Friday, February 5, 2016

No Cuba Libre

Last Sunday's Washington Post carried an editorial titled "Failure In Cuba", taking the Obama administration to task for it failure to achieve what it declared were the goals of its policy restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries - "to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans" and "to engage and empower the Cuban people".

The Post is downright scathing about what has happened since normalization began in December 2014, after the mid-term elections, when the President felt it was safe to undertake his initiative:
Yet there is scant evidence so far of a sea change in Cuba — perhaps because Mr. Obama continues to offer the Castro regime unilateral concessions requiring nothing in return. Since the United States has placed no human rights conditions on the opening, the Castro regime continues to systematically engage in arbitrary detention of dissidents and others who speak up for democracy. In fact, detentions have spiked in recent months. The state continues to monopolize radio, television and newspapers.

The administration has defined one of its goals as opening Cuba to the Internet, but the nation still suffers from some of the lowest connectivity rates in the world. The regime established a few dozen Wifi spots but charges people $2 an hour to use them; the average salary is $20 a month. The state retains a chokehold on the economy, including tourism; the benefits of a 50 percent increase in U.S. visitors are being garnered by Raúl Castro’s son-in-law, the industry’s boss. .Meanwhile, Cuba’s purchases of U.S. goods have fallen by a double-digit percentage.

What’s most evident over the past year is that the Castro brothers are effectively preventing real change and reform even as they reap the rewards of Mr. Obama’s opening. The president’s only response has been more unilateral concessions, along with talk of a visit to the island before he leaves office. Autocrats everywhere must be watching with envy the Castros’ good fortune.
THC has written before about the reality of Cuba (see Top 5 Reasons We Ended Cuba EmbargoSolving Income Inequality (reporting on Cuba's maximum wage of $20 a month), and New York Times Has Second Thoughts On Cuba (THC was joking)).  He was not opposed to a change in America's policy towards Cuba if it involved a mutual opening up, but that is far from what has happened.  Instead the Castro brothers, reputed to be worth hundreds of million dollars, are thriving while the Cuban people continue to suffer.

Beyond what even the Post editorial mentions is that U.S. government contact with dissidents is now less than it was before December 2014, because our contacts are now directed through the government instead of around it.  The dissidents report they are demoralized by what has happened.

President Obama's actions have been shameful.  As with so much else the President has done, THC finds his real motives unfathomable.  THC remembers every president since JFK.  Some we think highly of, others not so much, but he's always had a sense of why they acted the way they did.  Perhaps someday, we'll really get a sense of the inner man and what he really thinks of us and the world.  From what we can see on the outside it's very disturbing.

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