Obama Betrayed Cuba’s Dissidents

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Is this what Obama Calls Normalization?

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Fidel Castro turned 90 years old on Saturday, adding plausibility to the popular Cuban theory that even hell doesn’t want him. Meanwhile Cuba’s military dictatorship, now headed by his 83-year-old brother Raúl, is cracking down with renewed brutality on anyone who dares not conform to its totalitarian rule.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

If President Obama’s December 2014 softening of U.S. policy toward Cuba was supposed to elicit some quid pro quo on human rights from Havana, it has so far failed. Independent groups that monitor civil liberties on the island say conditions have deteriorated in the 20 months since the Obama decision to normalize relations and ease Cuba trade and travel restrictions for Americans. Many dissident groups opposed any U.S. thaw without human-rights conditions attached and say they feel abandoned by the U.S., which they had long relied on for moral support.

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“If President Obama’s December 2014 softening of U.S. policy toward Cuba was supposed to elicit some quid pro quo on human rights from Havana, it has so far failed.”

Guillermo Fariñas, a 54-year-old psychologist and winner of the European Parliament’s Andrei Sakharov Prize, is one such disappointed Cuban.

“Independent groups that monitor civil liberties on the island say conditions have deteriorated in the 20 months since the Obama decision to normalize relations and ease Cuba trade and travel restrictions for Americans.”

In a July 20 letter to Gen. Castro, Mr. Fariñas announced “a hunger and thirst strike” until Castro “designate[s]” a vice president to meet with the opposition and declares an end to the state policy of torturing and arresting dissidents and confiscating their property. Mr. Fariñas has been taken to the local hospital in the city of Santa Clara twice for rehydration, but is now at home. He is gravely ill.

Raul Castro, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama

Mr. Amel, who was arrested in July, also sought an end to the state’s policy of beating and arresting dissidents. In his letter to Raúl Castro, Mr. Fariñas wrote that when he went to the police to inquire about charges against the hunger-striking Mr. Amel and another dissident, he was handcuffed and tortured.

Flirting with death is a sign of desperation and it is difficult not to see a connection between that and Mr. Obama’s decision to drop the longstanding U.S. commitment to the democracy movement on the island so that he can be on better terms with the despots. Mr. Fariñas also has personal reasons for feeling betrayed.

In November 2013 he and Berta Soler, the leader of the dissident group Ladies in White, met with Mr. Obama at the Miami home of Jorge Mas Santos, the president of the Cuban-American National Foundation, who was hosting a Democratic Party fundraising event. After the meeting Mr. Fariñas and Ms. Soler told local press that they had asked the president to ensure that any change in U.S.-Cuba policy consider the views of the nonviolent opposition.

An elated Mr. Fariñas raved about the “words of support from the president of the United States, the most powerful democracy in the world,” according to a report in El Nuevo Herald. The White House did not respond specifically to my request for comment about what Mr. Obama told the dissidents that night…(read more)

Source: WSJ



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