Obama's Cuba policy produces only more suffering
by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: November 14, 2016 12:00 AM CDT
y not be getting much attention, but President Barack Obama's decision
to liberalize U.S.-Cuba policy is rapidly shifting from naive and
ill-advised to an act of willful obliviousness.
The administration's foreign policy often appears predicated on the idea
that enemies will become allies if only the United States embraces
appeasement. In Cuba, that theory is being disproved daily.
This fact was highlighted recently in a letter sent to the Obama
administration by Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Mario
Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. Both question the legality of Obama's action, which
defies federal law regarding the Cuba embargo, but they also note the
policy has been wholly ineffective.
"Since you laid out your vision for re-establishing diplomatic relations
with Cuba in December 2014, human rights conditions in the country have
worsened," Lankford and Diaz-Balart wrote.
Read all the recent editorials from The Oklahoman.
Citing the congressional testimony of Mauricio Claver-Carone, a former
Treasury official who is now executive director of Cuba Democracy
Advocates, Lankford and Diaz-Balart noted that "political arrests in
Cuba have intensified, Internet connectivity has dropped, and religious
freedom violations have increased tenfold since the policy change was
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation
documented 8,616 political arrests in 2015, and 8,505 political arrests
through September of this year. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports
2,000 churches were declared illegal and 100 were designated for
demolition last year in Cuba. That group also "documented 1,606 separate
violations of religious freedom in Cuba."
Lankford and Diaz-Balart noted that "several of the prisoners released
by Cuba as part of the announcement of the re-establishment of
diplomatic relations were rearrested with even longer prison sentences,
according to your State Department's own human rights report."
In other words, even the Obama administration tacitly admits its policy
At the same time, Lankford and Diaz-Balart noted the Castro regime was
caught smuggling 240 tons of military weapons to North Korea in 2013. In
August and September 2016, the Cuban government "deepened ties with
Iran, and has allowed Russian spy ships to dock from its territory."
Russian official have announced they may open a military base in Cuba.
In congressional testimony, the director of national intelligence, Gen.
James R. Clapper, said the Castro dictatorship remains an espionage
threat on par with Iran, behind only China and Russia.
Fabiola Santiago, who initially supported Obama's Cuban policy change,
has since written in the Miami Herald that the results aren't benefiting
the Cuban people. In particular, Santiago is upset that supposed
economic development benefits are going to the Cuban military, which
runs major hotels now receiving investment funds from American firms.
Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady noted last week
that the Cuban economy is "in tatters" while the Castro regime "is
backtracking on promises of reform" and "beatings and detentions of
dissidents have soared since the U.S. extended the olive branch."
"Yet Mr. Obama keeps making concessions to the Castros …"
Obama's presidency has been marked by extreme hubris. In Cuba, the price
of the administration's unwillingness to acknowledge policy mistakes is
being measured in ever-greater human suffering.
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