In a major development, Cuba went to the United Nations yesterday and announced it wanted it to normalize relations with the United States. However, Michele Bachmann won't have it. Not because of anything like "prove facts" or a "rationale and informed understanding of the issue," but because she read somewhere on the internet that there's going to be a second Cuban Missile Crisis involving Hezbollah.
Bachmann's comments on the issue were picked up by Crooks and Liars.
"Why would you normalize trade with a country that sponsors terror?" Bachmann told a crowd in Iowa yesterday. "There is reports that have come out that Cuba has been working with another terrorist organization called Hezbollah. And Hezbollah is looking at wanting to be part of missile sites in Iran and, of course, when you are 90 miles offshore from Florida, you don't want to entertain the prospect of hosting bases or sites where Hezbollah could have training camps or perhaps have missile sites or weapons sites in Cuba."
Bachmann's information apparently stems from a report in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The report has not been verified by any other actual news organization, but was picked up and exaggerated by several conservative news blogs and aggregators.
The report, however, does not claim that the Cuban government is involved with or aware of Hezbollah's plans in anyway. The report says that Hezbollah is also active in Brazil and Paraguay; countries not listed as sponsors of terrorism. So, there are actually no reports that "Cuba has been working with" Hezbollah. How hard the Cuban government is working to crackdown on any possible Islamic terrorist cells working with in its borders is a valid question, but there's no evidence they're actually working with Hezbollah.
The report also does not mention anything about missile site.
This isn't to defend Cuba. Cuba is in fact listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, but for its dealing back in the '80s with Colombian guerrillas, and not for any proven link to Islamic terrorists. This is merely to point out Cuba-US relations is a complicated enough issue on its own. It doesn't help matters when a presidential candidate, who seems totally uninformed on the issues, traffics in conspiracy theories and unconfirmed reports at her campaign stops.
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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Cuban-American chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has also addressed the report, saying, "Reports of a Hezbollah base in Cuba are dangerous yet unsurprising, if true," but mentioned nothing of missile bases. Tellingly, she appeared to have heard nothing of the reports from intelligence made available to her by virtue of her position. She did however promise, "to use the committee she chairs to seek answers from State Department officials."
It's not unsurprising Ros-Lehtinen would entertain the reports, but at least she's promising to get more information before declaring a second Cuban Missile Crisis.
"Its imperative our nominee understands the times that we live in," says Bachmann later on at the campaign event. We're not so sure understands much of anything.