Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Nov 7/09 | The Castros' revenge on Thomas Shannon: When Enemies Collude
PMBComment | It would seem that Fidel Castro has found the right allies - some of those who purportedly oppose him in the US - to exact revenge for the slight of hand that deprived him of his 47 year old "I am a victim" sob story. After San Pedro Sula - site of the latest General Assembly of the OAS - I have not heard any Latin leader talk about, much less demand, the reentry of Cuba into the interamerican fold. That fact alone should be sufficient proof that Assistant Secretary Shannon is a consummate negotiator and one that informed Cuban Americans in the US should hail not pillory. At that meeting, all the countries in the OAS approved a resolution conditioning the return of the expelled island nation to its ability to live by the core tenets of the organization. Countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Zelaya's Honduras had to sign on the dotted line as they could not explain to others why such conditions were excessive. But, when it comes to the Cuba policy debate inside the US, anything is possible, and one has to conclude that the Castros' have been blessed by having the least Pavlovian enemies in the world. For the most vocal anti-castroites, failure has only been an evident signal to stay the course; obstinacy has been sold as virtue, and success seems more related to funding status quo maintenance efforts than affecting real constructive change in Cuba.
On this point, a set of "talking points" against Shannon's confirmation making the rounds in the US Senate reads like something right out of the backrooms of the Palacio de la Revolución in Havana or the "fertile" minds that manhandle affairs from Miraflores Palace in Caracas. One would expect that US Senators (their staff's actually) would have the means to spot Fool's Gold; but it seems the barriers to entry into membership or employment in that select club of 100 have fallen significantly in the last few years.
Those who under the grandiloquent flag (who entrusted this job to them in the first place?) of displaced Cubans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans are trying to line up sequential "holds" on the confirmation of Thomas Shannon as US Ambassador to Brazil are either misinformed or in cahoots with those that have been foiled by Shannon's non histrionic approach to rouge Latin regimes intent on justifying their multiple failings on the "evil Empire". A few months after Roger Noriega, a darling of the Cuba PAC, was fired and replaced by Shannon, Venezuelan Foreign Minister was quoted, in a previous OAS General Assembly, saying "We miss Roger Noriega". They still do. PMB
Note: The blog post below by Investor's Business Daily's Monica Showater provides additional color on this wasteful effort to punish success.
IBD"s Politics And Markets Blog
Fri., Nov. 06, '09 11:40 PM ET
Lobbyist and Senate sources tell IBD that the new hold placed on Tom Shannon’s appointment as ambassador to Brazil is just one of many in the pipeline for the luckless career diplomat who up until now has been the top U.S. policymaker for Latin America.
On Thursday, the Senate did confirm Georgetown academic Arturo Valenzuela as assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, a job Shannon has held until now.
Both Shannon and Valenzuela had been in limbo for a couple of months based on Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., hold on their appointments. But DeMint lifted the holds this week after he was satisfied that a Shannon-brokered deal meant that the U.S. would not insist on the restoration of ousted Honduran President Mel Zelaya, who illegally tired to extend his term. DeMint also said he was confident the U.S. would recognize the results of the Nov. 29 election, which would truly end this Honduran crisis.
But Thursday night Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., immediately placed a new hold on Shannon. LeMieux’s act doesn’t have any apparent connection to the Honduran crisis. Instead, the man who succeeded Cuban-American Mel Martinez is said to be close to parts of the Cuban-American community that view Shannon as soft on communism.
If that new hold isn’t enough, other senators are in line to block Shannon as well, sources say. They include Bob Menendez, D-N.J. and David Vitter, R-La., according to a Senate GOP source speaking off the record. Both have close ties to the Cuban-American community.
Mauricio Claver-Carone of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC stressed to IBD that his group doesn’t endorse candidates, but his personal opinion is that Shannon “shouldn’t be ambassador to anywhere.”
A key sore spot is Shannon’s role earlier this year in dealing with Cuba’s demand that Organization of American States let it rejoin. Shannon authored a statement that would let Cuba back into the OAS — if it took various democratic steps.
Widely reported as a cave-in to the pro-Castro lobby, Havana didn’t see it that way. Castro wanted unconditional entry to the OAS to qualify for trade credits from the Inter-American Development Bank. Failing that, he wanted America to take a hard line for as political fodder at home and in the region.
But Shannon’s soft-pedal approach gave Castro nothing and took Cuba’s OAS reentry off the table.
But for that success, and for his leading role in the Honduras accord, Shannon gets the political piñata treatment from the Senate.
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