It’s fair to point out that a half-century of embargo hasn’t changed much in Cuba—but other than that I’m a little confused about the Congressional Black Caucus’ message:
“Yes, we have history — we have good history and not-so-good history,” said Rep. Laura Richardson, D-California. “But the point is it’s history, and we need to move forward.”
Three members of the caucus were visiting the Latin American School of Medicine, where students from nations including the United States study, when they received an invitation to Fidel Castro’s home for a meeting.
“Former President Fidel Castro is very engaging, very energetic,” said CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee, also a from California Democrat. “Our conclusion is, given the new direction in our foreign policy, that it’s time to look at a new direction in our policy toward Cuba.
That’s not all they said:
A member of the visiting U.S. delegation, Rush of Illinois, said he found the 77-year-old Raul Castro “to be just the opposite of what is being portrayed in the media.”
“I think that what really surprised me, but also endeared me to him, was his keen sense of humor, his sense of history and his basic human qualities,” Rush said.
The American lawmakers were “in conversation with him as though we were old family members,” said Rush, who was once a Black Panther.
Did Fidel tell the parrot joke? I remember he always told that joke.
I knew we had Panthers as poll monitors, but are they setting foreign policy now?
And they still weren’t done:
The delegation, which spent five days in Cuba, didn’t meet with dissidents, saying that it first needed to start “a discussion to be able to talk about the issues Afro-Cubans are raising.”
What does that even mean?
Led around by the nose by the Castro brothers, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver declared “if there is repression in Cuba we didn’t see it.”
“We’ve been led to believe that the Cuban people are not free, and they are repressed by a vicious dictator, and I saw nothing to match what we’ve been told.” Cleaver unabashedly basked in the cult of Castro’s personality: “He’s one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met.”
So, given all that, this had to happen:
The caucus members, who also visited current Cuban President Raul Castro, “did nothing to publicly show any concern for the myriad gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the Cuban government or the tragic fate of hundreds of Cuban democracy and human rights activists,” Smith said.
“Yet they held press conferences at which they heaped and lavished praise and affection for a government the United States Department of State only six weeks ago called ‘totalitarian.’ ”
A 2008 State Department human rights report cited, among other things, numerous accounts of beatings of Cuban political prisoners, harsh and life-threatening conditions for dissidents, and severe restrictions on freedom of movement and religion, Smith said.
“Over the past 50 years, the Castros and their secret police have been directly responsible for killing thousands of nonviolent, courageous pro-democracy activists and for jailing and torturing tens of thousands of others. And they continue to this day to perpetrate their brutal crimes,” he said.
“Before the Obama administration even thinks about permitting further travel to Cuba, or altering the trade embargo on Cuba, both the White House and Congress have a moral obligation, a duty, to ensure that the Cuban dictatorship releases all prisoners of conscience, makes substantial progress in respecting freedom of religion, speech and, press and assembly, and holds free and fair elections.”
If Lee and the CBC meant to say that Cuba has not improved in the last fifty years, I think they would have met unanimous agreement. But they’re saying nothing’s improved—and it doesn’t need improving!
I don’t have the answer for Cuba, though I confess that I would like to think that exposure to more American ideas and American money would lead the Cubans to demand a little more of same for themselves. Then again, Cubans aren’t so isolated that they don’t already know that for themselves, are they?
For good or ill (overwhelmingly ill), Cubans live the way they do because Castro(s) make them live that way. I have sympathy for them, but none for him. May he rot in Hell.
Yet (to-ing and fro-ing yet again), we maintain diplomatic relations with leaders and regimes that are just as bad as Castro’s Cuba is—worse in the case of China.
Like I say, I don’t have the answer. But I know for sure that anything proposed by the communists and black revolutionaries of the Congressional Black Caucus are not the answer. If I were black, they’d make me ashamed. As American congressmen and women, they do make me ashamed.