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Promise Kept

- June 16, 2017

President Trump Fixes President Obama's Historic Mistake In Cuba

TOP TAKEAWAYS

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  • The Obama administration's policy change in Cuba empowered the Castro regime, not the Cuban people.
  • Cuba is going backwards under the Obama administration's changes as the Castro regime's repression and human rights abuses have worsened.
  • President Obama's policy change with Cuba was not about promoting Cuban democracy, it was about his legacy.
  • By visiting the island before "seeing more progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans," President Obama legitimized an oppressive regime and abandoned the people he said his policy shift was all about.
  • President Trump's policy changes will empower the Cuban people while putting pressure on the Cuban government.

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PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CUBA POLICY EMPOWERED THE CASTRO REGIME, NOT THE CUBAN PEOPLE

President Obama's Cuba Policy Changes Allowed Money To Flow To The Cuban Military Regime

President Obama's Cuba Policy Changes Allowed Money To Flow Into Businesses With Ties To The Cuban Military. "President Obama's 2014 easing of U.S. policy toward Cuba helped funnel American travel dollars into military-linked tourism conglomerates even as state security agents waged a fierce crackdown on dissent." ("Trump Faces A Tough Task In Unwinding Obama's Cuba Policy," Associated Press , 6/2/17)

Cubans Are Still Struggling Under The Repressive Castro Regime . "But Cubans aren't celebrating. Under Castroism, Cuba's main accomplishments have been the highest per-capita rates of suicide, abortion, and refugees in the Western Hemisphere. Cuba has the oldest population in Latin America. Cuba ages and withers away, strangled by Castro's tyranny." (Mario T. De La Pena, "The Struggle For Freedom Continues In Cuba," National Review , 2/5/17)

President Trump Is Ensuring That Transactions With The Company Run By Cuban Armed Forces Are Prohibited, Unlike The Obama Policy Changes. "In one of the most important changes, transactions with the Business Administration Group, S.A - GAESA - will be prohibited. GAESA is the company of the Cuban Armed Forces that, according to estimates, controls 60 percent of the Cuban economy. And there will be limits on Americans' ability to travel to Cuba, a change of which we are less enamored." (Editorial, "Trump Right To Make Cuba Pay For Its Intransigence," Miami Herald , 6/15/17)

President Trump's Changes Should "Significantly Reduce The Amount Of Money Flowing Into The Coffers Of The Cuban Regime." "These measures should significantly reduce the amount of money flowing into the coffers of the Cuban regime. U.S. tourism has been booming since relations between Washington and Havana were resumed. According to island authorities, in 2016 the number of U.S. visitors increased by 74 percent compared to 2015." (Editorial, "Trump Right To Make Cuba Pay For Its Intransigence," Miami Herald , 6/15/17)

The Miami Herald: "The Ban On Doing Business With GAESA And Its Subsidiaries Should Be Another Blow To The Regime's Finances. By Blocking Transactions With Companies Linked To The Cuban Military, Trump Closes A Foreign-Exchange Ticket, And At The Same Time Sends A Political Message: You Cannot Do Business With The Military." (Editorial, "Trump Right To Make Cuba Pay For Its Intransigence," Miami Herald , 6/15/17)

Human Rights Abuses In Cuba Have Gotten Worse Since President Obama's Changes In Policy Took Effect

In Recent Years, The Cuban Government Has Been Making More And More "Arbitrary Arrests Of Human Rights Defenders, Independent Journalists, And Others." "The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and punish public criticism. It now relies less than in past years on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years. Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public shaming, and termination of employment." ( Human Rights Watch , World Report 2017)

From January Through August 2016, The Government Made More Arbitrary Detentions Than It Had In The Past Six Years. "The government continues to rely on arbitrary detention to harass and intimidate critics, independent activists, political opponents, and others. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an independent human rights group that lacks official authorization and is therefore considered illegal by the government, received more than 7,900 reports of arbitrary detentions from January through August 2016. This represents the highest monthly average of detentions in the past six years." ( Human Rights Watch , World Report 2017)

Dozens Of Political Prisoners Remain Behind Bars, And Human Rights Groups Believe The Castro Regime Is Hiding Even More. "Despite the release of the 53 political prisoners in conjunction with the agreement to normalize relations with the US, dozens more remain in Cuban prisons, according to local human rights groups. The government denies access to its prisons by independent human rights groups, which believe that additional political prisoners, whose cases they cannot document, remain locked up." ( Human Rights Watch , World Report 2017)

Despite The Castro Regime's Changes To Travel Restrictions In 2013, Authorities Still Prevent People Who Express Dissent From Leaving The Country. "Nonetheless, the reforms gave the government broad discretionary powers to restrict the right to travel on the grounds of 'defense and national security' or 'other reasons of public interest.' Such measures have allowed authorities to deny exit to people who express dissent." ( Human Rights Watch , World Report 2017)

The Cuban Government Does Not "Recognize Human Rights Monitoring As A Legitimate Activity" And Imprisons Activists Who Attempt To Document Abuses. "The Cuban government still refuses to recognize human rights monitoring as a legitimate activity and denies legal status to local human rights groups. Government authorities harass, assault, and imprison human rights defenders who attempt to document abuses. In September, police raided Cubalex, a six-year-old organization that investigates human rights violations and provides free legal services to free-expression activists, migrants, and human-rights defenders. Officers confiscated files, strip-searched four men and a woman, and arrested two attorneys, one of whom was still in detention at time of writing." ( Human Rights Watch , World Report 2017)

The Cuban Government Still Opposes UN Resolutions Aimed At Scrutinizing Human Rights Abuses In Places Like North Korea, Syria, Iran, And Ukraine. "As a member of the UN Human Rights Council from 2006 to 2012 and from 2014 to the present, Cuba has regularly voted to prevent scrutiny of serious human rights abuses around the world-opposing resolutions spotlighting abuses in North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Ukraine." ( Human Rights Watch , World Report 2017)

"Cuba Is Going Backwards" Despite Obama's Pledge That He Would Not Visit Cuba Unless There Was Progress

The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby Said "Cuba Is Going Backwards," As The Regime's Repression Has Gotten Worse Since The Renewal Of Diplomatic Ties. "Cuba is going backwards. By all accounts, the Castro regime's repression has grown worse, not better, since the renewal of diplomatic ties with the United States in 2014. Beatings and arrests of dissidents have soared. There has been a crackdown on churches and religious groups." (Jeff Jacoby, Op-Ed, "Human Rights Are On The Ropes In Cuba, But Obama Is Eager To Visit," The Boston Globe , 2/24/16)

2015 Was Marked By A High Number Of Arrests And Increased Violence Towards Peaceful Political Dissidents And Activists. "Cuban human rights activists say this year has been marked not only by a high number of arrests, but also increased violence from state authorities towards peaceful political dissidents and activists." ("Cuba: Human Rights Day Crackdown On Dissidents Likely After Month Of Mass Arrests," Amnesty International , 12/10/15)

  • Arrests And Detentions Peaked During Official Visits Such As During Pope Francis's Visit To Cuba. "Arbitrary arrests and detentions typically peak during official visits or summits. In September 2015, the month of Pope Francis' high-profile visit to Cuba, the CCDHRN registered 882 such arrests, compared with an average of 700 arbitrary detentions per month in 2014. ("Cuba: Human Rights Day Crackdown On Dissidents Likely After Month Of Mass Arrests," Amnesty International , 12/10/15)

According To Amnesty International There Were At Least 1,477 Politically Motivated Detentions In November 2015 Alone. "Yesterday, police in the capital Havana arbitrarily restricted the movement of members of the prominent Ladies in White ( Damas de Blanco) group of activists as they prepared for today's demonstrations. This came after at least 1,477 politically motivated detentions in November 2015, the highest monthly total in many years, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN)." ("Cuba: Human Rights Day Crackdown On Dissidents Likely After Month Of Mass Arrests," Amnesty International , 12/10/15)

  • Amnesty International Americas Director: Cuban Authorities Have Used Arrests And Harassment To Prevent Human Rights Activists And Dissidents From Protesting. "'For weeks on end, the Cuban authorities have used a spike in arrests and harassment to prevent human rights activists and dissidents from protesting peacefully. This is a systematic problem that silences Cuban activists in their own streets. For years, harassment on Human Rights Day has been the rule rather than the exception, and is absolutely unacceptable,' said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International." ("Cuba: Human Rights Day Crackdown On Dissidents Likely After Month Of Mass Arrests," Amnesty International , 12/10/15)

The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby: The Crackdown on International Human Rights Day Provoked A Condemnation From The United Nations But Nothing From The Obama Administration. "On Dec. 10 - International Human Rights Day - Cuban security police arrested between 150 and 200 dissidents, in many cases beating the prisoners they seized…Even the United Nations, which frequently turns a blind eye to the depredations of its member-states, condemned the Cuban government's 'extraordinary disdain' for civil norms, and deplored the 'many hundreds' of warrantless arrests in recent weeks. But from the Obama administration there has been no such condemnation." (Jeffrey Jacoby, Op-Ed, "Obama's Cuba Policy Makes Life Worse For Cubans," The Boston Globe , 12/24/15)

There Was An "Unprecedented Crackdown" On Churches In Cuba In 2015. "An unprecedented crackdown on churches across the denominational spectrum in Cuba in 2015 has fuelled [sic] a spike in reported violations of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), according to a new report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)." (Cuba Unprecedented Crackdown On Religious Freedom," Christian Solidarity Worldwide , 1/18/16)

  • There Was A Tenfold Increase In Freedom Of Religion Based Violations In 2015. "Figures compiled by CSW, which are not exhaustive but which serve as an indicator of the level of FoRB violations, reveal a tenfold increase - with 2,300 separate violations recorded in 2015 compared to 220 in 2014. Many incidents involve involved entire churches or, in the case of arrests, dozens of victims." (Cuba Unprecedented Crackdown On Religious Freedom," Christian Solidarity Worldwide , 1/18/16)

126 Cuban Political Prisoners Called Obama's Policy Changes On Cuba A "Regrettable Mistake"

126 Former Cuban Political Prisoners Who Have Collectively Served 1,945 Years In Castro's Prisons Called Obama's Policy A "Regrettable Mistake" That "Will Prolong The Life Of The Dictatorship, Is Worsening The Human Rights Situation There, Marginalizing The Democratic Opposition And Compromising U.S. National Security." "The following letter, signed by 126 former Cuban political prisoners, who served a combined total of 1,945 years in Castro's political prisons and labor camps, was delivered this morning to The White House…Based on our history and experience as political prisoners under Castro's totalitarian regime, the new Cuba policy established by your Administration has been a regrettable mistake. This will prolong the life of the dictatorship, is worsening the human rights situation there, marginalizing the democratic opposition and compromising U.S. national security." ("Cuban Political Prisoners Ask Obama To Revisit His Policy," Letter To President Obama , 12/17/15)

According To The Former Prisoners Normalization And Debt Forgiveness Provides "The Regime Hard Currency Which It Funnels Into Its Most Repressive Institutions: The Military And Intelligence Services Giving New Life To What Were Dying Institutions." "The normalization of relations is creating false expectations and granting benefits to the tyrannical regime in Cuba; it is also allowing the Paris Club to forgive billions in debt providing the regime hard currency which it funnels into its most repressive institutions: the military and intelligence services giving new life to what we're dying institutions. Human rights violations in Cuba have a terrible history, but the current policy has taken a bad situation and made it worse. Violent beatings against activists peacefully assembling have escalated and worsened over 2015." ("Cuban Political Prisoners Ask Obama To Revisit His Policy," Letter To President Obama , 12/17/15)

The Former Prisoners Added "The Administrations New Cuba Policy Over The Last Year Has Compromised U.S. National Security." "The Administration's new Cuba policy over the past year has compromised U.S. national security. First, commuting Gerardo Hernandez's two life sentences; he was convicted for among other things conspiracy to murder three U.S. citizens and one resident of the U.S., and returning him to Cuba where he received a hero's welcome in what was an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime, sending a dangerous signal to those who would harm Americans." ("Cuban Political Prisoners Ask Obama To Revisit His Policy," Letter To President Obama , 12/17/15)

PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS MORE CONCERNED WITH HIS LEGACY THAN HE WAS WITH SECURING RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE

The President's Trip To Cuba In 2016 Wasn't About Cuban Dissidents, It Was About His Legacy

President Obama Was Not Able To Name Any Concessions Cuba Made Since The Normalization Of Relations. YAHOO'S OLIVER KNOX: "We have a Yahoo news reporter in Cuba who has been talking to average Cubans on the street, in the bars and restaurants, and elsewhere, and the feeling he is getting from a lot of them, the comment he is getting from a lot of them, is that 'this is great but the Cuban government didn't make any concessions.' What concessions have they made to date?" OBAMA: "Look, our original theory on this was not that we were going to see immediate changes or loosening of control of the Castro regime, but rather that, over time, you'd lay the predicates for substantial transformation." (Oliver Knox Interview With President Obama, Yahoo!Politics , 12/14/15)

Obama's Trip "Isn't About The Plight Of Cuba's Dissidents. It's About Making His Diplomatic Embrace Of The Castro Government A Permanent Fact Of Life." "[H]is desire to go to Havana isn't about the plight of Cuba's dissidents. It's about making his diplomatic embrace of the Castro government a permanent fact of life. As deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Thursday, the president's goal is 'to make this an irreversible policy.'" (Jeff Jacoby, Op-Ed, "Human Rights Are On The Ropes In Cuba, But Obama Is Eager To Visit," The Boston Globe , 2/24/16)

Obama's "Engagement" Has Not "Opened Even A Crack In Their Stalinist System" And "It Is Folly To Imagine That His Trip Next Month Will Do Anything To Expand Freedom Or Justice For Cuba's Beleaguered People." "So far, Obama's 'engagement' with the Castros hasn't opened even a crack in their Stalinist system. It is folly to imagine that his trip next month will do anything to expand freedom or justice for Cuba's beleaguered people. But, oh, what a boon it will be for their brutal rulers: the ultimate stamp of approval for the only totalitarian regime in the Americas." (Jeff Jacoby, Op-Ed, "Human Rights Are On The Ropes In Cuba, But Obama Is Eager To Visit," The Boston Globe , 2/24/16)

Sen. Bob Menendez Spoke Out Against The President Obama's Trip And Criticized His "Hunger For Legacy"

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) Delivered A Speech Ahead Of President Obama's Trip Noting That "Repression Is Exponentially Rising" In Cuba And That The Castro Regime "Is Rushing To Take Advantage Of The Permissive Environment Created By The President's Hunger For Legacy And Relaxation Of Restrictions." SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): "So what do we learn? We learn that, despite the Obama Administration's engagement with the Castro dictatorship and increased travel to the island, repression on the island is exponentially rising. Why? Because the Castro regime, one of the most astute observers of the American political system, is rushing to take advantage of the permissive environment created by the President's hunger for legacy and the relaxation of restrictions." (Bob Menendez, Remarks Ahead Of POTUS Trip To Cuba , 3/17/16)

  • Sen. Menendez Said That In Order To Leave A Truly Honorable Mark In History, The President Should Leave The Castro "Cordoned-Off-Tourist-Zone" And See "Castro Style" Poverty. SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): "To leave a truly honorable mark in history, this would mean the President leaving the Castro's cordoned-off-tourist-zone and seeing Berta Soler and her Ladies in White at their headquarters in the Lawton neighborhood of Havana, where poverty - Castro style -- not opportunity, not freedom, not democracy - but poverty - created by a Stalinist state, is the umbrella under which they live." (Bob Menendez, Remarks Ahead Of POTUS Trip To Cuba , 3/17/16)

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S BROKEN PROMISE ON HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN CUBA

President Obama Visited Cuba In March Of 2016, More Than One Year After The White House Normalized Relations With Cuba

President Obama Traveled To Cuba In March of 2016 Meeting Cuban President Raul Castro, Touring Old Havana, Meeting Dissidents, And Making A Major Speech "To Showcase His Policy Of Engagement." "President Barack Obama will take a bulging schedule with him on his history-making trip to Cuba, planning to meet President Raúl Castro, tour Old Havana, meet with dissidents and deliver a speech on U.S.-Cuba relations, senior officials said, all steps designed to showcase his policy of engagement. Mr. Obama is scheduled to arrive in Cuba on Sunday evening, accompanied by his daughters, Sasha and Malia, first lady Michelle Obama and her mother, Marian Robinson, the officials told reporters Wednesday." (Carol Lee and Felicia Schwartz, "With Historic Trip To Cuba, Obama Aims To Accelerate A Policy Shift," The Wall Street Journal , 3/17/16)

Obama Promised In December 2015 That He Would Visit Cuba If Only "We're Seeing Some Progress In The Liberty And Freedom… Of Ordinary Cubans"

In December 2015 President Obama Stated That He Wanted To Visit Cuba "If We're Seeing More Progress In The Liberty And Freedom And Possibilities Of Ordinary Cubans…" PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "I am very much interested in going to Cuba, but I think the conditions have to be right…And what I've said to the Cuban government is: If, in fact, I with confidence can say that we're seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans, I'd love to use a visit as a way of highlighting that progress." (Oliver Knox Interview With President Obama, Yahoo!Politics , 12/14/15)

  • President Obama Added "If We're Going Backwards, Then There's Not Much Reason For Me To Be There." PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "If we're going backwards, then there's not much reason for me to be there. I'm not interested in just validating the status quo." (Oliver Knox Interview With President Obama, Yahoo!Politics , 12/14/15)

In December 2014, Obama Promised to Uphold America's "Commitment To Liberty And Democracy" While He Pursued Normalization Of Relations With Cuba That Made "The Lives Of Ordinary Cubans A Little Bit Easier, More Free, More Prosperous." PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "To those who oppose the steps I'm announcing today, let me say that I respect your passion and share your commitment to liberty and democracy. The question is how we uphold that commitment…Today, the United States wants to be a partner in making the lives of ordinary Cubans a little bit easier, more free, more prosperous." (President Obama, Statement By The President On Cuba Policy Changes , 12/17/14)

Hours Before President Obama Arrived In Havana, "Dozens Of Arrests Were Made At The Weekly March Of Ladies In White, A Prominent Dissident Group." "But hours before Air Force One landed at Jose Marti International Airport, the challenges inherent in normalizing relations with a Communist police state were laid bare, as dozens of arrests were made at the weekly march of Ladies in White, a prominent dissident group. The protest, which takes place most Sundays outside a suburban church here, was widely seen as a test of Cuba's tolerance for dissident during the presidential trip, and the arrests confirmed that Cuba was maintaining its long history of repressive tactics, if not intensifying their reach." (Damien Cave and Julie Hirschfield Davis, "As Obama Arrives, Cuba Tightens Grip On Dissent," The New York Times , 3/20/16)

PRESIDENT TRUMP WILL FIX THE U.S. POLICY TOWARD CUBA IN ORDER TO PRESSURE THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT TO MAKE CHANGES

President Trump's Speech In Miami Outlines "Strategic, Targeted Changes In U.S. Policy Toward Cuba"

The Trump Administration's Changes To The Obama Cuba Policy Include "Banning U.S. Business Transactions With Cuba's Vast Military Conglomerate." "In an overhaul of one of his predecessor's signature legacies, President Donald Trump will redraw U.S. policy toward Cuba on Friday, tightening travel restrictions for Americans that had been loosened under President Barack Obama and banning U.S. business transactions with Cuba's vast military conglomerate. Trump's changes, shared Thursday with the Miami Herald, are intended to sharply curtail cash flow to the Cuban government and pressure its communist leaders to let the island's fledging private sector grow." (Patricia Mazzei and Nora Gamez Torres, "Trump Recasts Cuba Policy, Takes Harder Line Than Obama On Military, Travel," Miami Herald , 6/15/17)

Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson Said The Trump Administration Was Planning To "Scale Back Policy Changes It Believes Have Benefited The Cuban Government While Preserving Some Of The Increased Commercial Activity That Has Begun." "The Trump administration likely will scale back policy changes it believes have benefited the Cuban government while preserving some of the increased commercial activity that has begun after former President Barack Obama moved to normalize U.S.-Cuban ties, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday." (Felicia Schwartz, "Trump Plans Rollback Of Obama Cuba Policy," The Wall Street Journal , 6/13/17)

  • Secretary Tillerson Added That There Was Currently "Little Incentive For The Cuban Regime To Change Its Behavior." "'But on the other hand, we think we have achieved very little in terms of changing the behavior in the regime in Cuba, its treatment of people, and it has little incentive today to change that.' He added 'In fact, our concern is they may be one of the biggest beneficiaries of all of this, which just again promotes the continuance of that regime." (Felicia Schwartz, "Trump Plans Rollback Of Obama Cuba Policy," The Wall Street Journal , 6/13/17)

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) Said That President Trump Will Announce "Strategic, Targeted Changes In U.S. Policy Toward Cuba." "President Donald Trump is ready to announce 'strategic, targeted changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba,' U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Thursday. Trump is planning to outline changes during a visit to Miami on Friday, where he'll appear at the Manuel Artime Theater." (Anthony Man, "Marco Rubio Previews Donald Trump's Plans For Cuba Policy," South Florida Sun Sentinel , 6/15/17)

  • According To Senator Rubio, The Goal Of The Changes In Policy Is "To Strengthen The Cuban People Without Strengthening The Cuban Military." "'The goal of these policies is very simple. We want to empower and we want to strengthen the Cuban people without strengthening the Cuban military, which controls a significant percentage of their economy. 'And I'm very proud of what the president will be announcing tomorrow. It's up to them to lay out those specifics, but suffice it to say that tomorrow's going to be a good day for the Cuban people, a better deal for the Cuban people, which is who we're trying to help here, by empowering them and doing so in a way that does not empower their oppressors.'" (Anthony Man, "Marco Rubio Previews Donald Trump's Plans For Cuba Policy," South Florida Sun Sentinel , 6/15/17)

The Miami Herald Said That President Trump's "New Measures Are Designed To Exert More Pressure On Havana To Reform Itself" And That "Trump Is Right To Recalibrate This Policy." "Trump's new measures are designed to exert more pressure on Havana to reform itself. In the two and a half years since the Obama administration announced the thaw, which we applauded - and still do - the United States has made most of the concessions, while Cuban president Raul Castro has given very little, especially in the realm of human rights, in return. Trump is right to recalibrate this policy without jettisoning it wholesale." (Editorial, "Trump Right To Make Cuba Pay For Its Intransigence," Miami Herald , 6/15/17)


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