Foreign Policy

The Artful Deal for the Cubans

Trump has changed some important "features" of Obama's terrible Communist-coddling Cuba policy.

Robin Smith · Jun. 19, 2017

Last week, President Donald Trump stood before a large crowd in Little Havana — located in Miami, Florida — to announce immediate changes to the agreement implemented by Barack Obama to “normalize” relations between America and Communist Cuba.

First announced in December 2014, Obama’s “deal” ensured what all other misdirected policies had from his administration: The U.S. gave away the store while demanding no changed behavior from the offending regime in return. In the case of Obama’s Cuba policy that officially took effect in July 2015, political prisoners remain imprisoned and Cuban people remain impoverished, while U.S. currency — freed from the reversed 50-plus-year isolation policy — made its way into the pockets of a dictator and his thug military. America lost money and standing. Cubans watched their dictator gain wealth and a little longer shelf-life to his dying regime.

The Castro dictatorship changed from Fidel to Raul, but that’s only a matter of stationery, not policy and improvements for the Cuban people. Efforts to paint Raul as a reformer were laughable and unsuccessful. Obama’s lop-sided deal was nothing shy of a photo-op for a president in pursuit of a legacy and we can add his support of a Communist dictator to the heap of his failed policies.

As Obama gave his speech in December 2014, the Cuban dictator gave his own remarks simultaneously in Cuba. Here are a few statements that reveal why Donald Trump, along with so many other congressional leaders and Cuban activists, is justified in implementing critical changes to Obama’s blunder: In referring to talks to reverse the Cuban isolation policy, Raul declared his position as “the willingness to discuss and solve our differences without renouncing any of our principles.” The unflinching tyrant continued as a devoted Communist: “Today, despite the difficulties, we have embarked on the task of updating our economic model in order to build a prosperous and sustainable Socialism.”

Well, Obama may have temporarily empowered Castro through his policy of leading from behind and sending massive amounts of cash to our enemies (think Iran), but his surrogate lost in November 2016. Hillary Clinton’s coronation was busted up by the American people, who rejected eight more years of the same lunacy.

Enter Trump.

Candidate Trump declared, “All the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them. And that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands.” Let’s see how this statement squares with his new policy announcement.

President Trump’s Miami speech on Friday was rooted in the fact that his administration will enforce current law, or the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, also known as the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. In the president’s words, “Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law. … We will enforce the embargo.” In direct opposition to the United Nations and other organizations who echo the Obama policy of the unconditional end to America’s embargo, Trump said, again, “America first and Cubans first in their country.”

To the delight of much of the Cuban-American community wanting the Castro Communist cartel exposed, here are a few items Trump demanded before normalization of relations:

  • Release all political prisoners
  • The dissolution of Fidel’s big-brother spy network, the Committees for Defense of the Revolution, and the Dept. of State Security
  • The legalization of all political activities and public commitment to free and fair elections for a new government to be formed in a period not to exceed 18 months absent any member of the Castro family in leadership
  • Free press and media
  • The establishment of independent trade unions and an independent judiciary
  • Private property rights guaranteed
  • Civil liberties respected

Rather than coddle a dictatorship in place since 1959, Trump’s reversal of policy now prohibits commerce with any business owned by the Cuban military or intelligence services. Be mindful that Cuba’s pals are Venezuela, Russia and China. On the stage of failed governments, limited human rights and manipulated currency, Cuba’s diplomatic buddies are stars.

Despite Obama’s contempt for Liberty and palling around with Raul “the Reformer,” the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation has reported the Castro military increased its political detentions from 718 in 2015 to 1,095 recorded in just the first six months of 2016. Sure that sounds exactly like a reformer in action responding to U.S. leadership, right?

But there are some things that will remain essentially unchanged — cruise ship travel, family visits, money sent for family support and commercial air travel, for starters. The embassy reopened in Cuba in recent months will remain operational. The string-attached on the travel and transactions lies with the U.S. Treasury Department whose jurisdiction will include audits of companies and travelers to confirm compliance — again, with the main aim to deplete the Cuban military and its corrupt leaders of revenue.

Finally, Trump will leave unchanged Obama’s end to the “wet-foot-dry-foot” established in 1995 that permitted Cubans who reached U.S. shores to qualify for permanent residency in America. The decision released the U.S. Coast Guard to deal with drug smuggling via the open seas with its limited resources and vast responsibilities.

Trump is also disarming a narrative that the press will make no effort to acknowledge. Who is among Cuba’s top trading partners? China. What did Business Insider have to say about Cuba and Russia in September 2016? A September 30th piece declared, “Cuban-Russian relations at their strongest since the demise of the Soviet Union.” The story noted, “Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has visited Cuba twice since February 2008 while Vladimir Putin visited in July 2014,” and Raul Castro traveled to Moscow three times.

If The Donald was the puppet of Communist dictators and big millionaire developers, he’d certainly avoid the stringent requirements demanded for true normalization of relations.

There is an emerging pattern. In America, the Trump administration is pulling up the establishment status quo by the roots to make sure Americans’ interests are the priority, not bureaucrats, incumbents and special interests. In Cuba, Trump has prioritized freedoms for the Cuban people with a legitimate government that snatches wealth from the tyrants.

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