How to Relegate Human Rights and Democracy in U.S.-Cuba Policy

Monday, October 27, 2014
In light of recent lobbying efforts by the Castro regime and its cohorts, along with The New York Times, to unilaterally and unconditionally ease U.S. sanctions, El Nuevo Herald recently interviewed four of Cuba's most renowned democracy leaders.

They are The Ladies in White's Berta Soler, the Cuban Patriotic Union's (UNPACU) Jose Daniel Ferrer, Estado de Sats' Antonio Rodiles and Arco Progresista's Manuel Cuesta Morua.

All four strongly agree that human rights and democracy should remain the priority of U.S. policy towards Cuba.

Moreover, three of the four -- Soler, Ferrer and Rodiles -- support current U.S. sanctions and believe they should remain in place until the Cuban regime takes significant steps towards human rights and democracy.

Only Cuesta Morua was not against the lifting of sanctions, though he is quite weary of those who intentionally obliviate human rights and democracy to further their Cuba policy objectives (i.e. this year's Council of the Americas letter, which he strongly criticized).

So how does he reconcile the two?

Essentially, through wishful thinking.

Cuesta Morua stated:

"I don't think the United States, if it takes a step towards normalization, will abandon the agenda of human rights."

Think again.

If relations with Cuba were normalized, the United States might occasionally raise the issue of human rights and democracy rhetorically -- but in practice it would be relegated to the bottom of the agenda.

The United States' agenda towards Cuba would become subject to the priorities of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau, the National Foreign Trade Council, every major agribusiness and oil conglomerate, etc.

None of whom care one bit about the human rights of the Cuban people -- nor of the Iranian people, Syrian people, Burmese people, et al.

This is not a theory. It is a fact.

Just take a look at U.S. policy toward China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia or even Venezuela.

Let's not forget, the State Department passionately opposed -- until it was embarrassed by the General Hugo Carvajal fiasco -- simple visa restrictions against individual human rights violators from the Venezuelan government.

(For that matter, why hasn't the rest of the Western Hemisphere lifted a finger on behalf of human rights and democracy in Venezuela, despite no U.S. sanctions and normalized relations with everyone?)

Or take a look at Obama's current Hong Kong "quandary."

As Politico wrote this week:

"Despite calls from some American lawmakers and democracy advocates in Hong Kong that the president speak out more forcefully on the side of student demonstrators, who want less interference from Beijing, Obama has publicly held his tongue."

Of course, Castro's D.C. lobbyists and apologists know that if relations with Cuba were normalized, human rights and democratic reforms would be relegated, which is why they are marketing the The New York Times' "bag of goods" that, "[normalizing relations] would better position Washington to press the Cubans on democratic reforms."

Most Cuban democrats know -- and the facts show -- that this would not be the case.

Image Below: Cuban dictator Raul Castro with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue.