Monday, July 18, 2016

Captive Nations Week: Reagan 1988 versus Obama 2016

Some years ago, two friends of mine were talking to a refugee from Communist Cuba. He had escaped from Castro. And as he told the story of his horrible experiences, one of my friends turned to the other and said, ``We don't know how lucky we are.'' And the Cuban stopped and said, ``How lucky you are? I had some place to escape to.'' - President Ronald Reagan, July 13, 1988, Remarks on Signing the Captive Nations Week Proclamation 

President Ronald Reagan on July 13, 1988 issued his final Captive Nations Week proclamation in the last year of his presidency with an inspiring call for freedom and solidarity with the victims of communism  that contrasts dramatically with the final proclamation issued by President Obama today
in the last year of his presidency. The excerpt below from 1988 is clear in its denunciation of totalitarianism while at the same time offering specificity:
The citizens of the captive nations daily hear the mighty call of freedom and answer it boldly, sending an echo around the globe to remind totalitarians and all mankind that their voices cannot be quelled -- because they are the voices of the human spirit.

Across the continents and seas, the cry for freedom rings out and the struggle for its blessings continues, in the republics of the Soviet Union, in the Baltic States and throughout Eastern Europe, in Cuba and Nicaragua, in Ethiopia and Angola, and in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It also continues in Afghanistan, despite initial Soviet withdrawal, because the Najibullah regime imposes its will upon the Afghan people. We in America, who have held high the torch of liberty for 2 centuries and more, pause during Captive Nations Week to express our solidarity with those who strive at great personal risk and sacrifice to win justice for their nations. We commemorate as well the many freedom fighters and individuals such as Polish Father Jerzy Popieluszko and Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus who have given their lives in the imperishable cause of liberty. We cannot and will not shirk our duty and responsibility to insist on the speediest end to subjugation, persecution, and discrimination in the captive nations. We repeat our call for all governments to respect and honor the letter and the spirit of the United Nations Charter and the Helsinki Accords.
Whereas President Reagan highlighted specific countries under the grips of communism in 1988 the current occupant of the White House offers no such details with the exception of Cuba and there is no inspiring call for freedom or solidarity with or naming of the victims.
"It also means discussing our differences with nations more directly. And we have opened a new chapter in our relationship with Cuba, which includes direct engagement with their government on human rights and steps to empower and create opportunity for the Cuban people."
No mention of the victims of communism in Cuba during President Obama's watch.  Why not commemorate those Cubans such as Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Harold Cepero, Laura Inés Pollán Toledo, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, and others who gave their lives in the cause of freedom in Cuba while the Obama Administration pursued detente with the Castro regime who played a role in their deaths?

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero murdered four years ago on 7/22
No mention of the crisis underway in Venezuela where a communist regime is being imposed in slow motion and where the results are hunger riots, political repression, the imprisonment of democratic opposition leaders such as Leopoldo Lopez and the murder of student leaders by the Maduro regime's agents.

President Reagan addressed the legacy of communism in 1988 in clear terms that are needed today to avoid having others fall under the siren call of communist apologists who promise an earthly paradise but time and time again deliver Hell on Earth.
We cannot forget decades of tragedy, the tens of millions of lives lost, or the enormity of the suffering inflicted on the innocent. We applaud the courage and faith that have sustained countless people and kept alive the dream of freedom against unthinkable odds. Despite starvation, torture, and murder, the indomitable human spirit will outlast all oppression. We continue to stand ready to cooperate in meeting the just aspirations of the oppressed and needy of the world. We will remain forever steadfast in our commitment to speak out for those who cannot, to seek justice for those to whom it is denied, and to assist freedom-seeking peoples everywhere. 
28 years ago Ronald Reagan made his final remarks after signing the Captive Nations Week Proclamation and today he is honored and remembered in countries that are now free across the world. Unfortunately, all indications are that President Obama will not repeat this legacy.

The author in Poland next to a statue of Ronald Reagan

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