The Editorial Board of The Washington Post:
President Obama’s ‘betrayal’ of Cuban democrats
PRESIDENT OBAMA said he decided to normalize relations with Cuba because “we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values through engagement.” So it’s important to know the reaction of those Cubans who have put their lives on the line to fight for democracy and human rights. Many have supported engagement and opposed the U.S. embargo. But they are now pretty much unanimous in saying that the way Mr.?Obama has gone about this is a mistake.
Actually, “mistake” is the polite word used by Berta Soler of the Ladies in White, an astonishingly courageous group of women who march each week in support of political prisoners. “Betrayal” was the term used by several others, who asked why Mr. Obama had chosen to lift economic restrictions and dispatch an ambassador without requiring the “significant steps toward democracy” he once said must precede liberalization.
Guillermo Fariñas, the general director of the dissidents’ United Anti-Totalitarian Front, told reporters in Havana that Mr. Obama had promised in a November 2013 meeting with himself and Ms. Soler that any U.S. action on Cuba “would be consulted with civil society and the nonviolent opposition. Obviously this didn’t happen .?.?. they didn’t take into account Cuban democrats.”
The negative response from the people whom Mr.?Obama portrays as the beneficiaries of his initiative is one reason to question his contention that Cuba should be treated like China and Vietnam, two Communist nations with which the United States normalized diplomatic and economic relations decades ago. The United States was not able to join with opposition movements in those countries in demanding democratic reforms as part of a normalization process because, at the time, such movements barely existed in either place. In Cuba’s case, the opportunity was there.
Engagement with China and Vietnam also offered huge economic and geopolitical benefits that don’t exist in the case of Cuba, an impoverished island whose main interest to the United States is the freedom and prosperity of its 11?million people. In the past, the Castro regime has hosted Soviet nuclear missiles and sponsored terrorism elsewhere in the region, and it still harbors American criminals. But its worst behavior has been the repression of its own people, which has repeatedly driven waves of refugees to the Florida straits.
But even if the analogy were apt, we would argue that Mr. Obama should have learned and applied some of the hard lessons of normalization with China and Vietnam — most notably that engagement doesn’t automatically promote freedom. When the United States debated extending “most-favored-nation” trading status to China, we shared in what was then the conventional wisdom: Economic engagement would inevitably lead, over time, to political reform inside that Communist dictatorship. President Bill Clinton argued that no autocracy could control the relatively new tool of connection known as the Internet, certainly not while hoping to foster international trade and investment. Travel, openness, exposure to the American example — all this would, inexorably if gradually, push China to liberalize.
But the men who run China had other ideas. They were determined to reap the fruits of foreign investment and trade — for themselves and their families, first, but also for their country — without ceding power. So far, confounding expectations, they have succeeded. The Chinese standard of living has risen, and Chinese enjoy far more personal freedom than they did under Mao — to choose where to live, say, or whom to marry. But in the past decade, political freedom in China has declined — there is less freedom of speech, of the press, of cultural expression. More political prisoners have been locked up and tortured. Tens of thousands of censors keep tight control over the Internet.
Continue reading HERE.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in Time:
Help the Cuban Opposition, Not the Castros
Congress should reject President Obama’s latest bad deal
In July 2013, I had the opportunity to speak with two prominent Cuban dissidents, Elizardo Sanchez and Guillermo Farinas. Both men had been supporters of the Castros—Sanchez as an academic, Farinas as a soldier—but had come to realize the real brutal, authoritarian nature of their Communist regime. Farinas, for example, spoke of the moment of clarity he had the first time he read Animal Farm during the 1980s, in Russian because he was in the Soviet Union receiving specialized military training.
Sanchez and Farinas painted a grim picture of life in Cuba, which they said had become “a big jail” since 1959. They described how the Castros have a comprehensive apparatus of oppression that exploits economic control, political repression, and propaganda to control each and every Cuban citizen. Growing up in Cuba, they said, meant choosing between becoming part of the repression, pretending to be mentally ill, abandoning your homeland, or confronting the regime, in which case you risked being killed, jailed, or beaten.
My family knows this hard truth about Cuba all too well. My father was imprisoned and tortured by Batista, and my aunt was imprisoned and tortured by Castro. Both fled for America and for freedom.
According to Sanchez and Farinas, Raul and Fidel Castro remain the implacable enemies of the United States. They are constantly thinking of ways to harm America—they are evil, and we cannot make a deal with an evil regime. The goal of the Castros, they explained, was to copy “Putinismo,” or the tricks and deceptions the Russian strongman had used to fool the west with the appearance of change while in reality, his authoritarian government consolidated power. Farinas cautioned that the Castros would try to get the United States to finance their “Putinist project” through the relaxation of the embargo, and that we should reject any deal that did not include real political reform.
As we now know, around the time I was interviewing Sanchez and Farinas, the Obama administration was already planning a major revision of U.S. policy toward Cuba. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recounts in her recent book, Hard Choices, that she recommended this course of action around the time she left office.
Continue reading HERE.
"Do not let your left hand know what the right hand is doing" (Matthew 6:3)
The whole world seems to know that the current occupant of the White House offered Raul Castro an unconditional all-you-can-eat Christmas smorgasbord of titanic proportions this past Wednesday.
Hardly anyone seems to have noticed that on Thursday he dropped a bag full of coals down Venezuela's presidential chimney.
Yes, he called for a loosening of sanctions against the Castro regime one day, and on the next day called for a tightening of sanctions on the Castroite colony of Venezuela.
The central focus of Thursday's anti-Maduro move is --- get this--- (hold on to something)--- "human rights violations."
Is the current occupant of the White House schizophrenic? Bi-polar? Hypocritical? Devious? Dumb? Take your pick.
(But if you choose "dumb" you get a zero for this quiz. He most certainly knows what he is doing.)
Some experts think that he is just trying to look tough, and that this shocking flip-flop on the issue of human rights is an attempt to deflect criticism of his lax approach to the repressive rule of the Castro dynasty.
So, there you have it. Stranger than most fiction, but nonetheless a true "historic" moment.
ABC Spain reports:
The sanctions, which affect over fifty top-level Chavista leaders and accuse them of human rights violations, were criticized by Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.
Only one day after he praised Obama as "a brave man" for extending friendship to Cuba, Maduro instantly returned to his diatribes against the United States, saying:
"On the one hand, he [Obama] recognizes the failure of aggressive policies and of the blockade against our sister Cuba, which has resisted and triumphed with dignity. On the other hand, he initiates the escalation of a new era of aggression against the Homeland of Bolivar."
President Obama signed into law a bill passed months ago by the Senate and the House of Representatives, which was backed by both Democrats and Republicans. His approval came last week. The law punishes those Venezuelan officials who are believed to have directed the repression of protest demonstrations earlier this year. According to Human Rights Watch that repression resulted in 43 deaths and more than 2,500 arrests.
Those singled out for punishment --whose responsibility was confirmed by Human Rights Watch-- will be denied visas for travel to the United States, and will also have their American bank accounts frozen --if they have any. ...
Whole thing HERE, in the hegemonic northern Iberian dialect of the former kingdom of Castile, which is now the lingua franca of all of the subaltern peoples colonized by them, both in Iberia and in the Indies.
A small history lesson for the extremely and disturbingly large group of "experts," "journalists," and elected officials who fifty-plus years later, still do not know why the U.S. was forced to place an embargo on Cuba's criminal Castro dictatorship.
By David Landau in The Daily Caller:
The Cuban Embargo Was Never Meant To Cause Regime Change
The more they say, the less you know. That seems to be the maxim behind President Obama’s latest foreign-policy move: his proposal to overturn the Cuba embargo and pursue full diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961.
In the words of the official statement: “Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cuba to build an open and democratic country.”
Against all you’ve heard, here is the central fact: it was never the embargo’s purpose to cause a change in Cuba. Quite the contrary, the embargo’s purpose was — and still is — to protect Americans.
In that endeavor, the embargo, far from being a failure, has been a striking success. But hardly anyone sees it that way, because the matter has been buried beneath a fiction that haunts even those who might oppose the president’s proposal.
In its first 18 months of power, Castro’s regime seized American businesses and properties to the tune of $1 billion (1960 dollars). That massive theft was the proximate cause of the embargo. The U.S. cut its purchases of Cuban sugar and then cancelled nearly all trade.
As everybody knows, the U.S. then tried to overthrow Castro’s regime at the Bay of Pigs. That benighted event has given a sinister image to America’s Cuba policy. But U.S. efforts to bring about change in Cuba came to a certain end the following year, with the resolution of the missile crisis. And serious efforts by the U.S. to deal with Cuba and Latin America became much more sporadic after JFK’s assassination. For five decades, faute de mieux, the centerpiece of U.S. policy toward Cuba has been the embargo.
Hardly anyone talked about the embargo until the 1980’s, when the Soviet Union, which had been bankrolling Castro’s regime, began to fold. Castro and his allies, casting about for a new patron, looked with hope to the U.S. and created the myth of the failed embargo. The goal of the embargo, they said, had been to change Cuba. But since Cuba had not changed, the embargo was a futile policy and should be withdrawn. It was a sleight-of-hand, with the same party supplying both sides of the argument. While patently false, the argument has turned out to be remarkably durable.
As a matter of fact, the embargo policy has allowed for substantial trade between the U.S. and Cuba. With the total of U.S. exports for the last ten years reaching above $4.2 billion, America is one of Cuba’s largest trading partners. Even in the absence of full diplomatic relations, America’s Interests Section in Havana is a massive installation with several hundred employees; an embassy in all but name.
The problem with the embargo, for Cuban officials, is that it does not allow Cuba to do in the United States what it has done in the rest of the world. The embargo has denied Cuba a credit card on these shores. Cuba has not been able to borrow from U.S. banks or companies. All of Cuba’s U.S. purchases must be paid in hard currency, by advance deposit. These strictures have been well founded, their wisdom amply confirmed.
Continue reading HERE.
Rosa Maria Paya in The Washington Post:
Here’s what Cuba really needs, Mr. Obama
Rosa María Payá Acevedo is a member of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement.
Sr. Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
I am writing to you because I assume that goodwill inspired your decision to change U.S. policy toward my country.
I appeal to this goodwill, notwithstanding your decision to review Cuba’s place on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism despite the Cuban government’s attempt, just a year ago, to smuggle tons of weapons in a North Korean ship through the Panama Canal. And despite Cuban state security provoking the 2012 car crash that took the life of my father, Oswaldo Payá, one of Cuba’s best-known dissidents who represented the alternative to the regime, and his young associate Harold Cepero. And even though the Cuban government refuses to allow an investigation and has not given even a copy of the autopsy report to my family.
The Cuban regime has decided it needs to change its image, so it will relax its grip in some areas while it remains in power. It has discovered that it can allow more Cubans to enter and leave the country and that some people can create a timbiriche (a very small business), but the Cuban government still decides who can travel and who can open a small business. Mr. President, your laws are not what is preventing the free market and access to information in Cuba; it is the Cuban government’s legislation and its constant censorship.
We agree, Mr. President, that you cannot “keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect different results.”
But there is nothing new in treating as “normal” the illegitimate government in Havana, which has never been elected by its citizens and has been practicing state murder with impunity. That strategy already has been done by all the other governments without positive consequences for democracy in my country.
What would be new would be a real commitment to the Cuban people, with concrete actions supporting citizens’ demands. We don’t need interventionist tactics but rather backing for solutions that we Cubans have created ourselves.
For 55 years, the only free, legal and popular demand from Cubans has been a call for a referendum on self-government, the Varela Project. We want changes in the law that will guarantee freedom of expression and association, the release of political prisoners, the right to own private enterprises, and free and plural elections.
You asked in your historic speech : How can we uphold that commitment, the commitment to freedom?
I take you at your word, Mr. President. The answer to you and to all the world’s democratic governments is: Support the implementation of a plebiscite for free and pluralistic elections in Cuba; and support citizen participation in the democratic process, the only thing that will guarantee the end of totalitarianism in Cuba.
My father used to say, “Dialogues between the elites are not the space of the people.” The totalitarianism of the 21st century — which interferes in the internal affairs of many countries in the region and promotes undemocratic practices in countries such as Venezuela — will sit at the table next to the hemisphere’s democracies. I hope censorship doesn’t come to that table as well and that we Cubans, whom you so far have excluded from this process, can have a place in future negotiations.
We expect your administration, the Vatican and Canada to support our demands with the same intensity and goodwill with which you supported this process of rapprochement with the Cuban government. Human rights are the foundation of democracy, and we expect you to support the right of Cubans to decide their future.
Continue reading HERE.
Via The Shark Tank:
Epic Marco Rubio Smack Down of Reporter’s Question On Cuba
I really don’t know how Senator Rubio contained himself during a press conference in Miami, when a reporter asked him how he could support his current position on Cuba.
According to the reporter, who cited a recent Florida International University poll conducted on normalizing relations with Cuba, the “super majority of Cuban Americans” do not support the existing U.S.-Cuba foreign policy.
Rubio shot back at the reporter, answering his question with several mic-dropping questions of his own.
Reporter: How is it do you take a position that is contrary to the super majority of your constitiuents?
Sen. Marco Rubio: We have a poll every two years in this state, its called elections. As far as I can tell, everyone of our members of Congress that’s been elected in those districts agrees with my position, and I with their position on this issue.
Where is the pro-embargo, or anti-embargo congressperson from the very district you said was polled? I think that’s the ultimate poll.
I think people have spoken, and tomorrow if people want a Castro appeaser to be their next Senator or their next congressperson, they”’ have the right to do that, I suppose.
See video of the exchange HERE.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in The Washington Times:
Obama’s futile overtures to Cuba
Courting dictators won’t lead to democracy
President Obama’s argument for unilaterally reversing U.S.-Cuba policy rests on the false premise that engagement with dictators and terrorists will somehow get them to change their ways.
This irresponsible deal does not hold the Castro regime accountable as they have made no commitments to expand democratic principles on the island. In fact, the opposite is true: Raul Castro can continue his dictatorial ways without giving in an inch while the White House gave Mr. Castro all the concessions he wanted. Typical of the administration, the desire for a deal — any deal — was stronger than the interest in its contents.
Although it is welcome news that Alan Gross is back with his family in the United States, it is worth noting that he should have never been in jail in the first place. It was clear in the days following Mr. Gross’ arrest that the Castro brothers wanted to trade Mr. Gross for the Cuban Five. The administration’s false equivalency in this swap failed to acknowledge that Mr. Gross was, in essence, a hostage while the Cuban Five spies, who endangered American national security, received full due process including trial by jury.
Time and again, the Obama administration stated they would not swap Mr. Gross for the Cuban Five spies. Unsurprisingly, the administration reneged on its word and commuted the sentences of three convicted spies in exchange for Mr. Gross. The president not only snatched justice away from the families of the slain Brothers to the Rescue heroes, who consisted of three American citizens and one U.S. resident, but he is continuing down the dangerous avenue he began with the Bergdahl exchange to signal to our adversaries the value of holding American citizens as tools for obtaining concessions from the United States.
One critical component missing from this misguided deal with a communist regime is a voice for the freedom-loving people of Cuba. Ever since the deal was announced, leaders of the pro-democracy efforts in Cuba have denounced this one-sided deal. One leader of the largest resistance coalition in Cuba, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez,” stated: “This is a betrayal that leaves the democratic opposition defenseless. Obama has allied himself with the oppressors and murderers of our people.” The administration’s actions are a slap in the face for the millions of Cubans on the island and also those in the Cuban-American community who have worked for generations to restore freedom on the island.
Continue reading HERE.
A guest post by Rudy Mayor:
Castro 1 USA 0: No Concessions Just More Repression
Proponents of lifting the embargo and now President Obama say that U.S. policy has failed because the Castro brothers are still in power. Yet, no policy approach towards Castro’s Cuba has been more broadly applied internationally as the one Obama proposes. Again this year, 188 of 193 countries in the United Nations voted to condemn the U.S. embargo. How successful have those 188 countries been collectively in advocating for democracy in Cuba?
Even those nations that pledge to advocate for democracy while doing business with Cuba’s state-owned monopolies end up paying mere lip-service to human rights. After Obama’s proposed changes, I fear the U.S. will become another contributor in an already long list of nations that helps finance the Castro regime’s repression.
And what about Cuba’s newest tourists? It is of course dangerously naiive to think that mojito sipping/cigar smoking American tourists will accomplish what other freedom loving peoples haven’t by vacationing in Cuba. The embargo already contained exceptions for Americans who legitimately wanted to engage in humanitarian work. It was in fact one of those exceptions that permitted Alan Gross to visit Cuba and his humanitarian work landed him in jail. After Obama’s announcement, I expect the floodgates of irresponsible and ignorant tourists to descend upon Havana to usher in a new era of exploitation and to provide the Castro regime with a bigger lifeline than Soviet Russia or oil-rich Venezuela ever could.
The U.S. bailout of the Castro regime could not come at a better time. Venezuelan oil becomes cheaper by the day and the future of the Maduro regime less certain. With a more organized pro-democracy opposition in Cuba, the Castros also need more resources to continue their record setting number of political arrests. Opening up to U.S. business and travel is also more secure than ever for the Castro regime after having mastered the art of profit and repression without threatening their grip on power.
Since it remains illegal in Cuba for foreigners to do business with anyone other than its state-owned monopolies, we should not expect Americans to be doing business with everyday Cubans anytime soon. Unfortunately that is one in a long list of concessions President Obama forgot to discuss with dictator Raul Castro.
I spit on fools who place human rights above these cigars
From the You-Knew-This-Was-Coming department: Cuban cigar openly brandished in White House
The Castro-enabler-in-chief didn't wait very long to rub salt in the wounds of Cubans everywhere.
Just a few hours after capitulating to all the demands of the Castro regime, the current occupant of the White House posed for cameras with a Cuban cigar.
Never mind the fact that bringing Cuban cigars into the United States is illegal. We all know people who sneak them in. Maybe even some of our readers have done this.
Yes, YOU! (You know who you are, you vile embargo-busters).
Cuban cigars from the Castro era and the White House have an interesting history.
Before he imposed the embargo on Cuba, President John F. Kennedy purchased as many Cuban cigars as his lackeys could round up.
Kennedy probably smoked a few of these cigars in the spring of 1961 while he was betraying Brigade 2506 and during the tough days that followed the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
Bill Clinton and his young paramour Monica Lewinski made history with a Cuban cigar in the White House.
You know the details. Can't say more. Some children read Babalu. Even worse: when Hilary Clinton becomes president, she might shut down Babalu.
Now it's none other than President Give-It-All-Away who gets his turn.
Just a guess: Hannukah music playing in the background must be Red Hot Chili Peppers,
Give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now...
... No time for the piggies or the hoosegow
Get smart get down with the pow wow
Never been a better time than right now...
.... Give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now...
Taaaaaabaco! Ven acá , Obamito lindo; tengo un regalito.... y no es ni un Ache Uma...ni un Montecristo...
This is what Wednesday's charade was really all about. Next comes the vacation in Varadero or Cayo Coco, the purchase of a vintage car or two, a photo op with Smokin' Graciela, and the visit by Raúlito, who will bring a lifetime supply of Montecristos and H. Upmann's from Habanos, S.A.
Give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now...
Now, this is what I call a civil society, Raul !!!
Move over Monica ... there's a new controversial cigar in the White House -- a Cuban fingered by President Obama in a photo many thought was fake, but we've learned it's the real deal.
The original pic shows Obama Wednesday night ... sampling the aroma of what's alleged to be a Cuban cigar. It was posted on Reddit Thursday morning, and immediately the Internet started tearing it apart as a Photoshop job.
TMZ has obtained several high-res pics of POTUS' run-in with the cigar -- and our photo/art experts say everything about them looks legit. Significant ... since Cuba and the U.S. just agreed to open embassies in each other's countries.
According to our D.C. sources ... the hand-off went down during the White House Hanukkah party -- when an invitee walked up and said, "Mr. President, here's a Cuban." Obama proceeded to give it a huge sniff and then held on to the gift. It's unclear if he pocketed it or handed it to the Secret Service.
John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:
Václav Havel's advice to President Obama and to Cubans
Three Years Later: Missing Havel's Moral Stature
Service for Václav Havel on third anniversary of his passing
Three years ago today Václav Havel passed away and today he remains greatly missed. In large part, sadly, this is due to the lack of anyone else on the international scene with his moral stature and consistent solidarity with the victims of repression world wide. For example, ten days prior to his passing Havel signed on as one of the members of a new International Committee to Support Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese dissident and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Murdered over international airspace on February 24, 1996
Yesterday, watching the spectacle of the Obama Administration orchestrating the unveiling of its change in Cuba policy while trying to obfuscate that it had been blackmailed by the Castro regime into releasing a man convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down in order to obtain the freedom of Alan Gross, an innocent man brought to mind an observation made back in 2009 by the late Czech president.
Families of four men murdered on 2/24/96 speak out yesterday
Havel believed that moral actions, no matter how small or futile they may appear at the time can have profound consequences for both freedom and a just society. It is because the world is not a puzzle to be solved but incredibly much more complex that decisions of right and wrong made by each person have such great weight.
Continue reading HERE.
Almost five years ago I wrote a piece for this here blog predicting what would happen if the US unilaterally changed course on Cuba policy. Very soon you will be amazed by my ability to see the future. Am I psychic? Hardly. I'm awake and paying attention.
Visions of a post-embargo Cuba
By Henry Louis Gomez, on February 25, 2010, at 10:38 am
It seems that the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba is the constant thread of the narrative here at Babalu Blog and wherever the issue of Cuba and its dictatorship is discussed. It feels like every day someone new comes along and says, “well it hasn’t worked in fifty years so isn’t time to try something new?” The purpose of this post is not to discuss the origins or intent of the embargo, we’ve discussed that ad nauseam, but rather to look into our crystal ball and see what a post-embargo Cuba would look like without the regime first making any significant changes to its economic and political systems. In other words, giving the castro brothers exactly what they have been asking for since the Soviet Union collapsed.
The first implication of lifting the embargo is that Cuba will be legally open to U.S. tourists for the first time in half a century. Now it’s interesting to ponder the fact that the castro regime’s creation myth begins with Cuba as a tourist playground for wealthy Americans who frolicked on Cuba’s beaches and gambled at tables of Cuba’s casinos while a dictator oppressed the Cuban people during the 1950s. Certainly it was not U.S. tourists that “liberated” Cuba from Batista. But now somehow American tourists possess some magical power to bring about change, at least that’s what embargo opponents would have you believe.
So what would a Cuba full of American tourists look like? Not too different than Cuba today. How can I say that with such certainty? Well because Cuba plays host to more than 2.3 million international tourists annually today, far more than ever went to Cuba during the 50s. The fact is that hotel capacity is currently limited to about 2.5 million visitors per year so the influx of American tourists will only increase the total number of visitors marginally. What it will do however is drive the price of hotel room nights up as demand temporarily outstrips supply.
So you’ll have a few more tourists visiting Cuba with all of them paying a premium to do it. What will they do there? Well certainly they’ll be staying at all-inclusive resorts like this one where the employees are selected by the regime and paid a fixed wage of roughly $20 a month by law. They’ll also be taking “cultural tours” like this one and enjoying the Jet Skiis and motorboats. They’ll be photographing all of the pre-castro landmarks (because nobody ever comes back from Cuba showing off their snapshots of Soviet Era apartment blocks) and getting drunk. The point here is that all of this already taking place yet the much ballyhooed people-to-people exchanges have not resulted in any significant change in the day-to-day lives of the Cuban people.
Additionally, American tourists will find Cuba’s resorts and hotels to be substandard when compared with other Caribbean destinations. At least that’s what Canadian and European tourists have found. They shouldn’t be surprised that facilities are not maintained and service is shoddy, after all it is a communist dictatorship.
Continue reading HERE.
The Editorial Board of Investors Business Daily:
Cuba's Castro Brothers Get Big Present From Santa Obama
Foreign Policy: Just as its patron Venezuela hit the rocks, Cuba got a last-minute rescue from none other than President Obama, who announced a Santa Claus-like package of wish-list goodies for the Castro brothers. Why?
In many ways, President Obama's announced plan to normalize relations with Cuba, lift the embargo, extend trade credits and remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list is about on par with the rest of his foreign policy.
It was done by executive order without consulting Congress, just like last month's decision to temporarily legalize 5 million illegal immigrants.
It was justified by a claim the U.S. embargo was "not working," comparable to Obama's claim the U.S. immigration system is "broken." In reality, the problem in both cases is that of a halfhearted willingness to enforce the law, rendering it full of holes.
As for the hostage swap in the bargain, that of U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor Alan Gross and another U.S. agent for three professional Cuban intelligence officers linked to the murder of U.S. citizens in the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shootdown, it was a deal that gave far more than it got, just like the hostage swap with the Taliban of U.S. army deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five terrorists.
And it was all about leading from behind.
Once again, Obama made nice with Latin America's leftwing leaders, whose interests don't align with ours, and used Pope Francis as a fig leaf for his action.
They are rooted in little more than Obama's desire to be popular with such leaders at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in April. It is little different from his actions in Libya during the so-called Arab Spring.
Continue reading HERE.
Rich Lowry in Politico:
The Castros Finally Hit the Jackpot
Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.
Candidate Barack Obama said that, as president, he would talk to anti-American dictators without precondition. He didn’t mention that he would also give them historic policy concessions without precondition.
His surprise unilateral change in the U.S. posture toward the Castro dictatorship came without even the pretense of serious promises by the Cubans to reform their kleptocratic, totalitarian rule.
The trade of Alan Gross, the American aid worker jailed in Cuba for the offense of trying to help Jewish Cubans get on the Internet, for three Cuban spies is understandable (we also got back one of our spies, and Cuba released several dozen political prisoners as a sweetener).
The rest of Obama’s sweeping revisions — diplomatic relations and the loosening of every economic sanction he can plausibly change on his own — are freely granted, no questions asked. It is quid with no pro quo. Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.
After waiting out 10 other U.S. presidents, the Castro regime finally hit the jackpot in Obama, whose beliefs about our Cuba policy probably don’t differ much from those of the average black-turtleneck-clad graduate student in Latin American studies.
Every dictator around the world must be waiting anxiously for a call or a postcard from Obama. The leader of the free world comes bearing gifts and understanding. He is willing to overlook human-rights abuses. And his idea of burnishing his legacy is to clinch deals with his country’s enemies.
Who helped negotiate the one with Cuba? Harry Truman had Dean Acheson. Richard Nixon had Henry Kissinger. Bush I had James Baker. Barack Obama has Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser who is his Castlereagh and has what it takes to collapse U.S. policy toward Cuba and get nothing in return.
There is no doubt that economic sanctions are a blunt and dubious instrument, and reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of levying them in a given instance (I’ve gone back and forth about the Cuban embargo over the years). But dictatorial regimes hate them for a reason. All things considered, these regimes want more economic wherewithal rather than less.
Obama’s olive branch to the Castros couldn’t be better-timed from the perspective of the family that has made a handsome business out of crushing its fellow Cubans. The regime is heavily dependent on the largesse of its ideological partner Venezuela, whose irrational, left-wing policies have helped send its economy spiraling toward default. Just as the Castro dictatorship faces the dire prospect of the collapse of Venezuela’s support, here comes El Yanqui to cushion the blow.
The Castro regime will take a cut of the increased trade, remittances and tourism that will spring from Obama’s concessions. Cuba obviously doesn’t have a free, or mostly free, or even remotely free, economy. Its economy is run by and for the government.
Continue reading HERE.
"President Obama should admit he wants this for his "legacy" and stop insulting the intelligence of people who actually follow this issue by claiming to act on behalf of the Cuban people."