17/04/2012

Harper Makes Me Wonder

I am finding it difficult to continue blogging regularly, not because there isn't much to blog about but perhaps because there is too much. It defeats the purpose if it just makes me more angry.

This week was too much though.

So, Obama, the leaders of the other countries in the Americas, except Cuba, meet to discuss pressing issues. No big surprises here. A vast majority of the leaders with two notable exceptions came to the table declaring that the "War on Drugs" in an abject failure and arguing that the cost is too high. In Mexico alone, 60,000 people have been murdered as a direct result of the cartel's efforts to keep up the supply an insatiable North American Market.

The leaders living south of the American border want to see some form of legalization as the only way to stop drug violence. The leaders north of the boarder want to dig in and protect the status quo. Canada wants to toughen up their war on drugs with mandatory sentences for growing five or more scrawny marijuana plants.

Not very progressing Stevie.

Then came a motion that, Cuba be invited to any future meetings. Nicaragua and Honduras have been boycotting these meetings to  protest Cuba's exclusion and all the other leaders, except for Obama and Harper, want Cuba at the table.

I understand Obama's hesitation in an election year but what is going on with Harper. His move to back Obama on this issue makes Canada look very much like some irrelevant toady nation, snivelling up to the bully.

Harper, perhaps thinking that no one would notice at home, is saying that "Cuba is a communist country with a record of human rights abuses. The world know where Canada stands on these issues."

Canada has had a pretty good relationship with Cuba. Pierre Trudeau visited in 1976. When I visited Cuba shortly after, there were still posters up welcoming he and Maggie. Forward thinking Americans, wanting to help Cubans often did so by moving goods through Canada to the Caribbean nation.

Canadians love Cuba as a vacation destination. It ain't Club Med - thank God - but it is warm, the people are friendly, the accommodations good and the costs are reasonable.

So why this change, so may years after.

Harper would like us to think his decision is a principled one. Based of good foreign policy and humanitarian policy. That all seems to fly in the face of Harper's about face on China, in Canada's long trading and business relationship with Libya - until the revolution and if we wanted we could make a list of African despots Canada sits down withregularly. So what gives?

The truth is, if the USA hadn't been so single minded all these years, Cuba would be a much more democratic nation today. The single largest deterrent to building democracy is not the Castros. It is American foreign policy.

Personally, I think the USA is embarrassed that,  despite decades of trade embargoes, Cuba has one of the best health care systems in the hemisphere, more poor kids get a good education and there isn't a large unemployment level.

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