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The Future of Cuban-American Relations and the Impact on American Politics: A Discussion with Reese Erlich

Last Saturday Robert Farley from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky hosted a Firedoglake Book Salon with Reese Erlich, who’s newest book, Dateline Havana: The Real Story of US Policy and the Future of Cuba. It was a fascinating session and I strongly urge you to read it over at the link above. Today, I want to talk with Reese not so much about the future of Cuba, but the future of the U.S., at least insofar as it is effected by our relationship with the island 90 miles off our southern coast.

Monday, Reese and his publisher allowed me to post a portion of a chapter from Dateline Havana, where he looked at what the real aims of the U.S. wanting to "bring freedom" to Cuba. Concurrently, President Obama announced a disappointingly modest few steps towards normalizing relations with Cuba, and a small gaggle of noisy wingnuts, predominantly Florida Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who fancies himself the future presidente of his Cuban birthplace (and the prospective, and equally right-wing, first brother, Mario) announced their opposition. This morning they were joined by two right-wing Illinois Republicans–odd, because most farm state congressmen are pushing Obama to move further and faster–John Shimkus, who first came to national prominence as a Mark Foley enabler, and Aaron Schock, who is Congress’ youngest member and purportedly a new and improved version of the same Mark Foley.

Schock isn’t just parroting role model Mark Foley’s support for ideological intransigence towards Cuba; he’s actually confused–he’s just a kid–about the difference in the kinds of trade bills he’s pushing to pass for Panama and Colombia (the NAFTA/CAFTA kind that exports American jobs) and what opening up normal trade relations with Cuba means–selling the Peoria area’s agricultural and manufactured products into the Cuban market.

In the past, we’ve looked at the "special" relationship, both financial and political–one that cuts across partisan lines–between members of Congress and vested interests with a gigantic stake in maintaining the status quo in U.S. Cuba relations. reese-erlich-with-friend.thumbnail.jpgToday, we want to discuss those issues–the Cuba-US Democracy PAC, Florida sugar interests, the corruption of Democrats like Debbie Wasserman Schultz–with Reese. Please join us in the comments section below.

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Howie Klein

Howie Klein

Howie Klein spent much of his life wandering around the world living in places like Afghanistan, Nepal, Holland and Morocco. He moved backed to America when Richard Nixon resigned and promptly helped start the first punk rock radio show in the country and then a DIY punk rock record label. His adventures in the music business ended a couple of years ago when he retired as president of Reprise Records. He began blogging almost immediately, starting Down With Tyranny. Jane taught him html while he held one of her dogs at a party. He is a raw foodist, lives in L.A., swims and hikes every day, thinks Howard Dean could be a president as great as FDR and will never be completely happy until Bush and Cheney are behind bars.