October 25, 2021

Obama’s New Rules with Cuba Will Enrich and Support the Military Dictatorship

cuba660Mimi Whitefield, Lesley Clark, and Kevin G. Hall wrote an article titled “Obama moves will open Cuba to more travel, commerce,” which was published in The Miami Herald on January 15, 2015. The reporters explained that on January 16, 2015 the Obama administration issued new rules that would greatly expand travel between the United States and Cuba as well as trade. Even though the embargo still is in effect, the reporters explained that the new rules “will chip away at the embargo.” Of course, the reporters are correct. Obama’s new rules have destroyed most of the commercial embargo in violation of the Helms-Burton law and the separation of powers clause of the United States Constitution. Obama’s executive orders and new rules on Cuba are once again executive overreach and a violation of the Constitution.

Obama gave away the store to the Cuban dictator without requiring the tyranny to stop abusing human rights and stop jailing and beating peaceful opponents. The dictator Raúl Castro stated in Havana that nothing will change in Cuba and that communism will last another 500 years. Even the tyrant, who rules Cuba like an emperor, reneged on his promise of freeing 53 political prisoners. Opponents in Cuba said 14 of the prisoners had been freed prior to the shameful agreement with Obama and Castro illegally counted them and the total did not add to 53. Obama, of course, did not complain since he did not want to embarrass his new friend. Armando Sosa Fortuny, a Cuban patriot, who has been imprisoned for 38 years was not included on the list.

The bloody regime has re-arrested two political prisoners from the list of 53 who attended a meeting from an opposition group. These political prisoners are Rolando Reyes Rabanal and Luis Enrique Labrador. Rabanal and Labrador are not the first from the list of 53 who have been re-arrested. Marcelino Abreu Bonora, who had been out of prison since October 24, 2014 but was somehow included in Obama’s list of 53, was then re-arrested after the December 17 announcement (on December 26th), brutally beaten, and kept in a punishment cell for nearly two weeks before being released again on January 7. 2015. The horrific Obama-Castro deal is clearly going from bad to worse.

The tyrannical regime in Cuba continues to repress and abuse the people of the Island. In fact, the bloody regime arrested arbitrarily 8,900 individuals in 2014. Obama keeps releasing dangerous Islamic terrorists from Gitmo, even though over 30% of those freed join terrorist organizations and attack our forces or those of our allies. This is treason and endangers the national security of our nation!

Perhaps, Obama will next return the Guantanamo naval base to Cuba once all prisoners are freed. Obama is considered to be a traitor to anti-communist Cubans on both sides of the Straits of Florida. Not a single measure or recognizing Cuba diplomatically by the United States will advance freedom and democracy in that unfortunate Island! Perhaps we will soon see Barack and Michelle Obama enjoying themselves with their friends in Varadero Beach while the Cuban people continue to suffer under the long-lasting oppressive rule of Raúl Castro.

Obama’s new rules will give oxygen to the tyranny at a time when Venezuela is almost bankrupt and will be unable very soon to provide free oil to Cuba. The Obama administration has thrown a lifesaver to the bloody regime of the Castro brothers and all of the new rules will serve to enrich and support the military dictatorship which has been in power in Cuba more than 56 years.

These rules and the normalization of diplomatic relations are a big reward that the Cuban totalitarian regime does not deserve. It is a reward that, at the end of the day, perpetuates the Castro regime and decades of brutal repression. The new rules will greatly expand American tourism in Cuba, allow more trade between these two nations, and make it easier to do business with Cuba. Since the oppressive communist regime ruled by generals owns 99% of the businesses, the U.S. expanded trade will be with them.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated the following: “These changes will immediately enable the American people to provide more resources to empower the Cuban population to become less dependent upon the state-driven economy, and help facilitate our growing relationship with the Cuban people. We certainly would welcome congressional action that would make it possible for people to travel to Cuba solely for the purpose of spending time on the beach. Increase contact with the Cuban people and with the Cuban government would only serve to put more pressure on the Castro regime to abide by, protect and even advance baking human rights that we hold dear in this country.”

The Obama administration said the new travel and trade will help ordinary people. This is wishful thinking and completely irrational. Increased contacts and expanded trade and U.S. investment with China and Vietnam have not advanced human rights in those two nations. In fact, it has been quite the contrary. As the economy of China and Vietnam improved so did the ability of the two regimes to continue to oppress their people. We are trading with Venezuela and the communist dictator Nicolás Maduro has assassinated peaceful students protesting in the streets of the various cities of that nation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others who want to trade with Cuba cheered the new rules, from agriculture and cattle corporations to other big businesses. But how much trade is going to take place with an Island that is near bankrupt and with a tyrannical government that does not pay the billions of dollars in loans to many nations of the world?

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, was absolutely right when he said that the new regulations would enrich Cuba’s dictators, not its people. Senator Rubio stated the following: “This is a windfall for the Castro regime that will be used to fund its repression against Cubans as well as its activities against U.S. national interests in Latin America and beyond. Giving existing U.S. laws about our Cuba policy, this slew of regulations leave at least one major question President Obama and his administration has failed to answer so far: what legal authority does he have to enrich the Castro regime in these ways?”

The entire Cuban American delegation from both parties in the Senate and in the United States House of Representatives is completely opposed to all of these measures. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Republican from South Florida, said the embargo and travel restrictions need to stay in place until Cuba meets certain conditions. None of conditions have been met. Congressman Diaz-Balart stated the following: “Despite this administration’s worst intentions, sanctions against the Castro regime remain codified in U.S. law and will remain in force until all political prisoners are released, independent labor unions, press, and political parties are legalized, and free, fair elections are scheduled.”

Mauricio Claver-Carone, the Executive Director of Cuba Democracy Advocates in Washington, D.C. said that an increase in American tourism is bound to fill government coffers and not to help the ordinary people.

The reporters explained that the new rules will allow American travelers to fall into any of the 12 broad categories to travel to Cuba without requesting permission from the government of our nation. The categories include family visits, official U.S. or foreign governments, journalism, professional research and professional meetings, educational activities, religious activities, public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, exhibitions, support for the Cuban people, humanitarian projects; private foundations or research, educational institutes, and export/import or transmission of information. It will be very easy for the bloody Castro regime to invite American tourists to enrich the military dictatorship hotels and other tourist businesses by offering travel opportunities in the above categories.

To make matters even easier and allow millions of tourists to visit Cuba in violation of the Helms-Burton law, the Obama administration is going to rely on an honor system, where American travelers will self-certified that they are, indeed, qualified to travel. Since when has the U.S. government used the honor system to enforce government regulations and laws? Why does the U.S. government not use the honor system for taxes?

The Obama administration will not be checking American tourists to ascertain whether they are traveling in violation of the 12 categories under the new regulations. The Obama administration will also rely on the honor system when American businesses sell equipment to Cuba. Under the current embargo, American businesses are not permitted to sell equipment to the government, only food and medicine. When administration officials were asked how they will ensure that the exports would go into private hands and not to the Cuban government, a senior American official said it would be up to American exporters to satisfy themselves that their product is reaching the proper destination in case the United States government checks upon them. Again, the honor system will apply.

All of these new regulations are a farce and a scam. The Obama administration has no intention of enforcing any of them. Quite the contrary, Barack Obama hopes that more tourists will visit Cuba and more American companies sell products to Cuba. In this manner, Obama can help his new friend, the bloody Cuban dictator Raul Castro, and the rest of the high officials and top generals of the military dictatorship who have oppressed the Island for more than 56 years.

The new rules also raised the limit on cash remittances to Cuban nationals other than certain prohibited Cuban government and Cuban Communist Party officials from the current $500 per quarter to $2,000. The regulations have given permission for U.S. travelers to Cuba to import up to $400 worth of goods acquired in Cuba for personal use, up from $100. Alcohol and tobacco products are limited to no more than $100.

Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson will lead a U.S. delegation and travel to Cuba next week to begin the process of normalizing relations. Jacobson suggested last month that it will not take very long to set up an embassy, calling the process of restoring diplomatic ties between the former adversaries “relatively straightforward.” President Barack Obama and the State Department forget that Cuba is still an enemy nation that supports terrorism all over the world and wishes to establish Russian military and naval bases.

The Cuban regime has introduced tons of drugs into the United States and has sent intelligence agents to commit massive Medicare fraud. It has trained Islamic terrorists and other terrorists for over half a century. It has taken and provided asylum to criminals who have fled from the United States and are wanted by the justice system. A year ago it sent weapons and a MiG aircraft to North Korea in violation of the arms embargo issued by the Security Council of the United Nations. It is folly to consider Cuba a former adversary when it is quite the opposite.

The speech by Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey, on the Senate floor

The voices of the Cuban people inside of Cuba were brought by Sen. Menendez:

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following speech today on the Senate Floor about U.S.-Cuba relations:
“Mr. President, I rise to say that nothing has changed in Cuba since Cuban arms were captured on this North Korean ship going through the Panama Canal a year and a half ago, just after the Obama Administration started its secret negotiations with the Cuban government. Not the regime. Not its mindset, not its oppression of its people!
We could not trust the Castro regime then, and we cannot trust it now. What we can trust are the voices of the dissidents who have been arrested and re-arrested – time-and-time-again – year-after-year – for demanding nothing more than the ability to speak their minds, freely, openly, without fear.

Voices like Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White, who said: ‘Sadly, President Obama made the wrong decision. The freedom and democracy of the Cuban people will not be achieved through these benefits that he’s giving – not to the Cuban people – but to the Cuban government. The Cuban government will only take advantage to strengthen its repressive machinery, to repress civil society, its people and remain in power.’

Or the voice of Yoani Sanchez, a prominent Cuban blogger and independent journalist who said: ‘[Alan Gross] was not arrested for what he did, but for what could be gained from his arrest. He was simply bait and they were aware of it from the beginning. Castroism has won, though the positive result is that Alan Gross has left alive the prison that threatened to become his tomb.’

‘Or the voice of Rosa Maria Paya – the daughter of Oswaldo Paya – the island’s most prominent and respected human rights advocate – killed in what remains a suspicious – quote – unquote –  automobile accident.’ Rosa Maria Paya said, ‘The Cuban people are being ignored in this secret conversation, in this secret agreement that we learned today. The reality of my country is there is just one party with all the control and with the state security controlling the whole society. If this doesn’t change, there’s no real change in Cuba. Not even with access to Internet. Not even when Cuban people can travel more than two years ago. Not even that is a sign of the end of the totalitarianism in my country.’

Or the voice of Sakharov Prize winner, Guillermo Farinas who spoke for many Cuban dissidents when he said this: ‘Alan Gross was used as a tool by the Castro regime to coerce the United States. Obama was not considerate of Cuban citizens and of the civil society that is facing this tyrannical regime. In Miami, Obama promised that he would consult Cuba measures with civil society and the non-violent opposition. Obviously, this didn’t happen. That is a fact, a reality. He didn’t consider Cuba’s democrats. The betrayal of Cuba’s democrats has been consummated.’

And the powerful voice of the husband of Berta Soler, Angel Moya, a former political prisoner of the Black Spring in 2003 when the Fidel Castro imprisoned 75 including 29 journalists along with librarians and democracy activists. ‘The Obama Administration has ceded before Castro’s dictatorship. Nothing has changed. The jails remain filled, the government represents only one family, repression continues, civil society is not recognized and we have no right to assemble or protest. The measures that the government of the United States has implemented today, to ease the embargo and establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, will in no way benefit the Cuban people. The steps taken will strengthen the Castro regime’s repression against human rights activists and increase its resources, so the security forces can keep harassing and repressing civil society.’

‘These are the voices of freedom in Cuba. These are the men and women who have been arrested and suffered under the oppressive hand of the Cuban Regime for their belief in the right of all Cubans to be free. These are the people who know that nothing – nothing – nothing – has changed. The Regime – after reaping the benefits of what, in my view, is a bad deal – is still arresting peaceful protesters, including more than 50 at the end of December.

Let me say, while I welcome the news that Cuba has released these 53 political prisoners, and that the Administration has shared the list of names it negotiated with the Castro Regime – this entire process has been shrouded in secrecy. However, while Reuters reports that Administration officials said that the list was created in June or July, some of the 53 were released well before June, fourteen – to be exact – were released 6 to 8 months before the December 17th announcement, and one was released over a year ago. Many had simply finished their unjust prison terms. Clearly, keeping the list secret provided the regime flexibility to define ‘mission accomplished.’

The fact is – the release of 53 political prisoners doesn’t mean there are no longer political prisoners in Cuba. Human rights groups had stated – prior to the President’s speech in December – that there were over 100 long term political prisoners in the country. And, there were 8,900 – to be exact – 8,889 political detentions in Cuba last year, an appalling number.

In short, while 53 political prisoners have been let-out of jail, the same corrupt jailer is still ruling the country. The Castros have a long history of re-arresting these political and human rights activists whom they’ve previously released.

Will these 53 political prisoners be able to peacefully work in their country for freedom and human rights – or will they be thrown into Castro’s gulags once again? That remains to be seen.

The fact is – as a Cuban-American who has spoken out time and time again on the brutal repression of the Cuban people under the Castro Regime – someone whose family has suffered the consequences – I believe the agreement the Administration has reached with the Castro Regime is one-sided and misguided.

It fails to understand the nature of the regime that has exerted its authoritarian control over the Cuban people for over 55 years. No one wishes that the reality in Cuba was more different than the Cuban people and Cuban-Americans that have fled the island in search of freedom.

In December, the same month the President announced changes to U.S. policy, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights & National Reconciliation (CCHR) documented 489 political arrests – bringing the total number of political arrests during the first eleven months of 2014 to 8,900.

This is a regime that imprisoned an American citizen for five years for distributing communications equipment on the island. Releasing political prisoners today in Cuba is meaningless if tomorrow these individuals can be arrested again and denied the right to peacefully pursue change in their own country.

Mr. President, it’s a fallacy that Cuba will change just because the American President believes that if he extends his hand in peace that the Castro brothers suddenly will unclench their fists. As you have seen from the quotes I have read – a majority of democratic activists on the island – many with whom I have met – have been explicit that they want the U.S. to become open to Cuba only when there is reciprocal movement by the Castro government. They understand that the Castros will not accede to change in any other way. In my view, and in theirs, the United States has thrown the Cuban regime an economic lifeline.

With the collapse of the Venezuelan economy, Cuba is losing its main benefactor, but will now receive the support of the United States, the greatest democracy in the world. This is a reward that a totalitarian regime does not deserve. It is a reward that, at the end of the day, perpetuates the Castro regime’s decades of repression. The regulatory changes the Regime has won – which are clearly intended to circumvent the intent and spirit of U.S. law and the U.S. Congress – present a false narrative about Cuba that suggests that the U.S., and not the regime, is responsible for their economic failure.
Let’s be clear – Cuba’s economic struggles are 100 percent attributable to a half century of failed political and economic experiments that have suffocated Cuban entrepreneurs. In Cuba, private business is controlled by the Cuban government, most significantly the military, with the benefits flowing directly to the regime’s political and military leadership. Cuba has had political and economic relations with most of the world, but companies choose not to engage because of political, economic and even criminal risks associated with investment on the island, as exhibited by the arbitrary arrests of foreign investors from Canada, England and Panama in recent years.

So, to suggest that Cuba should be taken off the list of state sponsors of terrorism is alarming while Cuba harbors American fugitives like Joanne Chesimard – a cop killer – who is on the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists for murdering New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. And despite Cuba’s colluding with North Korea to smuggle jets, missile batteries, and arms through the Panama Canal – in violation of the U.N Security Council Resolution. And for giving refuge to the FARC from Colombia – and the ETA from Spain – groups that the State Department recognize as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
With respect to the President’s decision to attend the Summit of the Americas, I’m extraordinarily disappointed that we intend to violate our own principles, laid down in the Inter-American Democratic Charter in 2001, on the Summit being a forum for the hemisphere’s democratically-elected leaders. This action disavows the Charter and sends a global message about the low priority we place on democracy and respect for human and civil rights.

In this new Congress, I urge incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker to hold hearings on this dramatic and mistaken change of policy. And I will keep coming to this floor to address – at length – all of the issues I have raised. I will come to this floor – again and again – to expose one of the most oppressive, repressive, and undemocratic regimes in the world.

To those of my colleagues who herald this agreement – and for those in the press who still live with the mistaken romanticism of the Castros’ revolution and who speak out about human rights abuses and democratic movements all over the world – it is so hypocritical that you are so silent – a deafening silence – when it comes to the democratic and human rights movement in Cuba. This does not end here. It does not end today with one speech. It will not end until the people of Cuba are truly free!
With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.”



obama and wrightBarack and Michelle Obama attended for 20 years Jeremiah Wright’s the United Church of Christ in Chicago. Obama’s mentor, counselor, and spiritual leader, Jeremiah Wright, was the pastor one of the most radical churches in the nation. The religion of Obama´s church with its creed of Black Liberation Theology, which is basically a racist, Marxist, and anti-capitalist religion, along with Wright´s incendiary anti-white anti-patriotic sermons marked by hatred, lies, and distortions did not bother Barack or Michelle Obama. It is incredible that Barack Obama did not feel that his beloved pastor was disrespecting and insulting his own white mother and maternal grandparents.

How could a president of the United States have attended a church whose pastor hated and attacked our nation in every sermon and said “God Damn America!” instead of saying God Bless America! Wright referred to the United States as the U.S. of KKK. Furthermore, Wright praised Fidel Castro, the Sandinistas, and all our enemies.

Barack Obama, who is a Marxist and a hidden radical Muslim, was in a church which shared his ideology. Obama, like other communists such as his friends Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (which went frequently to Cuba and were part of the Venceremos Brigade) admired the Cuban Revolution and the Castro brothers.

Obama’s pastor said that “the United States is the assassin number one in the world.” In another sermon, Jeremiah Wright stated “white greed governs a world full of needs.” Later, he accused the U.S. government of introducing the HIV virus in African-American areas to commit genocide. Pastor Wright is a close friend of the racist Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. The president and his pastor participated in Farrakhan’s One Million Black Men March to Washington, D.C.

Thus reestablishing relations with the tyrannical and bloody Cuban regime and illegally destroying most of the embargo, without demanding an end to the human rights abuses and free and fair elections, must have been a long-term goal of Barack Obama. The president knows very well that nothing will change in Cuba, but he does not care. He has betrayed the freedom-loving Cubans and the opponents of the worst, the longest (56 years) and most brutal military dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.