I have had several discussions with Val on this subject at Babalú before I was booted in March 2007. I recently reproduced the transcripts from some of them. So great was Val's obeisance to Bush and his concomitant disdain for the balseros that he equated their plight to that of Mexican migrants, alleging that they weren't real political refugees but merely economic ones. Of course, it never crossed his mind that it is possible to be both, that, indeed, in a Communist system, it is unavoidable. Nor did he ever consider that his own parents were no different from the latest refugees in their motivations for leaving Cuba. Yes, they came here seeking freedom but also food to put in their kids' stomachs, clothes on their backs and shoes on their feet. If anyone tells you differently, if they pretend that they were still enjoying the horn of plenty under Castro, it is a lie. They, too, were as much economic as political refugees.
Here is the actual exchange between us on this subject from August 2005:
Alright, George Bush's quirkiness and anti-intellectualism can be endearing traits, and he himself appears to be an altogether likable man. I would like him, too, if he'd just stop sending Cuban refugees by the boatload to Castro. Such shameless flaunting of U.S. tradition as a haven for the oppressed would have been unthinkable during the Cold War. In Cuba, however, nothing has changed since the Cold War. But, for purposes of immigration, Cuba has apparently been "liberated" by U.S. policymakers because Cuban refugees are now routinely returned to Cuba under the assumption that they will not face punitive measures there. This assumption is on its face a lie and the height of disingenuousness on the part of those who claim to enforce U.S. laws, and, in particular, on the part of the chief law enforcer himself, President George Bush II. The Cuban Resettlement Act (1965) did not establish a "dry foot/wet foot" policy. This was purely the invention of Clinton and Reno, who never saw a law they wouldn't subvert. For 30 years (quite a long precedent!), Cuban refugees were admitted legally to the U.S. regardless of whether they reached land or were rescued on the high seas. Besides the element of luck (which should make us pity those stranded on the high seas even more), what difference is there between these two groups of refugees? Both are fleeing the same oppression and both are deserving of the same protections that the Law establishes for them. But George Bush has seen fit to adopt and make his own Clinton's tendentious reinterpretation of the Law. If he wanted to, George Bush could reverse Bill Clinton's heartless policy today. Such a policy shift (or, rather, restoration) would require no special laws, amendments or congressional imput. All the President has to do is inform his Attorney General than henceworth we will again be enforcing the Cuban Resettlement Act (1965) according to its original intent. That's all. George Bush is on record as supporting amnesty and legalization for illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S. Why, then, does he continue to forcibly repatriate Cuban refugees? Why does his Coast Guard harass and abuse them every day, presumably at his orders or at the uncountered orders of his predecessor? George Bush is in the White House because Cuban-American voters in Florida put him there, as he has himself acknowledged on several occasions. What are Cuban-Americans, then, wasting their political capital on, since it certainly isn't being spent on behalf of Cuban refugees? Will some of the Bush supporters on this forum stop supporting him long enough to say one word on behalf of their own brothers?
Posted by M.A.T. at August 12, 2005 09:32 AM
Oh, gimme a break, MAT.
Posted by Val Prieto at August 12, 2005 09:42 AM
[Val deletes my comment where I stated that Bush had, by 2005, enforced the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy longer than Clinton had and that it was as much Bush's policy as Clinton's. I also made reference to the predations of the U.S. Coast Guard on Cuban refugeees, which had escalated, not decreased, under Bush; and finally, I mentioned the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard and Castro's Coast Guard were actually collaborating on the interdiction of Cuban refugees on the high seas, which effectively erased any distinction between them].
Seriously MAT. I deleted your last comment. If you dislike Bush thats one thing, but dont place the blame on him for the wet foot/dry foot policy. And you certainly cant expect the POTUS to open up the cuban border and allow a huge number of immigrants to come into the states. Because thats exactly what would happen. Thousands upon thousands of Cubans fleeing the island, many on rafts and many dying at sea, then those that get here causing havoc on the system and the economy. If you wanna bash Bush, I suggest another blog. I aint going to blame the man for shit that isnt his fault.
Posted by Val Prieto at August 12, 2005 09:58 AM
To Val at that time [August 2005], any criticism of the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy was a criticism of Bush and he would not tolerate any criticism of Bush on his blog. This perfect democrat placed his allegiance to "POTUS" ahead of any real or contrived allegiance to the victims of this policy; and although Bush had by that time been enforcing "Clinton's policy" longer than Clinton, Val still held him blameless for it ["I aint going to blame the man for shit that isnt his fault"]. As for the Cuban refugeees, he could not have spoken of them with greater disdain. To him they were not refugees but "immigrants" who were crossing "our border" [Note to Val: Cuba is an island. There is no "border" between the two countries]. He is afraid of these "thousands and thousands of Cubans fleeing the island" and almost hopeful that they would all die at sea because then the U.S. would not have to deal with "the havoc on the system and the economy" which they would supposedly cause. Val's first concern, indeed, his only concern is "the system." With hundreds of thousands of Mexican migrants entering this country every year and causing no disruption in "the system" (other than what racist xenophobes invent), Val is worried about the impact that the 2000 rafters who make it to this country every year might have upon "the system." It's as if American Jews during the 1930s had opposed the entry of European refugees to the U.S. because they might disrupt "the system." Actually many did, including the Ochs-Sultzbergers, the Jewish-American owners of The New York Times. Of course, Val isn't really worried about "the system." What worries him is his place in "the system." The new refugees might cause a resurgence in racism and nativism which he does not wish to face any more than the assimilated Jews did 70 years ago.
That, then, is Val's real position on "The Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy. When in view of recent atrocities committed by the Coast Guard against Cuban refugees it was no longer possible to support the policy without wetting one's hands in the refugees' blood, Val revised his position and now claims to object to more stringent applications of it. But he has yet to call for its abrogation and still continues to maintain, as he has just reasserted on Babalú, that Cuban refugees are no different from Mexican refugees. He called it a "rhetorical question" after the fact but no one acquainted with his past positions can doubt that it reflects his real feelings on the subject.
Perhaps at the end of this exercise in pretentiousness and deception, Val will finally tell his readers what his [new] real position on the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy is. Perhaps. But even if he doesn't, we have the goods on him here.
According to his latest comment, Henry wants to keep in place the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy because he says that eliminating it might lead to scrapping the Cuban Adjustment Act (1966). He apparently doesn't know the the CAA is the law of the land and can't be casually "scrapped." It would have to be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (unlikely since it has been established law for 40+ years), or Congress would have to pass another act rescinding it which the president would have to sign into law. The chances of that happening: "0."