Cuban human rights activist urges U.S. to suspend trade and investment in Cuba until regime stops oppression
One of Cuba’s most prominent human rights activists is in the U.S. to
push for a halt or suspension of U.S.-Cuba trade and investment changes
that he and other leaders say are enriching and empowering the Castro
In an exclusive interview with FoxNews.com, Guillermo Farinas said the
Trump administration should halt or undo the Obama administration’s move
to open up trade and business deals with Cuba until the Cuban government
commits to making democratic reforms.
Farinas, who has been jailed by Cuban authorities for his activism for
human rights, said President Obama’s easing of trade restrictions is
enriching the regime of Raul Castro, and hardly benefiting the Cuban people.
Farinas has been tirelessly traveling to several states, including
Florida, New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C., meeting with members
of Congress, Cuban exile leaders, United Nations officials and
representatives of leading human rights organizations to build support
for a U.S.-Cuba policy that takes a tougher approach to the Cuban
“The people of Cuba see very little of the money that comes in from
foreign investment and trade,” Farinas told FoxNews.com
“It makes the regime richer, and stronger, and bolder, because they have
felt that because of President Obama’s decision to do business with it,
it has credibility internationally,” he said. “It uses this
international credibility to thumb its nose at the Cuban people,
especially its critics and dissidents. And it’s gotten more brutal and
more intolerant of dissent.”
Opponents of normalizing relations with Cuba have fought against growing
momentum to lift the decades-old embargo, saying that the Cuban
government has done nothing to move toward giving its citizens more
freedom. Proponents counter that the embargo failed to bring about
democratic reforms, and that it is time to try a different approach.
Farinas said he is not seeking a total rescinding of the restored
diplomatic relations. The dissident, who’s got multiple health problems
stemming from a recent month-long hunger strike he staged to push for
human rights, said that he supports the Obama administration’s expansion
He said that the people of Cuba have been isolated by the regime for too
long, and that the ability of the Cuban people to interact with U.S.
relatives and visitors exposes them to new views and ideas.
Proponents of lifting the embargo say the Cuban government has taken
some steps to change for the benefit of the Cuban people.
They say more Cuban people are now able to run their own business and
invest in real estate.
“In Cuba, there is broad support for these changes,” said Madeleine
Russak, communications director for Engage Cuba, an organization that
favors normalizing ties with the island. “For 55 years the only people
who have been hurt by the U.S. policy are the Cuban people.”
To fuel its campaign to get Republicans in Congress to support lifting
the embargo, Engage Cuba has established councils in many GOP-leaning
states where agriculture is a main industry.
“But with the free flow of information and travel, we’re in a much
stronger position to improve the lives of Cubans. We are very optimistic
that President-elect Trump, as a businessman, feels the same way.”
“The American people are the best ambassadors of democracy,” she said.
“We’re optimistic that if we lift the full embargo, it will improve the
lives of the Cuban people.”
Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be
reached at . Follow her on
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