One benefit of bilingualism is that it gives you the ability to transport yourself instantly to an alternative reality. On 12/17/14, I watched in utter fascination a French discussion of the Obama Administration’s announcement of a change in diplomatic relations of the US with Cuba. It was on TV5, the French language international channel. It was not on French television in France. (But see below.)
First, the same TV5 news anchor I have denounced several times on this blog an in my on-line collection (“Les pumas de grande-banlieue….”) His first name is “Laurent.” (Can never catch the last name.) It’s the same luminary who announced a couple of years ago the “extinction” of the American mountain lion (the same large predator that eats pets a couple of miles from where I live). He is the guy who declared that the Soviet spies, the Rosenberg spouses had been executed “because they were Communists.”
Anyway, my buddy Laurent announced that all the news would be superseded that day by the Obama and Raul Castro announcements. Then, he switched to the TV5 permanent correspondent in DC who gave a garbled explanation. It might just as well have been garbled because it became clear that the guy did not understand even minimally what Pres. Obama had announced. Then, TV5 switched to a discussion between a French news pundit and a member of the French parliament who was born in Cuba. Two remarkable facts about an otherwise unremarkable discussion. First, everything in the discussion and everything said by the DC correspondent implied that the US economic embargo against Cuba had just been lifted. Second, the word “embargo” was never pronounced, not once. Instead, everyone involved used the word “blockade.” This is not an innocent mistake at all. A blockade is a physical act. It prevents goods from moving into a country and out of it. The US did have a blockade. It was at the time of the missile crisis, fifty years ago. It lasted a couple of weeks. Some mistake!
The word is that used by Cuban propaganda organs. They do this with a purpose. If there were really a blockade of the island, it would go some way toward explaining the communist Castro regime’s miserable economic performance forever. The supine French adoption of this misleading false term allows them to excuse themselves from asking the obvious questions. Why would the denial of commerce by a single country destroy the economic potential of any country? What is it exactly that the Cuban regime wants to sell abroad that it can’t sell because of American actions? Overpriced Cuban sugar? The small Cuban cigar production? What else does it have to sell or is this the whole thing? What is it that Cubans cannot obtain outside the US? Can they not buy whatever machinery they can afford in Germany? Airplanes in France? Olive oil in Spain? Cheap clothing and bicycles in China? Wait a minute, there is something: It might be difficult to purchase outside the US spare parts for the 1955 Chevies that grace the streets of Havana. This is tough but they could easily trade (through Mexico) these inadvertent collectors’ items for brand new Toyotas. OK, big suffering: no spare parts of obsolete cars.. A main source of misery! N. S.!
If you have trouble understanding the above paragraph – especially if you are French – it’s probably because you have accepted deeply the Castro lie. I repeat: Nothing prevents Cuban economic actors from buying anything they can afford anywhere in the world outside the US, or to sell anything.
Now, on to the other mistake in the discussion on TV5. The journalists there, including the permanent DC correspondent, did not understand the announcements, the American or the Cuban. They do not know that the American president does not have the power to abrogate embargoes, that only Congress does. They are not curious enough to find out by asking. They like their simple-minded leftwingist certainties. They don’t want to face the evidence that Communist Cuba is a beggar country. They don’t want to have to think about the daily massive violations of human rights in one of the world’s last real Communist tyrannies (but with nice beaches). This is a striking illustration of a general phenomenon: Intellectual dishonesty breeds ignorance; ignorance promotes intellectual dishonesty.
In the meantime, brave Cuban citizens on the ground continue their thankless task. Here is a quote from Yoni Sanchez who blogs from Havana. Her blog is linked to this blog both in its English version and in its Spanish version. Take a tour there; you learn a lot. (Generation Y; Generación Y).
“We must take advantage of the synergy of both announcements [Obama’s and Raul Castro’s] to extract a public promise, which must include, at a minimum, four consensus points that civil society has been developing in recent months.
The release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience; the end of political repression; the ratification of the United Nations covenants on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the consequent adjustment of domestic laws; and the recognition of Cuban civil society within and outside the island. Extracting these commitments would begin the dismantling of totalitarianism.”
In the meantime, the grotesque. murderous Little Kim of the concentration camp that is North Korea now dictates what Americans can’t see at the movies. We have become truly pathetic. A proud nation would put pressure on the movie theaters to show the film for free and Sony to release it quickly, also for free. A freedom-loving president would have the government purchase the movie rights – with 100% Republican approval – and make it available world wide. No such luck. Our president is both a wimp and a leftist sympathizer to dictators.