Cuba Takes a Repressive Turn Under Raul Castro

Sunday, July 27, 2014
By Mauricio Claver-Carone in Newsmax:

Cuba Takes a Repressive Turn Under Raul Castro

This week (July 31st) will mark eight years since General Raul Castro took the reigns as Cuba's dictator-in-chief due to his older brother Fidel's illness. At the time, he was portrayed by those seeking to normalize relations with Cuba as a "reformer." However, the facts tell a different story.

If eight years ago, we would have predicted that the Cuban regime under Raul Castro would be resuming military-intelligence gathering operations with Russia at the Lourdes Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) facility near Havana - we would have been dismissed as "Cold Warriors."

If we would have predicted that the Cuban regime would be caught red-handed smuggling 240 tons of weapons to North Korea - the largest weapons cache discovered since U.N. Security Council sanctions towards the Kim regime were enacted - we would have been derided as instigators.

If we would have predicted that the Cuban regime would wrest political and operational control of the most resource-rich nation in Latin America, Venezuela; that it would undermine that nation's democratic institutions; and direct a campaign of repression that would result in the arrest, torture and murder of innocent student protesters - we would have been mocked as delusional.

If we would have predicted that repression would rise dramatically in Cuba under Raul Castro; that political arrests would at least triple; that opposition activists Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Juan Wilfredo Soto and Wilmar Villar would be murdered; and democracy leaders Laura Pollan of The Ladies in White and Oswaldo Paya of the Christian Liberation Movement would die under mysterious circumstances - we would have been accused of exaggerating.

If we would have predicted that European and Canadian businesses in Cuba would be illegally confiscated, have their bank accounts frozen and an unknown number of foreign businessmen imprisoned without charges or trial - we would have been described as retrogrades.

If we would have predicted that Raul Castro would take an American hostage, Alan P. Gross, who was in Cuba helping the island's Jewish community connect to the Internet, in order to extort the United States into releasing five (now three) spies convicted in federal courts of targeting military installations and conspiracy to murder three American citizens and a permanent resident of the U.S. - we would have been called extremists.

Yet, despite U.S. President Barack Obama's policy of "extending a hand" and easing a host of sanctions towards Cuba's regime since 2009 -- all of this has happened.

And that's not to mention Cuba's skillful diplomatic work at international fora in support of Assad's genocide in Syria, of a nuclear Iran, of Vladimir Putin's illegal annexation of the Crimea and of the violent actions by Russian separatists in the Ukraine.

So when is enough, enough?

In announcing a new set of sanctions against Russian entities last week, President Obama warned Russia that "its actions in Ukraine have consequences."

He's absolutely right. Otherwise, inaction breeds impunity.

It also begs the question(s):

When will the Cuban regime face consequences for taking and holding an American hostage since December 2009?

When will the Cuban regime face consequences for trafficking weapons to North Korea last year, in blatant violation of international law?

When will the Cuban regime face consequences for subverting democracy in Venezuela and coordinating its violent crackdown on peaceful opponents?

When will the Cuban regime face consequences for the dramatic rise in repression against its own peaceful opponents?

And most recently, will the Cuban regime face consequences for helping Russia intercept U.S. civilian and military communications?

For, thus far, Cuba's regime has faced few consequences.