The Engagement Model in Full Display

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
This week we've seen the "engagement model" with the Castro regime in full display.

And its ugly.

This is the same model that some -- whether for ideological, business or ingenious reasons -- would like to see the U.S. adopt as well.

After the shameful collusion and collateral damage we've seen this week, it's an even more difficult model to justify.

Prior to the CELAC Summit, the Castro regime "cleaned up" the streets of Havana, whereby hundreds of dissidents were arrested, along with anyone else the Cuban dictatorship considers "undesirable."

(Blogger Yoani Sanchez best explains this "cleansing" here and here.)

Some of these dissidents will be released in the days ahead, while others will be kept imprisoned for the long-term, with the Castro regime hoping no one will notice.

This isn't new.

We saw this pursuant to the visit of Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Cuba in March 2012. Hundreds of dissidents were arrested ahead of the visit, and some remain imprisoned (without trial or charges) to this day. Most notably Sonia Garro, an Afro-Cuban member of The Ladies in White.

And just as The Vatican has done nothing to secure Garro's release upon the Pope's departure, none of this week's visiting dignitaries will do anything for those imprisoned upon their departure.

Well, actually, they didn't do anything for them during their visit either.

All of these Latin American leaders kept a shameful silence vis–à–vis the last dictatorship in the Americas, in order not to "offend" the Castro regime, to protect business opportunities or due to ideological preferences.

(Note that all of the business agreements signed during the sidelines of the Summit were solely with Castro's military-run monopolies.)

And some of these leaders would like to see Cuba's dictatorship "fully integrated" and recognized in the Western Hemisphere, in order to accelerate their own totalitarian tendencies.

After all, if Castro's dictatorship is "fully integrated" and accepted -- what's to keep a return to the Latin American dictatorships of the 20th century, whether of the left or the right?

They'll, once again, become business as usual.

This engagement model has been harmful to courageous dissidents, who will see repression increase; to civil society, who will see Castro's monopolies strengthened; and to all the people of the Americas, who will see representative democracy wane.

That's why we should continue to reject it.