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OBAMA’S CUBAN BAILOUT Eases U.S. Travel and Remittances Restrictions to Cuba…and Helps Castro

Posted by FactReal on January 21, 2011

OBAMA’S BROKEN PROMISE

My policy toward Cuba will be guided by one word: Libertad [Liberty]. And the road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba’s political prisoners, the rights of free speech, a free press and freedom of assembly; and it must lead to elections that are free and fair.
Candidate Obama (May 23, 2008)[1]

OBAMA’S FALLACY
How soon did Obama forget his promise. Where is Cuba’s liberty? On 1/14/2011, Obama issued an executive order to further loosen restrictions on U.S. travel and remittances to Cuba without obtaining “justice for Cuba’s political prisoners” like Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet.[2] Obama’s executive order also “undercuts recent attempts to pressure the Cuban regime to release U.S. citizen Alan Gross.”[3] Obama did not get one concession from Cuba.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio indicated that these changes only weaken U.S. policy towards Cuba. “What does need to change are the Cuban regime’s repressive policies towards the independent press and labor unions, its imprisonment of political prisoners and constant harassment of citizens with dissenting views, and its refusal to allow free multi-party elections…It is unthinkable that the administration would enable the enrichment of a Cuban regime that routinely violates the basic human rights and dignity of its people,” Rubio said.[4]

“Unthinkable not only because this decision throws a cash-starved regime some money, but because of the message it sends Cuba’s prisoners—those actually behind (or in Cuba’s case, under) bars and the millions others walking the streets, but prisoners nonetheless. The U.S. message at the moment is: You’re utterly alone; we outside are accommodating your tyrants, why not you?”[5]

Obama’s executive order “will make it easier for Americans who support Castro’s government to send money there and visit the island for propaganda purposes.”[5] The White House statement indicated that changes will be made to “regulations and policies governing: (1) purposeful travel; (2) non-family remittances; and (3) U.S. airports supporting licensed charter flights to and from Cuba. These measures will increase people-to-people contact; support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities.”[6]

It sounds so benevolent, but the facts contradict Obama. Decades of “people-to-people” contacts between Cuba and Europe have not fostered a pro-democracy environment in the communist island. According to liberals like Obama, the contact between Cubans and Americans will suddenly lead to a Cuban government “that respects the basic rights of all its citizens.”[6] Liberals want people to believe that the only thing keeping Cuba in misery is the U.S. trade embargo and not the failure of their Marxist policies.

OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ORDER TO RESCUE CASTRO[7]

“Cuba will be bankrupt in 2011.” (Italian ambassador to Cuba, Wikileaks Cable)

“Here I come to save the day!” (U.S. President Barack Obama, Jan. 14th 2011)

Obama Helping Castro:

Last Friday President Obama threw the desperate Castro regime a lifeline. He signed executive order further easing travel and remittance restrictions from the U.S. to Cuba. We note that the President waited till after the November elections (such a Democratic initiative would not have helped Democratic candidates in crucial Florida) to sign the executive order. We also note that he announced it on a Friday afternoon, the slowest news period of the week.

The Trojan Horse:

As presented by the media, the order sounds pretty innocuous—downright sensible in fact. After all, the goal is simply to increase “people-to-people” contacts between Americans and Cubans.

The U.S. Embargo Myth:

…[M]ost Americans probably think the U.S. actually “embargoes” Cuba. But in fact:

The U.S. has transacted more than $2 billion worth of business with Castro’s Cuba in the last decade. Until last year, the U.S. served as Castro’s Cuba’s biggest food supplier and fifth biggest import partner. Furthermore, the U.S. has been Castro’s Cuba’s biggest donor of humanitarian aid including medicine and medical supplies for decades. Last year a defector from Castro’s regime revealed that owing to Obama’s earlier “loosening” of remittance restrictions to Cuba, almost $2 billion a year in remittances were succoring the cash-strapped Castro regime. This ranks the U.S. right between Red China and Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela as Castro’s lifeline. At this rate we’ll soon be number one. Some “embargo.” 

Last year Castro’s Cuba also received 200,000 visitors from the U.S.—legally. Global Travel Industry News reports that another 200,000 Americans visited Cuba illegally. Every euro, peso, lira, pound, dollar, etc. spent in Cuba ultimately lands in the pocket of the regime.

Liberals’ Utopia:

The anti-“embargo” mantra  stresses that a flood of rich Western tourists will magically smother Cuban Stalinism, whereupon the island nation will quickly mutate into a bigger (and more historic and picturesque) Cozumel. This reasoning seems to go something like this: Rewarding and enriching the KGB-trained and heavily armed guardians of Cuba’s Stalinist status-quo will magically convert them into instant opponents of that Stalinist status quo.

Cuban Reality:

As two decades of such tourism have amply proven, any trickle of foreign currency that reaches the Stalinist regime’s subjects (primarily from prostitution) is offset a thousand-fold by the millions ($2.4 billion last year, for instance) crammed into the regime’s military and secret-police coffers.

…[A]t a hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Committee…a recently retired Defense Intelligence Agency Cuba specialist…showed how Raul Castro’s military owns virtually every corporation involved in Cuba’s tourism industry, the regime’s top money-maker.

Clinton’s Cuba Policy = More spies:

The Clinton administration also made a fetish of fostering such travel—with disastrous results.

The deepest and most damaging penetration of the U.S. Defense Department by an enemy agent resulted precisely from “cultural exchanges” by the Clinton team with Stalinist Cuba.

PRIVATE ENTERPRISE IN CUBA? CASTRO STILL CONTROLS EVERY ASPECT OF CUBAN LIFE[8]

After much debate and with trepidation, the Cuban economic “reformers” have decided to permit the 500,000 to 1,300,000 Cubans being fired from state jobs to solicit permits to become self-employed in certain activities. It is instructive to examine a handful of the 178 trades and professions that are supposed to help rescue the economy.

Trade No. 23 will be the purchase and sale of used books. Trade 29 is an attendant of public bathrooms (presumably for tips); 34 is a palm-tree pruner (apparently other trees will still be pruned by the state). Trade 49 is covering buttons with fabric; 61 is shining shoes; 62 is cleaning spark plugs; 69 is a typist; 110 is the repair of box springs (not to be confused with 116, the repair of mattresses). Trade 124 is umbrella repairs; 125 is refilling of disposable cigarette lighters; 150 is fortune-telling with tarot cards; 156 is being a dandy (technical definition unknown, maybe a male escort?); 158 is peeling natural fruit (separate from 142, selling fruit in kiosks).

This bizarre list of permitted private-sector activities will not drive economic development. But it does reveal the regime’s totalitarian mindset. Here Cuban technocrats foreshadow the degree of control they intend to impose by listing the legal activities with specificity. These are not reforms to unleash the market’s “invisible hand” but to reaffirm the Castros’ clenched fist.

CUBA’S POLITICAL PRISONERS[5]

Cuba’s prison guards keep their prey in dark underground cells, the easier to dump urine and excrement on them when the whim strikes them, or for rats to scurry in and bite the prisoners while they sleep—which they have to do standing up. (Their cells are not big enough to lie down in.) If you’re uncomfortable reading about these conditions, imagine what it’s like for the prisoners who endure them.

These men and women—behind bars for years for such infractions as exercising their freedom of speech, assembly, religion or movement—are the few on that island Gulag who still refuse to give in to the communist regime. Cuba’s other millions have learned the art of outwardly going along, lest they, too, get whisked away to one of the prison compounds that dot the island. Who can blame them? How many of us would not just surrender and practice what Orwell called “doublethink”?

WHO BENEFITS?[9]

Some of the biggest beneficiaries of the travel loosening are likely to be radical pro-Castro groups that earn cash on “reality tours.” Global Exchange, for instance, led by wealthy Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, sends leftists to Cuba to sing the regime’s praises. Cuba is picky about who gets in, and these groups will have the edge. […]

But the biggest beneficiary of all will be Fidel Castro.

It’s he who will end up with the extra money, which is already about $2 billion a year. Anyone sending remittances to Cuba pays a 20% tax off the top, and often a 10% exchange fee. Cubans who buy something with the cash in government-owned stores pay other fees.

In the end, the regime gets all the money, notes prominent Cuban-American Val Prieto, who blogs at Babalu. […]

Unlike visits, the remittances may be more policy than politics…the White House may be bailing out Castro because it fears Cuba may collapse on its watch.

“The administration doesn’t want a confrontation,” Claver said. “They know they’ll stabilize the Cuban economy with these changes.” He notes that the Castro regime doesn’t have the hard currency to back all its purchases from Spain right now — the very same crisis Cuba was in when Clinton loosened rules in the 1990s.

Clinton meant to stabilize the regime to prevent another Mariel flotilla. Obama may be thinking the same thing.

The bottom line is that these changes benefit and further entrench the failed Castro regime at a time when it should be thinking about becoming a democracy.

SOURCES
1- Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Renewing U.S. Leadership in the Americas (5/23/2008)
(h ttp://www.barackobama.com/2008/05/23/remarks_of_senator_barack_obam_68.php)
2- Cuban political prisoner: Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet
3- Obama’s Ill-Timed, Confusing Concessions Leave Cuba Unimpressed
4- U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s Press Release (1/14/2011)
5- Easing Cuban Travel Restrictions, Team Obama Slaps Cuba’s Political Prisoners In the Face
6- Reaching Out to the Cuban People (1/14/2011)
(h ttp://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/14/reaching-out-cuban-people)
7- Obama To Rescue Castro
, Babalublog

8- The “New” Cuban Economic Reform
9- Obama’s Latest Gift To Castro

RELATED
Castro praised ObamaCare (3/25/2010)
OBAMA & CASTRO CONNECTION

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