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Friday, May 16, 2003

From Simon Tisdall at the Guardian:
The reason the world watches when Bush opens his mouth is because everybody is wondering: what IS he going to say now? Is he going to invade Iran or have the US liberate France again? Is he going to announce another tax cut for millionaires or start a new trade war with Europe? Or maybe he's going to deliver "America's justice" to another poor, benighted part of the planet before heading back to the Air Force One gym.
The Cuban head of mission in the US, Dagoberto Rodriguez, offers an explanation for the Administration's hardening approach that will cause unease far beyond the Florida straits. He says that by cutting back on US entry visas and weakening the Clinton era agreements on immigration quotas, Bush and his hawkish coterie may be deliberately trying to foment social unrest in Cuba that could in turn lead to more seaborne mass exoduses of "rafters".

Such an eventuality, he warns, could be used by the US as a pretext for direct intervention. Rodriguez told a Washington press conference this week that Cuba has already been informed, officially, that the Bush administration would deem a new wave of illegal immigration to be "an act of war". He suspects that is a scenario some in Washington are secretly pursuing.
This is not an attractive or edifying prospect for the impoverished Cubans, or for concerned Americans, or indeed for a watching world. Threatening more hard words and hard knocks is not a sensible or responsible way to resolve entrenched US-Cuba problems. Perhaps Bush should cancel next week's speech and just go for a bracing jog instead. Even better, go talk to Jimmy Carter about the best thing to do. Now that would be a TV event worth watching.