From Ambassador G. Phillip Hughes in The Washington Times:
Mr. Obama's approach to Cuba policy so far highlights two critically important issues. First is Cuba's appalling record on democracy and human rights. Respect for those values is supposed to be defining for OAS members. The Castro brothers' dictatorship remains undiluted. Democracy and human rights activists there are rounded up regularly and imprisoned. And Cuba continues to flagrantly violate the Inter-American Human Rights Charter as well as the U.N. Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that it only just signed in February of last year.
Why the sudden urgency of readmitting Cuba to the OAS? It's time for "change" - and Mr. Obama's is the first U.S. administration that has seemed likely to acquiesce, even if it would prefer to do so by degrees.
Second, why is the United States so completely on the diplomatic defensive on the Cuba issue? After all, Cuba has far more - and far more obvious - skeletons in its closet, literally, than does the United States. Why have Mr. Obama and his putative A-Team of national-security experts allowed themselves to be outflanked regularly and predictably by Cuba's supporters and apologists, dictating the agenda and forcing the administration's hand? A more conventional U.S. administration would be embarrassed and put on its guard by such encounters. But perhaps the Obama administration doesn't really mind being stampeded by the likes of Mr. Chavez and Mr. Ortega into relenting 50 years of U.S. resistance to the Castro brothers' brutal dictatorship.
G. Philip Hughes, senior director of the White House Writers Group, has served as director for Latin American Affairs and, later, executive secretary of the National Security Council and as U.S. ambassador in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
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