Fidel Castro’s Communist Utopia He turned a developing Cuba into an impoverished prison.

Fidel Castro’s legacy of 57 years in power is best understood by the fates of two groups of his countrymen—those who remained in Cuba and suffered impoverishment and dictatorship, and those who were lucky or brave enough to flee to America to make their way in freedom. No progressive nostalgia after his death Friday at age 90 should disguise this murderous and tragic record.

Castro took power on New Year’s Day in 1959 serenaded by the Western media for toppling dictator Fulgencio Batista and promising democracy. He soon revealed that his goal was to impose Communist rule. He exiled clergy, took over Catholic schools and expropriated businesses. Firing squads and dungeons eliminated rivals and dissenters.

The terror produced a mass exodus. An April 1961 attempt by the CIA and a small force of expatriate Cubans to overthrow Castro was crushed at the Bay of Pigs in a fiasco for the Kennedy Administration. Castro aligned himself with the Soviet Union, and their 1962 attempt to establish a Soviet missile base on Cuba nearly led to nuclear war. The crisis was averted after President Kennedy sent warships to intercept the missiles, but the Soviets extracted a U.S. promise not to invade Cuba again.

The Cuba that Castro inherited was developing but relatively prosperous. It ranked third in Latin America in doctors and dentists and daily calorie consumption per capita. Its infant-mortality rate was the lowest in the region and the 13th lowest in the world. Cubans were among the most literate Latins and had a vibrant civic life with private professional, commercial, religious and charitable organizations.

Castro destroyed all that. He ruined agriculture by imposing collective farms, making Cuba dependent first on the Soviets and later on oil from Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela. In the past half century Cuba’s export growth has been less than Haiti’s, and now even doctors are scarce because so many are sent abroad to earn foreign currency. Hospitals lack sheets and aspirin. The average monthly income is $20 and government food rations are inadequate.

All the while Fidel and his brother Raúl sought to spread their Communist revolution throughout the world, especially in Latin America. They backed the FARC in Colombia, the Shining Path in Peru and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Their propaganda about peasant egalitarian movements beguiled thousands of Westerners, from celebrities like Sean Penn and Danny Glover to Secretary of State John Kerry, who on a visit to Havana called the U.S. and Cuba “prisoners of history.” The prisoners are in Cuban jails.

On this score, President Obama’s morally antiseptic statement Saturday on Castro is an insult to his victims. “We know that this moment fills Cubans—in Cuba and in the United States—with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation,” Mr. Obama said. “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.” Donald Trump, by contrast, called Castro a “dictator” and expressed hope for a “free Cuba.”

Mr. Obama’s 2014 decision to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations has provided new business opportunities for the regime but has yielded nothing in additional freedom. Americans can now travel and make limited investment in Cuba but hard-currency wages for workers are confiscated by the government in return for nearly worthless pesos. In 2006 Forbes estimated Fidel’s net worth, based on his control of “a web of state-owned companies,” at $900 million.

The hope of millions of Cubans, exiled and still on the island, has been that Fidel’s death might finally lead to change, but unwinding nearly six decades of Castro rule will be difficult. The illusions of Communism have given way to a military state that still arrests and beats women on their way to church. China and Russia both allow more economic freedom. The regime fears that easing up on dissent, entrepreneurship or even access to the internet would lead to its inevitable demise.

Castro’s Cuba exists today as a reminder of the worst of the 20th century when dictators invoked socialist ideals to hammer human beings into nails for the state. Too many Western fellow-travelers indulged its fantasies as long as they didn’t have to live there. Perhaps the influence of Cuba’s exiles will be able, over time, to reseed the message of liberty on the island. But freedom starts by seeing clearly the human suffering that Fidel Castro wrought.

Response to “Fidel Castro’s Communist Utopia”, WSJ, November 28, 2016

The murderous savagery of the Castro brothers and their henchman has finally been sawed in half. With the death of the monstrous Fidel, the Cuban people are left to deal with his cowardly weaker ruthless brother, all a step closer to freedom.

The glorification of these fraudulent goons, including by their comrade Obama, is no more than the tongue of the serpent hoping to turn the ugly truth into a beautiful lie.

These flailing attempts at theatrical masquerade can never change the soiled reality of the untold millions of lives altered or destroyed by this tyrannical regime. Like all communist dictatorships freedom is curtailed, economic malaise is the order of the day and gulag , death or flight are the only avenues of escape for those willing to stand up to these hyenas.

The shame is the gutless attempt to whitewash these evil deeds as misunderstood or worse some form of enlightened utopia.

It is time to recoil from this phony embrace and insist on real human rights. Demand a cessation of support of Latin America narco terrorist groups and aligned Marxist states, and seek regime change by whatever means necessary.

The day of pretending this is a legitimate government are over … again, it is the only language these hoods comprehend.

Robert F. Agostinelli

Palm Beach, Florida

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Robert Agostinelli’s Response to “Israel Alone”, by Bret Stephens WSJ, April22,2015

Robert Agostinelli’s Response to “Israel Alone”, by Bret Stephens  WSJ, April22,2015

First came the repudiation of our greatness in the form of apology and the bows. Then came the humbling of our self esteem and shame for our systems that enshrine individual rights and reward for human endeavor. Then came the dual track of retreat of global responsibility, neglect to the full term of betrayal of our allies in every theater and the embrace of enemy after enemy.  The Obama mantra marches to its radical drumbeat.

Front and center of this disgrace is the shattering of our alliance with life long allie, Israel. Colored as a personal confrontation between Bibi and Obama belittles the magnitude of the latter’s intent to undermine and even erase Israel’s existence. It is joined in an embrace of one of our most dangerous enemies, Iran. It has confused everyday Americans and every Arab state that understands the motives and design of this creature from that deep well where they chant to this ludicrous notion of the lost Imam and the return of their Caliphate.

A man who proclaims he wishes a world without nuclear weapons and proceeds to unilaterally disarm the stabilizing peaceful force of the country of his oath while enabling our murderous enemies the certainty of ultimate possession of the same is the edge of treason and irresponsibility dressed as sophisticated diplomacy. Forcing Israel to heal to strong arm tactics and threats, with disclosure of their own nuclear secrets and plans of proactive defense while inventing once again the Palestinian rouse as the real threat to regional peace, are all part acts of a foe not a friend. Finally the term of the Ayatollah of “Big Satan” rings true for reasons that world make our Founders turn in their graves and remind us to all re read the Federalist Papers to understand the threat to our Republic of the usurper we call POTUS.

For tiny Israel they are forced between a rock and a hard place and recalling their mantra of ” never again”. Regretfully they must pull the trigger of self defense in an environment where they are already well past the due date.

Robert F. Agostinelli
A Founding Leader of The Friends of Israel Initiative.

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Robert Agostinelli – Response to ” Another Obama Collision With the Constitution” by Michael Mukasey and David B. Rifkin Jr.

Robert Agostinelli – Response to ” Another Obama Collision With the Constitution” by Michael Mukasey and David B. Rifkin Jr.

Roberts response

The acrobatic evil back flips and triple Jacks that President Obama is willing to go through to undermine our finely balanced system of government is on display every day.  His disregard for the legislature is well documented through appoint of Czars, abuse of the use of executive orders  to unilaterally avoid executing the laws or worse to reinterpret them in accordance with his warped world view. His use of midnight budgetary reconciliation rules to ram through his grand scheme of socialist control of our economy; Obama Care and on and on.

Likewise his abuse and  intimidation of the judiciary branch starting with the high court  contravenes all regard for the balance so implicit in our three branch system.

We need not even include  his daily assaults on state rights, which again strike against the very nature of this Republic.

Now in yet another stunning move

he is asking for an unprecedented invocation of Congress to limit his primary constitutional power of wagging war.

All while simultaneously attempting to impose on Congress sharing of that executive branch power.

This power implicit in the very  title of Commander- in- chief was never meant to be shared  for the logical fear of failure and defeat if decision making was left to a committee.

Now we have  a President demanding c the very conditions for that failure on terms designed to transfer  accountability for it from  his office to them.

Thankfully  we have knowledgeable  guardians of our national interest like Mr. Mukasey and Mr. Rivkin to wake both ourselves and Congress to the evil slight of hand at work in the  latest AUMF.

This sly move is political for sure but worse it is a dagger pointed at the heart of that fine balance of power so struck by our Founders. Here is a man who having recklessly abandoned victor in Iraq which specifically led to the emergence of the virulent disease, ISIS, now setting the stage for future failure and establishment of a  precedent to blame congress.

All while using that same precedent to muddle future Presidents Constitutional power. One has to pause to take in the breath of multiple damage he is attempting to inflict now and in the future.

He is so daring Congress to reject his request in order that he can then in turn deny his ability to act in accordance with his constitutional  power and therefore  accelerate the blame of failure on to them in the face of his already existing accountability.

His own smug mantra of  Leading  from Behind does not fully capture his full intent. Forget national security and national interests. Here is a man who is not even willing to accord the enemy with it’s obvious definition of islamist terror nor affirm their actions as that of an enemy but rather as “random acts” of a group of criminals.

It is terrifying that this seat is occupied by someone so strident as to not offend our enemies yet  so sophisticated and laser focused in his doing so to our own national being.

Robert F. Agostinelli

Pam Beach , Florida

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Robert Agostinelli – Response to” Netanyahu’s Capitol Hill Debacle” by William A. Galston, Wall Street Journal , February 18, 2015

Robert Agostinelli – Response to” Netanyahu’s Capitol Hill Debacle” by William A. Galston, Wall Street Journal , February 18, 2015 

Netanyahu’s Capitol Hill Debacle

The Israeli leader and House speaker are risking a rupture in U.S.-Israel relations – By William A. Galston

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’s speech to Congress on March 3 will be both a nakedly partisan event and a momentous policy clash.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend, House Speaker John Boehner was frank about his motives for leaving the White House in the dark about the invitation. “I wanted to make sure that there was no interference,” he said, citing White House “animosity” toward the Israeli leader: “I frankly didn’t want that getting in the way, quashing what I thought was a real opportunity.” Asked whether he had turned what has been a rare bipartisan issue into a political dispute, Mr. Boehner replied, “We had every right to do what we did”—a debatable response to a different question.

If inviting the prime minister of a major American ally to address a joint session of Congress two weeks before his country’s general election without notifying the president and congressional Democratic leaders isn’t rank partisanship, I don’t know what is. Mr. Netanyahu, who is hardly inexperienced in the ways of Washington, had to know how this would be received. The inescapable inference is that he did not care, and it isn’t hard to see why.

Begin with the obvious. While accepting Mr. Boehner’s invitation in principle, the prime minister could have told the House speaker that he was unable to leave Israel until after the election. There is no part of Mr. Netanyahu’s message to Congress that would be less relevant or influential for U.S. audiences if it were delivered on April 3 rather than March 3. There is only one audience for whom the timing might make a difference—the Israeli electorate.

But this is about much more than electoral politics. For Prime Minister Netanyahu, it is an existential question, as he made clear in a statement last week that Israel has “a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran. This offer would enable Iran to threaten Israel’s survival.”

Mr. Netanyahu is determined to prevent this offer, or anything like it, from becoming U.S. policy. To that end, he is prepared to mobilize a Republican-led Congress against the president, to force longtime Democratic supporters of Israel to choose between him and President Obama—and, if necessary, to turn U.S.-Israel relations into the partisan issue it has rarely been.

And why not? The prime minister views himself as this generation’s Winston Churchill, with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cast as Adolf Hitler. To bring the U.S. into the looming conflict, Churchill worked with Franklin Roosevelt to overcome a reluctant Congress. Now Mr. Netanyahu must work with Congress to overcome a reluctant president. And like Churchill, Mr. Netanyahu believes that words are his best weapons—words delivered by one man standing alone on a rostrum representing an embattled ally, invoking common interests, shared principles and the bonds of friendship.

The prime minister is confident that he can do this without weakening, let alone rupturing, the relationship between Israel and the U.S. His statement last week featured a long list of past security disagreements between the two countries despite which, he insists, the relationship grew stronger over time.

But this time could be different. In a recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic magazine, Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and one of Mr. Netanyahu’s closest advisers, detailed Israel’s concerns:

“Israel’s policy is not merely to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon today; it is also to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon in the future. And Israel is very concerned that a deal will be forged that will not dismantle Iran’s nuclear-weapons capability. . . . That is an outcome that is unacceptable to Israel.” Specifically, Israel lacks confidence that international inspections would prevent the diversion of materials produced by the many thousands of centrifuges that reportedly would remain under the terms of the emerging agreement. And once the sanctions are lifted, the Iranian nuclear program could accelerate.

Mr. Netanyahu must know that even with much tougher sanctions, the chances of overcoming these concerns through diplomacy are low. The most the Iranians will offer falls far short of the least that Israel will accept. The real choices reduce to two: an Iran with some negotiated level of nuclear infrastructure supervised with a rigorous inspection regime, or war.

The prime minister must also know that although Israel’s military could inflict significant damage on Iran’s nuclear program, his country could at best delay Iran’s march to the bomb.

So when Mr. Netanyahu addresses Congress, a question will be lurking in the shadows: If negotiations leave Israel facing what it regards as an existential threat, should the U.S. accept the deal? And if we do not, is there an alternative that would be more effective, at a price that the war-weary American people would accept?

Roberts Response to” Netanyahu’s Capitol Hill Debacle” by William A. Galston, Wall Street Journal , February 18, 2015

The position posited by Mr. Galston is less a complaint than it is an indictment of the reckless attitude that the Executive Branch of the United States has taken toward their own nation’s interests and that of one of their longest standing allies, Israel.

The invitation and acceptance to speak before the joint session of Congress by Prime Minister Netanyahu is neither an insult to President Obama nor an election ploy. Rather it is a long overdue attempt to have the elected representatives of the Nation hear first hand the case to defend those very same interests against our joint dedicated enemy, Iran.

The tradition of foreign leaders speaking before Congress is well established it is a natural dialogue with ample precedent and can only be viewed as “partisan” in the attempt to frustrate such an act as is the case with the Obama Administration.

The focus should not be on these faux upsets but rather on the level of Administration’s misdirection, subterfuge and wholesale undermining of Israel through premeditated leaks, false promises and embrace of our enemy in again disregard for our joint interests.

The flat reality is that there is no deal between the P5+1 and Iran that can reassure the United States, our allies nor Israel that Iran will not get the bomb. There is no set of sanctions and rigorous and as intrusive as they be inspections that can ultimately assure anyone that no bombs will exist. This of course is wholly apart from the growing long range missile arsenal held by Iran.

Prior UN dictates and US policy have been clear not to negotiate around the bottom line of no nuclear capacity with this regime. This extended so called set of negotiations have proved two and only two things; Iran is set in its intent of gaining a nuclear alternative to buttress it’s wild eyed maniacal dream of an extended Caliphate and their oft proclaimed dedicated intent of wiping “little Satan” from the face of the earth and second that President Obama is equally maniacal in his intent at achieving a grand bargain with the Mullahs whatever the cost.

Beyond the reality of this existential threat to Israel made more real by the conscious undermining by the Administration is the certainty that this debacle will indeed lead to two other outcomes; a rapid grab by other gulf states to acquire nuclear weapons and the real risk of a war that the fear mongers so worry will come about by being strong in the face of an enemy today.

These issues must be heard by the American people unvarnished by the lies of the Obama administration. Far from the accusation of partisanship the real concern of this President that both sides of the isle may pause with real concern over why we have abandoned our ally and put their and our security at risk.

A magnanimous leader would have no fear from this speech unless this were the reality.

Far from the public disrespect, the wholly ignorant interludes at attempting peace between Israel and their dedicated enemy Hamas and phony links between the adversarial attitudes elsewhere in the Gulf and the Palestinian question comes this issue. The Unites States is a lifelong supporter of Zion as the spiritual tree of the founding of the Republic. This plea is urgent and very real and speaks to the ultimate reality that Israel is the front line in the war on terror and linked to our security. Let the American people absorb these truths and measure for themselves what Mr. Obama’s real intent is and where his real interests lie.

This is his concern that defines his reaction and why this speech is defining moment in a relationship whose rupture is his sole responsibility.

Robert F. Agostinelli A Founding Member of the Friends of Israel Initiative

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Robert Agostinelli – response to WSJ: “Obama’s Cuban Detente”

Robert Agostinelli – response to WSJ: “Obama’s Cuban Detente”

Two articles in one day! Found another of Roberts articles on the Wall Street Journal. As the previous one, first is the actual article posted from the WSJ – followed by the response. CA

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal

Obama’s Cuban Detente New recognition for the Castros in return for two U.S. prisoners.

Dec. 17, 2014 7:29 p.m. ET The Cuban government finally released American Alan Gross from prison on Wednesday after five harsh years, and what a haul Raul and Fidel Castro received in return: The release and repatriation of three of their spies serving life sentences in the U.S., plus the start of an American diplomatic and economic embrace that they have long sought. Mr. Obama hailed these steps as “historic,” adding that his goal is nothing less than “to begin to normalize relations between our two countries.” In his familiar claim to superior wisdom, he assailed the “outdated” U.S. diplomatic and trade embargo and claimed that “through a policy of engagement we can more effectively stand up for our values and help the Cuban people help themselves as they move into the 21st century.” We should stipulate that 20 years ago these columns called for lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. We did so to assist the impoverished Cuban people and perhaps undermine the regime. But we also stressed that “no U.S officials have to dignify Castro’s regime by sitting down at a negotiating table” with Cuban officials: “The whole point is to continue to oppose Castro’s government while allowing succor for Cuba’s people.” Mr. Obama’s approach will provide immediate succor to the Castro government in the hope of eventually helping the Cuban people.

***

Taken on its own the prisoner swap is defensible. Mr. Gross is 65 years old and ailing after being arrested in 2009 for providing satellite equipment to Cuba’s small Jewish community as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. He should not have had to die in a Cuban dungeon.

Americas Columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady on Obama Administration’s prisoner swap and decision to normalize relations with the Castro regime. Photo credit: Getty Images.

The Castros also released a Cuban who had spied for the U.S. and had been in prison for nearly 20 years. This is a welcome case of rescuing one of our own. The Cuban government also agreed to release 53 of its political prisoners, many at U.S. request. The three Cubans the U.S. released in turn were convicted in U.S. criminal court of spying on America, but they at least served 16 years. The problem is that wrapping the prisoner swap into a larger policy shift makes it look like Cuba’s hostage-taking of Mr. Gross paid off. All the more so because Mr. Obama is going out of his way to give formal U.S. recognition to the Castro government that remains one of the world’s most tyrannical. The benefits for the regime from this new era are obvious. Cuba is starved for cash, and its main patron in Venezuela is teetering as oil prices fall. The country desperately needs hard currency, which is the main reason it exports its doctors to work abroad. So the dictatorship will cheer Mr. Obama’s decision to allow greater dollar remittances to the island, as well as more opportunities for Americans to travel and invest in “humanitarian projects” and information technology, among other things. Only Congress can fully lift the trade embargo, but with Mr. Obama’s many new loopholes, creative investors will find ways to gradually break it down. Keep in mind that the regime confiscates every dollar spent in Cuba now, while paying its workers in near-worthless pesos. The White House press release did not say that will change. Mr. Obama is also giving U.S. companies more freedom to export telecom equipment to the island, in the name of giving ordinary Cubans the tools to communicate with the outside world. But other countries can already supply Cuba’s telecom needs. The problem is that Cuba’s police state bars private ownership and limits and monitors private communication. The President is betting that U.S. investment will create more free space for average Cubans and eventually overwhelm the dictatorship. We hope it does, but also consider the fate of Stephen Purvis, a British real-estate developer in Cuba who was abruptly imprisoned in 2012 on dubious charges of revealing state secrets. He spent 16 months in a Cuban jail, where he says he met numerous other foreign business prisoners. The least defensible part of Mr. Obama’s new policy is its attempt to rehabilitate Cuba as an ordinary state. The President has tasked Secretary of State John Kerry to begin talks on renewing formal diplomatic ties, and he wants “high-level exchanges and visits between our two governments as part of the normalization process.” Mr. Obama also called for a review of Cuba’s designation on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba wants off that list, though there is solid evidence that it has helped Venezuela relocate Iranian agents in the Americas. What’s striking is how little Cuba had to do for such a major shift in U.S. policy. At least Burma’s military government released the leader of the opposition and opened up its political process before the U.S. lifted sanctions.

***

By offering so much for relatively little, Mr. Obama may calculate that an American gesture now will lead to a larger opening once the aging Castro brothers finally go to their eternal punishment. He may also hope that by acting now he can prepare the way for a triumphant visit to Havana before the end of his Presidency. Mr. Obama came to office in 2009 promising a new era of engagement with U.S. adversaries, and engage he has. Perhaps his Cuban “reset” will turn out better than have his efforts with Russia, Syria, North Korea and Iran.

 And now for Robert Agostinelli’s response. CA

Robert Agostinelli

Robert Agostinelli

Response to “Obama’s Cuban Detente”, WSJ December 19-21, 2014

America and Old Glory have long stood as the beacon of hope and freedom for all mankind. The torch of Liberty has remained strong and bright and was backed by our nation’s insistence that tyrants would at best be denied our fruits and at worst face our sword if they tempted fate to confront our interest. The Castro brothers and their thugs have long battered their nation with as severe a Marxist regime as the world has known. A  supporter of terrorism and global agitator from Angola to Peru they have only been slowed by the evaporation of their main patron the Soviet Union through the good graces of our own policy. They have stridently sought league with other evil doers from North Korea, Tehran and  Venezuela all enemies of nation. Yet here is the elite  sympathizer in the oval office rewriting history to suit his even more disgraceful redefinition of American values to justify embracing the same. In the  very same week where his “reset” buddy Putin spits in his eye, North Korea cyber-attacks Sony And Tehran lauds it manipulation of the nuclear negotiation, there is Obama teleprompting his world view while ignoring all reality. What to expect from a community organizer raised in the bosom of Marx. For him Castro is a misunderstood liberator and freedom fighter whose socialist nirvana has been hampered by our repression rather than his own.. It is the hegemony of America which has created these difficulties and misunderstandings. Once again the humbler- in-chief is making a “mea culpa ” for “our 50 years of failed policy”. To absorb this insanity takes one’s mind around a very long bend. We should all wear Che t-shirts and insist that murderous tyranny is actually self-defense against we the aggressor imperialist state. Such is the reading according to our Lord Obama. Robert Agostinelli – Palm Beach, Florida Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/obamas-cuban-detente-1418862551

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