President Obama, a relatively small number of Members of Congress, and special interests groups backed by, again, a small number of U.S. companies including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Cargill, and a few others, have launched yet another campaign to ease sanctions on the Communist regime in Cuba. As I discussed with the Washington Examiner last week,
“I guess Cuba does not need to hire any lobbyists to secure a voice in the U.S. Congress,” said Jason Poblete, an attorney specializing in trade policy and former GOP Hill staffer who has followed U.S.-Cuba policy for years. “If only they were as eager to defend human rights or help U.S. taxpayers that are owed at least $6 billion in certified claims for the unlawful taking of real property and unpaid obligations.”
You can read the entire story at the Washington Examiner‘s website. The overall point about what I was attempting to communicate is that no one van move product in this town without votes. And in the case of U.S.-Cuba policy, it will not be as simple as using a pen and phone. The Democrats, supported by a few Republicans, will need to change a lot of minds before any substantive changes can take place with respect to Cuba sanctions.
Normalizing relations with Communist Cuba without extracting significant concessions from the Communist regime will lead to a raw deal for U.S. taxpayers. Why should taxpayers be forced to foot this when, among other things, Cuba owes the United States billions of dollars in unpaid debt, obligations, and other paper. You’ll never hear of this because of the media is too busy covering the fluff. Fortunately, and at least for now, the House and Senate are controlled by pro freedom members.
For example, building upon the good work of President George W Bush who awarded, in absentia, the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last month invited another Cuban resistance leader – Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez (Antúnez) and his wife – to be his guests during the President’s State of the Union speech. Speaker Boehner, rather than kowtow to the regime, opted to highlight the gross human rights abuses that take place daily throughout Cuba. This is the Cuba the pro-regime lobby does not want you to see. At the end of this post, I’ve embedded a few videos about Dr. Biscet and Antunez.
Yleem and I have penned the past few weeks a few pieces that help to start to fill the knowledge gaps on U.S.-Cuba relations:
- Poblete & Poblete: U.S.-Cuba Policy, A little history and clarification are in order, Op-Ed, The Hill newspaper (Jan. 26)
- The U.S.-Cuba Deal Heightens the Spy Threat, Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal (Jan. 13)
- Yes, Cuba is a State Sponsor of Terror, National Review Online (Jan. 6)
These articles, and more to follow, help put in context many issues being overlooked by policymakers and talking heads who support normalizing relations with the Communist regime in Havana. Make no mistake about it, doing so at this juncture is placing the cart before the horse. It is a really terrible idea. U.S. taxpayers deserve better, so do the resistance and future leaders of a free and democratic Cuba.
Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez, nicknamed Antúnez, was Speaker Boehner’s guest at the State of the Union Speech this year. He is expected to return to Cuba in about two weeks:
Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet was sentenced to 25 years in Cuban political prison for expressing anti-abortion, pro-freedom views. This video is somewhat dated but provides good background, with English captions, about his struggle for freedom. Dr. Biscet is free today, but remains in Cuba:
An excellent documentary by Jordan Allott of In Altum Productions, Oscar’s Cuba:
A 2011 tribute by U2’s Bono for Dr. Biscet urging that the Communist regime release him: