As BBG Watch reported, the Voice of America (VOA) English news website failed to post a news on President Obama’s recent meeting with Cuban dissidents.
But this latest commentary by the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812, a union representing federal employees of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), deals with yet another aspect of this story.
We repost the AFGE Local 1812 commentary as it appeared on the union’s website.
by American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812
Last Friday, November 8th, in South Florida, President Barack Obama met with two Cuban pro-democracy leaders. Both are past recipients of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
The President told Cuba’s leading dissidents that he admires their sacrifices, which signaled White House recognition of the peaceful opposition on the communist-ruled island and sent a message of hope and encouragement to those still risking their lives for freedom and democracy in Cuba.
“The most important thing here was the recognition by the President of the United States, the most powerful democracy in the world,” dissident Guillermo Farinas said after the meeting, as quoted by the Miami Herald newspaper.
Mr. Farinas is a spokesman for the Cuban Patriotic Union of Cuba. President Obama also met with Ladies in White leader, Berta Soler.
According to El Nuevo Herald, the President listened to the dissidents,“encouraged them and spoke of his admiration for their sacrifices.”
Now we ask, what would President Obama tell another Cuban dissident, Salvador Blanco? Now living in the United States, Salvador Blanco is one of the former employees of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting who was illegally RIFed by the OCB in Miami. As he told BBG Watch, he has served time in Cuba’s prisons. “I have exhibited 13 documentaries on human rights violations in Cuba and around the world, and the threat of populism in Latin America and in the United States, among others. These documentaries have been played in world venues including the Human Rights Commission in Geneva year after year. But that doesn’t matter”.
It was over two years ago that an Arbitrator ruled that the illegal RIF used to fire these employees should be reversed and that the former Radio Marti employees should be rehired and compensated. But instead of complying with what is supposed to be a binding decision, the Agency has repeated the same behavior that cost U.S. taxpayers 500 million dollars in the Hartman v. Albright 2001 legal case. It has ignored the ruling and filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The date for the final briefs in this appeals case is November 19th.
So we ask: what would President Obama tell Mr. Blanco if he knew of the situation at OCB? That he admires him but it’s OK for an Agency of the U.S. government to ruin his career, damage his family, and tarnish his reputation because federal managers would rather flaunt the law at the expense of U.S. taxpayers than comply with legal and supposedly binding decisions?
Or would the President of “the most powerful democracy in the world”, as Mr. Farinas noted, tell this rogue Agency that the law is the law, and should be complied with by the very same Agency that is tasked to broadcast U.S. values such as the rule of law to the rest of the world including those hoping for freedom and democracy in Cuba?
We at AFGE Local 1812, would like to know what President Obama would say to Cuban dissident Salvador Blanco, a former U.S. Federal government employee who made the mistake of thinking that in the United States, unlike Cuba, the law matters.