From Investor Business Daily's Editorial Board:
Castro Brothers The Only Beneficiaries In Obama Trip To Cuba
Announcing another historic “first,” President Obama said he and the first lady would visit communist Cuba to help improve the lot of the Cuban people. Last time he said that, when he normalized ties, the whip came down.
No regime has been showered with goodies the way the White House has heaped them onto the Castro brothers’ 57-year military dictatorship. From cash and trade, to the prestige of a costly U.S. presidential visit, the Castros have made out like bandits. The U.S. gets nothing in return. Nada.
The visit will no doubt be full of colorful celebrity-style photo-ops, perhaps driving on the Malecon in a ’57 Chevy, or sipping mojitos amid crumbling architecture, to make it all hip yet quaint for the cameras.
The president claims it’s “to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.” Seems he forgot his vow to not visit the island if he couldn’t say with confidence “that we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans,” as he told Yahoo News in 2014.
Because the sorry reality is that life has not improved for Cubans since the thaw in relations. Human rights groups warn that, if anything, repression has increased following restoration of diplomatic ties. The regime still harasses dissidents with beatings, harassment arrests (some 8,600 last year), mob attacks and job firings, according to Human Rights Watch. What’s more, Cubans are terrified that the thaw will end their one thin reed of hope: escape to the U.S. They have since flooded U.S. borders in dramatically escalated numbers, surely a sign they expect little change.
Sure, the White House pays lip service to human rights. And Obama’s advance men have told the press he will even speak to dissidents, although they have declined to answer press questions about how these “dissidents” will be chosen. The more likely scenario is the one that came with Pope Francis’ trip to the island recently: Dissident roundups and beatings to keep the locals from getting any ideas.
It all adds up to the same sorry picture since Obama announced the normalization of ties. Now, with a Potemkin tour in the works, the only beneficiary will be the geriatric Castro regime, which will gain more legitimacy with the presidential visit, not to mention money.
Add it to the long list of Obama’s concessions to Cuba.
In 2009, President Obama loosened restrictions on remittances to the island, rapidly raising the regime’s cash flow, much of which was siphoned off through taxes by the regime. Remittances have doubled since then, to $4 billion.
Then, with no strings attached, President Obama normalized diplomatic relations with Cuba (ranked No. 177 out of 178 nations in the Heritage Foundation’s 2016 Index of Economic Freedom) and opened an embassy in Havana, pointedly banning dissidents from attending, and then falsely claiming there was a lack of seat space.
After that, Obama took Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terror — even while, at the same time, emails subpoenaed from then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton showed that she knew Cuba had permitted the opening of an “operational” Hezbollah base on the island, a clear example of state-sponsored terror.
Meanwhile, egregious arms violations — such as the transport of Cuban missiles through the Panama Canal on their way to North Korea and another suspicious shipment to Colombia and likely its FARC guerrillas went unsanctioned. There was also the suspicious shipment of a U.S. Hellfire missile to Havana. Cuba returned it only this week, two years after it received the supposedly misdirected package.
Frankly, we doubt any change will come to Cuba with this trip. It’s just another legacy-builder for selfish aims. The Castros will gain, but the cause of freedom will be set back.
at 8:57 AM Saturday, February 20, 2016
02/14 - 02/21
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