A Redux of Clinton's Cuba Policy

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
On Friday, Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, will give remarks in South Florida, where she will call for the lifting of the U.S. embargo towards Cuba.

Of course, this isn't a surprise, as Hillary already revealed her Cuba policy position in the book, "Hard Choices."

But it does merit a look back at Cuba policy the last time a Clinton served in The White House:

In 1993, President Clinton intervened at the last minute to scrap a federal indictment against General Raul Castro, then Minister of Defense (MINFAR), who in conjunction with 14 other senior Cuban regime officials, was the head of a major cocaine smuggling conspiracy.

In 1994, President Clinton succumbed to Castro's migratory coercion and began secret talks with senior Cuban regime officials in Toronto, Canada.

In 1995, as a result of those secret talks, President Clinton adopted the infamous "wet-foot, dry-foot policy," whereby catching Cubans before they reach a U.S. beach became a perverted sport.

(Why was it acceptable for President Clinton to label Cubans as "wet-feet"? Isn't that just as insulting as calling Mexicans "wet-backs"? Same derogatory concept, different body part.)

In February 1996, President Clinton failed to support the historic gathering of Concilio Cubano, a coalition of over 130 dissident groups, which had successfully been garnering opposition against the Castro regime. On February 24th, during a major gathering of the coalition, the Castro regime began a nationwide crackdown on Concilio Cubano. To divert attention from the crackdown, the Castro regime scrambled MiG fighter jets to shoot down two civilian aircraft over international waters, killing three Americans and a permanent resident of the United States.

In March 1996, President Clinton refused to tighten sanctions against the Castro regime. While compelled to sign the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act ("LIBERTAD Act"), as the least aggressive response he was presented to the shoot-down of two American civilian aircraft by the Castro regime, Clinton waived the main section tightening sanctions. As such, the LIBERTAD Act codified the embargo and authorized funding for democracy programs, but did not tighten sanctions.

In 1996, President Clinton refused to classify the shoot-down of the two civilian aircraft by Cuban MiG fighter jets over international waters, as an "act of terrorism" under U.S. law.

In 1998-1999, President Clinton eased travel sanctions towards Cuba and created the "people-to-people" travel category, whereby tour groups hosted by the Castro regime lead salsa, baseball and cigar tours of the island, while frequenting the Cuban military's 4 and 5-star tourism facilities.

In 2000, Clinton contemplated lifting tourism travel restrictions towards Cuba, which was Castro's main source of income. Cuba charter companies even hired the President's brother, Roger Clinton, to lobby him. In anticipation, Congress preemptively codified the travel ban to prevent any further Presidential expansion of travel.

In 2000, President Clinton pushed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA), which authorized the sale of agricultural and medical products to Cuba. Due to Congressional intervention, a caveat was included that these sales must be cash-only. Since then, nearly $5 billion in agricultural products have been sold to Cuba -- all to Castro's food monopoly, Alimport. Not one penny has been transacted with regular Cubans.

In 2000, President Clinton sent armed U.S. Marshals into the Little Havana home of Elian Gonzalez's family, in order to forcefully return him to Cuba. Rather than having an impartial family judge decide what was in the best interests of the small boy, whose mother died for his freedom, Elian's fate was decided by President Clinton. Today, Elian is a young Communist militant, paraded for propaganda, while hailing Fidel Castro as "his God."

By the end of 2000, the Castro regime had effectively eradicated Concilio Cubano and most other dissident groups -- under the willful blindness of President Clinton. Sadly, it took years for the Cuban democracy movement to regroup.

As Cuban democracy leader, former prisoner of conscience and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, wrote last year, "President Clinton missed a historic opportunity to pressure the end of the Castro regime in the 1990s, amid the profound crisis it faced from the end of its Soviet benefactor."

Instead, he did the opposite.

Today, amid a similar crisis resulting from the downward spiral of Castro's Venezuelan benefactor, Obama (and Hillary) are keen to make the same mistake.

But perhaps it's not fair to judge Hillary on her husband's record.

Thus, let's do so based on her own record as Secretary of State.

As regards Syria, Hillary infamously believed that Bashar al-Assad was a "reformer" that the U.S. could work with.

Since then, Assad has led a genocide with a tally of over 200,000 victims.

As regards Burma, Hillary engaged its military dictatorship, traveled to the Southeast Asian nation and led the push to prematurely lift sanctions.

Since then, Burma's military dictatorship has reaped a financial windfall, retrenched on reforms and re-intensified its repression.

As regards Iran, Hillary ignored pleas for help from the "Green Movement," bitterly fought Congress against sanctions from 2009-2013 and pushed for talks with the mullahs.

Since then, Iran' regime brutally suppressed the democracy movement. Yet, in an interesting twist, Clinton now seeks to rewrite history and take credit for the sanctions she fought against.

As regards Russia, Hillary literally pressed a "reset" button in order to "start fresh" bilateral relations.

Since then... Well, we all know how that's turned out.

Doesn't this sound like a familiar trend?

And now, she joins Obama's call to lift sanctions and "reset" relations with Cuba.

Based on her record, there's plenty of cause for concern.