It is reported that President Donald Trump is poised to nix the change in policies toward Cuba adopted in the dying days of the Obama administration.
With only a few days left in his term of office, President Obama announced a new U.S. policy toward Communist Cuba. Among the most inhumane of his détente ideas with the island dictatorship only 90 miles from Florida was the abolition of the long-standing American policy of accepting Cuban refugees fleeing the totalitarian dictatorship of the Castro brothers. The policy, in effect since the 1960s, was that any Cuban able to reach America was allowed to stay.
“Effective immediately,” Obama declared, “Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal. By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”
It is amazing that Obama could make such a statement with a straight face, considering that he was a strong advocate for taking in thousands of “refugees” from Syria, despite the difficulty of properly vetting which of them were true refugees and which were seeking to commit terrorist acts inside America. But Americans who have come from Cuba in the past seven decades have tended to be much more supportive of conservative, anti-communist politicians and policies than immigrants from most other nations. In fact, the “Cuban” vote is generally accepted as having made the difference in both the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections in Florida.
The differing Trump and Obama policies appear to be dividing both the Democratic and Republican Parties.
While it is not surprising that Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been a strong critic of the Obama policy of bettering relations with Communist Cuba, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey agrees with Republican Rubio, and strongly differs with what Obama did in casting aside the “wet foot, dry foot” policy of the past nine presidential administrations. This policy stated that if a Cuban refugee was caught by American authorities in the waters off the coast of America (thus the “wet foot”), then the United States could not offer legal asylum. But once a Cuban refugee from the Castro communist dictatorship reached the land of the United States, they were virtually guaranteed political asylum (thus the “dry foot”).
When Obama told Cubans seeking freedom in America that they would no longer receive automatic asylum, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) was incensed, declaring: “With just eight days left in his administration, President Obama has found one more way to frustrate the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people and provide yet another shameful concession to the Castro regime.”
Other changes announced by Obama that are expected to be nixed by Trump include opening up travel to and from Cuba. On the other hand, 10 Republicans in Congress, led by Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have introduced legislation to remove all travel restrictions with Cuba. Flake explained, “Recognizing the inherent right of Americans to travel to Cuba isn’t a concession to dictators, it is an expression of freedom. It is Americans who are penalized by our travel ban, not the Cuban government.”
But John Kavulich, of the nonpartisan U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, explained that the dictator of Cuba, Raul Castro, and his Communist Party oligarchy, do benefit greatly from increased trade with America. He told the Daily Caller that he thinks Trump wants “increased enforcement relating to travel,” and “a focus upon discouraging transactions with entities controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of the Republic of Cuba.”
For example, the Starwood Hotels and Resorts International in Cuba have a hotel under management that is directly controlled by FAR (short for Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias), in effect the Cuban government, according to Kavulich.
Thus, Americans choosing to travel to Cuba for business or pleasure are giving aid to the brutal regime that has ruled Cuba since 1959.
The idea that trade will move a communist dictatorship away from totalitarianism to the bright sunshine of freedom has been around since the Bolshevik Revolution that established the communist dictatorship in Russia in 1917. After Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky seized power in Russia that year, turning the nation into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics — a clever, innocuous-sounding name for the ruthless dictatorship they established — western financiers and industrialists rushed to give aid to the struggling Communist regime. (For more information on this subject, see Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution by the late Antony Sutton.)
With the Soviet Union struggling to survive, Lenin announced his New Economic Policy, in which he invited western “capitalists” into the country. Rather than liberalizing the communist regime, it hardened its capability to survive. Contrary to the naiveté of those advocating softening up dictators with trade (and often aid), this unwise policy contributed greatly to the rise of Joseph Stalin, one of the bloodiest tyrants of human history.
After the death of Fidel Castro, many predicted the liberalization of Cuba under his brother Raul. The opposite has happened: Raul Castro is now cracking down heavily on dissent in Cuba. José Daniel Ferrer, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, reported that homes were recently searched in Cuba, with 20 arrested in Santiago, 12 in Palma, and 10 in Havana.
Kavulich commended Trump for “focusing upon the requirements of the Libertad Act of 1996, which created conditions for the resumption of full commercial, economic and political relations with Cuba.”
Kavulich argued that then-President-elect Trump hoped for a better “deal” with Cuba. “A provision of the Libertad Act requires that neither Fidel Castro nor Raul Castro be in government.”
The Libertad Act, better known as the Helms-Burton Act, requires that Cuba hold “free and fair” elections and that a Castro not be in power before the embargo can be removed. Kavulich’s contention is that the communist system in Cuba is too deeply entrenched to expect much change. He dismissed expectations of immediate change as “delusional thinking,” adding, “The next months will be focused upon confirming for the 11.3 million citizens of Cuba that the ‘Revolution’ was not because of one man or only endured with that one man. It is the fabric that wraps the country and there will be no holes in that fabric.”
Raul Castro announced in 2013 that his years as "president" of Cuba will end in February of 2018. His expected replacement will be Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermudez, who was appointed as "vice president" by Raul Castro in 2013. Media reports are already speaking of Diaz-Canel as a more moderate communist, which is not surprising. One might recall that every time a Soviet dictator died in Russia, the left-wing media in this country hailed the successor as some sort of more moderate communist.
Even the monstrous tyrant Mao Tse-tung was referred to as an “agrarian reformer” before his seizure of power in China. And of course, Fidel Castro was even called the “Robin Hood of the Caribbean," though a more accurate title would have been the Mao of the Caribbean.
Hopefully, President Trump will follow through with his campaign statements and end this flirtation with Communist Cuba — and remain the friend of the Cuban people who so strongly desire freedom.
Photo of Cuban military personnel: Wikipedia