Washington Times Editorial: Obama Hides Evidence of Castro's Cruelty

Friday, August 7, 2015
From The Washington Times' Editorial Board:

Mr. Obama’s Cuban legacy

The U.S. hides the evidence of growing cruelty of the Castro brothers

The French, as they usually do, have a word for it: the tendency of a man to judge problems solely on the basis of his professional skills. The French call this “deformation professionelle.” If you’re a lawyer, you want to litigate difficulties away, a physician wants to prescribe medicines to wipe them out, a surgeon is eager to cut them out. If you’re a diplomat, you want to bargain them away — whatever the sacrifice and cost, to reach the “successful negotiation,” which is the point of the exercise.

It’s not enough that Washington has made a deal with a bankrupt Cuban regime, throwing them a life line of support just when their last sugar daddy, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has gone to his just reward and his heirs can no longer afford to give the Cubans oil. At the very moment he was concluding a deal with President Obama, Raul Castro, the aging dictator-in-chief once removed, was throwing new political prisoners in jail. We’re not supposed to notice.

There’s a lot of hip, hip hooray and ballyhoo, too, about how Cuba will open up to foreign trade when and if the United States lifts the trade embargo, and become another, if smaller, China. But smoke is getting in someone’s eyes. The Canadians have been open to trade with Cuba for decades, but unable to do much business with Havana because of restraints on trade and the usual Marxist economic incompetence. In sheer desperation, the government now permits certain (very) small business ownerships. With an expected wave of American tourists, soon a few luxury hotels and boutiques will be allowed, but available only to foreigners and Cubans with dollars remitted from kin in the United States.

The ferocious warriors of the dainty teacup in Foggy Bottom have spread a veil over the continuing human rights cruelties of the regime with whom they have chosen to sip and sup. The sight of the cruelty can curdle the cream in any deputy assistant undersecretary’s cup of Earl Grey. In this year’s annual report by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons — or “slavery” in plain talk — Cuba was removed from the “Tier 3” blacklist. There was the official claim, disputed by the State Department’s own trafficking analysts, that Cuba had made notable improvements in its sorry record of kidnappings and imprisonments without cause.

The Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau of the State Department scoffs, politely, of course, at claims that the Castro brothers are permitting progress toward human decency. Nor is there an attempt to show the lengths to which the regime goes to indenture its citizens. The Castros’ highly touted extension of medical services — of whatever quality — to other Latin and African nations is not necessarily voluntary by the doctors and nurses, but carefully disguised penal servitude for its medical students and graduates. The Cuban government takes most of their meager earnings.

The careful exposure of the complexity of the Cuban tyranny, as developed over a half-century and as has impoverished the island and driven its elites abroad, is necessary if Mr. Obama’s grandiose initiative to improve relations will mean anything beyond jobs for a few diplomatic clerks. It’s impossible to identify a single concession which the Castro brothers made in return for the semi-respectability the Obama administration conferred on them.

It’s another example of the inability, or lack of will, of the Obama administration to defend American interests and those of subjugated peoples in its foreign relations. There must be a limit to what the U.S. should tolerate when it extends the prize of diplomatic relations to a sordid foreign regime.

A new administration in 2016, whatever its party and personal affiliations, will have a large diplomatic mess to clean up after. It’s part of Mr. Obama’s growing legacy.