No Cuba Libre

 

Last Sunday’s Washington Post carried an editorial titled “Failure In Cuba,” taking the Obama administration to task for its failure to achieve what it declared were the goals of its policy restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries — “to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans” and “to engage and empower the Cuban people.” The Post is downright scathing about what has happened since normalization began in December 2014, after the mid-term elections, when the President felt it was safe to undertake his initiative:

Yet there is scant evidence so far of a sea change in Cuba — perhaps because Mr. Obama continues to offer the Castro regime unilateral concessions requiring nothing in return. Since the United States has placed no human rights conditions on the opening, the Castro regime continues to systematically engage in arbitrary detention of dissidents and others who speak up for democracy. In fact, detentions have spiked in recent months. The state continues to monopolize radio, television and newspapers.

The administration has defined one of its goals as opening Cuba to the Internet, but the nation still suffers from some of the lowest connectivity rates in the world. The regime established a few dozen Wifi spots but charges people $2 an hour to use them; the average salary is $20 a month. The state retains a chokehold on the economy, including tourism; the benefits of a 50 percent increase in U.S. visitors are being garnered by Raúl Castro’s son-in-law, the industry’s boss. Meanwhile, Cuba’s purchases of U.S. goods have fallen by a double-digit percentage.

What’s most evident over the past year is that the Castro brothers are effectively preventing real change and reform even as they reap the rewards of Mr. Obama’s opening. The president’s only response has been more unilateral concessions, along with talk of a visit to the island before he leaves office. Autocrats everywhere must be watching with envy the Castros’ good fortune.

I’ve written before about the reality of Cuba today (see Top 5 Reasons We Ended Cuba Embargo, Solving Income Inequality (reporting on Cuba’s maximum wage of $20 a month), and New York Times Has Second Thoughts On Cuba (I was joking)). I was not opposed to a change in America’s policy towards Cuba if it involved a mutual opening up, but that is far from what has happened. Instead the Castro brothers, reputed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, are thriving while the Cuban people continue to suffer.

Beyond what even the Post editorial mentions is that US government contact with dissidents is now less than it was before December 2014, because our contacts are now directed through the government instead of around it. The dissidents report they are demoralized by what has happened.

President Obama’s actions have been shameful, yet another example of an own goal scored by his foreign policy. Well, at least he may get to fulfill his often expressed desire to make an official presidential visit before the end of his administration. How nice for him.

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  1. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Well, Barry has let the Arab Spring come and go.  And Barry has let the green revolution in Iran come and go.  And Barry has been drawing lines in the sand with regard to Syria and Assad.

    And Barry has been busy ignoring the needs of national defense in a hostile world.  And Barry is busy prepping the world for global thermostatting or whatever is necessary to ensure that the oceans don’t rise and wash away Miami or Manhattan or the LA suburbs on the edge of California, Democrat enclaves.

    And Barry has been very busy stifling the rights of Americans through his surrogates.  He doesn’t need to do anything on that front, it is handled.

    It frees him up for golfing.

    How that leads to the benefit of ordinary Cubans in Cuba is beyond my ability to comprehend.

    • #1
  2. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Why would anyone expect a different outcome?  With change in Venezuela, the low price of oil,  Venezuela won’t be able to subsidize Cuba as it has in the past, and ultimately they may even take their country back from the Cuban security forces.  Of course there is still the narcotics trade and no evidence we’ll change the war on drugs that creates it.  Never-the-less we had maximum leverage.  Obama just wanted to remove sanctions and have a way to return Guantanamo.   Maybe he’ll get a deal on beach property.  Who knows?

    • #2
  3. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Golly.  I thought for sure that complete capitulation to the Castro brothers was the answer all along.  Maybe if Obama & Kerry offer a new package of financial and technical support to the Seguridad del Estado to help their fight against dissidents we would see more warming.

    • #3
  4. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Every once in awhile the blind squirrels at WaPo find a non-ideological acorn.  Good for them.  My most recent liberal friend to attempt a vacation in Cuba did not carry through once it became apparent that her access to the country would be “restricted,” and that only certain “guided tours” were available.  Mugged  by reality, and off to San Juan.

    • #4
  5. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Thanks for writing on this.

    I was a bouncing baby boy when the Communist tyrant was assassinated. I’m not sure it would have happened without Reagan & his foreign policy. Maybe the USSR was bound to collapse. But when? I am assured by the free-market devotees that it was born dead. What an attitude… So many people were cursed to live that death.

    My young miss told me the other day about how Americans who go doing tourism in Cuba then go online & complain about the amenities. It’s related to the job, is how it came up… We had a strange moment, again. Will no one understand what fate awaited us? Into what fate our parents were born?

    I’m not for world peace; but ridding Cuba of its Communist tyrants is long overdue & a permanent sign of American shame, of the cowardice of Kennedy & his followers.

    • #5
  6. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Titus Techera:Thanks for writing on this.

    I was a bouncing baby boy when the Communist tyrant was assassinated. I’m not sure it would have happened without Reagan & his foreign policy. Maybe the USSR was bound to collapse. But when? I am assured by the free-market devotees that it was born dead. What an attitude… So many people were cursed to live that death.

    That’s why I’m so angry about what Obama did here, even more so than about the Iran nuclear deal.  There was no geopolitical pressure that justified what he did, or more particularly, how he did it.  It was an unforced error that has real consequences for real people.  It reinforces my belief that in his worldview it is American actions that cause all the illness in the world and once those actions are corrected, all will be right.  It’s actually a very America-centric view which denies agency to everyone else in the world.

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I do not like the idea of Trump as president, but I hope he has inspired the current crop of candidates to do a better job making deals. We should have insisted on a lot of concessions from Cuba, as everyone said at the time. Another example of Obama’s giving the store away.

    • #7
  8. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    I Walton: Why would anyone expect a different outcome?

    As I recall, Fred Cole did.  But then again, Fred Cole.

    • #8
  9. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    And yet, Obama’s accomplishment in Cuba serves as an inspiring progressive talking point. From last night’s debate:

    With regards to Iran, Mrs. Clinton accused Mr. Sanders of wanting to normalize relations with Iran. He said he wouldn’t “do it tomorrow,” or any time soon. But he said he kept open the hope to “move forward” with the country in the future, pointing to recent normalizing of relations with Cuba as an example of reconciling with an enemy.

    • #9
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Mark:

    Titus Techera:Thanks for writing on this.

    I was a bouncing baby boy when the Communist tyrant was assassinated. I’m not sure it would have happened without Reagan & his foreign policy. Maybe the USSR was bound to collapse. But when? I am assured by the free-market devotees that it was born dead. What an attitude… So many people were cursed to live that death.

    That’s why I’m so angry about what Obama did here, even more so than about the Iran nuclear deal. There was no geopolitical pressure that justified what he did, or more particularly, how he did it. It was an unforced error that has real consequences for real people. It reinforces my belief that in his worldview it is American actions that cause all the illness in the world and once those actions are corrected, all will be right. It’s actually a very America-centric view which denies agency to everyone else in the world.

    Yeah. You’re right all the way. In his unusual ways, he’s quite American: I believe Mr. Obama is misunderstood only inasmuch as the good intentions behind his policy are misunderstood by your countrymen. He’s trying to get America & the rest of the world to work together.

    Were he not president, it would not be his fault. Did not Mr. W. Bush say, freedom in America ‘increasingly’ depends on freedom in the world? Did not Wilson? FDR & Reagan seemed to say the same!

    • #10
  11. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    I forget who said it but he was an old Latin American hand who called all of Latin America, the US sand box.  There is truth in this.  It has always brought out the worst in our policy from both sides.  Another old hand, again I don’t remember who, (us old hands are, after all, old)  said we’d do anything for Latin America except actually pay attention.  Nothing changes.  I’d have ended the sanctions years ago.  Our goal should have  been how to manage post Castro relations.  They’re just living longer than they should,  but that should be part of some vision or policy about the future and what we will do with greater access, and what we ask for to remove sanctions and normalize relations.  We didn’t get either because there was no policy other than closing Guantanamo and a photo op.    I don’t know if Obama has any policy toward Latin America, the few opportunities to do anything were botched, but at least it has not been as abominably dishonorable as Kennedy’s, which few seem to know about because he did the Alliance for Progress and that was great PR although expensive.

    • #11
  12. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    I Walton: Our goal should have been how to manage post Castro relations. They’re just living longer than they should, but that should be part of some vision or policy about the future and what we will do with greater access, and what we ask for to remove sanctions and normalize relations. We didn’t get either because there was no policy other than closing Guantanamo and a photo op.

    I wouldn’t have ended sanctions, but you make an excellent point here. A vision and policy for the future should have been prerequisites.

    • #12
  13. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    The only reason to normalize relations was to have an embassy and multiple folks traveling as businessmen.  Embassies and some businessmen can do a lot more than diplomacy and business.   Interest sections just aren’t the same as embassies.   For instance, we could have ended sanctions but make it illegal to have business relations with the government.  All partners are the govt so they’d have to open layers of fronts to do any business with Americans and that would erode controls and create diverse interests.   We can’t just fix Cuba or any other country;  we have to manage our relations and our leverage in some desired direction.  What did sanctions achieve in the last 20 years?   Nothing. They just tied our hands. The purpose of sanctions was to show the rest of  Latin America that there were costs to being our enemy and seizing our property.  We forget how pervasive  anti Americanism  and property nationalization was in the sixties.   These things weren’t ideological they were opportunistic and we gradually changed that.  Our treatment of Cuba was key to that.

    • #13
  14. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Ever since the evil empire fell, I thought we should drop the embargo.  But I feared that Obama or any other Democrat would go about it in the worst possible way, and use American aid to prop up the Castro regime.

    Turns out I didn’t know how bad “worst” could be.

    • #14
  15. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Wanna-be Dictator hobnobs with Real Dictator.

    In 2013, I wrote this on my own blog, when I heard that the Seattle Chamber Music Society was taking a “Patron Tour to Cuba”.  Disgusting!

    • #15
  16. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Titus Techera:I’m not for world peace; but ridding Cuba of its Communist tyrants is long overdue & a permanent sign of American shame, of the cowardice of Kennedy & his followers.

    Kennedy tried to free Cuba of Castro by using Cuban surrogates.  That led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and a negotiated settlement with Khrushchev.  That negotiated settlement has been honored by both parties since it was signed.

    Ergo, cowardice is the wrong word.  Kennedy and those who followed Kennedy are bound by a treaty.

    • #16
  17. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    donald todd:

    Titus Techera:I’m not for world peace; but ridding Cuba of its Communist tyrants is long overdue & a permanent sign of American shame, of the cowardice of Kennedy & his followers.

    Kennedy tried to free Cuba of Castro by using Cuban surrogates. That led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and a negotiated settlement with Khrushchev. That negotiated settlement has been honored by both parties since it was signed.

    Ergo, cowardice is the wrong word. Kennedy and those who followed Kennedy are bound by a treaty.

    The man was a coward. He is not at fault for cooking up the scheme or telling people to do it. But for not being decisive about making it succeed.

    As for the treaty, people who say, I promised this Soviet tyrants!, they are not sane.

    • #17
  18. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Titus Techera:

    donald todd:

    He is not at fault for cooking up the scheme or telling people to do it. But for not being decisive about making it succeed.

    Have you read Yale’s Kagan on the episode.   The chapter on the Cuban missile crisis began with the bay of pigs which he implies was a disposal operation.   Also from different Cuban sources and from a former head of the Cuban interest section I learned that the Cubans were to have landed in a different beach where they would have had immediate access to an ongoing peasant revolt in the mountains.   This was the original plan.  The bay of pigs was a shooting gallery and one of the most shameful episodes in our history.   So it wasn’t just lack of air support that did them in.

    • #18
  19. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I Walton:

    Titus Techera:

    donald todd:

    He is not at fault for cooking up the scheme or telling people to do it. But for not being decisive about making it succeed.

    Have you read Yale’s Kagan on the episode. The chapter on the Cuban missile crisis began with the bay of pigs which he implies was a disposal operation. Also from different Cuban sources and from a former head of the Cuban interest section I learned that the Cubans were to have landed in a different beach where they would have had immediate access to an ongoing peasant revolt in the mountains. This was the original plan. The bay of pigs was a shooting gallery and one of the most shameful episodes in our history. So it wasn’t just lack of air support that did them in.

    I would agree. But that rather more public act, refusing air support, to say nothing of saving them, that shows a cowardice & a lack of principle that seem to be absolutely indispensable if the greatest power in world history is going to fail miserably.

    Of course, Vietnam was an even worse thing…

    • #19
  20. dbeck Inactive
    dbeck
    @dbeck

    Most Cuban-Americans are republican, and for the JFK reason. This is Obummer’s way of sticking his finger in their eye. He could care less about Cubans and civil rights in Cuba.

    • #20
  21. Pelayo Inactive
    Pelayo
    @Pelayo

    I appreciate your willingness to examine the results of Obama’s action on Cuba and admit things have not turned out the way you expected.

    Having said that, I predicted all of this when Obama announced his plans.  My parents are Cuban immigrants and I learned what the Castro brothers and the “Revolution” were all about from an early age.  The stories from my own family members and other immigrants were first-hand accounts and not subject to liberal media filters or spin.  Thanks to my parents I can see through the fog very clearly when it comes to the intentions of the Cuban government.

    Hopefully others who thought Obama was doing a good thing will also come to realize the outcome is not what they expected and will see the Castro brothers as the tyrants they are.

    • #21
  22. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Pelayo: Hopefully others who thought Obama was doing a good thing will also come to realize the outcome is not what they expected and will see the Castro brothers as the tyrants they are.

    I share your hope. Unfortunately, those others embrace undying faith that Obama’s compassionate extended hand will melt away the evil that resides in the hearts of communist thugs.

    • #22
  23. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    Barry still seems to have not learned the lesson that intentions and plans are of little concern to reality, which he has repeatedly gotten mugged by.  He gets up, dusts himself off, shakes the slap off his face, and does the same thing, again, and again.

    One might think he’s masochistic, but he loves himself too much.  His way of dealing with reality is to assume that everyone else isn’t as smart as he is, and if they could just see or do things his way, everything would work out, and the world would change.

    Instead, we’ve emasculated ourselves for 8 years and the world knows it.  Apparently the only person who doesn’t know it is Barry, and unfortunately, Barry’s still in charge.

    • #23
  24. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Chris Campion: He gets up, dusts himself off, shakes the slap off his face, and does the same thing, again, and again.

    perfect

    • #24
  25. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Titus Techera:I would agree. But that rather more public act, refusing air support, to say nothing of saving them, that shows a cowardice & a lack of principle that seem to be absolutely indispensable if the greatest power in world history is going to fail miserably.

    Of course, Vietnam was an even worse thing…

    I had several long meetings with the former head of the Cuban air force who was in the bunker with Castro at the time of the invasion, he said they couldn’t believe what they were seeing.   Moreover it lead directly to the Cuban missile crisis.  Kagan says that the latter was resolved because the Soviets feared Kenned was so weak that a coup was brewing and when the US Air Force over flew Cuba, against orders, Khrushchev  panicked. The Kennedy’s couldn’t foresee how Bobby’s pleas to the Russian Ambassador about pressure from the military would be interpreted by the Kremlin.   Then the best and the brightest thought that the Russians turned around because of their clever gradual escalation of the use of power.  This led directly to our disastrous management of the Viet Nam war.  Stupidity and cowardice, like evil, keep on giving.  So clearly I agree with you.

    • #25
  26. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I Walton: when the US Air Force over flew Cuba, against orders,

    ?

    I didn’t know about this. Whose orders?

    • #26
  27. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Pelayo:I appreciate your willingness to examine the results of Obama’s action on Cuba and admit things have not turned out the way you expected.

    Having said that, I predicted all of this when Obama announced his plans. My parents are Cuban immigrants and I learned what the Castro brothers and the “Revolution” were all about from an early age. The stories from my own family members and other immigrants were first-hand accounts and not subject to liberal media filters or spin. Thanks to my parents I can see through the fog very clearly when it comes to the intentions of the Cuban government.

    Hopefully others who thought Obama was doing a good thing will also come to realize the outcome is not what they expected and will see the Castro brothers as the tyrants they are.

    I appreciate getting your personal perspective.  Just to clarify, I opposed Obama’s normalization at the time it occurred, precisely because there was no quid pro quo.  Instead we gave something for nothing.

    • #27
  28. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    I just want to a couple of random-ish thoughts.

    When mobilized to NH GTMO for Operation Safe Haven, I met a number of Cuban migrants (most all became immigrants, mind you) to not be enamored by the Castros.

    A couple of 20-something Cubans told me how that when US folks come down with computers etc, the equipment would not to go schools etc. Castro used them in the hotels and his hospital (and other offices, I’m sure).

    I only met one Cuban, while there, who did not want to go to Miami.

    A Cuban PT inquired why we used so much ice in our treatment. After I started to explain the physiology, he interrupted to say, “oh yes, we know that, we just never have enough [because the power is unreliable]. ”

    Most Americans just want to go to Havana to see the cool, old cars and smoke cigars.

    I currently have a patient who spent a few years living near Santiago de Cuba as a child, before Castro, right on the water. We joke, that her dad was a spy– he might have been. She’d love to back to see her old house. She didn’t think that travel on the island might still be limited until I pointed it out to her.

    Why  doesn’t Michael Moore move there?

    • #28
  29. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    I encourage people to read Jay Nordlinger and his commentary on Cuban dissidents.

    • #29
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