Tag Archives: Repression

Are libertarians right to say that lifting sanctions on evil regimes leads to liberalizing reforms?

Has liberalizing relations with China caused their government to introduce pro-liberty reforms? Libertarians like Rand Paul who cheered Obama’s appeasement of Cuba think that it has, but what are the facts?

This is a news article from the ultra-leftist UK Guardian.

Excerpt:

China’s drift towards a new authoritarianism under the unsmiling leadership of Xi Jinping has found new expression in a series of alarming year’s-end moves to curb personal freedoms and free speech. The country’s implacable president and Communist party chief is forcefully driving China towards economic and geopolitical superpower status. But the social cost is mounting steadily.

With the ruthless crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong still fresh in the memory, Xi’s latest anti-democratic coup came in the form of expanded action to block Gmail, Google’s email service, presumably because it gave users a degree of autonomy that Xi and his unelected party cadres find threatening. China already regularly blocks foreign websites such as Facebook and YouTube. Google pulled most of its business out of China in 2011 after a row over censorship.

Aspects of Xi’s policy of “autocracy with Chinese characteristics” are familiar to the country’s academic community, which is under renewed pressure to toe the party line. Instructions issued by the president after a higher education conference on Monday included the demand that universities do more to promote Marxist doctrine and Communist party ideological guidance, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“Enhancing [party] leadership and party-building in the higher learning institutions is a fundamental guarantee for running socialist universities with Chinese features well,” Xi was quoted as saying.

Political indoctrination is already a routine feature of university life for Chinese students, while their teachers are subject to monitoring to ensure political correctness. In an echo of the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union, this year reporters from state-controlled media were ordered to attend university lectures and detect and denounce teachers whose ideas might be considered “scornful of China” or pro-western.

Christians are hit especially hard:

China’s estimated 60-70 million Christians have not escaped persecution during the Christmas period, according to reports from Beijing suggesting their plight has worsened under the new leadership. Members of Shouwang, a Beijing Christian group, told Agence France-Presse that several pastors had been under house arrest since they tried to arrange Easter services in a public square in 2011.

Most Chinese Christians shun state-run churches and worship in “house churches” beyond government control. But official tolerance of such independent activity is waning, judging by a crackdown on 400 churches in eastern Zhejiang province, some of which were reportedly demolished.

Offering an insight into paranoid party thinking, an official recently told Beijing worshippers to “resolutely resist the use of Christianity by foreigners to infiltrate China”. Crosses have been torn down at many churches and at a nursing home. The authorities have made an issue out of Christmas lights, which are increasingly popular in Chinese cities, saying they may pose a safety hazard.

The ultra-leftist New York Times had more to say. (H/T Dennis Prager)

Excerpt:

They pounce on bloggers who dare mock their beloved Chairman Mao. They scour the nation’s classrooms and newspapers for strains of Western-inspired liberal heresies. And they have taken down professors, journalists and others deemed disloyal to Communist Party orthodoxy.

China’s Maoist ideologues are resurgent after languishing in the political desert, buoyed by President Xi Jinping’s traditionalist tilt and emboldened by internal party decrees that have declared open season on Chinese academics, artists and party cadres seen as insufficiently red.

Ideological vigilantes have played a pivotal role in the downfall of Wang Congsheng, a law professor in Beijing who was detained and then suspended from teaching after posting online criticisms of the party. Another target was Wang Yaofeng, a newspaper columnist who voiced support for the recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and then found himself without a job.

“Since Xi came to power, the pressure and control over freethinkers has become really tight,” said Qiao Mu, a Beijing journalism professor who was demoted this fall, in part for publicly espousing multiparty elections and free speech. “More and more of my friends and colleagues are experiencing fear and harassment.”

Two years into a sweeping offensive against dissent, Mr. Xi has been intensifying his focus on perceived ideological opponents, sending ripples through universities, publishing houses and the news media and emboldening hard-liners who have hailed him as a worthy successor to Mao Zedong.

[…]Mr. Xi’s recent orders and the accompanying surge of pressure on political foes further dispelled initial suspicions that his ideological hardening was a feint to establish his credibility with traditionalists as he settled into power. Instead, his continuing campaign against Western-inspired ideas has emboldened traditional party leftists.

This is why libertarians like Rand Paul can never be the Republican candidate for President. Foreign policy is one of the main responsibilities of the President. When it comes to choosing our leaders, we have to choose someone who sees what has and has not worked in the past. Trade is not a solution to reining in strong anti-Western nations, something else (maybe like Reagan in the Cold War?) is needed to deal with evil regimes. We made a mistake throwing Cuba a lifeline just as we had them on the ropes. We have to look at the world and ask what comes after stage one of foreign policy decisions – for all parties. The trouble with libertarians is that they don’t apply the economic way of thinking to foreign policy.

Does foreign policy matter? Obama’s appeasement policy comes with a cost

Obama shakes hands with communist dictator Castro
Obama shakes hands with communist dictator Castro

Just a quick rundown of the foreign policy news that just ruined my day.

Investors Business Daily:

Just as its patron Venezuela hit the rocks, Cuba got a last-minute rescue from none other than President Obama, who announced a Santa Claus-like package of wish-list goodies for the Castro brothers. Why?

In many ways, President Obama’s announced plan to normalize relations with Cuba, lift the embargo, extend trade credits and remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list is about on par with the rest of his foreign policy.

It was done by executive order without consulting Congress, just like last month’s decision to temporarily legalize 5 million illegal immigrants.

It was justified by a claim the U.S. embargo was “not working,” comparable to Obama’s claim the U.S. immigration system is “broken.” In reality, the problem in both cases is that of a halfhearted willingness to enforce the law, rendering it full of holes.

As for the hostage swap in the bargain, that of U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor Alan Gross and another U.S. agent for three professional Cuban intelligence officers linked to the murder of U.S. citizens in the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shootdown, it was a deal that gave far more than it got, just like the hostage swap with the Taliban of U.S. army deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five terrorists.

[…]One is the strange timing of the announcement, coming just as Venezuela and other nations ruled by petrotyrants are on the verge of collapse.

Venezuela has played sugar daddy to Cuba for years, shipping 100,000 barrels of free oil to the communist state. It can no longer afford to. Rather than use that as leverage, Obama rescued Cuba despite its repressive human rights record. That’s one odd bailout.

And the bailout won’t be free for U.S. taxpayers.

Obama administration officials have said they are moving swiftly to extend trade credits to Cuba so the $483 million in American goods Cuba now pays for in cash can expand further, thanks to taxpayer-supported U.S. ExImBank trade credits.

In effect, we’ve handed the odious Castro brothers Uncle Sam’s credit card. Given that the Castroites have defaulted on all of their trading partners since 1961, to the tune of at least $70 billion, it’s assumed the Castros, having no sustainable economic model, will eventually default on us too.

Washington Post:

IN RECENT months, the outlook for the Castro regime in Cuba was growing steadily darker. The modest reforms it adopted in recent years to improve abysmal economic conditions had stalled, due to the regime’s refusal to allow Cubans greater freedoms. Worse, the acceleratingeconomic collapse of Venezuela meant that the huge subsidies that have kept the Castros afloat for the past decade were in peril. A growing number of Cubans were demanding basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly.

On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regimeeverything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms.

[…]No wonder Yoani Sánchez, Cuba’s leading dissident blogger, concluded Wednesday that “Castroism has won” and predicted that for weeks Cubans will have to endure proclamations by the government that it is the “winner of its ultimate battle.”

[…]Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely. Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life.

We lost our diplomatic leverage by propping up a communist regime.

But maybe communism is working well for the middle class and the poor in Cuba? Is it?

City Journal:

Marxists have ruled Cuba for more than a half-century now. Fidel Castro, Argentine guerrilla Che Guevara, and their 26th of July Movement forced Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959 and replaced his standard-issue authoritarian regime with a Communist one. The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram. The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is “socialism or death.”

[…]Cuba has a maximum wage—$20 a month for almost every job in the country. (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can make a whopping $10 extra a month.) Sure, Cubans get “free” health care and education, but as Cuban exile and Yale historian Carlos Eire says, “All slave owners need to keep their slaves healthy and ensure that they have the skills to perform their tasks.”

[…]The police expend extraordinary manpower ensuring that everyone required to live miserably at the bottom actually does live miserably at the bottom. Dissident blogger and author Yoani Sánchez describes the harassment sarcastically in her book Havana Real: “Buses are stopped in the middle of the street and bags inspected to see if we are carrying some cheese, a lobster, or some dangerous shrimp hidden among our personal belongings.” Perhaps the saddest symptom of Cuba’s state-enforced poverty is the prostitution epidemic—a problem the government officially denies and even forbids foreign journalists based in Havana to mention. Some Cuban prostitutes are professionals, but many are average women—wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers—who solicit johns once or twice a year for a little extra money to make ends meet.

[…]Citizens who take public transportation to work—which includes almost everyone, since Cuba hardly has any cars—must wait in lines for up to two hours each way to get on a bus. And commuters must pay for their ride out of their $20 a month. At least commuter buses are cheap. By contrast, a one-way ticket to the other side of the island costs several months’ pay; a round-trip costs almost an annual salary.

[…]As for the free health care, patients have to bring their own medicine, their own bedsheets, and even their own iodine to the hospital. Most of these items are available only on the illegal black market, moreover, and must be paid for in hard currency—and sometimes they’re not available at all. Cuba has sent so many doctors abroad—especially to Venezuela, in exchange for oil—that the island is now facing a personnel shortage.

[…][A]lmost everyone in Havana lives in a Detroit-style wreck, with caved-in roofs, peeling paint, and doors hanging on their hinges at odd angles.

[…]Even things as simple as cooking oil and soap are black-market goods. Individuals who, by some illegal means or another, manage to acquire such desirables will stand on street corners and whisper “cooking oil” or “sugar” to passersby, and then sell the product on the sly out of their living room. If they’re caught, both sellers and buyers will be arrested, of course, but the authorities can’t put the entire country in jail. “Everyone cheats,” says Eire. “One must in order to survive.

When Barack Obama uses American taxpayer money to prop up communism, he keeps this system going. The only solution is for the people to revolt against communism, but when he hands money to the government, they buy more guns and keep the people down in poverty and squalor while the rich communist elites rule over them. It’s evil.

Meanwhile, North Korea is able to attack our private industry without even a peep from cowardly Obama and his retreat from Iraq now allows Islamic State terrorists to execute 150 captured women, many of them pregnant, who refused to become “wives” to the terrorists. Any husbands they had would have been shot right in front of them. There is only one way to do something about these problems in the world and that’s with a strong U.S. military, strong sanctions and tough negotiations. Obama has failed these victims in every way because of his approval of the evildoers and his rejection of our democratic allies. We need to have more confidence in the goodness of American power and the American way of life.

Marco Rubio’s speech exposing the horrors of socialism in Cuba and Venezuela

Here’s an article from the Miami Herald about a recent 15-minute speech by Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

Excerpt:

The U.S. senator from Florida had listened patiently to Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa speak favorably about his recent trip to Cuba, all the while omitting any real references to the oppression of the totalitarian government there.

To Rubio, like many Cuban exiles and their descendants, it was too much to bear.

“Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at,” Rubio said Monday when he took to the Senate floor. “What they are really good at is repression … They have exported repression in real time, in our hemisphere, right now.”

[…]For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.

That’s what the speech was about.

Here are some of the details from the speech:

As an aide flipped through over-sized photos of Venezuelan protests, Rubio ticked off the struggles of living in the country, the horrors of its citizens dying and being jailed at the hands of its government.

“This gentleman here is the former mayor of a municipality in Caracas. His name is Leopoldo Lopez,” Rubio said. “And this is the National Guard of Venezuela pulling him into an armored truck last week. You know why? Because he’s protesting against the government.”

Then came the next photograph, a picture of a young woman being driven off on a motorcycle.

“This is Genesis Carmona,” Rubio said. “They shot her in the head. She died last week.”

Rubio continued: “Let me show you the next slide. Here’s a demonstrator detained by police. Look how they drag him through the streets. This is in Caracas, Venezuela.”

Rubio also took issue with a recent survey, cited by Harkin, that indicated a thaw in American and Floridian perceptions of relations with Cuba.

“He cited a poll, ‘More Americans want normal relations with Cuba.’ So do I — a democratic and free Cuba,” Rubio said.

“But you want us to reach out and develop friendly relationships with a serial violator of human rights, who supports what’s going on in Venezuela and every other atrocity on the planet? On issue after issue, they are always on the side of the tyrants. Look it up,” Rubio said. “And this is who we should be opening up to? Why don’t they change? Why doesn’t the Cuban government change? Why doesn’t the Venezuelan government change?”

Rubio said that, just as the United States has sanctions against North Korea and Syria — allies of Cuba — it should keep pressuring the governments in Havana and Caracas.

And he disagreed with the notion that the embargo hurts the Cuban people. Instead, he said, it’s the totalitarian-socialist government that’s to blame for problems in Cuba — As well as in “oil-rich” Venezuela.

“We don’t have an embargo against Venezuela,” he said. “They have a shortage of toilet paper and tooth paste. Why? Because they are incompetent. Because communism doesn’t work. They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day.”

Rubio repeated that last line elsewhere in his speech:

“They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day. What’s the first thing the Venezuelan government did when these broke out? They shut off access to Twitter and Facebook and the Internet. They ran CNN out of there. They closed down the only Colombian station. Years before, they had closed down all the independent media outlets that criticized the government.

“Where did they learn that from? From Cuba. And yet we have to listen to what a paradise Cuba is.”

I am not a fan of Marco Rubio anymore as a candidate for VP or President, nor am I a fan of Paul Ryan. Both have made mistakes that rule them out as conservatives. However, this speech should be seen by all, especially by Americans who do not appreciate how different like is in countries that are further along the socialist road to serfdom. But we’re getting there.

Anti-government protesters shot to death by pro-Yanukovych gunmen in Ukraine

From the leftist New York Times.

Excerpt:

Security forces fired on masses of antigovernment demonstrators in Kiev on Thursday in a drastic escalation of the three-month-old crisis that left dozens dead and Ukraine reeling from the most lethal day of violence since Soviet times.

The shootings followed a quickly shattered truce, with enraged protesters parading dozens of captured police officers through Kiev’s central square. Despite a frenzy of East-West diplomacy and negotiations, there was little sign that tensions were easing.

President Viktor F. Yanukovych lost at least a dozen political allies, including the mayor of the capital, who resigned from his governing Party of Regions to protest the bloodshed. Mr. Yanukovych conferred with three foreign ministers from the European Union who had come to press for a compromise solution, practically within sight of the main conflict zone in downtown Kiev.

The sights of bullet-riddled bodies slumped amid smoldering debris, some of them shot in the head, and screaming medics carrying the dead and wounded to emergency clinics, including one in a hotel lobby, shocked the country and the world. The opposition said that at least 70 and as many as 100 people had been killed, while municipal authorities put the day’s death toll at 39.

[…]Sviatoslav Khanenko, a lawmaker and a head of the medical service of the National Resistance Headquarters, said by telephone that about 70 people had been killed and more than 1,000 had been wounded. Some news reports said 100 people had been killed.

The death tolls could not be corroborated. But even at the lower casualty numbers reported by Kiev’s municipal health authorities, Thursday was the most lethal day in Ukraine since independence from the Soviet Union more than 22 years ago.

Negotiations are underway, but no deal has been reached:

The foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France met with Mr. Yanukovych for more than four hours on Thursday, and then announced that they would stay in Kiev overnight to continue their discussions. “Ahead of us is a night of heavy negotiations,” Marcin Wojciechowski, a spokesman for the Polish foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, wrote on Twitter.

After the initial round of meetings, the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, said at a news conference in Warsaw that there were some indications that Mr. Yanukovych would be willing to schedule earlier parliamentary and presidential elections, something he had previously resisted. The presidential elections are scheduled for March 2015.

The great fear now is that the pro-Russia government will declare a “state of emergency”, which would mean the deployment of the army and more killing of innocent protesters.

The protests were started by the pro-Russia President’s refusal to sign a free trade deal with the European Union. A free trade deal would displease his Russian masters, even it would help lift Ukraine out of poverty. 

As usual, conservative Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper is leading the way.

Excerpt:

Canada is expanding a travel ban on senior members of the Ukrainian government and imposing economic sanctions on President Viktor Yanukovych, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in an emailed statement Thursday.​

“Canada continues to be outraged by the ongoing violence in Ukraine,” Harper said in the statement.

“Our government has responded by introducing a travel ban on the regime’s senior leaders and announcing medical aid to assist the protesters in their time of need.”

Ukrainian citizens, Harper said, “must be allowed to exercise their democratic right to peaceful protest without being subjected to deadly force and appalling brutality.”

The government is expanding travel restrictions originally announced on Jan. 28 and imposing economic sanctions on the Yanukovych regime and its supporters, the news release said.

The travel ban means the officials sanctioned won’t be allowed into Canada.

“You are not welcome in Canada and we will continue to take strong action until the violence against the people of Ukraine has stopped and democracy has been restored,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said at a press conference to announce the sanctions.

[…]The economic sanctions are to “freeze any assets in Canada belonging to senior Ukrainian government officials,” according to a release from Harper’s office.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech asserting that global warming is as big a threat to the world as terrorism.

Chinese Communist Party members increasingly attending church

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

More Communist Party members in the Peoples Republic of China are attending church, according to the U.S. State Department’s latest report on International Religious Freedom.

“Although CCP members are required to be atheists and generally are discouraged from participating in religious activities, their attendance at official church services in Guangdong Province was reportedly growing, as authorities increasingly chose to turn a blind eye to their attendance,” the report stated.

Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who authored the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, backed up claims that more Chinese Communists as well as members of the media are becoming Christians, despite continuing religious repression in China.

“It is definitely taking place around the country,” Wolf told CNSNews.com. “There’s a large number of Chinese who have become Christian, there are a number of people in the government and even some in the media who have become Christians.”

[…]The International Religious Freedom Report, released on July 30, also noted that in 2011, there was a “marked deterioration” of religious freedom in China.

The report discussed the persecution of religious groups, including Christians, Uighur Muslims, Catholics and Tibetan Buddhists:

“Some religious and spiritual groups are outlawed. Tibetan Buddhists in China are not free to venerate the Dalai Lama and encounter severe government interference in religious practice,” the report said.

“The government continued to severely repress Muslims living in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and other parts of China. Crackdowns on Christian house churches, such as the Shouwang church in Beijing, continued.”

The report also noted that Chinese authorities broke up Christmas and Easter celebrations and designated many Christian groups as “evil cults.” Authorities also detained numerous Uighur Muslims without bothering to discern between peaceful worship and criminal activity.

Many Catholic clergymen who remain loyal to the Vatican instead of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) also have been detained by the Communist regime.

[…]The Chinese constitution permits the citizenry to hold religious beliefs, but restricts the practicing and worship of religion to “normal religious activities”—a term that is left undefined by the constitution.

Since 1999, China has been designated by the U.S. State Department as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

What’s striking to be is how similar the views of the repressive Chinese government are to the views of many atheists in the West. In China, even religious people have to act like atheists in public. It’s an atheist paradise. It reminds me a little of what is happening here with Obamacare and religious institutions being forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs against their consciences.