In Cuba, Obama Will Legitimize the Corrupt and Ignore the Oppressed
What’s American about that?
Communist Havana has always been a magnet for the radical chic of the left, drawn like moths to the flame of this western outpost of totalitarian Communism. Back in the 1960s, the visitors included Angela Davis and Stokely Carmichael, while Che Guevara himself received Jean-Paul Sartre.
Now this scene will include a president of the United States. On Sunday, President Barack Obama, a retinue of celebrities in tow, is expected to arrive in the Cuban capital to hang out with Raul Castro and his henchmen, all of which will be breathlessly documented by the media mavens along for the ride.
Meanwhile, political prisoners languishing in dungeons across the island will hear this message: Nobody has your back. You’re alone with your tormentors. The world has forgotten about you.
They will not be on TV, rubbing elbows with the Obamas or left-wing politicians like Nancy Pelosi. There will be no mojitos at the U.S. Embassy for them. Raul Castro denies their very existence.
News reports say there are more than 100 long-term prisoners of conscience in Cuba. Nobody knows for sure, as the Castro regime does not grant international organizations access to its prisons. But we know they are there and that hundreds are held for shorter periods, and beaten in prison regularly.
Until Obama, siding with the oppressed had always been America’s aspiration. We have done so not just out of an abiding sense of justice, but also for hard-nosed reasons of national interest. In Cuba the Castros have been the implacable enemies of the United States for more than half a century. It is in our interests to make common cause with the brave souls who oppose them.
Former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky, for example, now a leading Israeli politician and a moral voice, was in the Gulag when President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “the evil empire” in 1983. Afterward he said, “It was the brightest, most glorious day … our whole block burst out into a kind of loud celebration.”
This is why it is so sad, and so injurious to our future as well as Cuba’s, that Obama has chosen to legitimize the corrupt and oppressive Castro regime with his presence on the island.
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