President Obama’s imminent visit to Cuba comes as the anachronistic Communist island state escalates its crackdown on domestic dissent with detentions hitting a five-year high. The president’s March 21-23 trip is meant to soften the relationship between the United States and its southern neighbor after decades of Cold War-inspired hostilities. Ever the diplomat, Obama even promised to heroically champion human rights during his odyssey to Havana. This is the first time since 1928 that a sitting US president will step on Cuban soil.
Unfortunately, the false prophets of "Change" and "Hope" are often disconnected from the grim world of reality. Not only is Obama’s soaring oratory about “human rights” falling on deaf ears, but the Cuban government is actually ratcheting up efforts to target and arrest dissidents. Bloomberg notes:
The Madrid-based Cuban Observatory on Human Rights said 1,474 people, including 512 women, were “arbitrarily” detained in January. The arrests have been climbing since the December 2014 announcement that the two governments would improve ties.
Nonetheless, President Obama plans on sitting down for Moros y Cristianos with the autocratic government of Raul Castro.
With nepotism serving as the sole procedure of power succession, Fidel Castro’s abdication from the throne of the presidency in 2006 failed to change the dynamics of the regime, as Castro’s close brother, Raul, continued his dynastic legacy. Since the Kennedy administration, US policy with Cuba, the de facto Castro playground, has been steadfast and firm, expecting tangible steps toward democracy in exchange for better relations.
President Obama’s efforts to deviate from his predecessors have been met with everything from disappointment to outrage. In fact, the White House chose not to invite members of the Cuban dissident community to the flag-raising ceremony in Havana, a move that has upset many in the community.
For years, the administration has had strained relations with the Cuban exile community, with many claiming that the president is not taking any tangible steps to bolster human rights in Cuba, and for that matter, the rest of the region.
Even as American rapprochement overlooks the very Cubans the administration claims to champion in an undignified attempt to placate the Cuban regime, Castro has reasserted his role as an anachronistic, 19th-century-style caudillo, the Latin American strongman figure marked by corruption and combative rhetoric.
According to Human Rights Watch, many of the institutional and structural bulwarks, the “repressive machinery” of human rights violations many years in the making, are embedded into the very regime Raul Castro now heads.
After decades of imprisoning dissidents and raiding Cuba’s coffers, Castro is now drooling at the opportunity for President Obama to open up Cuba's shores and grant access to the global marketplace. As Obama naively extends an olive branch of peace to Castro Inc., the regime gains further legitimacy, empowering its efforts to shut down any and all forms of dissent within its borders.