CUBA BRIEF: Tell Havana to End Repression, Trump’s Welcome Course Correction on Cuba, Cubans Need a Truth Commission


  • Tell Havana to End Repression, USA Today
  • Trump’s Welcome Course Correction on Cuba, National Review
  • Cubans Need a Truth Commission, Wall Street Journal
  • How Dissidents Are Responding to Trump’s Change in Cuba Policy, The Daily Signal
  • Trump following Cuban dissidents’ lead, including those who supported Obama’s opening to their country, The Miami Herald

Before President Donald Trump’s Cuba speech in Miami: Vice President Pence told Center for a Free Cuba’s Frank Calzon that he would give letter to Mr. Trump urging US to curtail flow of tourist dollars to Cuban military. The letter denounced Cuba’s military repressing Venezuelan demonstrators. More than one hundred former American ambassadors, scholars, business leaders, former Cuban political prisoners signed the appeal. An electronic copy of the letter was sent to the White House days earlier. The Cuban military and Venezuela were among several important issues covered in the President’s statement.


USA Today, June 18, 2017

Tell Havana to end repression

Frank Calzon Published 4:49 p.m. ET June 18, 2017 | Updated 22 hours ago

President Trump has correctly decided threats must be taken seriously: Opposing view

Critics of President Trump’s Cuba policy are falling prey to President Obama’s “narrative.” Obama’s policy was in fact not new but a return to the old, discredited policy of embracing Latin American dictators at the behest of corporate businesses while ignoring U.S. interests.

Obama’s policy was developed in secret, in collusion with a foreign leader responsible for the murder of Americans in international airspace.

Shouldn’t Cuban policy be respectful of the Constitution and U.S. statutes? Isn’t it in the national interest to deny millions of dollars to a Cuban military that represses and kills Venezuelan demonstrators? To condition normalized relations on returning to American justice terrorists wanted by the FBI, including the murderer in cold blood of aNew Jersey state trooper?

Obama wasn’t bothered by Cuba’s alliance with North Korea or its attempted smuggling of warplanes and missiles to Pyongyang, nor by Cuba inviting to Havana Russian spy ships that monitor U.S. military communications. Obama also chose to ignore the intelligence community advising Congress that Cuba presents a cyber­security threat.

President Trump has correctly decided these threats must be taken seriously.

At issue is not trade with Cuba; for years, American companies have sold millions to Havana on a cash-and-carry basis. But Havana has defaulted on most foreign loans and now wants credits.

Havana has sharply cut purchases to force American companies to lobby for the regime. The U.S. taxpayer should not pick up the tab.

Those doing the lobbying should register as foreign agents.

Beatings and political detentions increased dramatically while Obama looked the other way. Strengthening Cuba’s military is not in the best interest of the Cuban people or the United States.

Let’s support the president and send the message to Havana that if the military regime wants millions from America, its anti-American foreign policy and repression at home must change.

Frank Calzon is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.


National Review, June 17, 2017

Trump’s Welcome Course Correction on Cuba

by The Editors

Barack Obama’s approach to tyrants might have been described as “tough love,” except that there was never anything tough about it. He attempted to make nice with the mullahs in Tehran, giving them crates of cash in exchange for unenforceable promises about their nuclear program. But it was in his own hemisphere that he made the most gratuitous concessions. In late 2014, the Obama administration normalized relations with Cuba and lifted travel and economic restrictions to the island, some of which had been in place since the Kennedy administration. In the spring of 2016, President Obama visited Cuba, where he took in a baseball game with Cuban “president” Raúl Castro. The only thing missing from the grotesque spectacle was a mojito.

Cuba is a one-party dictatorship with a gulag, and has been since Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista government in 1959. At his retirement in 2008, “El Jefe” was the longest-ruling non-royal head of state since 1900, at the top of a list that includes such names as Kim, Qaddafi, and Hoxha. Castro was no less brutal than any of them, but he managed, somehow, to be more popular. Among left-wing intellectuals in Europe and the United States, Castro was a sort of pope, and Havana a destination for pilgrimage. American leftists, including Bernie Sanders, continue to propound the supposed glories of Cuba’s health-care and education systems. There was no pressing reason for President Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba — it was not necessary or even advisable — but the president suggested that comity between the U.S. and Cuba, and a heavier exchange of goods and people, would help to relax the regime’s grip. More thantwo years later, it is clear that this is not true. While Americans are enjoying Cuban rum and cigars, the regime has stepped up its repressive activities since the “thaw” was announced. [More


The Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2017

Cubans Need a Truth Commission

Give survivors of Castro’s murderous regime a chance to tell their stories.

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady

President Trump opened another chapter in U.S.-Cuba relations on Friday when he announced a rollback of portions of the detente policy with Havana introduced by President Obama in December 2014. Human-rights groups cheered, libertarians jeered, and the international—and American—left warned that the new policy will harm Cubans and U.S. investors.

All sides are dug in, as they have been for decades. Yet the reality is that when it comes to liberating Cuba, the embargo is a distraction. With or without it, the Castro police state will hang on until the civilized world speaks with one voice to condemn the illegitimacy of the regime as it did with South Africa during apartheid.

That’s not happening because the communist state’s pro-Castro narrative still has defenders in the West. The human-rights challenge is to expose this big lie. What’s needed is a truth commission that would allow Cubans themselves to tell what really happened.

The Trump administration’s changes are aimed at weakening the military dictatorship by denying it easy access to U.S. dollars via the military-owned tourism industry. American companies’ ability to form partnerships with those businesses will be pared back and American travelers will face new restrictions. [More]


The Daily Signal, June 18, 2017

How Dissidents Are Responding to Trump’s Change in Cuba Policy

Mike Gonzalez / June 18, 2017

The letter sent by Cuba’s main dissident group to President Donald Trump thanking him for his decision to prohibit U.S. trade with the military, security and intelligence services on the island—their tormentors—serves as a timely rebuke of President Barack Obama’s warm embrace of the Castro regime and those still defending it.

The letter was sent by Berta Soler on behalf of the group she leads, The Ladies in White. These brave, mostly Afro-Cuban women suffer constant harassment, beatings, and incarcerations at the hand of the Castro regime when they attempt to march on the streets of Havana on Sundays.

“These days, Mr. President, when most of the world responds with a deafening silence to the harassment, arbitrary detentions, beatings, house searches, and robberies against peaceful opponents, human rights activists and defenseless women, your words of encouragement are most welcomed,” Soler wrote. [More]


The Miami Herald, June 15, 2017

Trump right to make Cuba pay for its intransigence

Miami Herald Editorial Board

When President Donald Trump announces his policy on Cuba Friday in Miami, many will be pleased. Others, not so much.

Trump will maintain relations with Cuba, first announced by President Obama on Dec. 17, 2014. He apparently will not restore the wet foot, dry-foot policy, rescinded by Obama last year. Smart move. The law was as inequitable as it was a dangerous lure. And the president continue to authorize Cuban Americans to travel to the island.

Trump’s new measures are designed to exert more pressure on Havana to reform itself. In the two and a half years since the Obama administration announced the thaw, which we applauded — and still do — the United States has made most of the concessions, while Cuban president Raúl Castro given very little, especially in the realm of human rights, in return.

Trump is right to recalibrate this policy without jettisoning it wholesale. [More]