Yesterday, during his remarks at the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama stated:
"I’m confident that our Congress will inevitably lift an embargo that should not be in place anymore."
Obama is partly right.
The U.S. Congress will eventually lift the embargo -- but only upon the fulfillment of some very basic conditions in U.S. law.
These conditions are consistent with the democratic and human rights standards of 34 out of 35 nations in the Western Hemisphere.
(Though, ironically, Venezuela continues on a downwards spiral away from these standards -- thanks in no small part to Cuba's manipulation of the Chavez/Maduro governments.)
Thus, the questions should be --
Why does Obama want the U.S. Congress to unilaterally discard any of these conditions?
Does Obama not agree with these conditions?
Which one of these conditions does Obama oppose?
Is it, for example --
The condition that Cuba "legalizes all political activity"?
The condition that Cuba "releases all political prisoners and allows for investigations of Cuban prisons by appropriate international human rights organizations"?
The condition that Cuba "dissolves the present Department of State Security in the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, including the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and the Rapid Response Brigades"?
The condition that Cuba "makes a public commitments to organizing free and fair elections for a new government"?
The condition that Cuba "makes public commitments to and is making demonstrable progress in establishing an independent judiciary; respecting internationally recognized human rights and basic freedoms as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Cuba is a signatory nation; allows the establishment of independent trade unions as set forth in conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labor Organization, and allows the establishment of independent social, economic, and political associations"?
The condition that Cuba give "adequate assurances that it will allow the speedy and efficient distribution of assistance to the Cuban people"?
The condition that Cuba is "effectively guaranteeing the rights of free speech and freedom of the press, including granting permits to privately owned media and telecommunications companies to operate in Cuba"?
The condition that Cuba is "assuring the right to private property"?
The condition that Cuba is "taking appropriate steps to return to United States citizens (and entities which are 50 percent or more beneficially owned by United States citizens) property taken by the Cuban Government from such citizens and entities on or after January 1, 1959, or to provide equitable compensation to such citizens and entities for such property"?
The condition that Cuba has "extradited or otherwise rendered to the United States all persons sought by the United States Department of Justice for crimes committed in the United States"?
Let's not speak of the embargo in vague terms.
If Obama is suggesting for Congress to unilaterally discard these conditions, then he should specifically state which ones he disagrees with -- and why.
Moreover, Obama should explain how turning a blind-eye to these basic conditions in U.S. law would not send a horrible message to the Cuban people about the United States' priorities, nor have dramatic short- and long-term consequences for the behavior of other pseudo-authoritarians in the region.
at 11:36 AM Tuesday, September 29, 2015
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