CubaBrief: The moral soundness of today’s action on Cuba and the ideological foundation of Castro regime’s anti-family policy

Earlier today Secretary of State Pompeo requested that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) suspend all public charter flights between the United States and Cuban destinations, with the exception of Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. The objective, in suspending public charter flights to these nine Cuban airports, is to further impede the Castro regime from gaining access to hard currency from U.S. travelers that it is using to finance ongoing repression to support the Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela. The Center for a Free Cuba has publicly backed the new measure.

Not mentioned in the State Department press release, but one would imagine was also a consideration in the new restrictions, is the close relationship between Iran and Cuba. The late Fidel Castro visited Iran on May 10, 2001, four months before the September 11, 2001 attacks, where he was quoted by the Agence France Presse at the University of Tehran stating that “Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees.” … “The U.S. regime is very weak, and we are witnessing this weakness from close up.”

Eleven years later on January 12, 2012 in Cuba, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared “Our positions, versions, interpretations are alike, very close. We have been good friends, we are and will be, and we will be together forever.” 

In 2016 Vice News reported that in 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been warned that the Lebanese Islamist militant group Hezbollah was setting up an operational base in Cuba to carry out attacks in Latin America that might also involve attacks on American diplomatic posts or banks there. The Brookings Institution has described Hezbollah as “Iran’s most successful export.” Ignoring this close relationship between the Castros and the Mullahs at a time of heightened tensions with Iran would not be prudent for American lives and property.

Nevertheless, the usual suspects immediately emerged to denounce the measure as “a major blow to Cuban families,” but most have rarely, if ever, mentioned the restrictions placed by the Cuban dictatorship on Cubans being able to enter and exit their own country.  Many pro-engagement with the Castro regime celebrated when the Cuban government in 2013 “liberalized” travel, but still maintained travel restrictions on Cubans. Travel was turned into another means of control to maintain power. If you dissent from the official line you can be barred from leaving or entering Cuba. It is up to the arbitrary discretion of the dictatorship.

Today’s announcement does not prevent Cubans returning to Cuba, but will require them making connecting flights in the island, or traveling by bus or car into the provinces. It is an inconvenience, to be sure, but considering that the hard currency generated is being used by the military and the secret police to repress Cubans and prop up the Maduro regime in Venezuela, that has caused millions to flee and murdered thousands of Venezuelans to maintain power, than the moral soundness of the policy becomes clear.

Blanca Reyes denied right to visit dad in 2013

Blanca Reyes denied right to visit dad in 2013

For example, these groups did not come together to denounce Cuba restrictions on Cuban nationals being able to return to their homeland to visit a dying parent, or attend their funeral. Blanca Reyes, a member of the Cuban dissident movement the Ladies in White left to Spain with her husband, prisoner of conscience Raul Rivero in November 2004. She requested to return to Cuba in July 2013 to visit her ailing 93 year old father but was denied. He passed away in October 2013.

They did not mention the Cubans, who despite having their passports, documents, and plane tickets paid for were barred at the airport within the past two weeks from returning to their homeland, or of the complicit role of the airlines to serve as spokespersons for the dictatorship’s human rights violating policies.

Claudia Márquez Linares denied the right to see her mom.

Claudia Márquez Linares denied the right to see her mom.

On December 31, 2019 Claudia Márquez Linares, a former independent  journalist and founding member of the Ladies in White, flew from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Panama where she had a connecting flight to Havana, Cuba but was told that the Cuban government would not allow her to enter Cuba. She left Cuba with her husband in 2005, and has not seen her mother since then, and was trying to visit her.

(Claudia founded the Ladies in White together with seven other women when her husband, Osvaldo Alfonso, was condemned to 18 years in prison during what became known as the Black Spring of Cuba in 2003. Seventy four other human rights defenders, independent journalists and pro-democracy activists were sentenced to long prison terms during that crackdown. They were all recognized as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.)

Regis Iglesias denied the right to return to Cuba.

Regis Iglesias denied the right to return to Cuba.

Regis Iglesias, a former prisoner of conscience and member of the Christian Liberation Movement, who was banished to Spain in 2010, was denied the right to return to Cuba on January 1, 2020 to spend time with his family and friends, despite having his passport and travel documents in order. Furthermore Regis denounced the “complicit practice of American Airlines as a direct executor of such violations of individual law, by abiding by and enforcing the arbitrary, illegitimate and illegal abuses of a dictatorship against its nationals that only seek the exercise of their inalienable right to return to the land that saw them born.”

Maikel Chang not able to visit his family in Cuba

Maikel Chang not able to visit his family in Cuba

On January 2, 2019 Maikel Chang, a Cuban soccer player who stayed in the United States in 2012,  was barred from entering Cuba to visit his family. Worse yet, the Cuban Embassy had given all indications that he would be able to return, and his family expected to see him, but permission was denied at the last moment.

223 Cubans have been identified that have been either denied the right to leave or enter Cuba. There are many more, but many are afraid to defy the dictatorship and suffer further reprisals by going public.

The policy of the Castro regime to divide families has a very long history, and an ideological foundation. Carlos Eire, a professor at Yale, Cuban Exile, and former Pedro Pan child in Babalu Blog on January 2, 2020 wrote how he “once had the opportunity of asking one of Fidel’s closest associates, Carlos Franqui, why the top brass of the Castro regime intentionally prevented thousands of Cuban parents from reuniting with their Pedro Pan children in the U.S.. Franqui, who served as a propaganda minister to Fidel before being purged, responded to my question with a huge smile on his face:“We did it because anything that would destroy the bourgeois family was good for us.”

Today’s announcement by the State Department is good news for friends of freedom in the Americas, and an added incentive for the Castro regime to end its bad practices. Below is the statement by the U.S. State Department in its entirety.

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United States Further Restricts Air Travel to Cuba

Press Statement

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

January 10, 2020

Today, at my request, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) suspended until further notice all public charter flights between the United States and Cuban destinations other than Havana’s José Martí International Airport.  Nine Cuban airports currently receiving U.S. public charter flights will be affected.  Public charter flight operators will have a 60-day wind-down period to discontinue all affected flights.  Also, at my request, DOT will impose an appropriate cap on the number of permitted public charter flights to José Martí International Airport.  DOT will issue an order in the near future proposing procedures for implementing the cap.

Today’s action will prevent the Cuban regime from benefitting from expanded charter service in the wake of the October 25, 2019, action suspending scheduled commercial air service to Cuba’s airports other than Havana.  Today’s action will further restrict the Cuban regime’s ability to obtain revenue, which it uses to finance its ongoing repression of the Cuban people and its unconscionable support for dictator Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.  In suspending public charter flights to these nine Cuban airports, the United States further impedes the Cuban regime from gaining access to hard currency from U.S. travelers.

For more information on this action, please refer to the notice posted in the federal docket management system at

For further information, please contact WHA Press at