In an oped today, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) wrote that during last week’s trip to Cuba with President Obama she was told by a Cuban-American businessman: “It’s time that we stop fighting and start cooperating.”

As of this morning, 18 members of the prominent pro-democracy group, The Ladies in White, remain missing after being arrested yesterday at their headquarters in the Lawton neighborhood of Havana.

Lawton is a poor and predominantly Afro-Cuban neighborhood, not frequented by visiting Congressional delegations, let alone elitist businessmen.

Their crime? Hosting a monthly literary tea for their members.

Below are pictures of various Ladies in White, who (over the weekend) had their clothes ripped off, were arrested and beaten with cables, rubber belts and rods.

(And no, Castro’s regime doesn’t beat women due to any religious extremism. It’s pure political sadism.)

As we previously posted, they are the ones left behind to pay the price of Obama’s trip.

Is this what we should “start cooperating” with?

Note to Senator Heitkamp: We know that your farmers want to sell lentils to Castro’s monopolies — and that they want the U.S. to finance it — but that doesn’t change the brutal nature of who their potential client is.

Moreover, if there was a company in North Dakota that did this (below) to women, would you promote business with them or demand consequences for their criminal actions?

Doing business with the devil doesn’t free captive souls — but it does make ours murkier.