Tag Archives: Raul Castro

After everything he has done for them: Cuban troops chant: We’ll make Obama ‘a hat out of bullets to the head’

The Miami Herald

In a particularly absurd display of military might and tropical folklore, Raúl Castro presided over a military parade in Havana on Monday to honor his dead brother and mark the 58th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

But instead of railing against the Republican winner of the U.S. presidential election, who has already taunted and threatened the Cuban government with his infamous tweets, the theme was anti-Obama.

Apparently everybody loves a winner, and Raúl Castro is no exception. He’s ready to ditch President Barack Obama, who opened up to Cuba like no other U.S. president before him.

The parting is ugly.

Listen to the war chant the marching troops were shouting in the parade:

“Commander-in-Chief, command us. Command over this land. We are going to make war if imperialism comes. Obama! Obama! With what fervor we’d like to confront your clumsiness, give you a cleansing with rebels and mortar, and make you a hat out of bullets to the head.”

Nothing like a little santería jargon — una limpieza, a cleansing! — to go with the fatigues, rifles and a threat to do the U.S. president harm.

Even by Cuba’s Kafkian standards, threatening to shoot an American president in the head is way out there. Too reprehensible for words. But the ungrateful display is even more remarkable because Obama has been nothing but a friend to Cuba, unilaterally lifting so many trade and travel restrictions that it worked to his political detriment at home.

Obama’s grave crime against Castro: The American president is more popular in Cuba than Raúl — and his visit last March awakened great hope and expectations in the Cuban people, who welcomed Obama with joy and displays of solidarity with the United States. Cubans heard Obama’s message that there could be a better Cuba if they believed in it, worked for it, embraced change and America’s peace offering.

Continue reading After everything he has done for them: Cuban troops chant: We’ll make Obama ‘a hat out of bullets to the head’

Donald Trump crackdown looms for Cuba as repression continues after Obama outreach

The Washington Times
President Obama’s historic move to normalize relations with Cuba hasn’t slowed repression by the Castro regime, and the incoming Trump administration is likely to take a tougher stand on restricting tourism, recovering stolen U.S. assets and demanding human rights reforms by Havana, analysts say.
In the two years since Mr. Obama announced a thaw in the United States’ half-century policy of isolating the island nation, the administration has paved the way for increased engagement, approving such measures as daily commercial flights, direct mail service, cruise ship ports of call and the reopenings of long-shuttered embassies in Washington and Havana.
But Mr. Obama’s policy has not been fully embraced on Capitol Hill and is vulnerable to reversal under the Trump administration, though the president’s aides say his detente is already bearing fruit in Cuba and beyond.
“We’re seeing real progress that is making life better for Cubans right now,” said White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. “Sustaining this policy will allow for further opening, further travel, further U.S. business opportunities.”
But critics say the U.S. money now flowing to Cuba is being pocketed directly by the military and the Cuban intelligence services, not benefiting Cuban entrepreneurs. They also say the government of President Raul Castro has become more repressive since the formal resumption of diplomatic ties with Washington.
“This year, they’ve had over 10,000 politically motivated arrests,” said Ana Quintana, an analyst on Latin America at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “During President Obama’s visit [in March], there were 498 people arrested in those three days.”
Judging by the standards Mr. Obama laid out in December 2014, she said, “the policy has been a failure.”
“It was originally intended to help the Cuban people by providing greater freedoms,” Ms. Quintana said. “It’s been diluted, because they found that they’re not going to get the concessions from the Cuban government that they expected. The vast majority of people who have benefited from this have been the Cuban military and the Cuban government.”
President-elect Donald Trump is likely to take a less rosy view than Mr. Obama of the U.S. engagement with Cuba, say those familiar with his team’s thinking. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Obama and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for “turning a blind eye” to Cuba’s human rights violations and denounced Mr. Obama’s initial deal with Havana as a “very weak agreement.” Several anti-Castro Cuban-American conservatives are part of Mr. Trump’s transition team.

Continue reading Donald Trump crackdown looms for Cuba as repression continues after Obama outreach

While thousands of Cubans suffer, the Castros refuse to accept US help

baracoa

The Telegraph

Cuba has turned down offers from the United States of assistance to rebuild their country in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, in a sign that the relationship between the Cold War foes remains frustratingly frosty.

Several US-based charities have said the Cuban government is refusing to let them fly in aid, while the US government’s international development department, USAID, told The Sunday Telegraph that they have not sent any relief to Cuba – despite sending millions of dollars in assistance to other affected countries.

Fidel Castro, now 90, set the tone, stating after President Barack Obama’s historic March visit: “We don’t need the empire to give us anything.”

And his government seems determined to prove him right.

“We have not received a request from the government of Cuba for assistance,” said a spokesman for USAID. By contrast, the US has been highly active in Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas, and contributed significant funds since the October 4 hurricane – the most ferocious storm in almost a decade.

Hurricane Matthew devastated swathes of the Caribbean – flattening houses, ripping up power lines and smashing crops. Almost 1,000 people were killed or injured in Haiti – the worst affected country – and 1.4 million left in need of aid.

Cuba has not reported any fatalities, but the oldest town in the country, Baracoa – founded on the spot where Christopher Columbus first set foot – was ripped apart.

Wildy Bernot Rodriguez, who runs the Canacuba B&B, gathered 40 people inside his home to weather out the storm – including his wife Merqui, two toddlers Nathan and Hadassa, and two-month-old Aron.

“It’s absolutely terrible what has happened,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “It is incredible hard. We’ve gone back in time 100 years.

“It’s over for us.”

That there were no fatalities is due to the efforts of the Cuban authorities, who had worked hard to evacuate 1.3 million people from as much of the high-risk areas as possible.

Volunteer civil defence members went door to door, advising residents to evacuate, while Cuban state TV ran storm advisories on a loop and officials blared warnings from vehicles with loudspeakers.

Continue reading While thousands of Cubans suffer, the Castros refuse to accept US help

List Shows Obama Administration Got Gifts From Iran and Cuba

winnerloser

The Wall Street Journal

The Obama administration’s annual gift haul in 2015 included trinkets from friendly allies — as well as two new “frenemies”: Iran and Cuba.

The State Department published its disclosure of gifts to U.S. officials from foreign government sources in the Federal Register on Wednesday, and the list for the first time included offerings from Havana and Tehran. The year 2015 is the latest accounting available.

That’s the year when the U.S. removed Cuba as a state sponsor of terror before the two countries restored diplomatic relations. Iran remains on the terror sponsor list, but ties between the two countries warmed somewhat following negotiations and implementation of an international nuclear deal.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated on the nuclear agreement with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, received a book from Mr. Zarif valued at $400, according to the annual accounting. The disclosure said the volume was retained by the government for official display. Former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, a lead negotiator in the nuclear talks, also received gifts from Iranian counterparts.

Rules allow U.S. officials to accept gifts valued at more than $375 only if refusing them would cause embarrassment to the offering government or to the U.S. Such gifts must be reported and transferred to the government, under U.S. rules. Gifts from foreign governments to U.S. officials less than $375 in value don’t have to be reported or transferred. Gifts greater than $20 in value are not allowed from any source other than foreign governments.

In 2015, Mr. Obama received an assortment of gifts from his Cuban counterpart, President Raul Castro, including cigars, Cuban music, a Guyabera shirt, four bottles of spirits, a humidor and some perfume.

As part of the warming relations with Cuba, Mr. Obama met with Mr. Castro in Panama in 2015 and made a historic trip to Cuba in March 2016.

Among the inventory of artwork, linens and books were a bronze sculpture to Mr. Obama from Saudi Arabian King Salman, valued at more than $500,000; a basket of chocolates to First Lady Michelle Obama from Moroccan officials valued at more than $800; and a set of bone china cups presented to the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency — from an undisclosed foreign donor.

Mr. Kerry received a gift from his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov when he went to Sochi in 2015, though it wasn’t listed in the federal register because it was valued at less than $375.

Mr. Lavrov presented Mr. Kerry with a Victory Day shirt and two gift bags of potatoes and tomatoes. Russia had celebrated the 70th anniversary of Victory over Europe day the week before and the U.S. and several of its allies didn’t send high level delegations in a what was seen at the time as a snub. The potatoes echoed a gift of Idaho potatoes Mr. Kerry had previously given Mr. Lavrov.

Colombians reject Santos’ peace accord with the FARC guerrillas

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Colombians have rejected the charade between Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC terrorists, that was designed and directed by Fidel and Raul Castro. Well done Colombia!.

The City Paper Bogota

When the polls closed at 4 pm across Colombia, more than 34,8 million were eligible to cast their vote in the historic peace plebiscite. With a “Yes” or “No” on the ballot, voter turn-out was steady through-out the day despite a rainy start in most of the country. The Colombian capital had 12,078 booths set up to receive voters from 8 am onwards.

Colombians residing in 56 countries also cast their votes to accept or reject the Final Accord signed on September 26 between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla.

The first bulletin from the Civil Registrar came in 15 minutes after the polls officially closed reporting “Yes” with slight margin of votes (33,873) over “No” (30,070). By bulletin No.4 at 4:20 pm “Yes” had 1,623 316 and “No” 1,605 554.

Due to the heavy rain affecting much of the coast from Hurricane “Matthew” only 2,500 voters turned out in Santa Marta, than an expected 9,000.

In order for “Yes” to win and ratify the final accord with FARC more than 4,536,993 votes were needed. Colombia’s Constitutional Court approved the peace plebiscite on July 18 and lowered the voting threshold to 13% of the national total registered voters.

By 4:30 pm the “Yes” vote was narrowly surpassing “No” with 50,9% versus 49,9%. The voting threshold was met with the official bulletin No.6 at 4:40 pm with “Yes” leading marginally with 5,235 558 votes over “No” with 5,234 986 – a difference of just 546 votes.

In the Colombian capital Bogotá “Yes” surpassed “No” by 600,000 votes.

By bulletin No.8 at 4:50 the tide had turned against “Yes” with 91% of all voting across the country counted – “No” with 50,10% or 5,811 512 votes over “Yes” with 5,786 783 (49,89%).

By bulletin No.10 at 4:55 pm “No” maintained its narrow lead with 6,255 373 votes against “Yes” with 6,203 480.

The peace plebiscite aimed to break voter apathy regarding the peace process with FARC and that has lasted almost four years in Havana, Cuba, but an hour after the polls closed some 12 million Colombians had cast their votes.

After more than a half century of conflict, the plebiscite sumed up in one question the original six points of an agenda agreed upon by both sides in August 2012. On Monday, September 26, President Juan Manuel Santos signed with FARC’s “Timochenko” the 57-year-old revolutionary Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, the final accord during a televised ceremony in Cartagena and attended by 15 presidents and the U.N Secretary General Ban-Ki moon.

Colombia’s security forces confirmed that there were no reports of violence during the voting day Sunday.

By 5:10 pm the National Registrar released bulletin No.11 with “Yes” heading towards defeat with 6,270 730 votes (49,77%) and “N” with 6,328 501 votes (50,22%).

By the time bulletin 15 was released with the total national vote count at 99,25% “Yes” had lost the day by 62,350 votes (49,75%) with 6,346.055 votes and “No” coming in with 6,408 350 votes or 50,24%.

Upon receiving the news that “No” clinched victory Sunday, the FARC tweeted “We don’t have a plan B”. During the peace signing ceremony in Cartagena “Timochenko” assured Colombians that their objective is to form a political party and not return to war. On this historic Sunday “Timochenko” released the following tweet: We are convinced that all Colombians can overcome their difficulties and smile with hope for the future.”

With the large voter turn out Sunday across Colombia and a clear rejection of the peace agreement with the oldest guerrilla insurgency in the world, the political future of the 65-year old President Santos appears to be uncertain. Upon receiving news of the “No” victory, Santos called an emergency meeting at the Presidential Palace Casa de Nariño with all his ministers and chief peace negotiators. President Santos has staked his presidency on a “Yes” victory and mandate for peace.

All polls leading to voting day gave “Yes” a decisive victory over “No”.

In Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia’s second largest city “No” won with 60% of the votes.

In voting overseas, Colombians gave “Yes” a mandate with 40,907 votes (54%).

The head of state is expected to address the nation at 7:00 pm as a political crisis looms.

The war with FARC has claimed 260,000 lives during more than a half century of conflict. The future for the 13,000-strong guerrilla now appears uncertain. With the peace signing of their maximum commander “Timochenko” and Santos, FARC fighters were beginning to move to U.N.-monitored “verification zones” in order to hand-over their weapons and begin the process of reintegrating back into society.

The “No” victory at the polls Sunday October 2 means the 197-page Final Accord with FARC cannot be implemented.

Obama’s mess: Cuba’s thanks

winnerloser

Trib Live

Weeks after President Obama’s trumpeted visit to Cuba, the sour notes are still blaring from the communist isle.

The latest discord comes from Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who called Mr. Obama’s ill-advised fence-mending visit “an attack on the foundation of our history, our culture and our symbols,” Fox News Latino reports. To a regime locked in time and ideology, Obama’s mission was nothing more than to “dazzle the non-state sector,” Mr. Rodriguez insisted.

President Raul Castro, who, incidentally, will retain Cuba’s Communist Party’s highest post for another five years, recently called the United States “the enemy” and warned Cubans to remain vigilant against U.S. initiatives that undermine the communist revolution, Reuters reported.

And that followed the vitriol of Fidel Castro, who, just days after Obama’s sojourn, rejected the notion that his country needs anything from the U.S. and insisted that the U.S. embargo won’t soon be forgiven.

So what has changed? Only that more Cubans are fleeing to the U.S. to escape their country’s repressive government and claim asylum benefits, which they fear will run out as U.S. “detente” evolves.

Contrary to the administration’s presumptions, the Castro regime — and its inevitable heirs — will never accept or respect U.S. capitalism and the freedom it enables. Chalk up another foreign policy fumble by an administration that’s become renowned for dropping the ball.

The Obama-Castro press conference

raulpress

The Obama-Castro press conference in Havana was a bad joke.
Obama welcomed Raul Castro’s criticism about human rights in the US!
Incredible but true.
It was a sad spectacle to see Barack Obama, standing like a statue, being lectured about human rights by a criminal dictator who has been oppressing, torturing and murdering his own people for 57 years!
I had to go vomit and couldn’t watch the end, but I’m sure didn’t miss much.

Here is the criminal who lectured Barack Obama today about human rights, preparing to murder a campesino in the Sierra Maestra:

raulfusilamiento

 

Obama to announce more concessions to the Castro brothers before his trip

obama

President Barack Obama is getting ready to announce even more concessions to the Cuban dictatorship, before his announced trip to the island on March 21.

According to a report from Reuters, Obama will announce the new concessions on Thursday March 17, just 4 days before leaving for Havana.

This is what Reuters is reporting:

Español Noticias Martí

President Barack Obama’s administration will announce further measures to ease travel and trade restrictions on Cuba on March 17, ahead of his historic visit to the Communist-ruled island this month, U.S. congressional sources said on Tuesday.

The new rules will mark the latest effort by Obama to use his executive powers to sidestep the U.S. Congress and chip away at the more than half-century-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.

The anticipated announcement appears timed as a gesture toward Cuba just days before Obama flies to Havana for a March 21-22 visit in another step aimed at ending decades of animosity between the former Cold War foes. It will be the first visit to Cuba by a sitting U.S. president since 1928.

The measures are expected to include changes to make it easier for individual Americans to visit Cuba if they qualify under 12 authorized categories of travel such as educational or cultural visits, as well as further loosening of trade and banking rules, said the sources, who were briefed on the matter by administration officials.

Though details were still being finalized, the package could also include revised regulations on how the U.S. dollar can be used in trade with Cuba, a person familiar with the discussions said. U.S. regulations restrict or prohibit the Cuban government from using the dollar for international transactions.

“The White House wants to make a splash on the economic front before Obama gets to Havana, and this is one way to do it,” according to the source, who was consulted by Obama aides ahead of the visit. “It will come a couple of days before he leaves.”

Obama plans to hold talks with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana but also intends to meet dissidents to show that Washington remains committed to promoting human rights on the island, a source of tension with the Cuban government.
RESISTANCE FROM SOME LAWMAKERS

The White House has invited members of Congress to accompany the president, and congressional aides told Reuters about 20, mostly Obama’s fellow Democrats, were expected to go.

Obama’s moves to normalize relations with Cuba have encountered stiff resistance from some lawmakers, mostly Republicans but also some Democrats, since the policy shift was first announced on Dec. 17, 2014.

They feel the White House is not getting enough back from Castro’s government in exchange for the eased regulations. The administration believes that moves to loosen the embargo would help meet its goal of benefiting the Cuban people.

But even some Democratic aides said they were taken aback by news there would be further moves by the White House without concessions from Havana. “Shouldn’t we get something from the Cubans in return?” one asked.

The mainstay of the new regulatory package is expected to be further easing of limits on travel by Americans to Cuba at a time when U.S. airlines are rushing to apply for routes to the island following the recent signing of a bilateral agreement for regular scheduled flights.

The rules changes are likely to allow more people to go on self-directed “people to people” and cultural trips without having to rely on group tours or be sponsored by an organization, two people familiar with the discussions said.

But a ban on general tourism to Cuba will remain in force. It is part of the broader U.S. embargo and can only be lifted by Congress. Obama has called for an end to the embargo but Republicans say that will not happen during his presidency, which ends in January 2017.

“We continue to look at additional regulatory changes that could be made as part of the administration’s efforts to further normalize relations with Cuba,” an Obama administration official said. But the official declined to provide specifics.

Obama’s Cuba Visit Aims To Knock America Down A Peg

obamaraul2

Paul Bonicelli in The Federalist

President Obama thinks the main problem with the world is the United States. That’s why he needs to cut us down to size in Cuba—and everywhere else.

For those still trying to categorize President Obama’s foreign policy, look no further than his upcoming trip to Cuba. The visit is the fruition of his Cuba initiative, a policy whose main goal was always to provide a reason for the president to go to Havana and embrace the Castro brothers. The visit epitomizes his view of the world and his role in fixing the United States’s role in the world.

No benefits from his Cuba policy accrue to U.S. security, our economy, our values, or our reputation in the world. That is what’s at the core of Obama’s foreign policy: since the United States has caused problems in the world by being too rich, powerful, and influential, Obama must tame it by giving in, pulling back, and genuflecting before U.S. enemies. With false humility, he defers to those who hate us, and thus he makes the world a better place. He’s earning that Nobel Peace Prize ex post facto.

But of course someone is benefitting from the policy, and greatly: the Castro regime.

What a Young Cuban Knows that Obama Doesn’t
Imagine you are a Cuban twenty-something living in a communist system that oppresses you politically and deprives you economically. A steady diet of propaganda has told you that everything wrong in Cuba is the United States’ fault. To be sure, enough information gets into Cuba that you know there is more to the story. Moreover, no matter what you have been told through official channels, you and your friends would escape to the United States in a heartbeat if you could.

But now the U.S. president is demonstrating that he agrees with the propaganda. Every time over the last year that he has condemned the U.S. embargo and called for normalization and an end to Cuba’s “isolation,” the regime made sure you heard it on state TV and radio.

Nevertheless, because you know the regime far better than Obama does, you don’t take his word at face value any more than you do the regime’s. You have lived the reality of communist oppression your whole life, as have your parents and grandparents. You know the Ladies in White are assaulted regularly as they process to church in support of their imprisoned loved ones.

You know that the youth of Cuba—people like you—who dare to raise their voices in street demonstrations are subject to extra-judicial kidnappings. You know that young Cubans who express their political views through their art, like the rapper Omar Sayut, are jailed for offending the regime’s sensibilities. And you know that 50 years of trade with Europeans and Canadians and anyone else in the world willing to risk doing business with Cuba have made little difference for any Cuban except privileged party members.

You suspect that with Obama’s initiative you are watching a reenergizing of the regime, a regime that holds you in contempt while the octogenarians and younger party cadres eager to take their places solidify their hold on power. You know more than Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry because you live this life, but also because you don’t embrace an absurd worldview that holds the United States responsible for the crimes and incompetence of a dictatorship you experience every day.

Inconvenient Facts about the Cuba Deal
But intentions matter most to the Obama administration. They offer a lot of rhetoric in defense of their Cuba policy. They say it is designed to overturn a failed policy based on an embargo that has not accomplished its goals. They say it is designed to boost Cuba’s economy for the sake of the average Cuban by ending the island’s isolation. They say they hope political reform will be the ultimate result of the new policy. And they say better relations will result in more cooperation on our common security interests in the hemisphere.

Some inconvenient facts contradict them. First, the U.S. embargo was codified into a law, the Libertad Act, that contains a clear path for normalizing relations and expanding commerce. That path is for the Cuban regime to allow free elections and embrace democratic governance. Second, most of the world trades with Cuba and has for years, so the U.S. embargo is not the cause of Cuban economic deprivation. Rather, communism is.

Third, the Castro dictatorship, even after all of Obama’s kowtowing, maintains its close hold on Cuba’s economy so it can keep the party and the military business barons rich and content. Obama and Kerry might be naïve about what is going on here, but the regime is surely not.

Fourth, as to Obama’s hopes of catalyzing political reform, one need only note that since the president’s initiative was rolled out, arrests of political dissidents have skyrocketed and are now at a five-year high. Raul Castro knows his mark, and is making sure any Cuban (or American official) foolish enough to believe he and Obama have reached a deal to end the communists’ reign will be sorely disappointed.

Fifth, as to Obama’s hope for a regional partnership on common security interests, the Cuban regime and Russia continue to discuss their own partnership to reopen a spying outpost at Lourdes, not to mention the nefarious Cuba-North Korea connection and Cuba’s long history of being on the wrong side of the drug war.

How Obama’s Worldview Explains His Policies
The Cuba initiative and anticipated visit might help us understand why Barack Obama’s foreign policy is truly sui generis. The United States has never before had a president like him who sees the world as he does, who believes it is his job to fix the main problem in the world: the United States’ overweening role in the world.

I’ve observed Obama apologists (and some academics who should know better) over the years try to categorize Obama’s foreign policy as something familiar and therefore less objectionable than what could be summed up as “We are the change we have been waiting for.”

But let us dispense with all that. First, Obama is not a realist. They maximize power to ward off threats, and they give no handouts without getting something for security in. If anyone thinks the president is a realist, he should admit Obama is not a very good one. Neither is Obama a liberal internationalist (what used to be called “idealism”), although he comes close. These defer to international institutions whenever they can, but Obama has played the “cowboy” just as he accused George W. Bush of it.

Witness Libya, a ham-handed intervention if ever there was one. He might want this label if forced to choose one, but he’s sinned against that orthodoxy with both Libya and his drone wars. Nor is Obama a nationalist, but is quite the opposite. Suffice to say there is very little of Old Hickory in him, what with his undefended red lines and the mullahs’ humiliation of our armed forces.

That leaves us with a lesser-known but important tradition in international relations, critical theory. I won’t bother with all the jargon this approach is laden with (its roots are in Marxism so, you know, it would be abstruse when it is not fatuous), but it sums up to this: the exploiting classes of the world have insisted that the arc of history is toward Western Civilization’s goals and methods, but this is wrong and should be thwarted by the oppressed peoples of the world. They have a right to be heard, to be respected, and to chart their own courses without the West being the model. Critical theory encourages a non-Western centric foundation for analysis, then says, “Let’s see what happens when the oppressed are free to be themselves and follow their own ideas.”

Well, good luck with that. These theorists have never been very optimistic that their urgings will be heeded. But just think: what if the leader of the free world agreed with them?

Obama, the West’s Anti-Hero
This view comes as close to explaining (and justifying) Obama’s view of the world as I can imagine. His platitudes about commerce and democracy notwithstanding (note I did not say “free markets,” because I don’t hear him talk much about them, and he’s dramatically reduced our moral and material support for democrats around the world), Obama’s actions in the world trumpet that the United States, as the leader of the Western world, has been the cause of the problems of the non-Western world, and that has to be righted by the emergence of a tamer, quieter, more conciliatory, and accommodating United States.

It so happens that this theory also would have made it convenient for a truly revolutionary president of the United States to thrust himself upon the world stage, give the first in a series of speeches denigrating his own country, and then receive the Nobel Peace Prize (presumably for that speech, since he’d done nothing else on the world stage).

His “bold” initiatives would soon follow: a reset with Russia that ends our missile defense commitment to Eastern Europe; the Iranian deal that rewards them with billions of dollars for terrorism and a path to a nuclear weapon; this Cuba initiative that lets Castro continue to single-handedly determine the future of nine million people; and, if the Wall Street Journal has it right, something has been in the works recently to give the North Koreans the bilateral talks they so desperately want without having to curb their nuclear saber-rattling.

In short, critical theory provides support for Obama’s steadfast belief in his own importance and wisdom. It is all about him. It always has been. Or at least it is more about him than anything else.

The End of American Exceptionalism
I wish to be wrong about the trip. I hope he’ll surprise us all and do something noble while he’s there being presidential and theory-testing. Even as he embraces Fidel and Raul and offers condolences for the loss of their brother, Ramon, who died this week (an agriculturalist and not much of a revolutionary), he should make a show of his and Kerry’s declarations that they care about political reform.

It is too late for him to fix this initiative by demanding reciprocity for the sake of the Cuban people as well as the United States’s reputation, but I would be the first to applaud him if he were to make a scene by trying to visit with dissidents—not regime-approved dissidents, but the Ladies in White, the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, and others like them—then leave the visit early when he’s refused.

But I’m not holding my breath. It is about him and his legacy with his base of support that sees him as the first president they can be proud of, precisely because he agrees that the United States is not exceptional and not the greatest force for good the world has ever known.

Paul Bonicelli serves as professor of government at Regent University. His career includes a presidential appointment (with Senate confirmation) as assistant administrator at the United States Agency for International Development; as a professional staff member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives; and as an official delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.

IBD Editorial: Castro Brothers The Only Beneficiaries In Obama Trip To Cuba

castros

Investor’s Business Daily

Cuba: Announcing another historic “first,” President Obama said he and the first lady would visit communist Cuba to help improve the lot of the Cuban people. Last time he said that, when he normalized ties, the whip came down.

No regime has been showered with goodies the way the White House has heaped them onto the Castro brothers’ 57-year military dictatorship. From cash and trade, to the prestige of a costly U.S. presidential visit, the Castros have made out like bandits. The U.S. gets nothing in return. Nada.

The visit will no doubt be full of colorful celebrity-style photo-ops, perhaps driving on the Malecon in a ’57 Chevy, or sipping mojitos amid crumbling architecture, to make it all hip yet quaint for the cameras.

The president claims it’s “to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.” Seems he forgot his vow to not visit the island if he couldn’t say with confidence “that we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans,” as he told Yahoo News in 2014.

Because the sorry reality is that life has not improved for Cubans since the thaw in relations. Human rights groups warn that, if anything, repression has increased following restoration of diplomatic ties. The regime still harasses dissidents with beatings, harassment arrests (some 8,600 last year), mob attacks and job firings, according to Human Rights Watch. What’s more, Cubans are terrified that the thaw will end their one thin reed of hope: escape to the U.S. They have since flooded U.S. borders in dramatically escalated numbers, surely a sign they expect little change.

Sure, the White House pays lip service to human rights. And Obama’s advance men have told the press he will even speak to dissidents, although they have declined to answer press questions about how these “dissidents” will be chosen. The more likely scenario is the one that came with Pope Francis’ trip to the island recently: Dissident roundups and beatings to keep the locals from getting any ideas.

It all adds up to the same sorry picture since Obama announced the normalization of ties. Now, with a Potemkin tour in the works, the only beneficiary will be the geriatric Castro regime, which will gain more legitimacy with the presidential visit, not to mention money.

Add it to the long list of Obama’s concessions to Cuba.

In 2009, President Obama loosened restrictions on remittances to the island, rapidly raising the regime’s cash flow, much of which was siphoned off through taxes by the regime. Remittances have doubled since then, to $4 billion.

Then, with no strings attached, President Obama normalized diplomatic relations with Cuba (ranked No. 177 out of 178 nations in the Heritage Foundation’s 2016 Index of Economic Freedom) and opened an embassy in Havana, pointedly banning dissidents from attending, and then falsely claiming there was a lack of seat space.

After that, Obama took Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terror — even while, at the same time, emails subpoenaed from then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton showed that she knew Cuba had permitted the opening of an “operational” Hezbollah base on the island, a clear example of state-sponsored terror.

Meanwhile, egregious arms violations — such as the transport of Cuban missiles through the Panama Canal on their way to North Korea and another suspicious shipment to Colombia and likely its FARC guerrillas went unsanctioned. There was also the suspicious shipment of a U.S. Hellfire missile to Havana. Cuba returned it only this week, two years after it received the supposedly misdirected package.

Frankly, we doubt any change will come to Cuba with this trip. It’s just another legacy-builder for selfish aims. The Castros will gain, but the cause of freedom will be set back.