CUBA BRIEF: Trump Si, Castro No. The impact of Trump’s policy shift on Cuba. Cuban dissident in Psychiatric hospital. Hypocrisy, Trump and his critics

Hypocrisy, Mr. Trump and his critics.

By Frank Calzon

The brief includes today a response by Frank Calzon to Rick Christie’s blog in the Palm Beach Post today. Mr. Christie’s objections are part of the many criticisms directed at President Trump. Christie this time was focusing on The President’s Cuba speech in Miami. One of the great virtues of American society is the ability of everyone to express an opinion. Readers interested in reading Mr. Christie’s tirade may do so by visiting the Palm Beach Post’s opinion zone blog. CubaBrief prints below Frank Calzon’s response.

 Mr. Christie is right to decry U.S. government hypocrisy. He complains about Mr. Trump’s compliments of Egyptian President el-Sisi, Philippines President Duterte, Saudi Arabia’s King, and others. Perhaps the blog’s author decried just as strongly Mr. Obama’s doing the wave with General Raul Castro at a baseball game.  Raul Castro, is a murderer responsible of the killing of Americans by his war planes in international airspace. It is wrong to focus on Trump’s speech without mentioning his references to Cuba’s anti-American foreign policy. Wasn’t it hypocritical for Mr. Obama and the media to say so little about thousands of Cuban officers training Venezuelan police who participate in the repression and murder of peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators? Was the blogger critical of the return of Russian spy ships to Havana under Obama’s watch while insisting the Cold War between Cuba and the United States had ended? Raul Castro while engaging Washington attempted to smuggle war planes and missiles to North Korea. Obama ignored it but the United Nations published a critical report. The shipment was in violation of UN prohibitions. Isn’t it strange that an American government and pundits who emphasize so much international law didn’t make a fuss about it? Shouldn’t Cuba’s alliance with North Korea be part of an American reappraisal of relations with Cuba? What does it mean that under Trump we get numerous leaks telling us about words spoken inside the Oval Office while under Obama numerous secret negotiations with a hostile anti-American regime were carried out without consulting Congress and the American people, and without leaks?

Pressure Points , June 17, 2017

Trump Si, Castro No

Blog Post by Elliott Abrams

June 17, 2017

Congratulations to President Trump for a serious (though not total) reversal of the terrible Obama policy toward Cuba.

Why? Because the Obama policy was values-free, granting all sorts of advantages to the Castro regime in exchange for nothing. That was no bargained-for exchange, winning more freedom for the Cuban people. Instead it was a prime example of Obama’s ideological politics, abandoning decades of American policy that he thought right-wing or old-fashioned and wrong and in the process strengthening the vicious Castro regime and paying little attention to the people of the island.

In the years since Obama acted, human rights in Cuba have gotten worse. If Obama’s approach was an experiment, it has failed. Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2016 said this of Cuba:

The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and discourage public criticism. It now relies less on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years. Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public acts of shaming, and the termination of employment.

The Miami Herald’s lead analyst on Latin America, Andres Oppenheimer, wrote this in July 2016:

One year after Cuba reopened its embassy in Washington on July 20, 2015, Cuba’s human rights situation is much worse. It’s time for Latin America and the U.S. to stop clapping, and demand that Cuba’s dictatorship start allowing fundamental freedoms

On the first anniversary since Cuba reopened its embassy in Washington, D.C., one thing is clear: The reestablishment of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties — which I have cautiously supported in this column — has not helped improve by one iota Cuba’s human rights situation. On the contrary, human rights abuses have worsened.

That’s a fair epitaph for the Obama policy: it made human rights in Cuba worse. And that is why it was politically sensible and morally right to end it.

Trump is maintaining diplomatic relations and allowing flights and cruise ships to Cuba, but trying to end the phony individual beach gambols that masquerade as something more serious. And he is ending the bonanza for the Cuban military, which owns most of Cuba’s tourist industry. The overall effect of Trump’s moves is logically to push Americans toward group visits that have a serious purpose beyond tourism, and toward individual Cuban economic efforts like Air BnB accommodations, rooms in private homes, and small private restaurants—all of which help the Cuban people. And if the regime is caught between the people’s desire for economic progress and the end of Obama’s foolish policy, perhaps this will push Castro to allowing even more private economic activity.

Hats off to Sen. Marco Rubio, a key architect of the new policy whose pressure on the Trump administration has now put human rights in Cuba right back at the heart of U.S. policy. And to the President, who made the right decision just a few months into his administration.


The Impact of Trump’s Policy Shift on Cuba by Otto J. Reich

Taken from the Inter American Dialogue’s Latin America Advisor, June 20, 2017,


What Is the Impact of Trump’s Policy Shift on Cuba?

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday announced a rollback of some parts of former President Barack Obama’s thaw with Cuba by expressly prohibiting tourist travel to the island, restating the importance of the U.S. embargo with Cuba and banning Americans from conducting financial transactions with companies under the control of Cuba’s military. What is the significance of the changes for Americans and for U.S. businesses? How will the changes affect Cuba? What are the reasons behind Trump’s decision?

A: Otto Reich, president of Otto Reich Associates LLC and former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs under President George W. Bush: “Asking why President Trump is rolling back some of President Obama’s Cuba policies must be preceded by asking why President Obama promoted an opening so incompatible with U.S. values. Pretending to help Cuba’s oppressed population, Obama sided with the oppressors. Obama said his policy was intended to “empower” the Cuban people, but the one truly em- powered by the “historic opening” (a term the media repeated ad nauseam) was the military-industrial complex of a one-party communist state, with the United States getting nothing in return.

Enjoying the long-sought diplomatic recognition of the world’s leading democracy, the Castro dictatorship redoubled its political repression. More than 10,000 arrests of dissidents have happened since the “historic opening.” Raúl Castro welcomed Obama to Cuba on his 2016 visit by openly beating a group of unarmed women who were marching silently on their way from Palm Sunday Mass. The leader of the free world did not protest this gross violation of human rights—or any other—because of his need to protect what he hoped would be seen as a rare foreign policy legacy.

Trump’s reversal of Obama’s blunder will keep Americans from partnering witha military dictatorship’s monopolies. Most Americans don’t know that when they fly to Cuba, dock on a cruise ship, stay at a hotel, rent a car, buy gasoline or smoke a cigar, they are putting money into the pockets of entities like Gaviota, GAESA and the other government conglomerates that own Cuba’s economy, some of which, in dynastic fashion, are run by Raúl Castro’s son-in-law. Those dollars also fortify a Cuban military establishment that cooperates with fellow police states Syria, North Korea and Iran, and that supervises the lethal brutality of the Venezuelan security forces. Trump’s action has just taken one important step to making the United States an ally of the oppressed in those countries instead of the oppressors.”