In U.S. v. Cuba: Raul Will Be Speaking for Me, Not ObamaBy Kwasi Seitu05/09 - U.S. politicians, from Barrack Obama to Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), are expressing so much concern for human rights in Cuba as a basis for ending the four-decade blockade, “demanding” that Cuba “free its political prisoners” and move toward greater democratization. I see this as just another way of the U.S. deflecting attention from its own horrendous human rights record, domestically and globally. Connie Mack, who is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and was with President Obama at the Summit of the Americas last week, stated afterward that “I wish the president would have taken the opportunity to speak about [human and political rights issues in Cuba] and remind those countries who want to forget about the brutality of the Castro regime.” Did anyone then ask him about “Guantanamo,” or how “enhanced interrogation techniques” is not torture by another name? Has anyone said anything about “kidnapping” or “indefinite illegal detention”? Did anyone ask Representative Mack if he had seen the movie “American Violet”? It does not appear from where I stand as a black person in America that it is in any position to be accusing others of human rights violations and of lacking democracy.Last week marked the release of the movie “American Violet,” which is truly about American systemic violence against black people under the “War on Drugs,” and just as with the “War on Terrorism,” the movie shows that it has been “anything goes.” Even before there was the “War on Drugs,” there was the “War on Crime” (I and II), which put the criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex on steroids, which swelled into the nation’s prison population from the thousands into the millions, with a disproportionate number of them being black. And as with the other “wars” America has waged, anything goes, with many people, particularly black men, being illegally and wrongfully imprisoned and even executed. There is barely a pause as the number of wrongfully incarcerated people continues to grow. What was done by this country following the 9/11 incident, it had long been doing domestically, including the “mistreatment of prisoners” no different from that experienced by “terror suspects” at Guantanamo Bay. The real issue being that they were seized and have been held without a single human right America is bound to respect, the same basis on which blacks were kidnapped to, and enslaved in America. This notion of reducing people to a status of having no rights America is bound to respect is the basis of policing and criminal prosecutions in America and yet, America has the nerve to charge Cuba with politically imprisoning people. I would like to see America admit that it has its own political prisoners, far more than Cuba could ever muster, but that is a non-issue in the United States of Denial.The story of “American Violet” is based on true events that occurred in Hearne, Texas. The movie raises critical issues such as “The War on Drugs” really being an extension of “The War on Crime,” and how it has amounted to a war on black and poor people. The movie shows how all of the millions diverted to “law enforcement” and the wide birth given it by the courts, has only resulted in strengthening the iron fist of racist and corrupt officials in oppressing the black population, particularly in the South. In the impoverished black projects of Hearne, Texas, 30 black folk were swept up and their lives criminally assaulted by local authorities under the guise of “law enforcement,” they were all charged with drug sells based on the uncorroborated word of one white informant. A few years ago we found the same identical thing going on in Tulia, Texas, then came Katrina, New Orleans and Jena, Louisiana. And as pointed out in the film, federal dollars go to the counties with the most convictions, which has pumped up local law enforcement, allowing for the employment of more local Klan members as police and jailers. Prosecutors and judges are commanding officers of the terroristic police occupation of impoverished black communities.In Tulia, 44 people were arrested in a drug task force raid on the black community, 39 of those people were black, all on the word of one white man, just like in Hearne and so many other communities. In 2001, months before the 9/11 incident, 45 black people were swept up in a similar drug task force raid in Gaffney, South Carolina. And as in Tulia, and in Hearne, those black people were held without a shred of evidence, all were charged with drug sells, the only evidence were pictures of the people walking down the street, standing on their porch, standing on the side walk, crossing the railroad tracks. I kid you not… those people were held without ever seeing a judge, under excessive bonds, without attorneys, with detectives, prosecutors, and jailers pressuring them to plead guilty. That raid took place in December 2000 and in June 2001, I was again kidnapped by the local officials responsible for the raid because I was calling attention to the situation and so, was in jail with those people. Out of the forty-five arrested more than six-months before, only one or two where able to make the bond or more appropriately “ransom” demanded. All of the rest were in overcrowded brand new maximum security mini-prison posing as a county jail, none of them had ever seen in judge, talked with an attorney, been accorded any form of due process and protection in all that time.I found an identical situation going on in Cook and Lowndes counties of Georgia, and in Gadsden County, Florida. I spent the entire decade of the 1980s combating this practice in Mississippi. In 2003, I reported to the Judiciary Committees of the House and the Senate that the FBI, the U.S. Attorneys in South Carolina and Georgia, as well as the federal judiciary there were acting in collusion with the practice of subjecting black communities and black people to a terrorist police state of peonage. My complaint to the Congress called on it to exercise its oversight responsibility over the conduct of those federal agencies and federal judges that clearly obstruct justice, refusing to investigate, prosecute, or allow habeas corpus relief from the illegal detention. To date, not a single member of either committee has even batted an eye, shown not an ounce of concern, not like they have shown toward U.S. Attorneys being used to prosecute democrats or learning that the FBI has been spying on them as well as average people. And since they are all concerned about human rights in Cuba and Iran, perhaps they could show some concern about the fact that this government is guilty of major human rights violation domestically, as well as internationally.Obama promised change, but he really never specified just what kind of “change” he had in mind for black folk, so it is no wonder that it looks like he meant that he would be back “with the change, if there is any left” by time he and “post-racial” America finishes with us. One would imagine that the black members of the House Judiciary Committee, especially its chair, Congressman John Conyers, to be sensitive to complaints of racial discrimination in the enforcement of law, particularly by federal agents and appointees. Not so. And being that John Lewis is from Georgia, just as James Clyburn is from South Carolina, you would expect that they too would be concerned, but not so. On the very day that John Lewis was making some headlines in launching his civil rights trial tour, accompanied by none other than the first black U.S. Attorney General, appointed by the first “Black President,” Lewis sent me a very brief letter informing me that he is not concerned about what is going on in Georgia, or perhaps he meant in Cook County. Lewis advised that if indeed black people are being illegally seized and held like prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, then they should get a lawyer. Seems like a few of us have “overcome” the need for justice, a few of us have arrived and really are not interested in justice.The United States is in no position to be “demanding” that Cuba cow tow to the almighty self-declared “Democracy” and release its “political prisoners,” as if it does not have any. There is Mumia Abu Jamal, Mutulu Shakur, Sundiata Acoli, the Move 9, Imam Jamil, Leonard Peltier, Hose Peddia, the Cuban Five, and the list goes on. I hope and expect the Raul Castro’s offer to have an open dialogue, including “human rights and political prisoners,” as if the embargo had nothing to do with them. Cuba, in order to be given any consideration of dialogue, is being called on to roll over, play dead, and then beg. Let me remind you that this is the same government that targets wars on black people under metaphors for continued social oppression, refuses to address and respond to a demand by black people for it to end its practices. Ironically, if the U.S. and Cuba do sit down and talk turkey, it will be Raul speaking on behalf of the oppressed in this country, not Obama, he will be speaking in defense of this racist state of human rights denial as he has indicated in the press. Unless President Barack Obama starts acting like shining star of “Hope and Change,” the only change we will see is no change, he must take a more honest and humble position if he is to make a real difference. But then, he is the president of a hypocrisy and not a democracy. For this reason, Raul will be speaking for me.

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