What a sad testimony of Obama's new Cuba policy.
The Obama Administration relegates democracy leaders in Cuba -- and foreign dignitaries, businessmen and Members of U.S. Congress follow suit.
That the Castro regime is successfully imposing its will -- of sidelining courageous dissidents -- upon U.S. policymakers proves that far from persuading Castro to "behave" better, Obama's unprincipled policy is further empowering it.
Cuban dissidents feel sidelined as US focuses on state ties
In the seven months since the U.S. and Cuba declared detente, American politicians have flooded Havana to see the sights, meet the country's new entrepreneurs and discuss the possible end of the U.S. trade embargo with leaders of the communist government.
Their agendas have also featured an increasingly conspicuous hole — the spot once occupied by U.S.-backed dissidents who then sat at the center of Washington's policy on Cuba.
According to an Associated Press count confirmed by leading dissidents, more than 20 U.S. lawmakers have come to Cuba since February without meeting with opposition groups that once were an obligatory stop for congressional delegations.
Advocates of President Barack Obama's outreach to Cuba say it's a more intelligent way to push for democratic reform on the island. After decades of fruitlessly trying to strengthen the government's opponents, they see diplomatic engagement as the best method for persuading Cuba it's time to open the political system and keep loosening control of the centrally planned economy.
That's left many dissidents feeling increasingly sidelined and abandoned as both countries celebrate milestones like Monday's opening of embassies in Havana and Washington.
"The only thing they want is to open up business, the embassy," said Berta Soler, leader of a faction of the Ladies in White, one of the island's best-known dissident groups. "Whenever someone high-level came from the United States before, they always made time to meet with us before getting on the plane (back home), and that's not happening."
Legislative staffers say Cuban officials have made clear that if Congress members meet with dissidents, they will not get access to high-ranking officials such as First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, the man expected to be the next president of Cuba who has met with U.S. politicians like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
at 10:37 AM Thursday, July 23, 2015
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