News and Commentary

Biden’s Nominee To Key Latin American Diplomatic Body Loved Obama’s Cuba Policies
US President Barack Obama speaks alongside Vice President Joe Biden after placing flowers for the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub Sunday at a memorial at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Florida, June 16, 2016.
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden nominated Frank Mora to serve as Ambassador to the Organization of American States.

Mora — a Cuban-American who works as an international relations professor at Florida International University — would help to lead the American response to widespread anti-government protests in Cuba. Virtually every nation in the Western hemisphere is a member of the OAS — a body formed in the late 1940s as a hedge against the global spread of communism — except for Cuba, which was ejected in 1962.

Mora, however, is facing backlash for what many critics deem to be a soft approach to Cuba policy.

For instance, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) — another Cuban-American — tweeted: “Nominating Frank Mora, an outspoken supporter of engagement with the regime in Cuba, to be the US Amb to the OAS is yet another slap in the face to Cubans demanding freedom.”

Indeed, Mora has voiced support for former President Barack Obama’s willingness to expand diplomatic relations with the Cuban regime and increase American access to tourism on the island.

As Mora wrote in a 2016 op-ed about potential Cuba doctrine under the Trump administration:

So, it seems like we will soon return to the “feel-good” policies of taking punitive action against a dictatorship, even though those policies proved singularly ineffective and counterproductive during the 55 years they were in place. As a result, we’re likely go down this road again, despite numerous studies that show unilateral economic sanctions almost never produce the desired effect, especially if the objective is regime change.

President Obama changed the tired script by engaging the Cuban people directly. By increasing opportunities for travel and communication with the island, the changes provided Cubans with the tools and a new relationship with the American people to enhance opportunities for change on the island, albeit gradually. In the end, the policy was about acquiring leverage. Now it seems like a Trump administration, for domestic political considerations, will weaken U.S. leverage and undermine a policy of engagement with the Cuban people that was clearly contributing to tensions and anxiety within the regime.

The Biden administration recently unveiled sanctions against the Cuban “Black Berets” special forces and Cuban defense minister Álvaro López Miera. The move only relates to assets held within the United States, which neither party currently possesses.

Rubio remarked that the sanctions are “is the kind of symbolic but meaningless measure we will continue to see” as long as Biden is “being advised by people who were drinking mojitos in Havana in 2015 to celebrate the Obama policy.”

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