The Cuban Missile Crisis: Immediate Postmortems

On the 60th anniversary of the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the National Security Archive has published five previously confidential government documents relating to the immediate postmortems about the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.  Those documents are (1) a Soviet summary of a meeting between Nikita Khrushchev and Czechoslovakian Communist Party leader, Antonín Novotný; (2) correspondence from Khrushchev to Fidel Castro; (3) Castro’s own lengthy reflections on the missile crisis; (4) a perceptive aftermath report from the British Ambassador to Cuba; and (5) a lengthy analysis by the U.S. Defense Department on “Some Lessons from Cuba.”[1]

The Archive’s Summary of Those Documents.

Here is the just published Archive’s summary of those documents.

“In the immediate aftermath of the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, [in October   1962], Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev met with the Czechoslovakian Communist Party leader, Antonín Novotný, and told him that ‘this time we really were on the verge of war . . . ‘ Khrushchev repeated [this phrase] later in the meeting, during which he explained how and why the Kremlin ‘had to act very quickly’ to resolve the crisis as the U.S. threatened to invade Cuba. ‘How should one assess the result of these six days that shook the world?’ he pointedly asked, referring to the period between October 22, when President Kennedy announced the discovery of the missiles in Cuba, and October 28, when Khrushchev announced their withdrawal. ‘Who won?’ he wondered.”

“The missile crisis abated on October 28, 1962, when Nikita Khrushchev announced he was ordering a withdrawal of the just-installed nuclear missiles in Cuba in return for a U.S. guarantee not to invade Cuba. His decision came only hours after a secret meeting between Robert Kennedy and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin during which the two agreed to swap U.S. missiles in Turkey for the Soviet missiles in Cuba—a part of the resolution of the crisis that remained secret for almost three decades.”

“But the crisis did not actually conclude. Cut out of the deal to resolve the crisis, a furious Fidel Castro issued his own ‘five point’ demands to end the crisis and refused to allow UN inspectors on the island to monitor the dismantling of the missiles unless the Kennedy administration allowed UN inspectors to monitor dismantling of the violent exile training bases in the United States. In addition to the missiles, the United States demanded that the USSR repatriate the IL-28 bombers it had brought to Cuba, which the Soviets had already promised Castro they would leave behind.”

“The Soviets had also promised to turn over the nearly 100 tactical nuclear weapons they had secretly brought to the island—a commitment that Khrushchev’s special envoy to Havana, Anastas Mikoyan, determined was a dangerous mistake that should be reversed. In November 1962 ‘the Soviets realized that they faced their own ‘Cuban’ missile crisis,’ observed Svetlana Savranskaya, co-author, with Sergo Mikoyan, of The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis: Castro, Mikoyan, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Missiles of November. ‘The Soviets sent Anastas Mikoyan to Cuba with an almost impossible mission: persuade Castro to give up the weapons, allow inspections and, above all, keep Cuba as an ally,’ she noted. ‘Nobody knew that Cuba almost became a nuclear power in 1962.’”

“From the Cuban perspective, the outcome of the Crisis de Octubre was the worst of all worlds: a victory for the enemy and a betrayal by the ally that had installed the missiles to defend Cuba. Instead of relief that a massive U.S. invasion had been avoided, along with nuclear war, the Cubans felt ‘a great indignation’ and ‘the humiliation’ of being treated as ‘some type of game token,’ as Castro recounted at a conference in Havana 30 years later. But in his long report to London, drafted only two weeks after the Soviets began dismantling the missiles, British Ambassador Herbert Marchant perceptively noted that it was ‘better to be humiliated than to be wiped out.’”

“At the time, Ambassador Marchant presciently predicted ‘a sequence of events’ from which the Cuban revolution would emerge empowered and stronger from the crisis: ‘A U.S. guarantee not to invade seems certain; a Soviet promise to increase aid seems likely; a Soviet plan to underwrite Cuba economically and build it into a Caribbean show-piece instead of a military base is a possibility,’ he notes. ‘In these circumstances, it is difficult to foresee what forces would unseat the present regime.’ His prediction would soon be validated by Khrushchev’s January 31, 1963, letter inviting Castro to come to the Soviet Union for May Day and to discuss Soviet assistance that would help develop his country into what Khrushchev called ‘a brilliant star’ that ‘attracts the working class, the peasants, the working intellectuals of Latin American, African and Asian countries.’”

“In his conversation with Novotný, the Soviet premier declared victory. ‘I am of the opinion that we won,’ he said. ‘We achieved our objective—we wrenched the promise out of the Americans that they would not attack Cuba’ and showed the U.S. that the Soviets had missiles ‘as strong as theirs.’ The Soviet Union had also learned lessons, he added. ‘Imperialism, as can be seen, is no paper tiger; it is a tiger that can give you a nice bite in the backside.’ Both sides had made concessions, he admitted, in an oblique reference to the missile swap. ‘It was one concession after another … But this mutual concession brought us victory.’”

“In their postmortems on the missile crisis, the U.S. national security agencies arrived at the opposite conclusions: the U.S. had relied on an ‘integrated use of national power’ to force the Soviets to back down. Since knowledge of the missile swap agreement was held to just a few White House aides, the lessons learned from the crisis were evaluated on significantly incomplete information, leading to flawed perceptions of the misjudgments, miscalculations, miscommunications, and mistakes that took world to the brink of Armageddon. The Pentagon’s initial study on ‘Lessons from Cuba’ was based on the premise that the Soviet Union’s intent was first and foremost ‘to display to the world, and especially our allies, that the U.S. is too indecisive or too terrified of war to respond effectively to major Soviet provocation.’ The decisive, forceful, U.S. response threatening ‘serious military action’ against Cuba was responsible for the successful outcome. For the powers that be in the United States, that conclusion became the leading lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

“But none of the contemporaneous evaluations of the crisis, whether U.S., Soviet or Cuban, attempted to address what is perhaps the ultimate lesson of the events of 1962—the existential threat of nuclear weapons as a military and political tool. In his famous missile crisis memoir, Thirteen Days, published posthumously after his assassination, Robert Kennedy posed a ‘basic ethical question: What, if any, circumstances or justification gives this government or any government the moral right to bring its people and possibly all peoples under the shadow of nuclear destruction?’ Sixty years later, as the world still faces the threat of the use of nuclear weapons, that question remains to be answered.”

Conclusion

This blog has published two posts about the Cuba Missile Crisis.[2]

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[1] The Cuban Missile Crisis @ 60, National Security Archive. The National Security Archive is a nongovernmental organization that was “founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy. [This Archive] combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents . . ., the leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, [a] public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information, [a] global advocate of open government, and indexer and publisher of former secrets.” (About the National Security Archive.

[2] Fidel Castro-Nikita Khrushchev Messages During the Cuba Missile Crisis of 1962, dwkcommentaries.com (Sept. 5, 2016); Conflicting Opinions Regarding the Relative Strength of U.S. and Soviet Missiles, 1960-1962, dwkcommentaries.com (Nov. 2, 2016).

Minnesota State District Court Sentences Kueng for Helping To Kill George Floyd   

On October 24, 2022, Minnesota’s Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill held a hearing in the state’s criminal case against former Minneapolis police officer, J. Alexander Kueng, for aiding and abetting the manslaughter and murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.   [1]

Instead of the scheduled selection of a jury for the trial of those charges that day, Kueng and the prosecution announced an agreement for his pleading guilty to aiding and abetting the second-degree manslaughter of Mr. Floyd and a prison sentence of three and a half years. Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said that the negotiated settlement included dismissal of the second count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and Kueng’s state sentence to be be served concurrently with his federal sentence for three years he’s serving at the federal prison in Elkton, Ohio.

In accordance with that settlement, on December 9, 2022, Judge Cahill at a short hearing imposed that three and a half year sentence on Kueng, who appeared virtually from that federal prison, but said nothing.[2]

Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank at this hearing said while he appreciates this guilty plea and Kueng’s taking responsibility for what he did, “it just took too long to get there. Mr. Kueng was not simply a bystander in what happened that day. In fact, he did less than some of the bystanders tried to do to help with Mr. Floyd.”

Frank also said that Floyd’s family and friends are trying to move on with healing, but that’s difficult to do with ongoing court proceedings. He added that prosecution has focused on the conduct of officers causing Floyd’s death, not an “examination on policing in general.”

Frank added, “But if some lessons can come from this case, all the better … Being a peace officer is a very difficult job, it is truly a profession. But part of that profession is dealing with people every day who are not having their best day. Who are struggling with mental health, who are struggling with addiction and other anxieties.”

According to Frank, providing medical assistance is part of the job, but officers didn’t do that for Floyd. “Mr. Kueng was more than just a rookie. He had taken all the education, gone through all the training and experience to become a licensed peace officer. He learned the law. He swore an oath to protect life, to put the sanctity of life as the highest command of the job. But that day, he did not follow that training or that oath … George Floyd is a crime victim.”

Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, then disagreed with these statements from the Assistant Attorney General. Plunkett said Kueng was a three-day rookie after he completed his training while trusting his leadership, including now-retired Chief Medaria Arradondo and Inspector Katie Blackwell. However, “the chief rides off into the sunset with a handsome pension. Mrs. Blackwell received a promotion to inspector and Mr. Kueng, the rookie, sits in prison one year for every day he served the city.”

Plunkett concluded, “It is clear that leadership learned nothing and forgot nothing. They failed Mr. Kueng. They failed Mr. Floyd and they failed the community. Protesters have called for justice. Unfortunately, justice has become nothing more than mean-spirited revenge … I’m calling for progress. That way Mr. Floyd’s life and Mr. Kueng’s punishment will not be in vain.”

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[1] Kueng and State Agree on Guilty Plea while Thao Agrees to Judge Cahill’s Deciding His Case on Existing Record, dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 24, 2022).

[2]  Former Minneapolis officer J. Alexander Kueng sentenced in George Floyd killing, StarTribune (Dec. 9, 2022);  Bailey, Ex-Minneapolis officer sentenced on state charges in Floyd’s death, Wash. Post (Dec. 9, 2022); Assoc. Press, Former police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s back sentenced to prison, Guardian (Dec. 9, 2022).

Memory Issues for People in Their Eighties

Joe Biden, who just turned 80, will be 86 in 2028 should he be re-elected and serve another four-year term as U.S. President. This has prompted political speculation whether his age is or should be a disqualifying attribute for his seeking re-election. This issue was discussed in an interesting New York Times article about memory issues facing people in their 80’s in the U.S.[1]

The article starts with the following general comments:

  • “[W]hile the risk of life-threatening diseases, dementia and death rises faster with each passing decade of a person’s life, experts in geriatrics say that people in their 80s who are active, engaged and have a sense of purposecan remain productive and healthy — and that wisdom and experience are important factors to consider.”
  • “ Biden, . . . experts agreed, has a lot going in his favor: He is highly educated, has plenty of social interaction, a stimulating job that requires a lot of thinking, is married and has a strong family network — all factors that, studies show, are protective against dementia and conducive to healthy aging. He does not smoke or drink alcohol and, according to the White House, he exercises five times a week. He also has top-notch medical care.”
  • “His race is another [positive] factor. The life expectancy for the average white, 80-year-old man is another eight years, said Dr. John Rowe, a professor of health policy and aging at Columbia University. ‘And that’s the average,’ Dr. Rowe said. ‘A lot of those 80-year-olds are already sick; they are already in the nursing home.’”
  • “Scientists who study aging stress that chronological age is not the same as biological age — and that the two often diverge as people grow older. It is true that older people tend to decline physically, and the brain also undergoes changes. But in people who are active, experts say, the brain continues to evolve and some brain functions can even improve— a phenomenon experts call the ‘neuroplasticity of aging.’”
  • “’This idea that old age is associated with only declines is not true,’ said  Dilip Jeste, a psychiatrist who has studied aging at the University of California, San Diego. ‘There are studies that have been done all over the world which show that in people who keep active physically, socially, mentally and cognitively there is increased connectivity among specific networks, and even new neurons and synapses can form in selected brain regions with older age.’”

Further comments were provided by five additional experts.

“Dr. Dan Blazer, professor emeritus and psychiatric epidemiologist at Duke University School of Medicine, who led a committee of experts that examined “cognitive aging” for the National Academy of Sciences in 2015, said, ‘Slippage of memory is something that is usual, but it is not a real deficit.’ He described such slippage this way: ‘They forget, they remember they have forgotten and they eventually remember what they have forgotten.’”

Another expert on aging, Dr. Gill Livingston, a psychiatrist at University College London, who led a commission on dementia in 2020, observed, ‘Once people reach 65, the risk of dementia doubles every five years. In general, she said, in high-income countries like the United States, dementia will affect 10 percent of people aged 80 to 84 and 20 percent of those aged 85 to 89.”

Lisa Berkman, a professor of public policy at the Harvard School of Public Health who studies health and aging, added a more nuanced view. ‘People in their 80s commonly experience declines; we shouldn’t be naïve about that. And at the same time, there is so much variability. People who are doing well and are in the top level of functioning, have the odds of going for another 10 years, of doing really well during this time and making very important contributions.’”

Jay Olshansky, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, names both Mr. Biden and former President Donald J. Trump, who is 76, as likely fitting the profile of “super-agers” — a ‘subgroup of people that maintain their mental and physical functioning and tend to live longer than the average person their age.’”

“Dr. Olshansky also says it is a misconception to think being president ages a person; in fact, former presidents tend to live longer, as an analysis he published in 2011 showed. Former President Jimmy Carter, who has been active well into his 90s, turned 98 last month. President George H.W. Bush was 94 when he died in 2018.”

“As the baby boom cohort ages, the number of octogenarians is growing into what experts have called a “silver tsunami.” In its 2020 Profile of Older Americans, the federal Department of Health and Human Services reported that the 85-and-older population was projected to more than double from 6.6 million in 2019 to 14.4 million in 2040.”

Reactions

On November 21, the Times published 583 comments on this article. Here are a few of them:

  • Jim K said, “If either party offers a younger candidate with a fresher and less polarizing vision/agenda for the nation, that party’s candidate will probably win the election. In my opinion, that is who the independents – the middle of the road types – would vote for.”
  • Joe Barnett said, “If he decides not to run, he can wait until the primaries and then endorse or just watch the Democrats pull from their wealth of talent to replace him.”
  • Northern D offered, “It will actually speak to Biden’s legacy if he knows when to leave and still be capable of helping his successor not matter who he or she is. In my estimation that should be sooner rather than later.”
  • Therion boston, “Step down Man! The United States needs a leader that is younger, fresher, and more vibrant. Our whole country needs to put forward a fresh face.”
  • MCM said, “The appropriate question is whether the United States can run the risk that he may not be. And the article suggests that while he has many advantages, that possibility exists.”
  • WHC says, “By their mid80s most individuals have some cognitive decline, and if there is one job where we don’t want the holder to have cognitive decline it’s president of the United States. Yes, decline is not guaranteed, but the odds are clearly rising, and shutting your eyes to it—or to declare legitimate worries ageism, as though he’s just a laid off fifty something—isn’t serving your readers.”

Although I voted for Mr. Biden in the 2020 election, I think he should not run for re-election because of concerns about the potential adverse effects of his aging during a second term and of some voters declining to vote for him for that reason. I also think that many of the younger voters, who turned out in great numbers in the 2020 election, would appreciate having a younger candidate to vote for. My recommendations: U.S. Senators Cory Booker or Amy Klobuchar.

As a mid-80’s white male, retired lawyer with three university degrees who is in relatively good health and active in various ways, I am glad to learn that my age does not automatically mean that I am destined to suffer significant physical and mental decline in the balance of my 80’s. However, I acknowledge that my short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be. When I mentioned this issue to a friend of my generation, he loaned me a book, “Remember” that emphasizes forgetting is part of being human while some memories are built to last only a few seconds and others can last a lifetime. The book’s author, Lisa Genova, is a neuroscientist and acclaimed novelist. I look forward to reading this book and hopefully getting tips on improving my memory.[2]

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[1] Stolberg, The President Is Turning 80. Experts Say Age Is More Than a Number, N.Y. Times (Nov. 20, 2022),

[2] Author Spotlight: Lisa Genova, Harmony Books.

U.N. General Assembly Again Condemns U.S. Embargo (Blockade) of Cuba

On November 3, 2022, the U.N. General Assembly again condemned the U.S. embargo (blockade) of Cuba. The vote this time for the Cuban resolution was 185 to 2 (with the U.S. and Israel voting against the resolution) while two others abstained (Brazil and Ukraine).[1]

The resolution “reiterated its call on all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures of the kind referred to in the text’s preamble, in conformity with their obligations under the United Nations Charter and international law. It also urged States that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the steps necessary to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible in accordance with their legal regimes.”

Cuba’s Argument for Its Resolution

Cuba alleged in support of its resolution that “only between August 2021 and February 2022 that unilateral policy caused Cuba losses in the order of 3,806.5 million dollars. The figure is 49% higher than that reported between January and July 2021 and a record in just seven months.”

“At current prices, [according to Cuba,] the accumulated damages during six decades of the blockade amount to 150,410.8 million dollars, with a great weight on sectors such as health and education, in addition to the damage to the national economy and the quality of life of Cuban families.”

“In the first 14 months of the Biden Administration alone, [said Cuba,] the losses caused by the blockade amounted to 6,364 million dollars, which is equivalent to an impact of more than 454 million dollars a month and more than 15 million dollars a day.”

Finally, Cuba claimed that  “The extraterritorial impact of the blockade harms the sovereignty of the countries of the United Nations, sanctions their businessmen and impedes access to their ports for third party ships that dock in Cuba. It also prevents the importation into Cuba of articles produced in any country when they have 10% or more of U.S. components.”

Cuba’s foreign Minister, Rodriguez Parrilla, also said, “During the pandemic, the blockade was further tightened, causing more delays in the delivery of necessary medical equipment. But despite limited resources, Cuba cooperated with other countries, sending medical brigades to provide aid. Equally unceasing, he said, is the fraudulent inclusion of Cuba in the United States Department of State’s unilateral list of countries that allegedly sponsor terrorism. This forces Cuba to pay twice the usual price for commodities on the international market. Cuba has rejected all forms of terrorism.”

The Foreign Minister added, “The current United States Administration does not have a Cuba policy, he said. Rather it continues to exert the “maximum pressure” policy developed under the Donald Trump Administration. Over the last few months, it has taken positive steps to alleviate certain restrictions, but the blockade continues to be the central element defining Cuba-United States policy.”

Other Countries’ Support for the Resolution

During the General Assembly debate over the Cuba resolution, “Member States condemned the economic embargo against Cuba, calling it cruel, inhumane and punitive. They urged the United States to begin a dialogue with Cuba based on the equality of States and respect for sovereignty and independence.”

“Representatives of several developing States also thanked Cuba for providing them with much-needed medical aid, nurses and vaccines at the height of the pandemic. Nicaragua’s delegate said that Cuba, thanks to its revolutionary spirit and socialist conviction, has been able to stand alongside the developed countries that sanction it by producing vaccines and helping ‘our developing peoples.’”

“Speakers for several Caribbean countries pointed out also that the United States blockade has had widespread implications and consequences and was stifling not only Cuba’s growth but that of the entire region. Several delegates questioned how the world could commit to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development while locking out one country from fairly participating in its own socioeconomic development.”

“’No nation should be punished and exploited by another,’ Gabon’s representative said. ‘Cuba is peaceful and cooperative and deserves the continued support of the international community in calling for an end to the embargo.’”

“Member States also questioned how they could overwhelmingly call for an end to the embargo year after year for decades without any results. ‘Every year, we speak about the devastating impact of the embargo on the people of Cuba, but we see no effort to remove the restrictions,’ Zimbabwe’s delegate said.”

The U.S. Statement Against the Resolution[2]

The U.S. statement purportedly justifying its opposition to the resolution was provided during the debate by John Kelley, Political Counselor, who said the following:

  • “The United States remains committed to the Cuban people in their pursuit of freedom, prosperity, and a future with greater dignity. We are focused on the political and economic wellbeing of the Cuban people and center our efforts on democracy and human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
  • “Cubans of all walks of life are speaking out for fundamental freedoms, protesting Cuban government repression, and advocating for a better future. In July of 2021, the world witnessed tens of thousands of Cubans across the island take to the streets to peacefully demand freedom. The Cuban government responded to the demands of the Cuban people with crackdowns on peaceful protesters, journalists, and human rights defenders.”
  • “The Cuban government has used harsh prison sentences, even against minors, intimidation tactics, arrests, Internet interruptions, government-sponsored mobs, and horrendous prison conditions to try to prevent Cubans from exercising their human rights.”
  • “Cuban security officials have also forced into exile human rights activists and journalists who had been either detained or warned about their activities. We join international partners in urging the Cuban government to release political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and to protect the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly of all individuals in Cuba.”
  • “As we hold the Cuban government accountable, our support for the Cuban people is unwavering. The embargo includes exemptions and authorizations relating to exports of food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods to Cuba.”
  • “We recognize the challenges the Cuban people face. The people of the United States and U.S. organizations donate a significant amount of humanitarian goods to the Cuban people, and the United States is one of Cuba’s principal trading partners. Since 1992, the United States has authorized billions of dollars of exports to Cuba, including food and other agricultural commodities, medicines, medical devices, telecommunications equipment, consumer goods, and other items to support the Cuban people. In 2021 alone, U.S. companies exported over $295 million worth of agricultural goods to Cuba, including food, to help address the Cuban people’s basic needs.”
  • “Last month, following the devastating impact of Hurricane Ian, the United States announced it is providing to the Cuban people critical humanitarian aid through trusted international partners working directly with Cubans whose communities were devastated by the storm. The U.S. Agency for International Development will provide $2 million in funding for emergency relief to those in need in Cuba.”
  • “Mr. President, the United States opposes this resolution, but we stand with the Cuban people and will continue to seek ways to provide meaningful support to them. We encourage this body to urge the Cuban government to listen to the Cuban people and their demands to determine their own future.”

Conclusion

Amazingly none of the major U.S. sources of international news—New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal—had any articles about this U.N. General Assembly resolution.

In contrast, this blog by a U.S. citizen living in the U.S. without any family connections with Cuba, but with involvement in Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church’s partnership with a Presbyterian-Reformed Church on the island, has contained many blog posts opposing the U.S. embargo of Cuba.[3] The most recent such post had an abbreviated history of the embargo and discussed the last U.N. General Assembly resolution against the embargo that passed on June 23, 2021, by a vote of 184 to 2 (again the U.S. and Israel in opposition) with three abstentions (Colombia, Brazil and Ukraine).[4]

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[1] U.N., General Assembly: 28th plenary meeting, 77th session (Nov. 3, 2022); Rodriguez, Overwhelming Victory for Cuba at the UN: 185 countries vote against the blockade, Granma (Nov. 3, 2022); Cuba Foreign Minister Rodriguez Parrilla, The world would be better off without the blockade, Granma (Nov. 3, 2022); How little the United States respect the world by maintaining the blockade against Cuba!, Granma (Nov. 2, 2022) (Cuba President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez’ Twitter statement); U.N. Secretary General, Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba (Jan. 20, 2022).

[2] U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Explanation of Vote After the Vote on a UN General Assembly Resolution on the Cuba Embargo (Nov. 3, 2022).

[3]  See the posts listed in the “U.S. Embargo of Cuba” section of List of Posts to dwkcommentaries—Topical: CUBA [as of 5/4/20}.

[4]  Criticism of President Biden’s “New Cuba Policy,” dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 1, 2022).

Other Tributes to Walter Mondale at His Memorial Service   

Other tributes to Walter Mondale at his May 1st Memorial Service were provided by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, Minnesota civil rights leader Josie Johnson, and University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel and Professor Larry Jacobs. [1]

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz: “Walter Mondale changed every person he came in contact with. He changed this state, he changed this nation and he changed this world, all for the better.”

“Fritz was a national figure, but at heart — and everyone in this room knows — he was always just a boy from southern Minnesota. He embodied a sense of joy. He lived his life every single day with that joy at the forefront.”

“At 91, he was still fishing for walleye. Unlike me, he was catching them.”

“Everyone who met Fritz Mondale considered him a friend. Few people I’ve ever met did you feel were more present when you were with them. There was no place he needed to be. There was no-one more important than that moment. And every person I’ve ever talked to felt that.”

Former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson: “Today, we celebrate the life of Minnesota’s finest; Walter Mondale. No doubt there will be remembrances of his leadership on a host of issues ranging from human rights to world peace. But the highest tribute is to honor his values and give them immortality.”

 “First and foremost has been his commitment to fairness. He saw it in the light of endlessly pursuing the elimination of all barriers to achievement for all people. His vision for our democracy was an even playing field and, I suspect, he would define the American Dream in that same context.”

“That enveloping philosophy led him to pursue policies that enhanced the quality of life for all people ranging from universal access to quality and affordable health care to ending violence whether by war or the endless slaughter of innocent victims of gun violence.”

“And he understood the necessity of serving as stewards of the land we inherited. His work to save the BWCA and the St. Croix {River] will always remain memorable. But, he also stayed current and challenged us to be ever vigilant of the monied interests who desire to convert nature’s bounty to private gain. It was this that led him to publicly oppose sulfide mining which threatens our valuable waters.”

“Always involved, always supportive of full public debate, and always decent. But, his sense of decency was never be seen as a sign of weakness, No, Walter Mondale was never guided by the odds or the polls, but rather the rightness of the cause.”

“So today, we pay tribute to a true leader and protector of the public good. And, hopefully, we will all make his values our values. We could do no better.”

Josie Johnson, First Lady of Minnesota Civil Rights: “I never will forget how excited I was at the thought of Fritz Mondale running for president. I never will forget how honored I felt.”

“This humble man, who always welcomed other points of view and encouraged everyone in his sphere to be open, to be inclusive, to be just, and the thought of him running for president of the United States of America, was just such a wonderful, unbelievable thought that many of us had, because he was such a humble person.”

 “And for him to understand that who he was and what he represented was what we needed in our society made us all want to be engaged in everything we could be engaged in and get that message out to the public and to the community.”

Joan Gabel, University of Minnesota President: “On behalf of a grateful university, we recognize with appreciation the countless and inspiring ways Vice President Mondale gave back to his alma mater and made us all better — as a teacher and leader, as a namesake and benefactor to our law school and Humphrey School fellowship program and as a friend and mentor to students and colleagues alike.”

 “The University of Minnesota is fortunate to have held such a special place in his universe — and across his exemplary life of dedication and service to Minnesota and the world, as vice president, U.S. senator, presidential candidate, U.S. ambassador to Japan and Minnesota’s attorney general.”

“It is therefore left to us to step into his indelible footprints — here at his alma mater, in the hearts of our university family and throughout the world.”

“So, let the path he forged guide us in his ever-optimistic way, and let it heal us, so we can ensure, in his honor, that our best days still lie ahead.”

Larry Jacobs (the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota): “For 16 years, Walter Mondale and I worked together on a number of projects. But Walter Mondale brought his greatest passion to teaching. We taught thousands of students here at the University of Minnesota: undergraduates, graduates, folks who were auditing and wanted to take the class. He was a breath of fresh air; he was rigorous and he was demanding.”

“Preparation and seriousness are Mondale traits, particularly Professor Mondale. During one group presentation, Mr. Mondale pointed to a student who was leaning against the chalkboard, put up his hands to stop the group presentation and said, ‘Stand up. Convince us that you actually believe what you’re saying.’”

The student stood up, and all of us thought, ‘Oh my God. Always stand up straight.’”

“I was not immune from the scrutiny. During one class, when I was carefully, I thought, relating the readings for the class and the topic at hand, Mr. Mondale raised his hand. He asked a question that probably more of my colleagues should be asked now and again, though we’d prefer it not be asked by a former vice president of the United States. Mr. Mondale asked, ‘What are you talking about?’”

Conclusion

Here are the previous blog posts about the Mondale Memorial Service:

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[1]  Excerpts from speeches and letters read at Walter Mondale’s memorial, StarTribune (May 1, 2022).

 

Kueng and State Agree on Guilty Plea while Thao Agrees to Judge Cahill’s Deciding His Case on Existing Record

Today, October 24th was to be the start of the state court criminal trial with jury selection for J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao on charges of aiding and abetting the manslaughter and murder of George Floyd.[1]

Instead today the selection of a jury for that trial did not happen when Kueng and the prosecution announced an agreement for his pleading guilty to aiding and abetting the second-degree manslaughter of Mr. Floyd and a prison sentence of three and a half years. Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said that the negotiated settlement included dismissal of a second count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and Kueng’s state sentence will be served concurrently with the federal sentence for three years he’s serving at the federal prison in Elkton, Ohio.[2]

After that announcement, co-defendant Tou Thao told District Judge Peter Cahill that he was giving up his right to a jury trial and agreeing instead to a trial only on the aiding and abetting the second-degree manslaughter charge by stipulated evidence. Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, said that means Cahill will review the evidence and issue a verdict within 90 days and that if the decision is guilty there will be a sentence of three to five years. By November 17th the parties will advise the court of the evidence to be considered and written closing arguments with the Judge to render his decision within the following 90 days.

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[1] E.g., Preparations for State Criminal Trial of Kueng and Thou Over Killing of George Floyd, dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 13, 2022).

[2] Hyatt, Kueng pleads guilty to state charges in George Floyd killing, while Thao agrees to let judge decide his case, StarTribune (Oct. 24, 2022); Forliti, Ex-Minneapolis cop pleads guilty in George Floyd killing, AP News (Oct. 24, 2022); Bogel-Burroughs, Officer Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in George Floyd’s Death, N.Y. Times (Oct. 22, 2022).

U.S. Announces $2 Million Grant to Cuba for Hurricane Ian Relief

On October 18,  the U.S. State Department announced that the U.S. through the U.S. Agency for International Development will be providing $2 million of emergency relief for those in Cuba suffering from Hurricane Ian.[1]

Said the State Department, the U.S. “will work with trusted, independent organizations operating in the country who have a long presence in hurricane-affected communities. We are currently reviewing applications from organizations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide this assistance.”

The statement added, “We stand with the Cuban people as they work to recover from this disaster. The United States will continue to monitor and assess humanitarian needs in coordination with our trusted partners and the international community, and we will continue to seek ways to provide meaningful support to the Cuban people, consistent with U.S. laws and regulations.”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez immediately expressed appreciation for this grant. He said on twitter, this aid would “contribute to our recovery efforts and support [for] those affected by the ravages” of the storm.

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[1] U.S. State Department, Press Statement: U.S. Support for Hurricane Ian Recovery Efforts in Cuba (Oct. 18, 2022); DeYoung, U.S. will provide $2 million of hurricane aid in Cuba, Wash. Post (Oct. 18, 2020). See also Hurricane-Damaged Cuba Needs Immediate U.S. Recovery Help, dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 2. 2022); Cuban Government Asks for U.S. Aid in Responding to Hurricane Ian Damages While Cubans Protest Over Continued Power Outages, dwkcommentaries.com (Oct.4, 2022); Comment: Still Waiting for U.S. Response to Cuban Request for Hurricane Aid, dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 6, 2022).

Preparations for State Criminal Trial of Kueng and Thao Over Killing of George Floyd     

On October 13, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill entered an Amended Trial Management Order for the upcoming trial of J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, former Minneapolis police officers, who face charges of aiding and abetting two crimes: (a) second-degree murder and (b) manslaughter  of George Floyd.[1]

Latest Trial Management Order

This Order provided great details on the following:

  • Trial Courtroom (No. 1856), the largest trial courtroom with maximal flexibility, in the Hennepin County Government Center (para. 1);
  • the Media Overflow Courtroom (No. C-2350) (para. 2);
  • the General Public Overflow Courtroom (No. 1659) (para. 3);
  • Court Administration discretion to combine overflow (para. 4);
  • Parties’ Work Rooms (para. 5);
  • Jury Anonymity (para. 6);
  • Clothing/Logos (para. 7), which bans all persons in attendance from “wearing any mask or article of clothing that contains any outwardly-visible image, logo, or letters, or is otherwise dressed in a coordinated fashion with other attending observers in any manner which . . . is designed to send a message to the jury hearing this trial;”
  • “All earlier administrative and trial management and decorum orders addressing other trial logistics and management-related matters . . . remain in effect, except as and only to the extent expressly superseded by this Order (para. 8); and
  • “All other rules of decorum found in Minn. Gen. R. Prac.2 will be followed unless specifically modified by this order or other orders of the presiding judge. The HCSO and court staff are authorized to enforce the rules of decorum” (Para. 9).

The trial is scheduled to start on October 24 with jury selection followed by opening statements on November 7. The trial testimony and closing arguments are expected to end by December 16th, when the jury is anticipated to commence its deliberations.

Pretrial Motions

Judge Cahill, however, has not yet released his rulings on the defendants’ 170 pretrial motions that were argued before the court on October 6 and 7.[2]

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[1] Amended Trial Management Order, State v. Thao & Kueng, (Oct. 13, 2022).

[2] Hyatt, Litany of motions heard ahead of ex-MPD officers’ trial this month for George Floyd’s killing, StarTribune (Oct. 7, 2022); Forliti, State, cops seek to bar evidence in trial over Floyd killing, AP News (Oct. 5, 2022)..

Cuban Government Asks for U.S. Aid in Responding to Hurricane Ian Damages While Cubans Protest Over Continued Power Outages

As reported in a prior post, Hurricane Ian on September 27 stroke the western portion of the island of Cuba, and by the next day the entire island’s electricity was out.

 Cuba Requests U.S. Aid for Restoring Electricity[1]

According to the Wall Street Journal on September 30 the Cuban government requested the U.S. government to provide emergency aid for responding to the damages caused on the island by Hurricane Ian. No exact amount of aid was specified, and a State Department spokesman reportedly told the Journal that it continues to communicate with the Cuban government regarding the humanitarian and environmental consequences of this hurricane and last August’s fire at the oil storage depot in Matanzas. That spokesman said, “We are evaluating ways in which we can continue to support the Cuban people, consistent with U.S. laws and regulations.”

On October 2, the Cuban Foreign Ministry on its Twitter account stated, “The Governments of Cuba and the United States have exchanged information on the considerable damage and unfortunate losses caused by Hurricane Ian in both countries.” But there was no mention of any Cuban request for assistance or any U.S. responses.

Complicating the U.S. providing any aid to Cuba for hurricane-damages is the need for the U.S. to address the immense Hurricane Ian damages in Florida, the Carolinas and Puerto Rico.

“If Cuba asks for humanitarian aid and the U.S. gives it to them, that would be a real breakthrough,” says William LeoGrande, an expert on Cuba at American University in Washington.

Cuban Protests Lack of Electricity[2]

In the meantime, many Cubans have gone to the streets in Havana, Matanzas, Cardenas and Holguin to protest continued lack of electricity and to demand the government restore electricity and provide aid to areas ravaged by the hurricane. For the most part, these protests were calm. The police did not interfere. There were no arrests. Instead, the government sent officials and Communist Party members to talk with the protesters. And the government appeared to cut off the Internet and telecommunications networks across the country, possible to prevent news of the demonstrations from spreading and encouraging others to join.

However, there have been reports of police detention of some of these protesters.

Ted Henken, a Cuba expert and a professor at the City University of New York, said after last       summer’s protests “people are out again because the government has been unable to address          the root causes of the protests. The frustration has bled into the general population because it’s     a scarcity of food, electricity, the basics. That has only been exacerbated by this horrible hurricane.”

Conclusion

 If any reader has knowledge of the substance of any Cuba-U.S. communications on this subject, please provide a comment with that information to this post.

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[1] Salama & Cordoba, Cuba Makes Rare Request for U.S. Aid After Devastation From Hurricane Ian, W.S.J. (Sept. 30 & Oct. 1, 2022).; Cuba and the US maintain exchanges on the damage caused by Hurricane Ian, Granma (Oct. 2, 2022).

[2] Acosta & Lopez, Cuba’s power grid fails in wake of Hurricane Ian, leaving island without electricity, N.Y. Times (Sept. 27, 2022); Martinez, Cuba slowly starts restoring power after the entire island was blacked out, N.Y. Times (Sept. 28, 2022); Brown & Herrero, Cuba suffers total electrical outage as Hurricane Ian roars through, W.S.J. (Sept. 27 & 28, 2020); Acosta& Abi-Habib, Protests Erupt in Cuba Over Government Response to Hurricane Ian, N.Y. Times (Sept. 30, 2022); Cubans Protest Over Power Outage Caused by Hurricane Ian, N.Y. Times (Sept. 30, 2022); Cubans protest over power outages four days after Hurricane Ian, Guardian (Oct. 2, 2022); The Cuban regime accelerates its repressive machinery against the protests: disappearances, detainees and episodes of brutality, diario de cuba (Oct. 2, 2022);.

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane-Damaged Cuba Needs Immediate U.S. Recovery Help 

“Hurricane Ian caused great devastation [in Cuba]. The power grid was damaged, and the electrical system collapsed. Over four thousand homes have been completely destroyed or badly damaged. . . . In the western province of Pinar del Rio, famous for its tobacco production, over 5,000 farms were destroyed. In small towns like San Luis, 80% of all homes were left damaged . . . . Cuba must be allowed, even if just for the next six months, to purchase the necessary construction materials to REBUILD. Cubans are facing a major setback because of Hurricane Ian.”[1]

These words buttressed the demand by a U.S. organization, The People’s Forum,[2] in a full-page ad in the Sunday New York Times for the U.S. to end the U.S. embargo of the island, the U.S. designating Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” and the U.S. complex processes for dispatching disaster relief. The People’s Forum added the following:

  • “It is unconscionable at this critical hour to maintain the embargo and engage in collective punishment against an entire people by preventing Cuba from purchasing construction materials or receiving aid.”
  • President Biden put Cold war politics aside—even for six months!”
  • “The people of Cuba are part of our family—the human family. Don’t let outdated Cold War politics prevent peace-loving people from helping the Cubans to rebuild and return to their homes, rebuild the electrical grid, and have clean drinking water and access to food. The time to act is now!”
  • Cuba is our neighbor. The United States loses nothing by being a good neighbor and allowing Cuba to recover fully from this tragic moment.”[3]

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[1] Advertisement, Let Cuba Rebuild-Urgent Appeal to President Biden, N.Y.Times, p. A23 (Oct. 2, 2022). The ad solicited online donations through the website of another organization, LetCubaLive.

[2] The People’s Forum “are a movement incubator for working class and marginalized communities to build unity across historic lines of division at home and abroad. We are an accessible educational and cultural space that nutures the next generation of visionaries and organizers who believe that through collective action a new world is possible.” (The People’s Forum, About.)   The Forum previously has engaged in other efforts to promote U.S.-Cuba normalization. (The People’s Forum, Search Results: Cuba.)

[3] This advertised message provides an exclamation point to this blog’s most recent post, Criticism of President Biden’s “New Cuba Policy,” dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 1, 2022).