When did ‘freedom’ become a dirty word?
Neither Pope Francis nor Obama used the word regarding Cuba
When discussing Cuba or U.S-Cuba policy, the word “freedom” has become politically incorrect in official circles. In his 1998 homily in Havana, Pope John Paul II mentioned freedom 17 times. But Pope Francis did not use the word once during his recent visit to Cuba.In 2007, President Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly noting that: “The Cuban people are ready for their freedom. And … the United Nations must insist on free speech, free assembly and, ultimately, free and competitive elections.”
President Obama, in his recent U.N. comments regarding Cuba, did not use the word freedom: and unassertively stated the obvious: “We continue to have differences with the Cuban government. We will continue to stand up for human rights. But we address these issues through diplomatic relations, and increased commerce, and people-to-people ties.”
This statement unambiguously acknowledges that the struggle for freedom for the Cuban people has now been relegated to a subordinate position. Increased commerce is the new guiding light.
Yet freedom has not advanced in Cuba. The recently published Human Freedom Index, the joint project of various respected organizations, is perhaps the most studious and comprehensive global measurement of personal, civil and economic freedom ever put together covering 152 countries.
For context, the United States rates No. 20 in the aggregate freedom index, China is No. 132 and Iran closes the rankings at No. 152.
And Cuba? Well, Cuba, one of the least free countries in the world, cannot even be included in the index given its total lack of transparency and the unreliability of its data.
Vanishing the term freedom from policy discussions suggests we have abandoned the core American principle of being the voice of liberty for oppressed people.
Even worse, the new U.S.-Cuba policy appears to be based on some “moral hazard” calculation.
In the vocabulary of finance and economics, moral hazard describes a condition in which we do not have to suffer the consequences of our decisions. In other words, moral hazard occurs when one person makes a decision, while someone else bears the costs if things go badly.
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