Why We Ask: Our mission and operations are funded 100% by conservatives like you. Please help us continue to extend Liberty to the next generation and support the 2021 Year-End Campaign today.

Rich Lowry / March 22, 2016

President Obama’s Che Moment

President Barack Obama inadvertently found the perfect photo-op for his Cuba visit at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana. A news photo at Revolution Square caught Obama standing together with American and Cuban officials, with an enormous mural of the iconic revolutionary Che Guevara looming over his shoulder on the adjacent Ministry of the Interior building. Che is, of course, ubiquitous on dorm-room walls and T-shirts in the United States, and a hero of the Cuban revolution. He also was a coldblooded killer who set up the Cuban gulag and presided over summary executions of political prisoners (trials were, per Che, “an archaic bourgeois detail”). No doubt, he would have been astonished at the Yanqui president coming to Revolution Square to pay his respects — and exceedingly pleased.

President Barack Obama inadvertently found the perfect photo-op for his Cuba visit at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana.

A news photo at Revolution Square caught Obama standing together with American and Cuban officials, with an enormous mural of the iconic revolutionary Che Guevara looming over his shoulder on the adjacent Ministry of the Interior building.

Che is, of course, ubiquitous on dorm-room walls and T-shirts in the United States, and a hero of the Cuban revolution. He also was a coldblooded killer who set up the Cuban gulag and presided over summary executions of political prisoners (trials were, per Che, “an archaic bourgeois detail”). No doubt, he would have been astonished at the Yanqui president coming to Revolution Square to pay his respects — and exceedingly pleased.

President Obama’s trip is self-consciously historic. As the president’s introducer at an event at the U.S. Embassy put it, Obama often said, “Yes, we can,” and now we can say, “Yes, we did.”

But did what? The trip ensures that the first visit to Cuba by an American president in almost 90 years will be part of Obama’s legacy, and seeks to make his opening to Cuba, announced in December 2014, irreversible. If that means extending credibility and a financial lifeline to a Castro regime that has no intention of reforming, so be it.

The regime made it clear that it wouldn’t bother with maintaining a pretense of relaxing its grip with the arrest of protesters at a march of the dissident group Ladies in White while President Obama was en route to the country. A reporter with a government news outlet told The New York Times that he and colleagues had been warned not even to discuss Obama’s visit with friends.

At a press conference with President Raul Castro on Monday, Obama spoke in euphemistic terms of our “two different systems,” eliding the fact that one system is open, democratic and prosperous, while the other is closed, dictatorial and economically ruinous. Castro railed against alleged human-rights abuses in the United States — Obama obligingly said he welcomed the dialogue — and El Presidente denied holding any political prisoners when reporters dared ask about it.

There is no sign of greater openness in Cuba since President Obama forged his break with long-standing U.S. policy. Political arrests have accelerated. There were more than 8,000 in 2015, four times as many as in 2010. The exodus of desperate Cubans to the United States has picked up. And the country still ranks below Zimbabwe and Iran on Internet connectivity.

But Obama’s opening has produced a financial windfall for the regime. The Cuban military occupies the commanding heights of the economy and controls the tourism business, which has been thriving with the influx of American tourists. Starwood Hotels and Resorts just got special permission from the U.S. Treasury to operate three hotels in Havana, in a boost, not for the free market, but for the Cuban government.

If Cuba were a repressive, small-minded military dictatorship of the right, Obama’s visit and accommodationist attitude wouldn’t be considered so broad-minded. But a patina of revolutionary romance, embodied by that image of Che looking down on President Obama, still hangs over Cuba. It makes its human-rights abuses, theft and lies an afterthought, or even excusable, for the American left.

After the Cuban missile crisis, Che said that in the event of a U.S. attack, “if the rockets had remained, we would have used them all and directed them against the very heart of the United States, including New York, in our defense against aggression.” It would have been beyond his imagining that so many decades later, with the revolutionary regime cash-strapped and decrepit, the imperialist Goliath would come bearing gifts, and asking for nothing substantial in return, except a line in President Obama’s Wikipedia entry.

© 2016 by King Features Syndicate

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.