CubaBrief: CFC launches effort to expel Cuba from UNHRC. Cuba not invited to Summit of Americas. The Washington Times warns Biden of Cuba’s political blackmail

CFC press conference at the Cuban Studies Institute on April 25, 2022 with Katiuska Mustelier Sosa and John Suarez addressing reporters.

The Center for a Free Cuba held a press conference on April 25, 2022 at the Cuban Studies Institute where Katiuska Mustelier Sosa, sister of political prisoner Enrique Mustelier Sosa, drew attention to the situation of her brother as well as that of other detainees, and the Center’s executive director announced an effort to expel the Cuban dictatorship from the UN Human Rights Council. Local 10’s Hatzel Vila reported on it.

Enrique Mustelier is sentenced to almost five years in prison.

His sister, Katiuska Mustelier is demanding his release, adding her brother was peacefully protesting in Guantanamo.

Earlier this year, the Cuban government admitted that close to 800 Cubans had been charged and nearly all of those charged would face trials.

Because of this and other human rights violations, the Center for a Free Cuba has started a petition calling for the expulsion of the Cuban government from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“If they get rid of Cuba and some of these other gross systematic human rights violators, as is required under the existing rules, it would stop being a dysfunctional body,” said John Suarez, Center for Free Cuba Executive Director.

Negative outcomes of trying to normalize the Castro regime are not limited to the UN Human Rights Council, and learning from past mistakes is a positive development.

Reports that the Castro regime, and other dictatorships in Latin America, will be excluded from the Summit of Americas is good news. The Cuban dictatorship was invited to attend in 2015, and turned the gathering into a violent circus. Cuban communists welcomed American corporations to Cuba while visiting violence on Cuban dissidents during civil society events at the Summit. The Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung and Nick Miroff reported on what happened and regime priorities during the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama.

As delegations gathered on the eve of the summit, the presence of communist Cuba made for some extraordinary and also ugly scenes.

In one part of town Thursday, at a forum for the chief executives of major U.S. companies including Facebook, Coca-Cola and Boeing, a Cuban trade official invited America’s corporate leaders to visit the island, telling them his country was open for business.

But at a parallel event at a different location, raucous pro-Castro crowds disrupted a gathering of nonprofit and civil society groups, blocking Cuban dissidents from participating and denouncing the event’s organizers for daring to invite them.

The tensions, which had boiled over into a wild melee Wednesday in a city park, were a reminder that Cubans’ deep divisions will persist long after the United States reopens an embassy in Havana.

“We are deeply concerned by reports of attacks targeting civil society representatives in Panama for the Summit of the Americas exercising freedom of speech and harassment of those participating in the Summit of the Americas Civil Society Forum,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, adding that the U.S. “condemns those who use violence against peaceful protesters.”

This set a terrible precedent at the Summit of the Americas in 2015, in the same manner that in 2004 when the Castro regime lost a vote at the UN Human Rights Commission, a Cuban diplomat attacked from behind and physically assaulted a Cuban exile activist in the Palais des Nations, just outside of the Commission chamber. The Washington Times quoted the U.S. Ambassador in Switzerland who witnessed the attack in 2004.

Kevin Moley, the U.S. ambassador in Geneva, said in an interview that he had witnessed the assault and that he intends to press charges.

Mr. Moley said the Cuban diplomat rushed down an escalator to get to Mr. Calzon. “He raised his fist and knocked him to the ground. It was incredible,” said Mr. Moley, a former Marine.

Mr. Moley said he took after the Cuban but that two U.N. security guards reached him first and tackled him. A spokesman at Mr. Calzon’s office in Washington, the Center for a Free Cuba, said one of the United Nations guards pulled out a canister of Mace to fend off any further attack.

Mr. Moley said the Cuban ambassador, Jorge Mora Godoy, arrived on the scene soon after the attack and identified the assailant to the security guards as a member of the Cuban delegation.

The failure to hold dictatorships like Cuba accountable for these outrages is part of the reason that human rights have been in decline worldwide over the past 16 years, “Democracy is in real danger all over the globe” and the world is facing a time of uncertainty reminiscent of the 1930s during another age when dictatorships were in the ascendancy, and democracies tolerated and appeased actions that were unacceptable.

The Washington Times, in their April 25, 2022 editorial, “Biden should not bow to Cuba’s political blackmail: Negotiating with a dictatorship that generates a migration crisis sends the wrong signal” provides a prudent course of action that, when applied by other administrations, has prevented migration crises with Havana.

In any potential negotiations with Cuba’s oppressive communist regime, the United States must take charge and only negotiate on its own terms without bowing to the political blackmail of Cuba’s military dictatorship. Sanctions should not be lifted at the expense of repatriating innocent Cubans back to a brutal dictatorship, and the United States should not negotiate anything until Cuba ceases its manipulative migration tactics — and finally frees political prisoners.

The Center made similar recommendations in advance of last week’s U.S.-Cuba migration talks.

Local10.com, April 25, 2022

Cuban diplomat says U.S. seeks to exclude country from Summit of the Americas

By Hatzel Vela, Reporter and Veronica Crespo, Digital Journalist

On Monday at a press conference, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, alleged the United States is trying to exclude Cuba from the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

MIAMI – Cuba warned on Monday that the United States intends to exclude it from the Summit of the Americas and negotiates in an “opaque” way on key issues for the region such as health, migration and human rights.

This comes as several hundred Cubans on the island nation remain behind bars following the historic July 11 protests last year.

Enrique Mustelier is sentenced to almost five years in prison.

His sister, Katiuska Mustelier is demanding his release, adding her brother was peacefully protesting in Guantanamo.

Earlier this year, the Cuban government admitted that close to 800 Cubans had been charged and nearly all of those charged would face trials.

Because of this and other human rights violations, the Center for a Free Cuba has started a petition calling for the expulsion of the Cuban government from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“If they get rid of Cuba and some of these other gross systematic human rights violators, as is required under the existing rules, it would stop being a dysfunctional body,” said John Suarez, Center for Free Cuba Executive Director.

On Monday at a press conference, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, alleged the United States is trying to exclude Cuba from the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

Cuba participated in the last two summits, including the 2015 summit in Panama, where the historic Obama-Castro meeting took place.

The summit, which takes place every four yearS, brings together the heads of state in the western hemisphere.

Last week, the U.S. and Cuba held migratory talks for the first time since 2018. While there were no major breakthroughs, Carlos Fernández de Cossio, Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister, said there is a real danger there could be an out of control exodus from Cuba by sea.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped Cubans more than 79,800 times from October through March — more than double all of 2021 and five times more than all of 2020.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/04/25/cuban-diplomat-says-us-seeks-to-exclude-country-from-summit-of-the-americas/

The Washington Times, April 26, 2022

Biden should not bow to Cuba’s political blackmail

Negotiating with a dictatorship that generates a migration crisis sends the wrong signal

Joe Biden, Cuba and Che Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

By Editorial Board – The Washington Times – Sunday, April 24, 2022

OPINION:

The Biden administration met with Cuban regime officials last week Thursday with the hope of striking a deal that would enable the U.S. to repatriate a record number of migrants who emigrated from the island. 

The meeting comes after more than a year of pressure from far-left progressives to engage with the regime and lift Trump-era sanctions, and at a time when the Biden administration is wrestling with a tsunami of immigrants crossing the southern border. 

The purported need for the meeting stems from the fact that unlike most other governments, Cuba has not accepted U.S. deportation flights for the past six months. This, despite the fact 40,000 Cubans are currently saddled with court-ordered deportation orders. A State Dept. spokesperson told Reuters that “Cubans currently occupy the second-largest group arriving at the southwest border.”

None of this should come as a surprise to U.S. officials since the Cuban regime has historically and manipulatively sparked similar crises as a way to generate political capital with the United States and create an escape valve to eject opposition members from the island. Points in case: the Mariel Boatlift in the 1980s and the Special Period in the 1990s, in which the Cuban regime encouraged tens of thousands of Cubans to risk their lives by rafting across treacherous seas to reach America. 

The former case in 1980 created a Cuban population surge in Miami, and many of the 125,000 “Marielitos” sent from Havana were prisoners and street people Fidel Castro wanted expelled. “I have flushed the toilets of Cuba into the United States!” Castro proudly proclaimed. This tactic backfired as many of the prisoners were political prisoners who built a formidable opposition community to Castro in Miami.

The latter instance occurred in the 1990s during the so-called “Special Period” after Cuba plunged into economic depression as a result of the Soviet Union’s collapse. Threatening speeches from Castro prompted tens of thousands to leave by raft, creating a mass exodus that compelled former President Bill Clinton to negotiate with Castro and ultimately enact the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy that gave Cubans asylum only if they reached U.S. shore. 

The Cuban regime is now blaming U.S. sanctions for its crumbling economy, and in an act of desperation, the ailing communist apparatus turned to their Nicaraguan allies who have proven to be most accommodating by removing all visa requirements for Cubans.

The effect of this maneuver once again sparked an understandable migration drive, compelling Cubans to sell their worldly possessions to secure a plane ticket to Managua. Once on the Central American mainland, Cubans were then able to avoid the high seas and instead join the ranks of the migrant caravans headed toward the southern border.

Until yesterday’s meeting in Washington, the Biden administration had held its ground despite pressure from the left to remove effective economic sanctions that have sent the regime into an economic tailspin.

But news of Thursday’s meeting sent the Cuban exile community into a fury. 

“The regime is once again playing the State Department like a fiddle,” Miami-based lawyer and influential Cuban exile leader, Marcell Felipe told the Times. “They generate these crises specifically to get the attention and concessions from the U.S. government, and it is a mistake for the Biden administration to play into it. It is a particularly egregious time for the United States to extend any olive branch to the regime when after last year’s peaceful protests so many innocents remain languishing in prison. U.S. policy needs to shift from being reactive to proactive by taking the lead and targeting regime change.”

We agree. 

In any potential negotiations with Cuba’s oppressive communist regime, the United States must take charge and only negotiate on its own terms without bowing to the political blackmail of Cuba’s military dictatorship. Sanctions should not be lifted at the expense of repatriating innocent Cubans back to a brutal dictatorship, and the United States should not negotiate anything until Cuba ceases its manipulative migration tactics — and finally frees political prisoners.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/apr/24/editorial-biden-should-not-bow-to-cubas-political-/