In the fall Pope Francis paid a high-profile visit to Cuba. The papal visit came less than a year after President Obama’s unilateral decision to bring to an end our nation’s sanctioning of the communist dictatorship. (Full disclosure: I actually agree with ending the embargo but not with the method used by the President nor with the decision to do so without more concessions from Cuba.) In the days before the Pope arrived in Cuba the government arrested more than 50 Catholic protesters in a show of force that should have reminded the world about the crushing repression that exists in the Caribbean nation.
While the liberal advocacy organization Human Rights Watch also agreed with Obama’s decision on ending the embargo, their most recent report on the state of “human rights” in Cuba proves that things haven’t actually gotten any better there.
The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and discourage public criticism. It now relies less on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years. Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public acts of shaming, and the termination of employment.
I guess ending the embargo wasn’t the panacea that Obama pretended it would be.
Anyway, on Wednesday, the Obama administration made a shocking announcement telling the media that the President would soon be traveling to Cuba for an official state visit!
Next month, I'll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.
— President Obama (@POTUS) February 18, 2016
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) who was born in Cuba and whose family immigrated to the United States when she was a child of 7 had some hard words for President Obama.
“If true, it is absolutely shameful that Obama is rewarding the Castros with a visit to Cuba by a sitting American president since their reign of terror began. For more than 50 years Cubans have been fleeing the Castro regime yet the country which grants them refuge, the United States, has now decided to quite literally embrace their oppressors. There has been no progress in regards to human rights on the Castro brothers’ island gulag nor have conditions in Cuba improved since this administration began providing the regime with concession after concession. A visit by President Obama more than one year after his unilateral concessions to the regime will only legitimize the Castros’ repressive behavior.
It is a slap in the face to the memory of the Brothers to the Rescue pilots, three U.S. citizens and one U.S. resident, who were murdered by the Castro regime and those who have fled the Castro’s oppression to see Air Force One land in Havana. Instead of standing up for pro-democracy leaders like Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez,’ and others, the Obama administration has decided to cater to aging autocrats who rule by denying Cubans their basic human rights. Unfortunately, this announcement encapsulates President Obama’s Cuba policy characterized by unilateral concessions and willfully neglecting to pursue American claims.”
Truer and more necessary words could not have been spoken.
During a CNN interview on Wednesday night, presidential candidate and Senator, Marco Rubio (R-FL), had a similar response to the news.
The problem with the Cuban government; it’s not just a communist dictatorship, it is an Anti-American communist dictatorship. The Cuban government three years ago helped North Korea evade U.S. Sanctions. They were caught trying to sell missile parts to North Korea but nothing happened.
The Cuban government today harbors hundreds of fugitives of American judicial, Medicare fraud – there are people there who have stolen your money. They come to the U.S., they steal money – Medicare fraud, they go back to Cuba, the Cuban government’s protecting them. The Cuban government is harboring a killer from New Jersey who killed a state trooper in New Jersey. The killer escaped jail, fled to Cuba and the Cuban government is protecting her.
Beyond that, they’re a repressive regime. There’s no elections in Cuba, there’s no choice in Cuba. And so my whole problem – I want the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba to change but it has to be reciprocal.
Another Florida Congressman, Ron DeSantis (R-FL), was equally upset with Obama’s weak-kneed response to Cuban oppression.
President Obama has chosen to cater to the Castro regime rather than stand on the side of the people oppressed by the Cuban dictatorship. The Obama Administration has been making major unilateral concessions to the totalitarian regime, and yet millions of Cubans continue to live in constant fear of persecution and violence.
A visit to Cuba by a sitting President will embolden the regime and is an insult to those who have experienced brutality at the hand of the Castro brothers.
Any way you slice it, Obama’s response is detrimental to the very principles of freedom, humanity and liberalism that Obama pretends to love. A state visit to Cuba simply serves to reinforce the Castro’s tin pot dictatorship while simultaneously undermining the freedom fighters that resist the Castro’s tyranny. Once again, President Obama has managed to take a difficult situation and make it exponentially worse.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com