Newt: We hardly knew ye…
As they say, actions speak louder than words. While campaigning in South Florida, Newt Gingrich talked tough on Cuba and Castro. His actions, however, say something completely different. In fact, disturbingly different.
[...] In the end, [Cardinal Jaime] Ortega diluted the opposition's victory with some tough rhetoric. Not long after the prisoner release announcement, he visited Washington to receive a $100,000 prize from the Knights of Columbus. In his acceptance speech, he astounded Cuba watchers by referring to the jailed democracy activists as "convicts," who were -- in words that were clearly soothing to ears in the Castro regime -- "considered prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International."
Then he did the rounds in Washington. He briefed U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela. The prelate even spent more than an hour in a secret meeting with Newt Gingrich, presumably to press for support and discuss the former speaker of the House's upcoming bid for the White House. Ortega argued that prisoner release should pave the way for closer U.S.-Cuban relations, including lifting the trade embargo. Within six months after his visit, the White House had lifted restrictions on travel for academic, religious, and cultural groups. Through the end of the year, Havana set free more than 100 political prisoners -- provided they accept exile.