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tv   News  Al Jazeera  February 3, 2015 11:00am-11:31am EST

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a review isn't it true that the castro regime provides sanctuary to joanne, on the f.b.i. list for murdering a new jersey state trooper. >> it is, sir. >> isn't it true that the castro regime is providing sanctuary to members of organization that the state department has named as foreign terrorist organizations? >> that has certainly been the case. >> isn't it true that the state department consider as foreign government providing sanctuary to a terrorist that has committed a terrorist in another country to be a supporter for international terrorism. >> certainly in the past, we have used that sanctuary as that has been clearly noted in our reports on cuba in our terrorist -- >> just to be moved beyond that, that is a standard you have used providing sanctuary to a terrorist. >> in the past, yes.
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>> part of the legal foundation established for designating a country as sponsors terrorism defines the term repeatedly provides support for international terrorism to include the recurring use of any part of the territory of the country as a sanctuary for terrorists or terrorist organizations, as a sanctuary and that's exactly what we have here among others. now, let me ask you this. the 18 month long secret negotiations began in june of 2013. the next month cuba and north korea got caught smuggling 240 metric tons of weapons through the panama canal the single biggest violationbiggest violation to date. was this part of your negotiations? >> i don't know if it was. >> has it been discussed since? >> with the cuban government? it certainly has been discussed with the cuban government since the revelation that have repeatedly. >> but since your engagement?
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>> didn't discuss with other governments and -- since my engagement has it been discussed with them? we certainly discussed the need to comply with international law and with requirements. >> well, good, i'm glad we talked about following international law because in the aftermath of this incident, the united nations acted forcefully. >> correct. >> and applied strong sanctions against north korea. >> well. >> let me finish. >> cuba got off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. you'd wonder if having the cubans have the biggest u.n. security council violation of sending migs and missile to say north korea cuba gets nothing because maybe that would upset the seek rem negotiations taking place. you talk about connectivity. isn't it true that cuba has had
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venezuela lay a fiber optic cable to cuba, partnered for several years and yet dissidents still don't ever access to the internet and other force of communication, because even if you think the law allows the investment of u.s. dollars to provide the link to the island, there is no guarantee as we see in china and other places that the government of cuba will permit such linkage to say ultimately take plagues to the average cuban. do you have guarantees of that? >> we have no guarantees, but that's why the assistant secretary said it will be clear who is keeping the cuban people from having that connectivity when they are no longer blame any barrier on us. >> well, they don't have a barrier. they already have a fiber optic line directly laid by venezuela into cuba. they had an calendarian company
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participate, them and there is no connectivity to the cuban people, because the castro regime will not allow that connectivity to take place. at the end of the day you've got no concession from the regime that even if you allow other technical connection to say take place that they will allow the cuban people to have access to it, so this is replete with challenges that we have in terms of not getting anything on behalf of the cuban people. mr. chairman i'd like to include statements in the record by the new jersey association of chiefs of police a letter to president obama from the new jersey state troopers fraternal association and by various sheriffs of new jersey as it relates to joanne chesmar. >> senator. >> thank you for your attendance today. in announcing the policy change, the president stated that this is fundamentally about freedom
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and openness. while i agree with the president's words and vision, i have questions about the castro regime which continue to wield absolute power on the island, and i am concerned they may not see it the same way. the briefing material that we received for this hearing it stated short term de10s in cuba for political reasons have continued for years. >> since the announcement, we've
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seen significant decrease, but i don't want to say that one month represents a trend. we want to be very, very precise and realistic here. even a single one of these detentions is too many. we are going to be watching this very very closely. >> has there been a single detention since the announcement of this policy. >> short term detentions, absolutely. >> how many? the number for january this has not come out publicly yet but i believe it's about 140 or so. >> since the announcement of this opening this overture, there have been over 140 roughly 140 new detentions. political detentions. >> the nature has not changed. >> i'm sorry. >> the nature of the cuban regime has not changed. >> do you believe what it will change? >> i am absolutely confident that the cuban people who have been fighting for change in cuba are going to prevail and be more empowered to prevail as a result of this policy. >> do you believe the castro regime will become your partner
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in that? >> that's not the way this works in any authoritarian state. >> you mention that had there were divisions within the civil rights community those people who support the changes being made and those who do not. the people who do not support the changes that we have been talking about today why do they not support those changes? >> senator i hesitate to speak for them but certainly listened so them when i was there. it was important for me to hear from all sides while i was there. many believe that it was not the right thing to do because they fear that the cuban government will not respond to our willingness to have a dialogue
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it's based on trying to empower them. they also may ever felt that we didn't get enough in the deal. it wasn't really a deal. it was what was in hour knoll interests. it was a policy in which we don't believe we conceded anything to the government, but there are differing views. i would let them speak for themselves some in the next panel and elsewhere to the best of their ability but i heard from them differences in tactics and the way we go about this, but not differences in goals or what we're all hoping to achieve. i certainly respected their views enormously and learned a great deal from some of them about things we might be able to do together going forward. >> following up on senator rubes question on the state department's role in the negotiations you stated the
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policy committee. >> many of these changes were discussed broadly before the negotiations began. >> some critics secretary jacobsen critics of the policy stated that the administration through an economic life line to the castro regime venezuela is struggling financially. >> i know there is concern over the cuban government gaining resources in the future because
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of this. what i can say that is the cuban government has been through extremely difficult economic times before, one of which they lost 30% of their g.d.p. >> how has this affected traditional alliances of cuba? >> they're alliances with other countries? >> correct. >> i don't know exactly how it will affect their ali answers whether with russia or venezuela, but certainly what our hope that is we can empower the conversation with the emerging entrepreneur yell class separating with the state gaining access to information.
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i think that is very powerful, and obviously the more people who are not reliant on the state for their economic future make their own economic decisions. i think politically and economically the more it empowers people to think twice about those old alliances. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. thank you for calling us together in this important hearing and really appreciate having the witnesses here. for over 50 years the united has followed a failed policy in cuba a policy that has done nothing to lift up the lives of ordinary cubans. >> one of the points aid over and over again is our thrust with an embargo has hurt the cuban people while it is
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probably. i believe president obama has taken a courageous step introducing true change here, increasing business for business and agriculture and taking the steps to improve telecommunications and internet access to the island. we will finally be able to engage cuba in a way we have not been able to since the embargo. we of course need to go further and i've been pleased to work with the senator on his legislation and senator leahy and others to end the travel ban for americans in my mind, the best ambassadors we have, or the best diplomats we have are the american people going and directly interacting with cubans and that's what we would do by ending this travel ban. i strongly believe that these
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new policies will help a growing number of cuban entrepreneurs can connect. i met with these new business owners last november when i traveled with senator to cuba. there is an entrepreneurial spirit there. i ask to put the rest of my statement at the record. >> without objection. >> i would ask specifically with regard to these interactions and entrepreneurship down there. what do you both contemplate between interactions between americans and cubans in terms of furthering business interests? >> well, senator i think you know that in the regulations that have been announced that were implemented in january.
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the regulations state that support for private entrepreneurs, this emerging class in the 200 or so areas that the cuban government permits private businesses, small businesses to exist are now permitted whether it's building materials or other forms of support i met with a group of about seven private entrepreneurs when i was there to barber to say a woman making soap and their sense of optimism and freedom and independence was really quite inspiring. their difficulty at getting supplies reliable supplies was also clearly the biggest part of their challenge, and so the hope is that people can now whether
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it's small businesses here, or corporations or individuals can they can now connect with some of those small businesses and try to support their work, whether it's equipment or goods to help them get more reliable supplies. there may be foundations and other organization that can do that, as well. it's clear that more people may be able to take advantage of the rather byzantine rules that exist for organizations. this is an area where others throughout the hemisphere can support this emerging class and they are keen to do so. >> let me add. >> please, go ahead. >> this is important because this gets us back to the central question on the table today and
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that is the -- what assistant secretary jacobsen just described is not anything that the cuban government wanted or asked for. this gets us back to the issue of leverage. these are steps the steps we have announced that are designed to get more resources and information to the cuban people, and imagine what would have happened if we had gone to the castro government and said open up your political system, or else we will not help connect cuba to the internet, or else we will not help these small business people. how much do you think we could ever gotten for that even on the question of diplomatic relations. they are now at least retorically trying to put conditions on that. they are not comfortable with it. they are nervous bit. it creates possibilities not guarantees because senator menendez is absolutely right it now depends on them, their
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willingness to unleash this stuff and they may not be willing to do that, but it does put the burden on them and that makes them nervous and that is the point of the strategy. >> the important point here is we are trying to empower the cuban people. >> right. >> and we do that in the business area, we do that in a number of areas with these new policies. i think that that is the thrust of this policy, and a very important thrust in terms of moving us forward. >> if i could senator the other thing critical is when we held our press conferences after the first round of talks the cuban government held press conference and i did, as well at the talks themselves. cuban independent media were not able to come to that press conference, which is why the next day i held a larger one in our principle officer's residence, because all of the cuban independent media that we knew of was invited. we made sure they were there
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but the cuban government actually broadcast my press availability in spanish live for the first time, so i felt it was important to talk about things like human rights, to talk about things like private businesses, because they were airing it live. cuban people were able to hear from an american official first time live and then to have cuban independent media be at the principle officer's residence to empower them directly that way as well. >> thank you. >> senator cain. >> thank you. just a moment of personal privilege, this is a sup committee on the western hemisphere and there was an interesting announcement today from the vatican. the vatican has declared archbishop romero's death, they
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martyred him the first step toward beatification. he was killed by death swads one of the towering figures in human rights. came to see the enormous influence he had for good, standing against violence, and we're here in the western hemisphere subcommittee meeting and it's an important thing to acknowledge that this just happened a couple of hours ago. this is a very important hearing and debate. i had dear friends on both sides of it and it's caused me to grapple with the u.s.-cuba relationship and the whole concept of what do diplomatic relationships mean, what do they stand for why do we have them?
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we clearly have diplomatic relationship witness so many nations that we disagree with about human rights or other issues. they are merely a normalized issue to begin a channel to raise issues. recently we took a trip under the leadership of senator mccain to saudi arabia, qatar and israel. saudi arabia, we had an opportunity to raise a very important human rights issue saudi arabia had sentenced a political blogger to 1,000 lashes administered 50 at a time one day a week for 20 weeks followed by 10 years in prison for something that in this country, it might annoy us what the blogger had to say but would not be punishable in any means especially in any way so barbaric. when we arrived they knew we were going to raise this issue. they had done the first day of
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the flogging but postponed the second day. we raised it with the officials and told them that this is an alliance, we are allies in many ways, but this is so counter to our culture counter to standards of human rights that we urge you to reconsider this. it makes the relationship so much more difficult if you do things like this. the announcement came friday they were postponing the second day of the flogging. that doesn't mean they are not going to do it. just because we raise issues doesn't mean anybody will do it because we ask but we have a channel in the highest level when we have normalized diplomatic relationship to say put on the table things that really bother us and encourage other nations to be better. whether or not we do, having that channel and ability to push it is something that i think is very very important. these human rights issues in cuba are very, very severe. there's human rights issues, i
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read as car romero's statements about the level of oppression in el salvador he was dealing with, he could be speaking about cuba in 2015 or a lot of places in the world. these are very serious issues. i tend to come down on the side that a more normal relationship will give us more angles and leverage to play to promote better behavior. this was alluded to only briefly. let me ask you this question. senator boxer put into the record a statement of nations that expressed start. what about the regional reaction? i have worried over time that the u.s. position vis a vis cuba has put sort of a ceiling on our relationships in the region in ways that could be a challenge and whether it's in international institutions for northern american states or bilateral diplomacy. there's so much more upside for engagement in the americas and we always give the america's
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short solicit. now we're going to pivot to asia, you know, it was about europe now the middle east, now to asia. seems we're always making the america's be the caboose on this train. i feel the policies put a ceiling on the relationship in the region. whether has been the reaction? >> the policy toward cuba had in fact always been some would call an irritant in the western hemisphere in our relationships with countries in the western hemisphere. some have called it a weight. i think it has been a problem. we will always stand for our principles, talk about and promote and seek to advance human rights. we're not going to give up on that for a moment, and we're going to do that as effectively as we can but the hostility towards the way in which we've
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done it the in the five decades vis a vis cuba was a real problem with the countries of this hemisphere and they sought to distance themselves from us in ways that impeded us getting other things done with them. getting other things done on cuba but also on human rights elsewhere in the hemisphere, whether it was press freedom throughout the hemisphere, or other human rights issues, so this is, as tom said, the biggest reaction we got is this has changed president santos of columbia said this has changed the history of u.s.-latin america relations that it will be really a change throughout the hemisphere. it gives lift to our policy objectives throughout the hemisphere. >> secretary any additional thoughts on that? >> sure, let's be clear. there have been too many excuses made for cuba in the hemisphere
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for too many years and i don't like it, but -- and i don't think they were good excuses to the extent they used the embargo. >> you are listening to the senate subcommittees hearings about normalizing relation witness cuba. i want to go to our expert with us here who teaches at the city university in new york and also the senior director of policy at the america society and council of the americas. i'll begin with you since you are now sitting down for the first time. one quote has said the nature of the cuban regime has not changed, but i am confident it will, that being the undersecretary for democracy. this whole issue of whether or not you can change cuba but not the castes, is that a workable policy on the part of the united states? >> i think so. if you look at the way the democratic transitions and political change that happened,
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there's always the expectation that somehow the bottom is going to fall out of the castro regime. >> when raul took power some said fidel is no longer in power, we're going to see a moderation in raul. we did not see that. >> more pragmatism perhaps but not moderation in terms of political control. change has to come from the bottom, from the island. gorbachev didn't want the end of the soviet union. he loosened economic controls and what emerged were pockets of political independence. that's what this policy is seeking to do, promote change without making change. >> the castes are not going to change but raul is going to leave. >> raul, he said he was. let's hold him to his word. he said he is only going to be in for two terms his second ending 2018. he's quite old. he's only five years younger
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than his brother both in their 80's. they need to retire for health reasons, probably. there's a new generation of people they have groomed and want to transition to them, who are much like them, but aren't them. i think economic pragmatism that chris mentioned is probably the way that raul castro wants to set his legacy, because his legitimacy is based on whether or not he can bring home the bacon. he's tried economic reform. there are significant changes under him but the results have been marginal at best. the question is are they going to double down, go deeper and broader. this i think is a way for the united states to try to encourage that, but also to help the cuban people push for that. >> chris i want to ask you a question when we see change like this take place and the most recent example i can think of is liberia where you see a nation torn apart in liberia by
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war and 20 years later the people lieu fled, who had the economic resource to say flee came back and said good, now we are going to come back and reclaim our land, take charge of what we had to walk away from under duress, it's difficult when people say you left us behind. is that going to happen in cuba? >> i think there's very much that risk. it's also you overlay on that a race factor, as well. most people who left cuba were more of european descent. >> something a lot of people don't realize. >> people who return have resources, much more savvy because they've left the island that's been under a 50 year plus dictatorship come back with resources and there's going to be a racial divide. people in cuba have gotten darker because the people who stayed are of african descent.
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cubans returning half a million coming and going cuban americans coming and going and cuban its leaving so that deep divide is beginning to be diluted a little bit. >> when we come back, we'll continue addressing that issue as to whether there should be a larger debate about cuban's roles. we are going to take a break. our continuing coverage of the senate hearings will continue right after this.
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