Why Obama Wouldn't Meet With Cuba's Dr. Biscet

Thursday, June 30, 2016
Some have questioned why President Obama wouldn't meet with Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, during his visit to the United States.

This piece by The Dallas Morning News' editor, Leona Allen, indirectly explains it.

Just note how shallow and pathetic it sounds to try to defend a policy of unscrupulous business and unconditional engagement with the Castro dictatorship in the presence of a Cuban human rights icon.

Simply put, Obama would have no moral standing.

By Leona Allen in The Dallas Morning News:

Cuban human rights advocate's visit highlights delicate Cuba-U.S. relations

It's not every day that a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner makes his way to The Dallas Morning News editorial board.

Cuban human rights activist Oscar Biscet  sat down with the board recently and passionately discussed his continued fight for freedom and democracy for his people.  It was the Havana physician's  first trip to the United States from Cuba, where he was imprisoned from 2002 until 2011 for speaking out against his Communist government -- and where an uncertain future awaits his expected return in August.

When President George W. Bush recognized his efforts in 2007 with the Medal of Freedom, he did so in absentia because Biscet was in prison. In Dallas, Bush was able to meet Biscet, now 54, for the first time last week and presented the medal in person at the Bush Institute, where it will remain on display.

Biscet said, through a translator, that the fight has been worth it.

He spoke of beatings, killings and espionage at the hands of Cuba's dictatorship that sound like something out of a James Bond movie -- except he described it as everyday life in his country.  And he voiced his hope that one day Cubans would be free of government oppression.

"I can forgive what they did to me." Biscet said. "I cannot forgive what they did to the Cuban people."

 He called President Obama's restoring of diplomatic and limited trade ties with Cuba after 50 years a "political mistake" as long as the Cuban government outlaws free speech and fails to adopt democratic principles.

Of course some -- including this newspaper -- believe opening up trade with Cuba, just 90 miles from the U.S., and creating a free-market system could be just the antidote for the heavy-handed system of the Castro regime. Thousands of American tourists with money to spend and U.S. products flooding Cuba can be transformative and open up a world Cubans have never seen.

And there are some estimates that Texas could see $43 billion in total economic impact from increased exports and other trade with Cuba. Gov. Greg Abbott led a Texas trade mission to Cuba in December.

Still, not many would dispute that Cuba has a long way to go on improving human rights. No one wants to see people treated the way Biscet says he's been treated just for speaking up for what they believe is right.

Here's hoping his time in the U.S. garners more support for affording more freedoms for everyday Cubans. And that the fact he's such a high-profile advocate for human rights protects him and his family from harm upon his return home.