The Big Question On Cuba: To Normalize Or Not To Normalize

U.S. President Joe Biden walks across the South Lawn as he returns to the White House on July 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Good morning! It’s time to get up!

Welcome to the third edition of the morning news roundup. It’s a peek into the stories I am reading and watching each day. After next week, these will only be available to subscribers. 

NEW NORMALIZATION: Earlier this month, before the protests began in Cuba, I noted the government there criticized President Jo Biden for moving away from former President Obama’s efforts to establish normal relations with the country. On Tuesday, one of Obama’s closest foreign policy advisors, Ben Rhodes, published a fascinating thread making the case for a return to normalization, which Biden promised to continue on the campaign trail and was canceled under former President Trump. 

“For decades, Cubans have suffered under both a repressive Communist government and a punishing U.S. Embargo. A U.S. Cold War-era policy has failed for over sixty years to achieve its stated objective of bringing democracy to Cuba while harming Cubans,” Rhodes wrote. “For the last two years of the Obama Administration, we pursued engagement w/ the Cuban people via normalization of relations. Cuba’s nascent private sector was growing, more Americans were traveling to the island, Cubans had more resources, connections, and hope for the future.”

Rhodes urged the Biden administration to “take steps that can make things better for the Cuban people, who are extraordinary and deserve so much better.” He also argued Democrats can hold on to Florida, a pivotal state in presidential elections, while relaxing our stance towards Havana.

Meanwhile in Miami, where the Cuban exile community is an influential voting bloc, there were protests yesterday calling for “humanitarian help and military intervention in Cuba.”

Speaking of former presidents and military intervention, George W. Bush weighed in on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and called it “a mistake” that would have “unbelievably bad” consequences. 

CASH MONEY: Democrats have unveiled a proposal for a budget resolution that could circumvent a Republican filibuster through reconciliation. As ever, one of the big questions in D.C. was whether this was a win or loss for the progressive wing. 

The proposal sets the overall limit of spending at $3.5 trillion. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders had called for spending of up to $6 trillion and Sanders indicated he would not support a two of three trillion dollar economic package.

In spite of this, Sanders praised the proposal, which would mean total investment of $4.1 trillion as a “big deal.” To pass through reconciliation, the plan needs almost unanimous Democratic support in both chambers. Moderates in the Senate have been working on a bipartisan plan for less than $1 trillion in new spending. 

LAW & ORDER: Federal prosecutors have indicted an Iranian intelligence official and four accomplices — including one who resides in the U.S. — for a wild kidnapping plot that involved seizing a dissident from her home in Brooklyn and taking her to Venezuela on a speedboat. The man who lived in California was the only member of the group that was arrested. 

BACKCHANNEL: A group of German academics analyzing hate speech preserved a channel on Telegram, a messaging app that has been favored by extremists. According to one of the researchers, it included “exact planning” for the January 6 attack on the Capitol. 

“They were discussing which hotels were the closest to the Capitol. The most striking message which I remember was, ‘in the morning session with Donald Trump, just take food. In the second session, near the Capitol, take everything- guns, food, everything you have,” Ph.D candidate Veronika Solopova, who annotated thousands of the messages, said in an interview.

YIKES: Far right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is in the hospital undergoing treatment for “an unremitting bout of the hiccups which has lasted for more than 10 days.”

ON TAP: Eric Adams, the likely next mayor of New York City, is set to hold a joint press conference on gun violence with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor’s awful relationship with the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, has been a driving force in New York’s politics for years. While it might seem like Adams is starting off on a much better note, it’s important to remember that de Blasio and Cuomo were once seen as close friends.

FUN FACT: Today is the 232nd anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution. 

Marie Antoinette, who was queen at the time and whose excesses fueled anger towards the monarchy, had a small “model village” built on the grounds of her palace in Versailles. The queen hosted parties and events for her children in the fake town where her staff played out the roles of everyday people. 

That’s all for today! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to The Uprising and tell your friends! And if you work in politics, please don’t forget to leave a (news) tip on your way out → hunter.walker@protonmail.com