State Department on Cuban Repression: Speak Softly, Send Mixed Messages and Carry No Stick

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
In a tweet, Cuban democracy leader Ailer Maria Gonzalez, who was arrested yesterday as she sought to participate in the #YoTambienExijo performance, alluded to how "empowered" Castro's secret police seemed during the arrest, beating and interrogation of activists.

Ailer's remarks were aimed at President Obama and his allies, who argue that normalizing relations with -- and providing concessions to -- the Castro dictatorship will somehow "empower" Cuban civil society.

Yet, as both President Carter and Clinton learned (or failed to learn) before Obama -- it only "empowers" the Castro dictatorship.

Earning a particular chuckle in Havana was a statement released by the State Department (click here), which expressed "deep concern" about yesterday's wave of repression against Cuban dissidents.

(Curiously, we haven't seen any statements of condemnation from Obama's Cuba advisers and Castro darlings -- U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and U.S. Rep James McGovern of Massachusetts -- or Obama's Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.)

Think about this -- throughout 2014, while Obama and Castro were playing footsie in Ottawa and Vatican city, political arrests in Cuba quadrupled to over 8,600.

Now it's abundantly clear why Castro felt so "empowered" to execute such record-breaking repression -- for there were no consequences to fear.

Even worse, when Cuba got caught red-handed trafficking 240 tons of heavy arms to North Korea in July 2013, Obama and Castro had already been seducing each other for over a month.

No wonder Castro got away scot-free with the most blatant violation of international sanctions -- anywhere in the world -- to date.

But here's the real kicker in the State Department's statement:

"We have always said we would continue to speak out about human rights, and as part of the process of normalization of diplomatic relations, the United States will continue to press the Cuban government to uphold its international obligations and to respect the rights of Cubans to peacefully assemble and express their ideas and opinions, just like their fellow members of civil society throughout the Americas are allowed to do."

That's cute -- except Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Roberta Jacobson, has already given the Castro regime a blank-check on this also, which it's already cashing.

On the day after Obama's Cuba policy announcement, Jacobson stated:

"I do not necessarily think that we’re talking about direct human rights conditionality in the restoration of diplomatic relations part. That is a legal process, if you will, or a diplomatic process that will be fairly mechanical."

Repress away -- for there are no consequences.

Finally, as for "international obligations" and the rights "of civil society throughout the Americas" -- perhaps Obama should have thought about that before he acquiesced to suspending the "democracy clause" of the Summit of the Americas process for Castro to participate.

Obligations?  What obligations?

(Curiously, we haven't seen any statements of condemnation from Latin American leaders either.)

Castro truly feels even more "empowered" to state -- "democracia, para que?" ("democracy, for what?").

Bring out the military fatigues.