Obama: Stay the Course on Cuba

By Henry Gomez

Leading up to Barack Obama’s inauguration, it seemed that every newspaper in the country was publishing an editorial advising him to “end the hostility” with Cuba, as if the United States had a problem with Cuba. Invariably, they attack the U.S. embargo on Cuba without acknowledging the realities of that island nation.

The truth is that the United States doesn’t have a problem with Cuba or its people. It has a problem with the illegitimate and murderous regime that took that country hostage almost exactly fifty years ago. It has a problem with Cuba’s so-called leaders.

Leaders who took sides with the enemy in a very dangerous but now lightly regarded cold war. Leaders who parked nuclear missiles within 90 miles of U.S. territory and who were outraged when their Soviet masters decided that perhaps that wasn’t such a good idea. Leaders who were responsible for the largest expropriation of U.S. business interests before or since. Leaders who attempted — and in some cases succeeded — to subvert countries not only in the Americas but also in Africa. Leaders who ordered the spying at the highest levels of America’s intelligence services and that were responsible for the shootdown of two civilian American aircraft that resulted in the death of three American citizens and one resident. Leaders who have killed thousands of Cubans and have been indirectly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands more who tried unsuccessfully to escape the tropical gulag.

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These editorial boards act as if this is a simple case of kissing and making up. A misunderstanding that American presidents of both parties have been unable to clarify. Of course, it’s all bunk. It’s an attempt to establish a moral equivalency between a hideous dictatorship that has entrenched itself for half a century and the greatest representative democracy to ever grace the face of the earth. They ask for a “dialogue” even though the Castro brothers have proven time and again that they are only capable of a monologue. Almost every other country in the world has diplomatic relations with the regime and their attempts at dialogue have yielded nothing for the Cuban people.

Now joining the predictable chorus of the mainstream media is the Center for Democracy in the America. The organization has put out a press release with its own recommendations to the Obama administration. The recommendations are par for the course: a series of unilateral measures that the United States should pursue, resulting in a complete capitulation. The press release contains 19 bullet points that explain everything that, in their opinion, Obama should do to “break the deadlock,” but not a single thing that Cuba can do in return. That’s should not be surprising. Among the contributors to offer their recommendations are people like Alberto Coll, who had to resign his job at the Naval War College after pleading guilty to lying about an unauthorized trip to Cuba. Coll has since been accused by Lt. Col. Chris Simmons, a U.S. counterintelligence officer, of being a Castro agent.

But the most telling thing in the press release is not that it remains silent on what the Castro regime can itself do to “break the deadlock” or that among the writers for the group’s position paper is an accused Castro spy. No, the most telling thing is that in the entire release there is not one mention of political prisoners, dissidents, or the lack of fundamental human rights. If you read the group’s entire 118-page paper, the word “democracy” is never used as a proposed objective of our foreign policy toward the Castro regime. It is frequently used, however, but in a different context. You see the main target of of the the Center for Democracy in the Americas is the Cuban Democracy Act, which requires Cuba to meet certain simple objectives like releasing internationally recognized political prisoners and allowing political opposition to organize. It seems that the the Center for Democracy in the Americas is actually the center for unilateral concessions to the longest lasting tyranny in the modern history of the western hemisphere.

Obama should stay the course and do what he promised to Cuban-Americans while campaigning in South Florida. He said then that the U.S. embargo on Cuba is “an important inducement to change” in Cuba. On another occasion he said:

I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That’s the way to bring about real change in Cuba — through strong, smart and principled diplomacy.

Obama would be wise to keep his own counsel when it comes to Cuba policy and not be swayed by the media, which consistently plays a moral equivalency game, or think tanks that openly lobby for policies that take pressure off of the regime and require nothing in return. He needs to keep his promise to seek libertad for Cuba.

Henry Louis Gomez is Cuban-American and blogs at BabaluBlog.com.

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