July 30, 2005


'Two-faced French sell out Cuban dissidents' (David Rennie, 26/07/2005, Daily Telegraph)

A leading Cuban dissident yesterday accused a "two-faced" French government of putting trade ahead of the suffering of the Cuban people.

The comments by Marta Beatriz Roque, a 60-year-old economist who was arrested during a protest outside the French embassy in Havana on Bastille Day, came after Paris unilaterally ended a European Union diplomatic embargo against the regime of President Fidel Castro, and normalised relations with his government.

Apparently emboldened by the French overture, Cuban authorities responded by launching the largest wave of dissident arrests since 2003, when almost the entire dissident leadership of the Communist-ruled island was rounded up.

In the latest wave of arrests, about 30 democracy activists, including Mrs Roque, were taken into custody after they attempted to protest outside the French embassy on July 14 to denounce the new policy towards Cuba. As many as 19 were still believed to be in custody last night.

Fourteen dissidents were released after a day or two in detention, including Mrs Roque, who is in fragile health after two periods of imprisonment.

Speaking from her Havana home, Mrs Roque said the aborted protest was organised after France broke the EU embargo and invited the Cuban foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque to a Bastille Day celebration at the French embassy, from which dissidents and democracy activists were excluded. The French invitation was intended to signal the normalisation of relations between Paris and Havana. Mrs Roque alleged that France had sold out its principles for the sake of business deals with Cuba.

"For a little money, they have made the Cuban people suffer," she said.

Heck, for a chocolate bar you can have their sisters and the Jews in the attic...

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 30, 2005 6:34 PM

If there is no penalty for selling out Cuban dissidents, why wouldn't you sell out Cuban dissidents?

Posted by: bart at July 30, 2005 7:21 PM

Decency, but that wouldn't stop you or the French you admire so.

Posted by: oj at July 30, 2005 7:28 PM

Decency doesn't pay the mortgage.

Maybe, I should try to use small words to explain this, OJ. But people are people. They will do whatever they see benefits them in the short-run. There isn't a dictatorship from North Korea to the DDR to the Saudis that doesn't understand this simple rule of human nature.

That is why had the Nazis won the Second World War, the vast majority of American Jews would have been turned in by their neighbors, just as all the Jews of the Channel Islands were turned over to the Nazis by the locals. That is why we had Jim Crow for so long. That is why at any given time 1/3 of all the citizens of the DDR were informants.

Decency is a chimera. The vast majority of people in the world wouldn't even be able to define what being decent is, much less behave in a decent manner.

Posted by: bart at July 30, 2005 7:56 PM

Bart - call me naive, but I've been around the block a bunch of times and have yet to reach the level of cynicism that you have. I believe the 80-20 rule applies to people as well - most good, some bad.

Posted by: AWW at July 30, 2005 9:30 PM


Just say it in French, the lingua indecenca

Posted by: oj at July 30, 2005 10:40 PM

It's the difference between morality and conscience. Morality is enforced from without (God, societal tradition) and each man is born with varying degrees of conscience.

I think most people have at least some conscience, but without an outside morality, selfish concerns trumps that conscience.

The French and the Russians have for much of their civilized history persecuted, not for religious reasons, but for political reasons. This has purged them of a majority who can legitimately enforce a morality upon others (or even themselves).

The Reagan and Bush led U.S. is persecuting (or prosecuting, if you will) for religious reasons. The Sudan was an issue brought up by Christians because 2 million of their brothers had been slaughtered. Israel is supported for religious reasons, not for any strategic military value, and certainly not for economic value.

This is the difference between France and Russia and the U.S.

Posted by: Randall Voth at July 30, 2005 10:46 PM

The more you ignore your conscience the less it affects your actions. The conscience is like an organism. You must keep it healthy in order for it to function properly.

Posted by: Bartman at July 31, 2005 8:35 AM

It's nothing like an organism.

Posted by: oj at July 31, 2005 10:06 AM

The more you ignore your conscience, the more you are following your selfish nature. I believe this is inevitable for all of us without outside moral influence.

The Law was God's gift to all mankind (especially unbelievers). We reason our way out of it to our own peril.

Posted by: Randall Voth at July 31, 2005 10:45 AM


The largest private sector employer is Israel is Intel Corporation. By contrast the largest one in the US is Wal-Mart.

The second largest stock exchange in the world is the NASDAQ. Most of its stocks are American, but the nation with the third largest number of stocks on the NASDAQ, which is mostly a techie index, is Israel, just behind Canada.

Israel and the US collaborate on a whole series of defense research projects including SDI.

Israel basically serves as another Silicon Valley for American industry, and one heavily tilted towards defense research. If you don't see the economic and defense value of that, then you simply are too stupid for words.

There is nothing altruistic about the US-Israel relationship.

Posted by: bart at July 31, 2005 5:07 PM

"Too stupid for words"

Thanks, bart.

The next time I see a cart pulling a horse, I'll come around to your way of thinking.

Posted by: Randall Voth at July 31, 2005 8:02 PM