This is un-freakin'-believable. Holy cow.
NPR interviews Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) about the Congressional Black Caucus's visit to Cuba. Brown's comments have gotten little play and, in fact, what should have been the money quote is totally ignored by NPR.
At the 2 minute mark in the interview, the reporter Melissa Block asks, “Well, Congressman, you well know that supporters of current Cuba policy, supporters of the embargo, say if you lift sanctions you are going to just aid and justify a repressive regime, you are going to kill any hope of democracy – that regime will just use more resources to become more oppressive than it already is.”
Cleaver: “Well, the world operates at its best when there’s diversity. Every nation does not need to be like the United States. And, frankly, we already have ties to diplomatic nations. And, frankly, if there is repression in Cuba we didn't see it.”
Block points out that Cleaver did not meet with any Cuban dissidents at all during the entire trip. Cleaver's response was that "it's not going to be helpful for us to throw our fingers in the face of the Cuban leadership while we're saying to them dialogue is possible."
What makes this more disgusting is that Emanuel Cleaver sits on the Senior Advisory Committee of the National Democratic Institute. On February 10, 2006, then Chairman of the NDI, Madeline K. Albright, sent out a letter which began as follows:
As Chairman of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), I am writing to seek your support for peaceful democratic activists in Cuba. This March will mark the third anniversary of the “Cuban Spring,” when 75 independent journalists, human rights activists and independent trade union members were summarily tried and condemned to prison terms of up to 28 years, solely for seeking the basic freedoms that the Cuban government has long denied them.
Among those that continue to suffer under harsh prison conditions are 45 organizers of the Varela Project, a grassroots movement that draws on a provision in the Cuban constitution that enables citizens to introduce legislation when accompanied by 10,000 signatures. Despite the Cuban government’s illegal rejection and repression of the project, organizers have managed to collect and submit more than 25,000 signatures to the Cuban National Assembly calling for a referendum on establishing a free society with open elections, freedom of speech and assembly, and freedom for political prisoners.
Emanuel sits on the Senior Advisory Committee of an organization that recognizes Cuba lacks "basic freedoms" for its citizens and thinks Cuba "does not need to be like the United States". He willfully closes his eyes to that which he already knows, telling NPR, "if there is repression in Cuba we didn't see it."
The most pertinent question is this: does Emanuel Cleaver think the United States needs to be like the United States?