Don't be Fooled by Kerry's Cuba Trip Cancellation

Friday, March 4, 2016
The Obama Administration has placed itself between a rock and a hard place.

In a December 2015 interview, President Obama stated that he would only travel to Cuba “if, in fact, I with confidence can say that we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans.”

Two months later, Obama (again) crossed this "red-line" by announcing he was traveling to Cuba "for fun."

Immediately, the Castro regime took advantage of Obama's broken promise. The state-run Granma propagandized that Obama's trip was, therefore, proof that there were no human rights violations in Cuba.

Of course, the complete opposite is true. Political arrests are at historic highs, the beatings of peaceful female dissidents has become a daily ritual, religious freedom violations have increased tenfold, and political prisoners released as part of the Obama-Castro deal have been handed new sentences, while others are being banished ahead of Obama's trip to the island.

At Congressional hearings last week (see here and here), Secretary of State John Kerry -- embarrassingly -- could not point to any improvement in human rights.

Even supporters of Obama's "normalization" policy have been critical of this premature trip.

Last night, the L.A. Times reported that Kerry cancelled a preparatory trip to the island due to "haggling" about which Cuban dissidents Obama will be allowed to meet.

Of course the irony is that upon announcing the Cuba trip, Obama's adviser Ben Rhodes stated, "we determine who we meet with in different countries."

Yet, the mere fact that the Obama Administration is negotiating with the Castro regime about whom the U.S. President can meet with in Cuba is proof that this was another lie.

Kerry's cancelled trip may be more about logistics and "saving-face" for Obama than about taking a stand for human rights.

We pray to be wrong. But when American Presidents break their word and cross their own "red-lines" it weakens their standing.

The fact remains that the Obama Administration has placed itself (as usual) in a weakened negotiating position. Thus, Kerry is cancelling his trip, so that Obama doesn't cancel his.

The question remains whether Obama will cave (yet again) to the Castro regime on whom he can meet with in Cuba.

Here's a fair and simple litmus:

Obama should -- at the very least -- meet with internationally-awarded dissidents, such as the European Union's Sakharov prize recipients, The Ladies in White, Guillermo Farinas and Rosa Maria Paya (in representation of her murdered father, Oswaldo Paya); and U.S. Presidential of Medal recipient Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet.

If Obama wants to truly leave an honorable mark in history, he would leave Castro's tourist zone and visit The Ladies in White at their headquarters in the Lawton neighborhood of Havana, which is poor and predominantly Afro-Cuban.

We would be the first to commend him.

But don't hold your breath, as Castro won't give him permission.