Cuban Normalization Is Business As Usual

We all remember earlier this year when we heard that Obama was reaching out to Cuba – starting talks to normalize relations and lifting trade and travel restrictions.

At first blush, most thought this was rather odd, but just maybe our government knew more of the Cuban situation then did we. Just maybe, with the passing of the leadership torch from Fidel to his brother Raul, things would be different. Maybe Cuba has seen the folly of communist rule and is ready to lead its people into the 21st century – to become good neighbors and partners with the United States.

Maybe it is true that America and Cuba could start anew, which Obama himself called “a new beginning.”

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At an April meeting in Panama, Obama addressed leaders of various nations from Central and South America, including Cuba, where he exclaimed: “I believe our governments together have an obligation to uphold the universal freedoms and rights of all our citizens. The voices of our citizens must be heard. I just want to make very clear that when we speak out on something like human rights, it’s not because we think we are perfect but it is because we think the idea of not jailing people if they disagree with you is the right idea.”

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In an effort to let the past be the past, Obama said: “the United States will not be imprisoned by the past – we’re looking to the future. I’m not interested in having battles that frankly started before I was born.”

Well that was profound, except he forgot to add the caveat of unless the past regards the “evils” perpetrated by the United States, like slavery, which, last I checked, was abolished well before he was born. Then we can go back as far as needed. We can’t be excused, but Cuba can.

And it’s funny he should mention “human rights” and “the voices of our citizens must be heard,” while cozying up to Castro.

Five months ago, shortly after the United States announced it would begin to normalize relations with Cuba, Chicago performance artist Tania Bruguera decided to return to the place of her birth. Besides being an artist, she is also an anti-Communist activist. Bruguera “was arrested thrice in December, each time for performing an art piece that openly criticized the communist government. She remains unable to leave the island, stuck in a kind of legal limbo. It’s estimated that 163 activists and artists were arrested the day Bruguera was detained.”

Gee, I wonder if our well-informed president knows of the plight of Ms. Bruguera as he makes his “new beginning” speech, some four months after her several arrests.

Whether they told Obama or not (maybe he was on the golf course that day), in December, our State Department was well aware of Tania’s plight. They issued a statement saying, “Freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are internationally recognized human rights, and the Cuban government’s lack of respect for these rights, as demonstrated by today’s detentions, is inconsistent with hemispheric norms and commitments. We urge the government of Cuba to end its practice of repressing these and other internationally protected freedoms and to respect the universal human rights of Cuban citizens.” That was again quite profound – profound, but utterly useless, as is the entire State Department.

This Cuba relations thing sounds like just another feather of incompetence in the White House’s cap, to go right next to the one issued for Hillary Clinton‘s Russian “Reset Button” blunder.

It’s either that or Obama is just jealous of how Castro can simply arrest anyone who disagrees with him. Maybe this normalization is Obama’s vision for us to be more like them and not the other way around.

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