The terms and conditions for today's opening of U.S. and Cuban Embassies, in Havana and Washington, D.C., represent a tragic failure by the Obama Administration in diplomacy, the rule of law, democratic solidarity and U.S. regional interests.
Failure in diplomacy. The July 1st agreement between the Obama Administration and the Castro dictatorship for the opening of Embassies accepts unprecedented violations of international law in the Western Hemisphere. Despite major concessions made by the Obama Administration, including the removal of Cuba from the "state-sponsors of terrorism" list, the overwhelming majority of U.S. diplomats in Havana will continue to be subject to travel restrictions. Moreover, the Castro regime has refused to respect the inviolability of U.S. diplomatic pouches. Both of these restrictions are in direct contravention of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Failure to respect the rule of law. It remains the official policy of the United States, as codified in law, that diplomatic recognition is to be considered "when the President determines that a there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba." Thus, the Obama Administration's agreement with the Castro dictatorship represents an affront to the will of the U.S. Congress.
Failure in democratic solidarity. The Obama Administration's decision to formally recognize Castro's brutal, totalitarian dictatorship is a betrayal of the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people. The United States has historically stood as a symbol of freedom and hope for the Cuban people. Today, it risks becoming a symbol of collaboration with the Cuban people's oppressors.
Failure for U.S. regional interests. The Obama Administration's decision to formally recognize the sole remaining dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere risks setting back the near-universal acceptance of democracy in the region. The message being sent is that the United States is sadly -- once again -- open for business with dictators in the Americas. Wanna-be authoritarians throughout the region, namely in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, are closely taking note.
Finally, it serves as a reminder of the coercive tactics that culminated in this process. As Gerardo Hernandez, the Cuban spy who was sentenced to life in prison by a U.S. federal court for the murder conspiracy of Americans, and thereafter commuted by President Obama as part of his deal for the release of an American hostage held by Raul Castro, boasted this weekend:
"We are going to have diplomatic relations with the United States without having ceded one iota."
Meanwhile, the United States has ceded plenty.
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