Thursday, February 09, 2006

U.S. to Cuban delegation in Mexico City: You can't stay here.

How in the world... I mean literally the entire world, can the administration of George Bush actually spread their tentacles into a foreign country and see to it that lodging is denied to a delegation of Cubans ? The answer my friends is called the Helms-Burton act.
Brookly McLaughlin, a spokesman for the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, confirmed Tuesday that the department had told Starwood to expel the Cuban delegation.

"The hotel in Mexico City is a U.S. subsidiary, and therefore prohibited from providing a service to Cuba or Cuban nationals," McLaughlin said, referring to the Helms-Burton law, which tightened U.S. trade sanctions first imposed against Cuba in 1961.

"The hotel acted in accordance with U.S. sanctions," he said.
So there you have it. Not only is the hotel in Mexico, or any other nation in which it operates not allowed to provide service to Cuba, it can not even legally serve Cuban nationals. I suppose that it is required for all U.S. subsidiaries to ask for proof of nationality before offering services to anyone. If that nationality is Cuban, no room at the inn for you.

Needless to say the Mexican government is not amused:
Mexico is weighing a diplomatic complaint against the United States over a case in which a U.S. owned hotel expelled Cuban representatives attending an oil meeting here last week...

Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said he personally favors the highest possible fine - an amount equivalent to about US$463,000 - against Mexico City's Hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton for applying foreign laws on Mexican soil.
I guess there are laws in Mexico against something known as... what is the word I'm looking for here... ahh, I believe it is "discrimination". Mexico has laws that forbid discrimination based upon a persons nationality. It seems that Mexico has yet to get the memo on this. The U.S. has determined that it is now ok to discriminate based upon nationality, religious beliefs, (not many Catholics were rounded up after 9/11 with no charges), political beliefs,* if you are named Ted Kennedy **or a four year old child ** wrongly put on the no fly list, if a CIA flunky has a hunch*** about you, or for any of a plethora of other reasons. When will Mexico get with the program and start towing the administration line here!? (I just thank my lucky stars that I'm a corpulent, white, male... wait a minute I'm a liberal!)

I think at some point this will wind up in court and the administration will be laughed off the witness stand. The U.S. has no right to compel a company to break the laws of another nation. Or we had no right before this gang of neo cons took over and decided the world was their private property.

You may have noticed some asterisks after the links in the sentence regarding the types of discrimination that are now ok with this administration. I'm trying something new here. Rather than breaking up the sentence with a description of each story, I'll footnote them below. If it works maybe I'll do more of it in the future... if not I'll cease and desist. But I'll never know how it works unless I try it at least once right?!

* Link details the story of French activist Jose Bove, denied entry to America for no apparent reason other than he denounces globalization and genetically altered food.

**Link to a story detailing the mistaken addition of Ted Kennedy and four year old Edward Allen to the no fly list.

***Links to the story of Khaled Masri, a German citizen who was rendered to Syria after a case of mistaken identity.

This is a Hotel in between a rock and a hard place. The US laws are not enforcible in Mexico. This is obvious. However, a US subsidiary can realistically have reason to fear US government reprisals against it's holdings that are located within the US. The company must then decide whether it is more costly to violate Mexican law or US law. The hotel owners lose money either way and this is now a potential donor to the Democrat party. For the sake of a vendetta on Castro, the Bush administration risks the loss of good relations with Mexico and support of the wealthy hotel/tourism industry.

All that said, the French activist was a poor example to use here. Quoting the article you linked to:

"The Frenchman rose to fame in the late 1990s for denouncing globalization and junk food, and spent six weeks in jail in early 2003 for smashing up a McDonald’s restaurant. He was sentenced to four months in prison in November for destroying a field of genetically modified corn in southern France."

This is an activist that has been known to go beyond Free Speech and express himself by violating the rights of others and destroying their property. This is a known criminal activist and it is definitely within the rights of a sovereign nation to deny entry to a person that could be rightly labeled an eco/political-terrorist.

That same article on the frenchman went on to say:

" “This is ridiculous, this is illegal, you’re violating his free speech,” Kramer said. He said calls to the U.S. Immigration Department and to the Department of Homeland Security had failed to secure an explanation.“ "

The idea that the US must allow a foreigner with a criminal past to enter the US in order to express his views is what is truly "ridiculous". Just as US laws and the US Constitution don't apply in Mexico, the First Amendment does not apply to a foreign national with a criminal past that has not even reached US soil yet. Perhaps he wants the right to vote here as well? Make use of the 2nd amendment and carry a gun here on US land. What other rights under the US Constitution/Bill of Rights does this article want to grant a French citizen?
Now you're blaming the Bush administration for enforcing a law that was passed by Congress 10 years ago, before Bush took office! Even if you don't like the law, don't misplace your criticism.
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