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Opinion – U.S. must stand with the opponents of Castros’ tyranny

Opinion: U.S. must stand with the opponents of Castros’ tyranny

I had the honor recently to meet with Cuban Oscar Biscet, who
was visiting the United States to receive the Presidential Medal of
that President George W. Bush had awarded him in 2007. Then
serving a 25-year sentence for promoting in Cuba,
Dr. Biscet originally had to accept the award in absentia. But following
his 2011 release, he was here in person.

I asked Dr. Biscet if his ability to leave the island was emblematic of
political liberalization after normalization of relations between Cuba
and the United States just over a year ago.

Smiling, this man who has endured savage torture by Raúl and Fidel
Castro’s state said No. There was no liberalization. The Castros
were just trying to appear reasonable so they could get the most money
possible out of tourists coming to the island.

Didn’t Americans understand, he asked in genuine amazement, that their
dollars were going to enrich the Communist regime? The answer is, once
again, No. American tourists and industries are tripping over themselves
to visit Cuba and project themselves onto a 1950s movie set, all while
imagining their commerce trickles down to the Cuban people.

In 2013, I heard similar words from Guillermo Fariñas, a former soldier
for Castro who had come to see Communism for the oppression that it is.
Fariñas traveled to Brussels to receive the Andrei Sakharov Prize for
his brave opposition to the Castros. But his leaving Cuba was not a sign
of progress. Rather, he called it a ploy by the Castros to get American
money while retaining political power. He said they were employing
Putinismo — trying to imitate Putin.

Press reports this July confirmed the unchanged and grim state of
affairs in Cuba. Fariñas began his 24th hunger strike to protest the
vicious beating from Castros’ goons merely because he inquired after a
colleague arbitrarily detained. Fariñas is asking the regime “to commit
to ending the escalation in against peaceful opposition and to
stop the beatings, death threats, prosecutions for false crimes and that
they stop confiscating their personal property.”

But rather than accede to this simple request, the Castros have let him
starve for two weeks. Some island paradise.

The fact is that a bad situation is getting worse, not better. The Obama
administration encourages a dangerous delusion about conditions in Cuba,
which perpetuates the status quo.

Fariñas’ plight is a physical manifestation of the ugly reality that the
Castros are enemies of everything the United States represents.

We must face this reality. By ignoring it we not only are turning our
backs on a brave man, the Obama administration’s increased coordination
with the Cuban regime also places the United States at risk. For example:

▪ Immigration: Visa-less immigration from Cuba has increased 80 percent
in the year since the Obama administration announced normalized
relations, the majority of immigration through Laredo, Texas. Government
benefits for these immigrants will cost the taxpayers $2.45 billion over
the next decade. There are also disturbing reports that migrants from
Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries use black-market visas to
Cuba to gain access to the United States.

▪ Aviation: The administration’s termination of the
raises concerns that Cuba’s airports may not have adequate security
procedures in place to ensure that Americans are safe from potential
terrorist attacks. While six U.S. airlines have been granted licenses to
fly directly to nine Cuban airports, only seven meet the minimum
security standards.

▪ Counter-narcotics cooperation: In July, the Obama administration
signed a counter-narcotics arrangement with Cuba, which creates
information-sharing between our two countries against drug
trafficking. These blanket assurances to cooperate are hardly assuring,
especially considering Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s
statement that Cuba is an intelligence threat to America, on par with
Iran. There is also concern that the Castros will use information
gleaned from their cooperation to service ’s anti-American

▪ Military-to-military cooperation: The administration precipitously
invited Cuba to participate in the Caribbean Nations Security Conference
in January, despite Cuba’s long history as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
and participation in illicit arms trafficking with enemy nations such as
North Korea. This “cooperation” with an overtly hostile country makes
the U.S. military vulnerable to Cuban espionage. To credit Cuba’s return
of our Hellfire missile in February as progress betrays a precarious
naïveté. Since the Obama administration has ceded its diplomatic and
economic leverage against the Castros, the United States may not be so
lucky the next time American military hardware suspiciously appears in

It would be nice to imagine that introducing capitalism to Cuba would
create political liberalization, but failed attempts from to Iran
suggest this will not be the case. And absent this liberalization,
increased cooperation with Cuba poses an intolerable security threat to
the United States.

When Congress returns in September, I hope my colleagues will join me in
insisting on proper oversight of the dangers posed by the Obama
administration’s misguided rapprochement with the Castros.

Congress can present a united front in opposing any nominees to be
ambassador to Cuba and any funding for embassy construction in Havana
until Cuba addresses basic human-rights issues.

It is the very least we can do to assure Oscar Biscet, Guillermo Fariñas
and others that some in America still stand with them, and not with the
Castro regime that continues to oppress them.


Source: Opinion: U.S. must stand with the opponents of Castros’ tyranny
| In Cuba Today –

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