cuba. certainly i think that is the policy of this administration. at the same time i think the call is correct. the embargo, first of all as i noted at the beginning, has not effectively worked. embargo's generally do not work. embargo sanctions take a long, long time to be effective and we have had this policy on cuba the last 62 years and have not achieved the objective of that
policy. in some measure i think that, you know, the debate over the embargo is likely to continue as well and we are likely to have only piecemeal opening. hopefully it will be in terms of humanitarian assistance but for that we are going to have to -- unfortunately, at the same time -- count on the cuban government to accept it. host: how would you characterize the state in haiti since the assassination of its president? guest: well, i had the privilege of working in haiti for many years and haiti, you know, has a very serious issue. like other countries in latin america which, you know, got rid of authoritarian regimes in the
1980's haiti has tried to construct a democracy the last 35 years. but it has failed to do so. it has failed to create the institution. in a sense it has been fairly common to hear people talk about cuba as a failed state. to have a failed state you have to have a state to begin with. haiti is in a state of complete anarchy. there are no institutions to speak of that are functioning. there are certain pockets that might, you know, you might call them successful. for example, the construction of the new police force in 2010. but for the most part there is no institution analogy in haiti -- institutionality in
haiti, especially after the assassination of the president. this is where we get into a huge debate. how do you get haiti to come out of this state given the leadership it has or does not have an given the lack of institutions? once again we are debating what to do with haiti. it is a problem that has really become something that comes up every decade or so where, once again, the international community believes that it has to go in and try to solve the problems of haiti. host: given the current political vacuum who feels that vacuum do you think? guest: that is a very good question because every president since 1980 has failed to hold midterm elections. every president has had to deal
with a president with no parliament in a parliamentary system. haiti has not had a functioning parliament the last two years. it has no quorum. there is no senate. at the same time the supreme court has been beheaded. the former president named five prime ministers. he named one prime minister in april, right, who was still the functioning prime minister until the president was murdered. the prime minister he nominated had not been ratified either by
the president -- sworn in, part of me -- or by parliament. so we have two prime ministers , because they are the only elected body, that they have the right to elect the president. you have three individuals saying they have the right. until recently the united states was supporting the prime minister nominated in april. now the international community appears to be moving to favor the prime minister who was not sworn in. here you have enormous confusion. how do you fill the leadership vacuum with no legitimate authority? host: we go to jeff in virginia.
thank you for waiting. caller: let me partially identify myself. i worked for the department of the army at the pentagon. i have been there 20 years or so. i have been at in-house conferences and met the professor. i would just like to know his thinking if the u.s. did a partial with allies and partners in the region, military intervention as far as keeping the calm. set a time limit for six months. i know it is not popular to do something like this but just until we can get to the elections. not that they are the ultimate answer. i will stay on the line. guest: that is a very difficult question to answer. you just noted it is very political the demand for intervention in cuba. i have said that is not going to
happen. at the same time it appears, you know, the only solution may be once again devolving into some kind of international action in cuba. pardon me, in haiti. here is where the haitians -- every time the international community has intervened the results have been poor. the last time the u.n. multinational force came in we ended up with thousands of haitians who died from cholera. there is this domestic perception in haiti that yes, we have these series of problems that are insurmountable, but we
are really worried because of the negative repercussions international intervention has always had. therefore, we are cautious about calling for it. even though the prime minister called for u.s. assistance. my personal view is i don't think haiti is viable, at least in the short to midterm. i think we, the united states and international community, have a great responsibility. i will not go as far as some colleagues of mine who have advocated for a protectorate. let's make haiti a protectorate so we can rebuild it, rebuild institutions, and then be able to ensure there is, you know, a sustainable nation. but i do think what the gentleman is suggesting may be
inevitable in the long run because what you already have is an enormous amount of pressure on the dominican republic. the dominican republic already militarized its border and if this continues, we will have people throwing themselves into the ocean and attempting to come to the united states. so that i think -- where is our responsibility? i think we have a responsibility to haiti and nothing kind of responsibility we have always done which is go in, try to fix things, and then suffer from defeat. the haitians are impossible to work with, it is impossible to do anything. we pull out because things are difficult. i think haiti is a long-term proposition for the international community. host: this is from new york. norm, go ahead please. caller: good morning.
one of the previous callers asked you when you had mostly recently been in cuba and you said it is not relevant. it is relevant because the situation has changed. i have visited many years during obama and post-obama and the living conditions have changed considerably for everyday cubans. i have many friends there now and i think that is what he asked that question. i had two things i wanted to hit on. the internet has been restored by the cuban government. i am able to communicate again on the internet and the remittances, 40% is given to the government. i sent money to help friends in cuba and they never did that.
he got what he was supposed to get. in fact, we were able to use western union which has been cut by our previous president. the cuban government, up until the early 2020 rather, was charging an additional 10% to convert u.s. dollars but it did not apply to those sent by wireless. that 10% tax was eliminated in the early months of 2020. i just wanted to make those points. some of the information is -- host: before you go, how would you characterize the living conditions of the people now? caller: i have not been there since the pandemic but it was tough economically. they are getting by but food is scarce, terrible crowds of lines waiting to buy what is available, if it is available, if they can afford it.
there have been inflated prices since the unification of the currencies. they eliminated the convertible peso at the beginning of the year. the conditions economically are very bad. my communication with them is not in person anymore. host: ok. that was norm's perspective. caller: i think he is right. the cuban government did restore the internet. to the extent it has been restored i am not familiar. i tried communicating as well and have not been as successful. but i do understand the cuban government has lifted some restrictions on the internet. but it also demonstrates the ability they have to cut off communication when everything goes wrong. now that they have restored that
they are cracking down. the second thing, conditions in cuba over the last 20 years, right, improved. improved largely and in first part because of the opening of the economy. in other words what i am trying to say is that embargo allowed investment in cuba during the early part of this century. i also noted the arrival of the internet. i believe very firmly that the obama administration would have likely led in a better direction in terms of improving the lives of the cuban people. however, that is not where we are today and in large measure it has less to do i would say
with what we have done and more to do with the cuban government. their economic mismanagement is the reason why cuba finds itself in the situation. the embargo contributes to that, but, you know, what the caller said earlier, we need to assume responsibility for our own actions. this is a path that enables a very small group of men, right, to determine the future of cuba based on an ideology and a way of looking at the world that, frankly, is a very conservative approach to governing. not to mention the fact it is absolutely built on the
oppression of the cuban citizens. host: our guest joins us this morning from los angeles. edgewater gemara, thank you for your time and the perspective >> c-span's washington journal. every day, we take your calls live on the air on the news of the day and we discussed policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, the hill's morgan shall find previews president biden's schedule. michael wolff discusses his book. vanderbilt university infectious disease professor dr. william shatner talks about the delta variant and vaccine hesitancy. be sure to join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, texts and tweets.
announcer: senator jeanne shaheen, former u.s. ambassador to afghanistan and other foreign policy experts discuss efforts to remove afghan allies from the country as u.s. troops continue their withdrawal. the center for strategic and international studies hosted the discussion. >> the events are moving rapidly. those afghans that worked close with the u.s. military, allies, diplomatic communities are going to be at heightened ris