The Real 'Prisoners of History'

Sunday, August 16, 2015
An excerpt from this weekend's New York Sun editorial:

The way Secretary Kerry spoke made it seem that the man who once threw away his war medals sees moral equivalence in which innocent “relations” got caught in resin and preserved. If it seems like a kind of linguistic dodge, it would all be of a piece with the administration’s evasion of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, which is known as Libertad or Helms-Burton. It sets strict terms for the government treating with a transition government in Cuba.

The major preconditions are that all political activity must be permitted in Cuba and that Cuba releases its political prisoners and commit itself to “free and fair elections.” Such preconditions also include, among other things, that Cuba is showing progress toward “an independent judiciary” and is allowing “independent trade unions.” Another condition is that the government “does not include Fidel Castro or Raul Castro.”

That is the supreme law of the land in America, like the Constitution, the treaties, and all other laws passed by Congress. Yet Secretary Kerry, who’d just gotten in from Hanoi, was silent on all this as he talked so eloquently in Havana. That may be because when President Clinton signed the measure, he issued a signing statement calling key provisions of the law “precatory.”

We demur. Helms-Burton deserves to be respected in both letter and spirit. It was not history that kept prisoners in the Cold War. The innocent prisoners were the ones held by the Communists. Few of them suffered in a system more devoid of due process or under conditions more cruel than those in Castro’s dungeons. It is a betrayal of them to speak in morally equivalent terms of the struggle for which they gave their lives.

In Cuba’s struggle for freedom, there were seasons when Jose Marti kept his office in the newsroom of the Sun. From the Sun Building, the flag of Free Cuba fluttered over lower Broadway. Today the big journalistic backer of what Messrs. Kerry and Obama are doing in Cuba is the New York Times, which, when Marti perished in battle for a free Cuba, mocked him as a “commonplace poet” who resorted to “lies, false news, and calumny” in a campaign to “pillage under the pretext of ‘Cuba libre’.” Prisoners of history indeed.

Click here to read in its entirety.