USA Today: Tell Havana to end repression By Frank Calzon

USA Today, June 18, 2017

Tell Havana to end repression

By Frank Calzon

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 a New 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.