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Paul Giorgio: The Handshake Heard Around the World

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Ending the economic blockade of Cuba will help the people of Cuba who have suffered enough and will be a boon to American business, believes Paul Giorgio.

It is being referred to as the handshake heard round the world. That is the handshake that occurred between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro at the funeral of Nelson Mandela last week. Why is that handshake so important? Does it signal a thaw in US-Cuban relations?

There was some speculation that the President was just being polite, because Castro was sitting there with the other platform dignitaries and the President thought it was only polite to shake his hand as he was shaking other hands. This rationale is comical at best. Having done Advance for the President and Having done the opening of the UN General Assembly, I can tell you that many hours of thinking at the White House and the State Department goes into what the President will do and how to avoid this exact situation.

It's time for a change

I believe that the handshake was deliberate and long overdue. Cuba is one of the few counties in the world that we don’t have diplomatic relations with, North Korea being another. At least we were in a real war with the Koreans.

It is time we end the ridiculous boycott of Cuba and establish diplomatic relations with them. It is time we tell those crazy Cuban Republicans in Miami to start thinking in terms of 2014 and not 1959. The original Cuban refugees, who settled in Miami in 1959, mostly were part of Cuban Dictator Fulgenicio Batista repressive regime or the very wealthy who profited from it. So when Fidel Castro who led the revolution from 1949 to 1959 took control, they fled rather than face prison or death. A Great many of these families fled to Miami, where they have been affecting politics since their arrival.

It is also time that we stop allowing the right wing Cuban Repupulicans to effect American politics and American foreign policy.

What has Castro and the Cuban people done to America? Castro did nationalize American companies when he took control. These included sugar, Banana and Casino interests. That was 54 years ago. In fact most foreign policy experts agree that the boycott of Cuba has helped keep Castro in power. Instead of having to take responsibility for the failure of communism, Castro simply blames the United States for Cuba’s economic woes.

The US Chamber of Commerce estimates that it cost $1.2 Billion a year to the US economy because of the boycott. That is on top of all our other expenses associated with it such as Radio Marti. Add in the cost of our base at Guantanamo Bay and the expenses become significantly higher.

A win-win for the US and Cuba

As I write this Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Vietnam. We have trade agreements with China and Russia, Germany and Japan are vital allies of ours. All of them at one time or another has been an enemy of this country yet we have full diplomatic relations and full economic relations with each of them.

The President needs to tell the right wing Cuban American Republicans who control the politics of Dade County Florida, that enough is enough.

It is time to end the 50 year economic blockade of Cuba. In the long run it will help the people of Cuba who have suffered enough and it ultimately will be a boon to American business.

Paul Giorgio is a longtime Democratic Party Activist who has worked on numerous campaigns. He was a Lead Advance Person for President Clinton & Vice President Gore. He was Deputy Director of Special Events for President Clinton’s first Inauguration. He has been elected a delegate to numerous Democratic National Conventions and recently served as one of President Obama’s representatives on the Platform Committee. In 2013 he was chosen as a Presidential Elector. He is the President of Pagio, Inc., publishers of Pulse Magazine, Vitality Magazine and Worcester Medicine.


Related Slideshow: Best and Worst Run States in New England

How well do the New England states stack up against each other in terms of how they're currently run?

According to Wall Street 24/7, looking at a state's debt per capita, budget deficit, unemployment, median household income, and percentage below the poverty line are all indicators of a state's level operational success - or lack thereof.  

Below are how the New England states were ranked compared to each other, based on data from 2012 -- as well as the "best run" and "worst run" states in the country. 

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Rhode Island

National Rank, #47

> Debt per capita: $8,721 (3rd highest)
> Budget deficit: 6.9% (35th largest)
> Unemployment: 10.4% (3rd highest)
> Median household income: $54,554 (18th highest)
> Percent below poverty line: 13.7% (tied-20th lowest)


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National Rank, #41

> Debt per capita: $8,531 (4th highest)
> Budget deficit: 17.1% (12th largest)
> Unemployment: 8.4% (tied-14th highest)
> Median household income: $67,276 (4th highest)
> Percent below poverty line: 10.7% (4th lowest)


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National Rank, #30

> Debt per capita: $4,447 (12th highest)
> Budget deficit: 16.6% (14th largest)
> Unemployment: 7.3% (tied-22nd highest)
> Median household income: $46,709 (16th lowest)
> Percent below poverty line: 14.7% (tied-24th lowest)


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New Hampshire

National Rank, #25

> Debt per capita: $6,414 (8th highest)
> Budget deficit: 20.0% (8th largest)
> Unemployment: 5.5% (8th lowest)
> Median household income: $63,280 (7th highest)
> Percent below poverty line: 10.0% (the lowest)


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National Rank, #18

> Debt per capita: $6,414 (8th highest)
> Budget deficit: 20.0% (8th largest)
> Unemployment: 5.5% (8th lowest)
> Median household income: $63,280 (7th highest)
> Percent below poverty line: 10.0% (the lowest)


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National Rank, #6

> Debt per capita: $6,414 (8th highest)
> Budget deficit: 20.0% (8th largest)
> Unemployment: 5.5% (8th lowest)
> Median household income: $63,280 (7th highest)
> Percent below poverty line: 10.0% (the lowest)


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Worst Run State in US

50. California

> Debt per capita: $3,990 (20th highest)
> Budget deficit: 27.8% (3rd largest)
> Unemployment: 10.5% (2nd highest)
> Median household income: $58,328 (11th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 17.0% (18th highest)


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Best Run State in US

1. North Dakota

> Debt per capita: $3,033 (20th lowest)
> Budget deficit: None
> Unemployment: 3.1% (the lowest)
> Median household income: $53,585 (19th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 11.2% (6th lowest)



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