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Wasserman writes: "Our American president's long-overdue visit to Cuba has been a great thing for many reasons. But maybe our elected officials should cease their hypocritical yapping about the human rights situation in Cuba until they come clean about what's happening here in the United States."

The US right now has the world's largest prison population by far. (photo:
The US right now has the world's largest prison population by far. (photo:

America's Astounding Human Rights Hypocrisy in Cuba

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

23 March 16


ur American president’s long-overdue visit to Cuba has been a great thing for many reasons.

But maybe our elected officials should cease their hypocritical yapping about the human rights situation in Cuba until they come clean about what’s happening here in the United States.

To be sure, there is much to say about how this authoritarian regime has handled dissent. The details abound in the corporate media.

But the idea of the United States lecturing Cuba or any other country on this planet about human rights comes down somewhere between embarrassing and nauseating. Consider:

  • The US right now has the world’s largest prison population by far. There are 2.2 million citizens in prison here for offenses that include smoking pot and failing to pay off certain debts. At its peak, there were 2.5 million in Stalin's Soviet Gulag.

  • The US prison population is hugely over-filled with African-Americans and Hispanics.

  • The racial bias of the prison population is directly related to a deliberate Jim Crow strategy of disenfranchisement aimed at keeping people of color from voting.

  • There are more citizens in US prisons than there are prisoners in China, another authoritarian country. China’s population is 4 to 5 times as large as that of the US. They do not have an alleged Bill of Rights.

  • The American prison population currently represents almost a quarter of the entire population of Cuba.

  • Rape, torture, extended solitary confinement, and other human rights offenses are common in US prisons. In many cases, decent medical care is notably lacking, resulting in avoidable illness and death.

  • More than 500,000 Americans are in prison for victimless crimes relating to substances they have chosen to put in their own bodies rather than harm done anyone else.

  • On the actual island of Cuba, the US holds a reserve at Guantanamo that the Cuban people want returned to them. In the interim, prisoners are held there in denial of all human rights, often without trial, in some cases being subjected to what can only be termed torture. Some have been held for years after their release has been authorized. Guantanamo is maintained on Cuban soil precisely so those held there can be denied their human rights.

  • The United States still has the death penalty, which has been repeatedly used to execute human beings who later prove innocent. One former president of the United States, George W. Bush, personally authorized 152 executions while governor of Texas.

  • Access to due process in the United States is significantly restricted by race and class.

  • There are numerous political prisoners being held without human rights guarantees throughout the US prison system whose “offenses” are every bit as illusory as many of the prisoners held in violation of human rights in Cuba.

  • Among them is Leonard Peltier, a native American wrongly convicted of murder four decades ago. Peltier has repeatedly petitioned for a new trial and been turned down by presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and now Obama, even though the evidence overwhelmingly indicates he is innocent of the two murders for which he was convicted in the mid 1970s. Peltier is now suffering from advanced diabetes. He’s being held under extremely harsh conditions in clear violation of a wide range of laws allegedly protecting the basic human rights guaranteed all prisoners by the US criminal justice code and by international law. Peltier has grandchildren and great grandchildren he has never seen. If he were being held under the same circumstances in Cuba, the US would be screaming for his release.

  • In 2001, as he was leaving office, Bill Clinton chose to pardon multi-millionaire Marc Rich, with immense direct and indirect benefits later coming to the Clintons and their various interests. Though Clinton was thoroughly and repeatedly briefed about Leonard Peltier, he chose to leave Peltier in prison, to not grant him a new trial, and to do nothing to mitigate the illegal conditions under which he’s being held.

  • Since Richard Nixon’s declaration of the Drug War in 1971, various branches of the US police system have arrested more than 41 million American citizens, almost four times as many people as now live in Cuba. The arrests have been heavily weighted against people of color and low income. With the $1 trillion or more spent on this mass incarceration, all those arrested could have been sent to college.

  • In recent years the incentive to incarcerate American citizens (guilty or otherwise) has been vastly accelerated by the establishment of private prisons, whose profits are based on the number of people they can lock up. Americans charged with crimes are now viewed as “cash flow” by this for-profit prison system, which has every incentive to keep them incarcerated as long as possible, no matter how their alleged crime or violated human rights might stack up.

  • Though they recently crashed the entire US economy with a stunning array of criminal activities, no banker or financier who helped devastate the livelihoods of millions of families worldwide has gone to prison.

  • American police forces routinely maim and kill innocent citizens based largely on race and class, with little or no legal recourse.

  • In the name of fighting terrorism and the Drug War, US police forces now regularly confiscate cash and other property from innocent citizens without due process or reasonable legal recourse. The funds are often used for the personal benefit of the officers involved.

  • A nationwide program of electronic spying on private citizens has been in place in the US for many years, leaving the Fourth Amendment right to privacy in shambles.

There is, of course, much more. But at very least we hope that President Obama will admit to some or all of the above amidst his cringe-worthy lectures to the Cubans on the sacred nature of human rights.

Harvey Wasserman’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of Us History can be had via The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, co-written with Bob Fitrakis, is at your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+28 # Bruce Gruber 2016-03-23 13:49
snark attack

Your point? After all, this is America ... and we're special
+41 # jimmyjames 2016-03-23 13:58
Quoting Bruce Gruber:
snark attack

Your point? After all, this is America ... and we're special

Not only special, but exceptional! America, home of the free, if you can afford it...
+18 # Bruce Gruber 2016-03-23 14:15
more 'n' likely "if you can pay for it"; being 'free' is unAmerican! Having credit card debt is the way the 0.1% collect next week's paycheck in advance ... just takes being majority voting shareholders in the handful of banks that issue all those wondrous little plastic shackles and handcuffs ... that, and, a little Madison Avenue hype bringing you the 'entertainment' nuze.
0 # newell 2016-03-24 13:54
Good comments, but the 1% have our number--we want all their shiny plastic bullshit--the Cubans, the Russians, Chinese--and especially us. By the time they find out the consumer culture is crap--they can't go back--we're all addicted-- just as we can't quit our modern and empty, celebrity class culture........ Or can we?
+23 # barkingcarpet 2016-03-23 17:00
Cuba is better off without U.S. strings and interventions of capitalistic destruction.
+17 # Patriot 2016-03-23 14:24
It is the United States which has violated its own and international laws and the Geneva Convention with secret detention camps, torture, and kidnap of persons who mostly have proven to be innocent of whatever they were accused of, but never formally, legally charged with.

At the moment, with a bunch of yahoos running for president who promise to conduct even more grevious violations of human rights, the United states is not in any position to question ANY other nation's morals, I am ashamed to say.

I also am ashamed to see how many readers of RSN have not helped to pay the bills for the news they read every day. At almost the end of this month, readers have provided only slightly more than HALF of the money it takes to pay salaries and utility bills, etc. Can your life run on half-pay?

Please, people, chip in. Don't wait until RSN announces it will have to close its doors--because that moment is rapidly approaching.

This is READER supported news--and you are a reader. So please, provide some support if you haven't already done so. Just $5 or $10, provided every month by every reader, would put RSN in great shape, so it's staff could concentrate on gathering news, instead of wondering where their next paycheck will come from.

Reader, please pitch in!!
+4 # bardphile 2016-03-23 15:39
Well said. I give one or two small contributions a year to RSN and would consider giving more, except I don't feel like carrying water for the thousands who contribute nothing. Frequent posters in particular should ALL be kicking in something. RSN is a valuable civic resource, whether or not you agree with everything that's posted (which would of course be impossible). We're getting something of value; you should help as a matter of ethics. (If you're truly destitute, as many people are these days, these remarks don't apply.)
0 # reo100 2016-03-23 16:24
Maybe it's time we turn it into a paid subscription only site? That way, everyone has to pay their far share? Would be sad to see happen.
+1 # keenon the truth 2016-03-23 18:09
Well, bardphile, how about contributing a 'small amount' every month? While it makes me angry,too, that many people are getting a free ride, at the same time I care enough about RSN to continue a monthly contribution.
+2 # jwl 2016-03-23 19:46
I contribute monthly, even though I know how small a part of the reading population I seem to be. Still, I do it, as a matter of principle. Why don't you? Your unwillingness to "carry the water" for those who contribute nothing sounds like a copout, to me.
0 # newell 2016-03-24 14:49
All endeavors have free riders. Food stamp cheaters, people cut in lines, the rich get social security, tax cheaters. It's life and you can't throw the baby out with the bath water. I try not to let them bother me--but it is difficult. And some are single parents, or on a pension with little money--and like taxes, it should be progressive. Maybe we are paying for them. I understand that RSN has overhead but a lack of money shouldn't keep them from participating, because internet forums are as close to democracy as we are going to get--(until we do away with representatives ).
+3 # Anonymot 2016-03-23 15:54
I did and I agree. The election will come and go and we'll still need a source of honest news.

Another piece of honest news is DEEP STATE by Mike Lofgren. The first part is difficult, but intense readin. However, from p. 170 he goes into exactly who and how America is really run. We've all known that the idiots we elect are window dressing, but he puts dots on the Is and crosses the Ts. Dazzling.
He'd make a great VP. And he has the experience.
+16 # Johnny 2016-03-23 14:40
Let Cuba shut down its military bases and concentration camps in the U.S. and the U.S. shut down its military bases and concentration camps in Cuba. Let Cuba end its economic blockade against the U.S. and the U.S. end its economic blockade against Cuba. Let both countries provide their people with free education and health care and food and shelter as a human right. Let each country stop funding subversion in the other, and free all political prisoners, beginning with the Holy Land Five and Chelsea Manning.
+15 # Indie 2016-03-23 14:46
The United States has long prided itself on being an example to the world for being exceptional. We continue to be an example, unfortunately a bad one. We can lecture no one. We can not cast stones at others when we commit the same or worse offenses. The rest of the world must be appalled by both our behavior towards our citizens, our military power and some of the people running for president.
-10 # Shades of gray matter 2016-03-23 15:16
ALL of the above may well be true, but for much of Revolutionary Cuban history KGB and STASI & their Cubano minions would have stripped the skin off of Harvey one inch at a time. If necessary, someone will spend $2B this fall to remind Americans.
0 # bardphile 2016-03-23 15:45
If you're saying that torture was common in revolutionary Cuba, I suspect you're right. It's been a curse in many Latin American countries. (Reference the DR as depicted by Llosa in Feast of the Goat). Similarly, pre-revolutiona ry Cuba. Greene's Our Man in Havana is an insanely funny book; the police chief that courts the protagonist's daughter has an ashtray made out of human skin.
+1 # lorenbliss 2016-03-23 19:03
Harvey? The imaginary rabbit?
+5 # MidwestTom 2016-03-23 15:52
I read that Ithaca NY is considering, if I understand their proposal correctly, to create one location where drug addicts can go ad safely get their fixes.

I know both Canada and some European countries have trued this approach with actual success. The centers take some of the crime out of the heroine business, while also showing some success at rehabilitation.
+6 # Anonymot 2016-03-23 15:57
Obama's push is because he is himself pushed. The Mafia wants its gambling den back and all the real estate that goes with it.
+6 # lorenbliss 2016-03-23 19:33
You are almost certainly correct. That and -- as I said on another thread -- the One Percent's abject fear of any functional socialist state. In either case, this new alleged rapprochement will certainly make it easier for infiltration by the USian goon squad (CIA, MI and their Mafia auxiliaries) and thus capitalist destabilization of the Cuban economy.

Obviously that's the plan. The question is whether the Cubans will continue weathering the storm. And I of course hope they will.
+1 # Candravali 2016-03-23 16:11
We're the best!
+8 # Dale 2016-03-23 16:30
Cuba harassed by endless years of terrorist attacks has survived the willful determination of the American Empire to destroy the Revolution. Its economic development has been checked by 55 years of embargo, but nevertheless Cuba is #1 in Latin America on indices of human development. Cuba has health and educational achievements comparable with the most advanced wealthy countries, Propagandized as being a communist dictatorship Cuba´s participatory democracy looks pretty good in comparison to the alienation and atomization of American citizenry, where a vote can only be for a perceived lesser of two evils. Cuba´s substantive democracy of opportunity and equality is unparalleled anywhere, limited only by the debilitating effects of the Embargo, while the U.S. closes opportunity and widens inequality. Cuba´s participatory mass organizations and elected local and regional councils look good compared to the rigged elections of the United States, to the rule of plutocracy, to the totalitarianism of the National State of insecurity.
Now the idea is to bring Cuba back into the sphere of globalization by supporting “civil society,” that is forming a business class that will have growing political clout. Apparently the CIA, the principle actor in attempts to bring down the Revolution, will now take back-seat to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
+4 # WaaDoo 2016-03-23 17:44
Harvey is right to a large extent. Nevertheless the U.S. Federal prison system far exceeds the conditions of every other prison in the world. This is due to the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. See Ramos vs Lamm as proof.

The legal system itself is actually worse that Harvey presents it. Just one word of caution to anyone facing trial or plea agreement. DON'T TAKE THE PLEA UNLESS THE JUDGE PRESIDING AGREES TO THE TERMS BY SIGNING THE DOCUMENT. OTHERWISE - IT WILL BE A BROKEN CONTRACT !
+4 # WaaDoo 2016-03-23 17:45
Since Cuba came up. there are still Marielito Cubans being held in U.S. prisons without having been convicted of a crime and without any set date for release. ICE keeps them there.
-8 # Shades of gray matter 2016-03-23 18:59
A Police State with decent healthcare is still a Police State. How much of their valued education system is for indoctrination? These cannot be answered by comparisons to other countries. Raul, tear down that Police State. KEEP GlobalCorps OUT. Start U.S.-Cuba boat traffic by May 1. Good needed goods to Cubans ASAP. Play World Series there 2016. Promote Christmas in Cuba NOW.
+1 # reo100 2016-03-23 21:02
I wish every american could realize this happens in (their name) and at (their expense) If they did, maybe they would want it to end.
-2 # Right To Work 2016-03-24 07:50
Harvey Wasserman must have been born yesterday. He needs to check out the real Cuba described by Humberto Fontova.

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