This holiday season, President Obama gave a gift to the Cuban government that has done nothing to deserve it. As it has for decades, the Castro regime continues to repress the fundamental rights of the Cuban people. According to our own Department of State, the authoritarian regime “has severely restricted fundamental freedoms, repressed political opponents, and violated human rights.”
There’s been no indication that anything has changed, and so President Obama’s announcement of eased economic and diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba was all carrot and no stick. The President’s chief argument for easing restrictions is the duration of the restrictions. He says 50 years is long enough. But there’s no indication that establishing a U.S. embassy in Havana or allowing more trade between the United States and Cuba will bring about meaningful change for the Cuban people.
Spending money or doing business in Cuba means doing business with the Cuban government, which consists of the Castro brothers and their cronies. The government controls every aspect of individual life. Experts say there’s no indication that greater U.S. diplomatic and economic recognition of Cuba will lead to democratic or economic reforms or a newfound respect for human rights or religious freedom. If doing business with Cuba were the answer, the Cuban people already would have benefited from their government’s dealings with developed countries such as Canada. That isn’t the case. The U.S. government shouldn’t reward brutal regimes without any significant commitment toward change for the oppressed people suffering under those regimes. That principal should be consistent whether the country is close to the U.S. coast or thousands of miles away, as in the case of North Korea or Iran.