Tag Archives: Cuban Embassy

Give Castro’s embassy in Washington the address it deserves

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Rename 16th Street for a dissident who died under mysterious circumstances.
Raising the flag at the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Aug. 14 was a historically symbolic act, but equally symbolic were the absence of dissidents and the failure to talk about Cuba’s repressive regime at this public moment. The 45-minute ceremony illustrated everything that is wrong with Washington’s Cuba policy.
Americans and Cubans who have wanted for decades to hold the island’s dictatorship accountable for its human rights crimes absorbed a tough blow. But if the Obama administration won’t give them the right Cuba policy, Congress can award them an important and symbolic concession: Rub a reminder of the regime’s brutality in its face, every day, by renaming the street where its embassy stands in D.C. after one of its victims, the slain opposition leader Oswaldo Payá.
We all want a free, democratic and prosperous Cuba at peace with the United States. But this is not what Fidel and Raúl Castro want. Raul has made it clear that Cuba will remain under the control of the Communist Party and will not change the nature of the regime. As Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs for the Cuban Foreign Ministry, put it: “Decisions on internal matters are not negotiable and will never be put on the negotiating agenda.” This is why the Cuban government refused to offer any meaningful political or economic reforms that might loosen its stranglehold on power, such as democratic elections or the release of all prisoners of conscience.
Despite good intentions, the U.S. policy shift morally and financially bolsters the Communist Party and disheartens people — both here and in Cuba — who have fought for freedom and prosperity. America’s recognition of the Castro regime legitimizes the party’s rule and makes continuity of party control more, not less, likely after Raul’s retirement or death. Victims of the Castro regime feel they have lost their staunchest ally, the United States. During an audience with Congress, dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez — commonly known as Antúnez — said the majority of Cuba’s dissidents consider the negotiations between Washington and Havana a betrayal that threatens Cuban people’s aspirations for freedom.

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Effects of Our Cuba Policy

A Letter to the Editor of The New York Times

Edward Gonzalez Professor Emeritus of Political Science at U.C.L.A.
Edward Gonzalez Professor Emeritus of Political Science at U.C.L.A.

To the Editor:

In “The New Era Begins With Cuba” (editorial, July 21), you acknowledge: “It would be naïve to expect that the Cuban government, a dynastic police state, will take big steps in the near future to liberalize its centrally planned economy, encourage private enterprise or embrace pluralistic political reforms. In fact, in the face of potentially destabilizing change and high expectations at home, Cuban officials may be tempted to tighten state controls in the short term.”
That, in fact, is what has been occurring since President Obama’s Dec. 17announcement of a policy change, and, given the regime’s totalitarian proclivity and apparatus, the state’s repression of dissidents and civil society, and its control over the lion’s share of the island’s economy, it is likely to continue into the distant future.
As an academic and policy consultant specializing in Cuba, I came to the conclusion several years ago that the United States faced a moral and political conundrum in its Cuba policy: how to help the Cuban people without helping the Castro regime. Unfortunately, the president’s new engagement policy now makes the United States complicit in propping up the regime both economically and politically, while leaving Cuban society even more isolated and defenseless vis-à-vis the all-powerful, coercive state.
If so, we are “back to the future,” whereby Washington coddled or looked the other way toward the Somoza, Trujillo and Batista dictatorships in Latin America — only in the case of today’s Cuba, the longevity of the regime may now be assured.
EDWARD GONZALEZ
Malibu, Calif.
The writer is professor emeritus of political science at U.C.L.A.

Cuba’s Fans

Truth be told, The Scrapbook leans toward agnosticism on the question of diplomatic relations with Cuba, which were broken off in 1961 and restored last week, with much fanfare, by the Obama administration. Since 1977, the United States has had an “interests section” in Havana that is larger than some of our embassy complexes around the world, and the Cubans have had an “interests section” inside the Swiss embassy in Washington. With luck, from our perspective, a bigger and better American embassy will mean a bigger and better CIA station in Havana.

Nor will the “normalization” of relations mean very much beyond words—and, perhaps, a partial relaxation of the economic embargo. The Washington Post ran a long story on the ceremonial reopening of the Cuban embassy, which featured remarks by the visiting Cuban foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, largely composed of a lengthy complaint about the Platt Amendment (1901), which once governed U.S.-Cuban relations and was repealed 81 years ago. If we needed a reminder that the aging Castro regime is still very much in charge on that unhappy island, Señor Rodriguez’s bumptious speech provided it.
What intrigued The Scrapbook was the Post story by Karen DeYoung. For some reason, it failed to mention that among the Americans in attendance at the ceremony was the famous actor Danny Glover, whose perspective on the subject may be summarized by his view that “one of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country”—and by “this country,” of course, he does not mean Cuba.

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More interesting still was the photograph that accompanied the Post story, showing a middle-aged woman holding aloft a heart-shaped sign that read “To Cuba With Love.” Here is the Post caption, in its entirety: “Medea Benjamin of Washington joined those celebrating the raising of the flag at the 16th Street mansion that houses the Cuban Embassy.”
As The Scrapbook feels constrained to point out, “Medea Benjamin of Washington”—actually, Susan is her real name—is no ordinary citizen with a casual interest in foreign policy but the ubiquitous, customarily screaming, face of Code Pink, the all-woman, hard-left political organization best known for its affinity for totalitarian regimes, and for shouting down American public figures ranging from Condoleezza Rice to Barack Obama.
It is no surprise that Medea Benjamin would be publicly demonstrating her fealty to the Communist dictatorship in Cuba. What is surprising is that the Post should have failed to mention—indeed, seems to have deliberately omitted—the better-known names among the handful of enthusiasts who appeared at the reopened Cuban embassy last week.
Or perhaps not. The last time The Scrapbook saw Karen DeYoung was in 1978, when she was hanging out with Strobe Talbott in the lobby of the Havana Riviera Hotel. Karen DeYoung is now senior national security correspondent for the Washington Post, and Strobe Talbott is president of the Brookings Institution. The revolution has come home.

The Weekly Standard

Reopening of Cuban embassy draws ‘bloody’ protest

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A man reportedly protesting the Castro regime was taken into police custody Monday after apparently drenching himself in red paint at the reopening of Cuba’s embassy in the U.S.
Some members of the media at the scene initially thought the man was drenched in real blood before it became evident it was likely fake blood, according to NBC’s Luke Russert.
The incident came as many flocked to a flag raising over Cuba’s embassy in Washington.
Reportedly from Miami, the man said Obama was wrong to deal with Cuban leader Raúl Castro and wore the “blood” of Cuban people, according to the Tampa Bay Times’s Alex Leary.
U.S. and Cuban officials officially opened their respective embassies Monday, a major step in restoring diplomatic ties between the countries after more than five decades apart.
Cuban flags were raised outside its newly recognized embassy in Washington and at the State Department, and Secretary of State John Kerry will raise the U.S. flag in Cuba next month.
Both the U.S. and Cuba have had diplomatic missions, which are now being upgraded to embassies, since the 1970s in their respective countries.

The Hill