Statement on Obama's Final State of the Union

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
During tonight's State of the Union address, President Obama said:

"Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, and positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere? Recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo."

First of all --

Far from setting us back in Latin America, the U.S.'s policy of isolating Cuba has successfully promoted democracy in the region. It's for this reason that -- after decades of military dictatorships -- today 34 out of 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere are democracies. To the contrary, nothing harks back more to the Cold War than once again backing dictatorships in Latin America, as President Obama is now doing.

Moreover --

If diplomatic relations with Cuba have been "successful," then why has the Castro regime refused to return a stolen U.S. Hellfire missile that it has in its possession, to extradite one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Terrorists that it continues harboring and to return properties confiscated from American citizens?

As regards "the lives of the Cuban people," here are the facts --

Since Obama's new Cuba policy was announced on December 17th, 2014:

-- Political arrests have intensified. There were over 8,616 political arrests in 2015, including 1,447 during the month of November, which is the highest recorded number in decades.

-- Released political prisoners have been re-imprisoned. Over half of the 53 political prisoners released in the Obama-Castro deal have been re-arrested at some point, with five serving new long-term sentences.

-- Cubans fleeing the island has skyrocketed. The number of Cuban fleeing the island has nearly doubled in 2015 compared to the previous year. We are currently facing the biggest migration of Cubans since the 1994 rafters crisis.

-- The number of "self-employed" workers has decreased. There are nearly 10,000 less "self-employed" licensees in Cuba today than in 2014. Meanwhile, Castro's military monopolies are expanding at record pace.

-- Religious freedom has regressed. Last year alone, 2,000 churches were declared illegal and 100 were designated for demolition by the Castro regime.