Result of Obama's Policy: Increased Repression of Cuban People

Friday, December 18, 2015
By U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) in Medium:

One Year Later, President Obama’s Appeasement Policy Shows Results: Increased Repression of the Cuban People by the Castros

Like his approach to dictators in other corners of the globe, President Obama’s policy toward Cuba has been one of coddling the oppressors while sidelining the oppressed pro-democracy and human rights activists struggling for change.

One year after President Obama announced that he planned to “normalize” relations with the Castro regime, it is time to take stock of how the Cuban people, the purported beneficiaries of the President’s policy toward Cuba, have fared.

The human rights situation in Cuba has deteriorated drastically. Political arrests totaled 1,447 in November, the highest month this year, and 7,686 for the year to date. Each Sunday, the Ladies in White, and anyone who dares to accompany them to mass, are brutally beaten and arrested in the streets of Havana. More than half of the Obama-Castro so-called “list of 53” political prisoners released following the December 17, 2014 announcement have been re-arrested in the past year, while no headway has been made to recognize the most basic rights such as free expression, association, an independent press, and representative government.

Cubans are departing Cuba in record numbers, with thousands risking their lives in makeshift rafts or across dangerous, inhospitable terrain to escape their island prison. Cuban activists signed a statement condemning the Castro regime’s instigation of a migration crisis, as the regime did in 1965, 1980, and 1994, to extort further concessions from a pliant U.S president. But undeniably, Cubans increasingly are finding less reason to have hope in their future at home and seeking a different future elsewhere.

If President Obama sold his appeasement of the Castro regime as the catalyst for change needed on the island, those who actually live in Cuba aren’t buying it.

In addition to failing the Cuban people, President Obama’s policies jeopardize American national security interests. One of the most damaging spies in U.S. history, Ana Belen Montes, remains in federal prison for espionage against the United States on behalf of the Castro regime. The five WASP spies, whom President Obama released at the time of his December 17 announcement before they had completed their sentences, were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and one was also convicted of conspiracy to murder. Just this year, Colombian authorities found that the Chinese-flagged ship Da Dan Xia en route to Cuba was smuggling explosives and other weapons rather than transporting grains as listed on the ship’s documents. This incident follows the July 2013 incident where Panamanian authorities intercepted the Chong Chon Gang ship that was smuggling at least 240 tons of war materiel including two MiG-21 fighter aircraft, missile defense systems and missiles disguised under sugar, in a blatant violation of international sanctions against North Korea. According to numerous press reports, the Cuban dictatorship has inserted Cuban special forces into Syria to man Russian tanks and fight Syrian rebels on behalf of the dictator Assad.

For one year, President Obama has applied his appeasement policy full-throttle with the opening of an embassy in Havana, diplomatic recognition of the Castro regime, removal of Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list, release of convicted spies including a conspirator to murder, and sanctions relief well beyond anything contemplated by Congress when it codified sanctions in the LIBERTAD Act, which President Bill Clinton signed into law.

Now that the Obama-Castro honeymoon period is over, we must take a clear-eyed look at the failures of President Obama’s appeasement of brutal dictators.

Predictably, prioritizing appeasement of tyrants over solidarity with the oppressed has had disastrous results for the Cuban people. It is time for the President to abandon his appeasement policy toward the Castro brothers and chart a course that supports the Cuban people rather than bolstering their oppressors.