Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The New Normal with Cuba?

Dissidents attacked by Castro thugs as President Obama engages in diplomatic niceties
 The Obama administration's drive to normalize relations with the abnormal regime in Cuba continues with the announcement that it has approved a ferry service from the United States to Cuba. Last month, President Obama shook hands and engaged with Raul Castro in Panama at the Summit of the Americas while the general's thugs beat up pro-democracy activists and forcibly escorted out of a press conference an accredited journalist. This is what is meant by "detente" which has a long and morally confused history.

The belief that increasing business and tourism with the Castro regime will lead to a democratic transition flies in the face of history and will most likely lead to disappointment, but travelers and investors should also be cautious.

Before you travel to Cuba it is worth your while to dig through the travel and regime propaganda seeking out accurate information on crime and health concerns. Alberto Romero (age 39), a Tampa based marital and family law attorney, was brutally murdered and mutilated in Cuba while visiting extended family on January 8, 2015.

Before you invest in Cuba it is worth your time to read up on what has happened to other investors. Businessmen locked up without due process for years and stripped of millions of their assets.

Removing the Castro regime from the list of state sponsors of terrorism while ignoring the smuggling of weapons and ammunition in violation of international norms to the outlaw regime in North Korea and through Colombia, where an active guerrilla movement could put them to use, is cause for concern not celebration.

Sharing intelligence on drug trafficking with a regime that for decades has collaborated with international narcotics rings should worry not only the impact on anti-narcotics efforts but also anti-terrorism efforts as well. The paths used to smuggle narcotics can also be used to smuggle other materials that may endanger lives and property.

The new normal with Cuba seems more like a throwback to the 1970s when the United States engaged with and legitimized military dictatorships across Latin America.

Unfortunately the U.S. policy shift in Cuba is not an isolated anomaly but part of a larger trend in American foreign policy that has abandoned human rights as a policy pillar. The best way to confront this is head on through the legislative process. One law that needs to be expanded, from a focus on Russia to a worldwide approach, is the Global Magnitsky Act which seeks to target human rights violators denying them US visas and freezing their bank accounts.

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