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Regarding the "tragic death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo" a few things. First off, any death is tragic - particularly suicides. But this simply cannot be judged as a political death, much less a death that can be blamed on the Cuban Government, which offered Mr. Tamayo top notch medical care until the end - as his own wife admits. Mr. Tamayo was a common criminal. He was arrested 10 times for everything from fraud to slicing a guys head open with a machete, nearly killing him. His imprisonment had absolutely nothing to do with politics. Amnesty International never heard of him. But then he got religion and realized he could become famous by becoming political. He demanded to be taken away from the other common criminals and given a television, private room, etc. He was given care and fluids on numerous occassions. He certainly knew full well the risks he was taking, Meanwhile, prisoners without access to a real court for 8 years refuse food in Guantanamo, Cuba and it does not even get mentioned in the LA Times. Prisoners die every other day in California. Hundreds of other hunger strikes go unmentioned. The US outsources its torture and prison abuse for years and Obama does not say a thing.
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It really is astounding. Obama says nothing about about the State slaughter of many innocents in Sri Lanka, Honduras, Colombia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Gazam etc. To my knowledge he has never cited or any other prisoner in the world, when we know there are abuse, suicides and hunger strikes every day. Obama talks about "repression visited upon Las Damas de Blanco" (the Ladies in White = relatives of those jailed in 2003 for working with foreign governments). What repression? The Damas have marched every week for a couple years now - wherever they want without permits, without ever being arrested. I wish I could do that in LA... I suppose Obama is talking about one of the marches last week, where images of loading the Damas onto buses was flashed around the world. Only trouble is there was little if any real repression. What happened was (according to Mauricio Vcent of El Pais): “a mass, a march through the streets, a spontaneous 'act of repudiation' from the indignant people, a police cordon to protect the women, all organized to perfection.” The women were all loaded onto buses by women security, and driven to their homes. No one was hurt or arrested. No blows were struck. The Damas marched the next day freely. What repression? It is also worth mentioning that German and Czech diplomats were filmed at the event.
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Many Brazilians would be surprised to learn their President (Lula) has has "instituted all sorts of market reforms that have made Brazil prosperous" - as Obama claims. In fact Lula despises and ridicules the free market system and unfettered capitalism. He's made no free market reforms that I am aware of and made the (few) free marketeers in Brazil very angry. Of course, compared to Chavez and other more radical socialists, he is indeed more market friendly. But that is not saying much in Latin America any more... Brazil has also not prospered nearly as much as its neighbors in recent years, particularly compared to its much more radical competitor - Argentina. Venezuela, of course, has grown more than anyone the last 5 years. But this does not fit the narrative that we have all been told. It is sad that Obama feels he needs to perpetuate this neo-liberal myth. Thankfully, the region has learned its lesson with economic advice from Washington.
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