Tuesday, February 7

Unesco, Castro Gives Chavez Jose Marti Award--So Why Did We Re-Join?

The New York Sun has a great editorial you must read (subscription required to read the entire article).
When President Bush announced in September of 2002 that America would rejoin the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after an 18-year absence, this newspaper ran a critical editorial headlined "The Unesco Blunder" arguing that it was a waste of $60 million in taxpayer money and that not even the Clinton administration had rejoined Unesco. We were reminded of that editorial yesterday upon viewing the photograph - reproduced on our front page today - of Fidel Castro presenting the Venezuelan anti-American leader Hugo Chavez with a $5,000 Unesco award. This came but hours after Mr. Chavez's vice president had called Mr. Bush the "North American Hitler," the Associated Press reports. Mr. Castro is a ruler-for-life who jails political dissidents and whose country is on the American list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Here is the press release from UNESO:
14-12-2005 4:30 pm President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela will receive the 2005 International José Martí Prize in a ceremony that will take place in Havana (Cuba) on 28 January. The ceremony will coincide with the anniversary of the birth, in 1853, of José Martí the Cuban humanist, writer, translator, diplomat and teacher, who is known as the “champion” of Cuba’s independence. The Martí Prize was created in 1994 by UNESCO’s Executive Board on the initiative of Cuba to honour an individual or institution having contributed to the unity and integration of the countries of Latin American and the Caribbean and to the preservation of their identities, cultural traditions and historical values.
The Sun has a report on the award ceremony.
Castro and Chavez seized the occasion to criticize the government in Washington, taking advantage of the prestige of the United Nations and Unesco, which, like Turtle Bay itself, draws 22% of its annual $305 million budget from American funds.

"They will forever try to preserve the U.S. empire by all means, while we will do everything possible to shred it," Mr. Chavez said during a 2 1/2 hour long speech before 200,000 people gathered at Havana's Revolution Plaza, with Mr. Castro by his side, according to the Associated Press.
So, why would we want to be part of this organization that serves as a public relations arm to murderers like Castro and Chavez?
Back in September of 2002, Mr. Bush said, "as a symbol of our commitment to human dignity, the United States will return to Unesco. This organization has been reformed and America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights and tolerance and learning."
The Administration would benefit from following the New York Sun Editorial's advice.
If the president is seriously committed to human dignity and advancing human rights, the right move would be to pull America right back out of Unesco, because the events of the past few years - and the photograph on our front page - have shown that Mr. Bush was mistaken when he said the organization has been reformed.
I could not find the fotograph in the NY Sun web site, but here it is via AP and Yahoo. In a time of inreased government waste, it amazes me that we support this sort of thing. What we need in D.C. is a little more common sense.