TRUMP: ‘The regime takes the money and owns the industry…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Easing of tensions between the United States and Cuba has caused an economic boom for the dictator-ruled nation.
But according to Rep. Ron DeSantis, the profits from travel and trade have flown directly to the pockets of the Cuban military, leaving no benefit for citizens and increasing the power of the dictatorship.
President Barack Obama ended a 54-year silence between Cuba and the United States in 2014.
In what’s referred to as the “Cuban thaw,” Obama opened travel, trade, and diplomatic relations with Cuba.
President Donald Trump cancelled parts of the Obama policy in June 2017, but Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida, said the U.S. government has not fulfilled Trump’s order.
Trump did not overturn Obama’s policy in regard to individual travel and trade between Cuba and the United States.
His policy change attempted to cut funding from the Grupo de Administración Empresarial (GAESA), a company owned by the Cuban military, which critics of Obama have said is the main beneficiary of normalized relations.
The House Oversight Committee held a hearing titled “The Obama Rapprochement with the Castro Regime” to discuss the effects of Obama’s policy change and Trump’s partial reversal.
“The Obama administration has skewed policies designed to pressure and isolate the Castro regime in favor of a rapprochement with one of the world’s most ruthless dictatorships — liberalizing restrictions on the Cuban regime, while getting nothing for America in return,” Chairman DeSantis said. “This sent an unmistakable message to America’s enemies throughout the world that belligerence and defiance would be rewarded by appeasement and concessions.”
The number of Americans touring in Cuba increased by 74 percent from 2015 to 2016, ABC News reported.
Cuba remains a sh**hole
“The regime takes the money and owns the industry,” Trump said when he announced the policy. “The outcome of last administration’s executive action has been only more repression and a move to crush the peaceful democratic movement.”
The United States cooled relations, opened an embassy in Havana, and began to send diplomats.
In return, Cuba has attacked, or allowed attacks against 24 U.S. diplomats, according to committee panelist Ana Quintana, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
Quintana said Cuba has used physical and psychological attacks on U.S. diplomats, including noise attacks, killing pets, and, in one instance, swapping mouthwash for urine.
The regime has not limited its injustice to American diplomats.
Cuba made nearly 10,000 politically motivated arrests in 2016.
Quintana said Obama’s policy changes furthered the problem, since the Cuban government hides under America’s sanction as a “normal” government.
“President Obama’s policy was based on this illogical belief that providing the military dictatorship with diplomatic recognition and economic resources would pave the path to liberty in Cuba,” Quintana said.
DeSantis said Obama unlawfully changed U.S.-Cuba relations.
Two laws passed by President Bill Clinton — the Helms-Burton Act and the Cuban Democracy Act — set guidelines that Cuba must follow to normalize relations with the U.S.
Among these preconditions are the implementation of free and fair elections, the release of political prisoners, respect for human rights, and the guarantee of property rights.
Otto Reich, the former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, said these conditions have not been met.
“Cuba must cut off ties with state sponsors of terrorism and with enemies of the U.S. They must do away with Soviet-style food rationing, central planning and production controls, and instead allow the Cuban people private property,” Reich said. They must “dismantle police state and surveillance apparatus, free political prisoners, and allow freedom of speech, free and independent newspapers, televisions and radio stations, magazines, labor unions, and the other institutions of civil society.”
Not only has Cuba not cut off ties with enemies of the United States, Reich said Obama bolstered Cuba’s ability to undermine U.S. interests.
Obama created a policy whereby U.S. intelligence agencies share information with the Cuban government, who can then trade that information with their allies — Russia, China, Venezuela, Syria, Iran and North Korea, according to Reich.
Cuba even went so far as to violate a U.N. arms embargo on North Korea by helping the nation smuggle weapons.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, spoke at the hearing, calling for the United States to follow two principles in its relationship with Cuba.
“It should further our national interest and it should further our values,” Rubio said. “It is not in our national interest to have an anti-Israeli, anti-American, pro-Iranian, and pro-Putin dictatorial regime 90 miles from our shores.”
Rubio said the United States needs to reclaim the leverage that the embargo gave in negotiations.
Trump said the policy with Cuba was one-sided and did not benefit the United States.
Reich agreed that giving Cuba everything they asked for, with hardly anything in return, has failed the U.S. and Cuba’s citizens.
“The policy failed because it consisted of a series of unreciprocated, unilateral concessions to the Castro regime that had negative consequences for U.S. national security, foreign policy interest, and traditional values,” Reich said.