CubaBrief: Castro regime on the brink of collapse. Is the U.S. coming to the rescue? Havana responds to U.S. outreach with more repression, support for Iran, and visit to Russia

Emily Mendrala and Carlos Fernández de Cossío (Photos: Nicaragua Actual/MINREX)

Castro regime on the brink of collapse. Is the U.S. coming to the rescue?

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet in his November 15, 2022 OpEd “Is Cuba on the Brink of Collapse?” published in Newsweek, makes the case that the regime in Cuba is bankrupt, and on its way to total collapse. Among the examples that he provides as evidence is that Havana, for the first time ever requested assistance from the United States. The Biden Administration on October 18, 2022 responded to this request announcing that USAID would be providing $2 million in funding to Cuba for emergency relief.

On November 15, 2022 Emily Mendrala, deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs led a delegation to Havana, Cuba to meet with her counterparts representing the Castro dictatorship to officially discuss migration concerns. The State Department released a statement highlighting that this was “the second session in 2022 of these semiannual bilateral discussions on migration, reflecting a commitment by both countries to regularly review the implementation of the Accords.”

Bad timing for first and second round off migration talks

The first round of talks were held on April 21, 2022 in Washington DC, and less than month later the Biden Administration announced policy changes on Cuba that predominantly helped the dictatorship in Havana. Worse yet, was the timing of the announcement.

One day earlier, the Cuban dictatorship approved a new penal code that further clamps down on independent journalists and human rights defenders with “penalties of 10 to 30 years—in extreme cases, even death” for giving “information to international organizations, associations, or even people who have not been authorized by the government.”

The State Department’s November 15th media note concluded stating that “ensuring safe, regular, and humane migration between Cuba and the United States remains a mutual interest of both countries and is consistent with U.S. interests in fostering family reunification and promoting greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.”

Once again the timing of the meeting was regrettable, and the above language doubly so. It was in the same spirit as the statement put out by the U.S. Embassy on October 29, 2022 repeating the regime’s narrative that a massacre carried out by the Cuban coast guard against fleeing Cuban migrants was an “accident.”

That the United States wants to ensure “safe, regular, and humane migration between Cuba and the United States”, is undoubtedly true, but that the Castro regime shares that interest is not backed up by decades of cruel brutalities visited upon fleeing Cuban refugees.

Massacre in Cuba overlooked

The ramming and sinking of a boat on October 28, 2022, off the coast of Bahía Honda, Artemisa Province killing seven Cubans, including a two year old, added a new case to the long list of vessels sunk by Havana to prevent Cubans from fleeing the dictatorship. The names of the seven victims are: Aimara Meizoso León, Elizabeth Meizoso (age two), Indira Serrano Cala, Omar Reyes Valdés, Nathali Acosta Lemus, Yerandy García Meizoso, and Israel Gómez. Havana continues to use the same strategies since the communist dictatorship was established in Cuba. Attack boats to break them in half, then drown the passengers by creating eddies, physically attacking them as they try to swim, or using powerful jets of water.

“This also happened in 1994 with the “13 de Marzo” tugboat, again in the Canímar River massacre in 1980, and the massacre of Barlovento in 1962. Vessels of the Castro dictatorship’s Ministry of the Interior are used as weapons against Cubans who try to flee the island, regardless of the presence of children, women, or elderly people.

Cubans need not be on a boat to be targeted.

The United States in 1993 documented in a protest note sent to the Cuban government how MININT vessels, determined to stop Cuban refugees from reaching the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base, tossed grenades, and machine-gunned fleeing swimmers, and recovered their bodies with gaff hooks used in sport fishing. 

Prisoners’ families detained to prevent them meeting with U.S. delegation

On November 16, 2022 the Twitter feed of Ambassador Brian A. Nichols, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State published two Tweets condemning “the Cuban government’s detention of family members of imprisoned #11J protestors who were scheduled to meet with American officials today in Havana. Preventing parents from talking about their jailed children is unjust and inhumane. These families have a right to speak to the international community and anyone else they choose regarding the condition of their loved ones. We join calls for the Cuban government to immediately release all those unjustly detained.”

Diario de Cuba revealed the identities of family members of the political prisoners detained on November 16th to prevent them speaking about their loved ones’ plight. Wilber Aguilar Bravo, father of political prisoner Walnier Luis Aguilar Rivera, was arrested as he left his home in Havana. Marta Perdomo, mother of imprisoned brothers Jorge and Nadir Perdomo, and Liset Fonseca Rosales, mother of Roberto Pérez Fonseca, were intercepted on the highway and prevented from reaching Havana, according to reports by activists Marcel Valdés and Albert Fonse on their social networks.

Marta Perdomo, mother of imprisoned brothers Jorge and Nadir Perdomo, and Liset Fonseca Rosales, mother of Roberto Pérez Fonseca

Yesenia Díaz, Jenni Taboada and Migdalia Gutiérrez Padrón, the last two mothers of prisoners Duannis León Taboada and Brusnelvis Cabrera Gutiérrez respectively, were also detained in Havana when they tried to reach the US embassy, according to a report published by Anamely Ramos in her profile on Facebook.

Jenni Taboada mother of prisoner Duannis León Taboada and Migdalia Gutiérrez Padrón, mother of prisoner Brusnelvis Cabrera Gutiérrez

One day after the meeting with the U.S. delegation led by Emily Mendrala, the deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, Raul Castro’s hand picked President Miguel Diaz-Canel embarked on an international tour of Algeria, Russia, Turkey and China. On the same day the regime also backed their Islamist allies in Iran. The Castro regime has been supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Castro regime supports Islamist regime in Iran

Bruno Rodriguez, the Castro regime’s foreign minister on November 16, 2022 and October 24, 2022 over Twitter repeatedly condemned new sanctions placed on Iran by the United States.

The Castro dictatorship’s foreign minister met with Tehran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on September 26, 2022 in New York City during the UN General Assembly.

Dictatorships’ diplomats: Bruno Rodriguez in Cuba and Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Iran.

The Cuban dictatorship’s official media is blaming the United States, and other Western Democracies for the protests in Iran. The mullahs did the same for Havana during the nationwide protests that erupted in Cuba on July 11, 2021.

Massive protests continue in Iran, two months after the killing of Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022 for improperly wearing a hijab by the morality police. Throughout this time, Havana has repeatedly demonstrated its support for the Islamist regime in Iran and denounced U.S. sanctions against the mullahs.

Islamist morality police in Iran beat Mahsa Amini (age 22) to death for improperly wearing a hijab , sparking nationwide protests.

The communist regime in Havana and the Islamist regime in Tehran have had close and problematic relations for over four decades, and they are both hostile to the United States.

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 Havana, Cuba the controversial 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.”

Both Havana and Tehran have close relations with the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. The Jerusalem Post reported on October 16, 2022 that Hezbollah was helping the Islamist regime quash protests in Iran. Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah referred to Amini’s death as a “vague incident”and that the protests did not reflect the true will of the Iranian people, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) has been documenting the death toll during these mass protests in Iran, and below is yesterday’s chart.

While the Castro regime backs the Mullahs in Tehran against the Iranian people, Cuban women on November 1, 2022 called on President Biden to back the expulsion of “the murderous Iranian regime from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.”

One day after family members were detained, and prevented from talking about their jailed loved ones with U.S. officials, the regime denounced U.S. sanctions on Iran, and Diaz-Canel left for his visit to meet with Vladimir Putin, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) gave permission to Miami-based VaCuba agency to operate with Cuba’s Orbit S.A. in sending foreign currency to the island. This is another relaxation of sanctions towards Havana, and the timing is terrible.

CNN, November 17, 2022

Families of jailed Cuban protesters blocked from meeting US officials

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

Published 4:30 PM EST, Thu November 17, 2022

Havana, Cuba CNN – United States officials criticized the Cuban government on Wednesday for what it described as “inhumane” interference with the families of jailed Cuban protesters, some of whom were prevented from meeting with US diplomats in Havana.

“We condemn the Cuban government’s detention of family members of imprisoned #11J protesters who were scheduled to meet with American officials today in Havana,” the Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Brian A. Nichols said on Twitter. “Preventing parents from talking about their jailed children is unjust and inhumane.”

The protesters had been jailed following island-wide protests that started on July 11, 2021.

US officials planned to meet with their families during a trip to Havana about migration issues – one of the highest-level meetings Cuba has had with the Biden administration – that seemed to indicate a new approach towards the communist-run island following years of increased sanctions.

But on Wednesday, at least six of the protesters’ family were themselves stopped by police as they headed to the meeting, according to human rights activists.

Though Cuban officials often complain that diplomats from the US and Europe meet with the anti-government activists, it is unusual for authorities to carry out group detentions to prevent a meeting from taking place at an embassy.

“I was stopped at a check point and taken to a police station,” Marta Perdomo told CNN. She was traveling to the US Embassy where she had been invited to speak with the visiting officials about the case of her two sons, who are both serving prison sentences for their role in the protests.

Perdomo, who said she was released by police later on Wednesday afternoon, has advocated for her sons’ release after they took to the streets in their town on July 11 last year, calling for greater freedoms and criticizing Cuban officials.

While some of last year’s protests turned violent, many remained peaceful with demonstrators calling for changes to the island’s system, which is one-party state led by the Cuban communist party that bans political opposition.

The Cuban government has claimed the US government orchestrated the protests and has handed down lengthy sentences to hundreds of protestors.

Cuban officials did not respond to a request for comment.

But late on Wednesday, Carlos Fernández de Cossío, the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s top diplomat for US affairs, wrote on Twitter: “The mistaken belief by the US that it has the prerogative to interfere in Cuba’s domestic affairs is almost as old as both countries. It explains to some degree the immoral & illegitimate economic blockade conceived to depress the standard of living of each Cuban.”

https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/17/americas/cuba-families-protesters-us-officials-intl/index.html



Economic Eye on Cuba, November 17, 2022

OFAC Authorizes Orbit S.A. In Cuba To Engage In Remittance Transactions- Not On Cuba Restricted List (CRL). Western Union Next Up To Return?

November 18, 2022

On CubaNews
Miami, Florida
17 November 2022

Sending remittances to Cuba made more flexible

The Miami-based VaCuba agency has obtained permission from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to operate with Cuba’s Orbit S.A. the sending of foreign currency to the island. According to reports, the United States government has just relaxed the restrictions for sending remittances to Cuba by granting the Miami-based VaCuba agency, from Miami, permission to operate with Cuba’s Orbit S.A. the sending of foreign currency to the island.

“We have received authorization from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to operate with Orbit S.A., which allows us to send remittances to the cards in freely convertible currency of Cuban banks with a 7% fee on our website,” said Heder Martínez, general manager of VaCuba.

It was also announced that VaCuba will charge each client 7 dollars for every 100 that they send to the island, a modest rate considering that right now Cubans in the United States have to pay in the informal market around 30 dollars for every 100 that they send to their relatives.

In February 2022, the Cuban government authorized Orbit S.A. to operate to work with remittances. A resolution published in the Gaceta Oficial announced that it was given authorization to “manage and process international transfers from abroad to Cuba.

LINKS TO RELATED ANALYSES

Has Cuba Provided An Opportunity For Biden-Harris Administration To Renew Electronic Remittance Services? Orbit S.A. In Cuba Now Permitted To Engage. Can It Meet U.S. Conditions? A False-Flag? February 09, 2022

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2022/11/18/ofac-authorizes-orbit-sa-in-cuba-to-engage-in-remittance-transactions-not-on-cuba-restricted-list-crl

Associated Press, November 15, 2022

Migration talks mark progress in tense U.S.-Cuba relations

Cuba says it will receive deportation flights from the United States that had been stalled in the pandemic — and said it was open to continuing dialogue with Washington

By MEGAN JANETSKY Associated Press

November 15, 2022

Cuban vice-Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossío speaks during a press conference in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Officials from Cuba and the United States met Tuesday in Havana to discuss immigration issues, a topic of special interest due to the record exodus of islanders to the US. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

HAVANA — Following a series of talks on migration with the Biden administration, Cuba said Tuesday that it will receive deportation flights from the United States that had been stalled in the pandemic — and said it was open to continuing dialogue with Washington.

The agreement comes amid one of the largest migrations from Cuba to the U.S. in decades.

In October, Cubans replaced Venezuelans as the second most numerous nationality after Mexicans arriving at the border. U.S. authorities stopped Cubans 28,848 times, up 10% from the previous month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection data shows.

That exodus is fueled by deepening and compounding crises in the Caribbean nation, which suffers from shortages of basic goods and lengthy power outages.

The two governments have had a tense relationship for 60 years — and that grew more hostile when former President Donald Trump tightened American sanctions on the island.

But migration appears to have become a meeting point for Cuba and the Biden administration, which held talks in Havana for the second time in the span of a week on Tuesday.

“It was a useful meeting and it contributed to the mutual objective, committed to achieving a safe, regular and ordered migration,” said Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Cossío in a news conference Tuesday.

Cossío added there was “an obvious need” for two countries so geographically close to maintain a dialogue despite their differences.

Leading the U.S. delegation was Emily Mendrala, deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs.

The State Department also expressed optimism about cooperation in a brief release Tuesday afternoon, acknowledging the meeting.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/migration-talks-mark-progress-tense-us-cuba-relations-93365320

Newsweek, November 15, 2022

Opinion

Is Cuba on the Brink of Collapse? | Opinion

Oscar Biscet , human rights leader
On 11/15/22 at 8:00 AM EST

It is sometimes said that when people slide into bankruptcy, they do so gradually, then suddenly.

The same can be said of bankrupt governments, including the communist regime that has ruled Cuba for 63 years. The slow deterioration of Cuban society that began with the Cuban revolution in 1959 has intensified in recent years. Today, many Cubans wonder how long it will be until the government collapses entirely.

The signs of impending collapse are everywhere.

It was evident last summer when thousands of Cubans took to the streets to demonstrate against the government’s tyranny and mismanagement, the first mass protests in decades.

It was evident in May, when an explosion at the Hotel Saratoga in Havana left many people dead; in August, when a fire at a thermoelectric power plant in Matanzas burned uncontrollably for several days; and in September, when Hurricane Ian knocked out the island’s entire electrical grid.

The hurricane damage was so extensive that it forced the communist regime to do something it had never done before: ask for help from the United States.

Each of these episodes highlighted the country’s crumbling infrastructure and the government’s inability to provide even basic services for its people. Even before the fire, some experts had been predicting the impending “total collapse” of Cuba’s energy grid.

And despite the government’s brutal crackdown following last year’s protests, more and more Cubans now feel emboldened to voice their outrage. After the power failure during Hurricane Ian, several hundred people took to the streets to protest, banging pots and pans and shouting, “We want light!” “Libertad!” and slogans against the government and system.

The demonstrations prompted the government to shut down the island’s internet to stop the spread of information about the protests.

The Cuban economy has been ruined by mismanagement, inflation and a slowdown in tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government can no longer attract outside investment. And almost every economic sector has experienced losses in recent years.

Things have gotten so bad that though Cuba has historically been the world’s leader in sugar production, it must now import sugar just to meet domestic demand.

Even Cuba’s much vaunted health care system has taken a hit. The futility of the system was exposed during the pandemic, which produced one of the highest per-capita death tolls in the world. The pandemic, in the words of The Economist, “has damaged the reputation of Cuban health care,” leaving “the country’s once-famed health system … in tatters.”

Perhaps the most striking evidence of the regime’s weakness is seen in the record number of people fleeing the island. In the fiscal year through the end of August, some 200,000 Cuban migrants were detained by U.S. officials after crossing the U.S. Southern border, an increase of more than 400 percent from 2021. That means nearly 2 percent of the entire population of Cuba has fled in just the last year.

Many of those who remain survive on remittances sent from family and friends living abroad. They stand in hours-long lines to obtain even the most basic food and medicine. Power outages remain common, and discontent hangs heavy in the air.

The Cuban government no longer holds the minds or hearts of the people. The spread of the internet, even while heavily regulated, means the government no longer has a monopoly on information.

So when protests take place, the entire island can quickly find out about them and participate. This is how news of last July’s protests spread. It was no coincidence that those who broadcasted the protests on online video platforms received some of the harshest prison sentences.

The final sign of weakness is seen in the communist leadership itself. Fidel Castro was a demagogue and cult-like figure to some who knew how to channel the public’s anger in his favor. Even his brother Raúl Castro could draw on the mystique of his family name.

But Fidel died six years ago, and Raúl stepped down as president in 2018. Their name holds diminishing sway over younger generations of Cubans.

Today’s young Cubans don’t aspire to join the Communist Party, whose managers, including appointed President Miguel Díaz-Canel, don’t instill the same fear as their predecessors. Cubans today are less afraid to criticize or mock the regime, in street protests or on social media.

The regime’s ideological strength has collapsed right along with the county’s infrastructure and finances. But don’t expect it to change. Reform is anathema to communism. The only real reform will take place when the collapse is complete and Cuba is reborn into a truly free democracy.

Dr. Oscar Biscet is a human rights leader, former prisoner of conscience, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He lives in Havana, Cuba, and can be contacted through his website.

The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.

https://www.newsweek.com/cuba-brink-collapse-opinion-1758809

U.S. Department of State, November 15, 2022

Migration Talks with the Government of Cuba

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

November 15, 2022

On November 15, U.S. and Cuban officials met in Havana to discuss the implementation of the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords. This is the second session in 2022 of these semiannual bilateral discussions on migration, reflecting a commitment by both countries to regularly review the implementation of the Accords.  Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Emily Mendrala led the U.S. interagency delegation, and Cuba’s Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio led the Cuban delegation.  These migration talks provide an opportunity for discussions on mutual implementation of the Migration Accords, comprised of a series of bilateral agreements between the United States and Cuba done in 1984, 1994, 1995, and 2017.

The U.S. delegation highlighted areas of successful cooperation on migration, while also identifying issues that have been obstacles to fulfilling the goals of the Accords.  Engaging in these talks underscores our commitment to pursuing constructive discussions with the Government of Cuba where appropriate to advance U.S. interests.  The United States also addressed consular services at U.S. Embassy Havana, to include visa and American citizen services.

Ensuring safe, regular, and humane migration between Cuba and the United States remains a mutual interest of both countries and is consistent with U.S. interests in fostering family reunification and promoting greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.

https://www.state.gov/migration-talks-with-the-government-of-cuba-2/

Center for a Free Cuba, November 1, 2022

Cuban women ask President Biden to remove murderous Iranian regime from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Center for a Free Cuba. November 1, 2022. Washington DC. In an urgent appeal sent out today, a number of prominent Cuban American women asked President Biden to remove “the murderous Iranian regime from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.”

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on October 15th called on President Biden to demand the removal of Iran from the U.N. Women’s Rights Commission in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini (age 22), and the ongoing bloody crackdown that continues to intensify.

Carmen Julia Arias, a former political prisoner; Kristina Arriaga, former vice chair, Commission on International Religious Freedom, former member of US delegation to UN Human Rights Commission, scholar; Sirley Avila Leon, human rights activist; Rosa María Payá, founder and director, CubaDecide and Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana; Carolina Barrero, art historian, human rights activist (Spain) and Rosa Carbonell, a community activist, led the appeal.

These Cuban American women are calling attention to the Iranian people protesting the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022 by the morality police of the misogynist mullahs. In addition they asked if perhaps First Lady Jill Biden “could ask women leaders around the world to call on Iran to stop its repression of women.”

Also signing the appeal are Olga Connor, PhD, university professor and author; Belkis Cuza Male, poet, Linden Lane Magazine publisher; Miriam de la Peña, human rights activist; Ileana Fuentes, feminist activist and author; and Janisset Rivero, human rights activist  and author.

The Islamist Iranian theocracy has announced over a 1,000 Iranians arrested in protests over the murder of Mahsa Amini in Tehran will be subjected to summary trials, and over another thousand outside of Iran, according to The Guardian. Since protests erupted in Iran in mid September 2022, over 300 Iranian protesters are estimated to have been killed, and 14,000 arrested according to journalist and human rights activist Masih Alinejad.

Below is the text of the appeal to President Biden.

November 1, 2022

President Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden:

We are Cuban women who are writing to ask your help on a very important matter: removing the murderous Iranian regime from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

We urge you to respond affirmatively to Ambassador Nikki Haley’s request for your support on this matter. The Iranian people are protesting the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini by the police of the misogynist mullahs. Parallel to your effort, First Lady Jill Biden perhaps could ask women leaders around the world to call on Iran to stop its repression of women.

We would be remiss if we did not call your attention, also, to the plight of Cuban women unjustly imprisoned in the island for their participation in widespread peaceful protests.

Thank you very much for your kind consideration.

Respectfully,

Carmen Julia Arias, former political prisoner

Kristina Arriaga, former vice chair, Commission on International Religious Freedom; former member of US delegation to UN Human Rights Commission; scholar

Sirley Avila Leon, human rights activist (Florida)

Rosa María Payá, founder and director, CubaDecide and Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana

Carolina Barrero, art historian, human rights activist (Spain)

Rosa Carbonell, community activist (Connecticut)

Maria Juana Cazabón, translator, human rights activist (Florida)

Olga Connor, PhD, university professor and author (Florida)

Belkis Cuza Male, poet, Linden Lane Magazine publisher (Texas)

Miriam de la Peña, human rights activist (Florida)

Ileana Fuentes, feminist activist and author (Florida)

Sandra Gómez, MD, neurologist and author (Alabama)

Deborah Gómez, PhD, college professor and author (Florida)

Angelica Franganillo Diaz , university student (Georgetown, Washington, DC)

Kiele Alessandra Cabrera , Jóvenes por la Resistencia (Florida)

Iliana Lavastida, journalist (Florida)

Maritza Lugo, Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, former political prisoner

Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez, Baptist missionary, author (Maryland)

Adriana Méndez Rodenas, PhD, university professor and author (Missouri)

Elena Montes de Oca, college professor, human rights activist and poet (Florida)

Alicia Perez, MD, physician (Maryland)

Lourdes Quirch Zayas-Bazán, president, National Association of Cuban American Educators (Florida)

Yarai Reyes, member, Ladies in White

Janisset Rivero , human rights activist and author (Florida)

Victoria Ruiz Labrit, human rights activist (Florida)

Martha Valladares, human rights activist (Florida)

Josefina Vento, DDS, dentist (Florida)

https://www.cubacenter.org/articles-and-events/2022/11/1/press-release-cuban-women-ask-president-biden-to-remove-murderous-iranian-regime-from-the-united-nations-commission-on-the-status-of-women


From the archives

Center for a Free Cuba, May 17, 2022

Center for a Free Cuba statement on new Biden Administration “measures to support the Cuban people”

The Biden Administration has announced what they described as “new measures to support the Cuban people.” One day earlier, the Cuban dictatorship approved a new penal code that further clamps down on independent journalists and human rights defenders with “penalties of 10 to 30 years—in extreme cases, even death” for giving “information to international organizations, associations, or even people who have not been authorized by the government.” Is this the proper moment to make one-sided concessions, yet again, to a military dictatorship?

The State Department released a fact sheet that claims they are “taking a series of measures” to increase support for Cubans in line with U.S. national security interests, but some of the specific actions empower the dictatorship and may endanger Americans. 

The Center welcomes the reunification of Cuban families, but the other elements of the measures outlined  raise concerns. Furthermore we lament that these measures do not address the fundamental root cause of the island’s humanitarian crisis: the internal blockade imposed by the dictatorship on Cubans, which reflects the totalitarian nature of the regime.

As we have seen, engagement with the communist dictatorship of China over the past 40 years, in a bipartisan consensus, has been costly both in terms of American lives, and in abandoning Chinese democrats. This pattern was repeated on a smaller scale during the 2009 – 2017 detente with Cuba.  Repression skyrocketed, opposition leaders were killed, jailed, or exiled, and U.S. diplomats were victims of health attacks in Havana, with many of the victims suffering brain damage.  The proposed new measures would increase the probability of such actions on the part of the regime.

Such measures do not address the need for a humanitarian corridor to directly assist Cubans.  The Cuban military through its conglomerate, the Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A. (GAESA), and its sub-entity Gaviota, the military’s tourism arm, will profit from the expansion of authorized travel.  Expansion of travel does not support the oppressed Cuban people, but their oppressor.

With regards to U.S. national security, the educational exchanges have been used by Havana to recruit spies, blackmail Americans, and insert intelligence officials in academic conferences to  act as agents of influence and to spy. Why would we want to expand opportunities for these activities?

The family reunification policy will help some Cubans, but funding the dictatorship through travel and remittances to “independent Cuban entrepreneurs” who will be chosen by Havana will not free Cuba’s political prisoners or improve human rights on the island. This is a proposal that sounds progressive to naïve ears, but it will only further enhance the regime’s authority.

The Center is concerned that the timing of these measures gives a green light to the Castro regime to continue ratcheting up its repression against the Cuban people, will provide the military and secret police more resources to carry it out, and negatively impact U.S national security. This is not the time for us to embrace a regime that has opposed US diplomatic efforts in other venues, including most recently Ukraine.  Consistency is important.

https://www.cubacenter.org/articles-and-events/2022/5/17/center-for-a-free-cuba-statement-on-new-biden-administration-measures-to-support-the-cuban-people