Castro Mocks Obama's Outreach

Sunday, February 7, 2016
By Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations:

Castro Mocks the American Outreach

The efforts of the Obama administration to ‘normalize’ relations with Cuba have been mocked this past week.

The U.S. Southern Command holds an annual regional security conference. For decades one of its main purposes was to protect the region against Cuba, but this time the Obama administration made sure that Cuba was invited to attend. The conference was held at the very end of January.

What did the Cubans do? They sent as their representative a man who spied against the United States and was thrown out of our country. He is Gustavo Machin Gomez, a Cuban spy declared persona non grata in 2002. Now this man was accepted by us to sit with American military officers as a fit person with whom to discuss regional security.

There’s one other thing to consider as one thinks about this invitation. Cuba still holds the Hellfire missile that somehow was sent there, and the regime will not give it back to the United States. The Wall Street Journal has reported that “for more than a year, amid a historic thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, American authorities have tried to get the Cuban government to return the missile….”

Presumably, Cuba is happily sharing what the Journal called  “this sensitive military technology” with Russia and other regime allies. The return of the missile was, amazingly enough, not made a condition of ‘normalization’ by the Obama administration in its negotiations with Cuba. And now we see that its return was not even made a condition of inviting Cuba to participate in a regional security conference.

They keep the missile, they send a man thrown out of the United States for spying to our regional security conference, and the Obama administration appears to think all is just swell with the new opening to Cuba. Castro must be wondering if he’s dreaming.

But here’s the nightmare. It seems clear that President Obama wants to cap off his years in office with a visit to Cuba, where he can meet the great Fidel Castro and do some wonderful photo ops. So throughout 2016, we can expect this kowtowing to the Castro regime to continue, and we can expect to see more and more displays of regime contempt for the United States. And meanwhile, the arrests and the beatings of Cubans struggling for democracy and human rights continue, and increase -- and they have increased since Mr. Obama signed his deal with the Castro brothers. The price for Mr. Obama’s photo ops would be paid by Cubans struggling for freedom. And that would be an immoral bargain.