Monday, June 19, 2017

Trump’s Welcome Course Correction on Cuba

Barack Obama’s approach to tyrants might have been described as “tough love,” except that there was never anything tough about it. He attempted to make nice with the mullahs in Tehran, giving them crates of cash in exchange for unenforceable promises about their nuclear program. But it was in his own hemisphere that he made the most gratuitous concessions. In late 2014, the Obama administration normalized relations with Cuba and lifted travel and economic restrictions to the island, some of which had been in place since the Kennedy administration. In the spring of 2016, President Obama visited Cuba, where he took in a baseball game with Cuban “president” Raúl Castro.
The only thing missing from the grotesque spectacle was a mojito.
Cuba is a one-party dictatorship with a gulag, and has been since Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista government in 1959. At his retirement in 2011, “El Jefe” was the longest-ruling non-royal head of state since 1900, at the top of a list that includes such names as Kim, Qaddafi, and Hoxha. Castro was no less brutal than any of them, but he managed, somehow, to be more popular. Among left-wing intellectuals in Europe and the United States, Castro was a sort of pope, and Havana a destination for pilgrimage. American leftists, including Bernie Sanders, continue to propound the supposed glories of Cuba’s health-care and education systems.
There was no pressing reason for President Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba — it was not necessary or even advisable — but the president suggested that comity between the U.S. and Cuba, and a heavier exchange of goods and people, would help to relax the regime’s grip. More than two years later, it is clear that this is not true. While Americans are enjoying Cuban rum and cigars, the regime has stepped up its repressive activities since the “thaw” was announced. During the first six months of 2016, there were on average 1,095 short-term political detentions, according to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation; there were 718 on average in 2015.
Read the rest of this NR editorial HERE.

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