Thursday, January 5, 2017

Obama Administration's "New" Course on Cuba is a failure: Some numbers

This is what happens when policy is done by photo op.

President Obama does the wave with Raul Castro at a baseball game in Cuba
President Obama on December 17, 2014 claimed to have charted a "new" course on Cuba but in reality it was a very old and discredited policy applied in Cuba of marginalizing democrats and embracing dictators for perceived gain.

Trade peaked under Bush in 2008 and began a steady decline under Obama
Two years later and on their way out of office the Obama Administration is trying to spin a dismal record and the claims do not match up with the numbers. The White House has repeatedly claimed to have achieved $6 billion in trade with Cuba under the new policy but the actual number according to the U.S. census bureau is $380.5 million dollars in trade in goods with Cuba. (To be fair November and December have yet to be reported.)

In spite of pandering to the dictatorship trade between Cuba and the United States has imploded under the Obama Administration. Peak year of U.S. trade in goods with Cuba was 2008, the last year of the Bush Administration. The two worst years in trade are the ones following the new Cuba policy launch in December of 2014. All of the details are available at the U.S. Census Bureau. The Cuban economy contracted in 2016 and at the same time military control over it has expanded.

Source: Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional (CCDHRN

Meanwhile the human rights situation in Cuba has deteriorated with 2016 finding new prisoners of conscience behind bars and 9,940 politically motivated arbitrary detentions over the course of the year. There is a need to provide some context. In 2009, the first year of the Obama Administration, there were just 869 arbitrary detentions documented. During the eight years of the Obama White House there has been a more than eleven fold increase in politically motivated arbitrary detentions with 2016 being the worse. Religious repression escalated in Cuba in 2016 including the beating of pastors, the confiscation of Churches and some demolished by the dictatorship. President Obama claimed that he would only go to Cuba if there was an improvement in human rights. Despite the decline he went anyway in March of 2016 and helped to legitimize the Castro dictatorship.

Three of the newest prisoners of conscience in Cuba
Furthermore this occurred along with rising violent repression against political dissidents in Cuba. Crippling and disfiguring machete attacks became a new modus operandi beginning in 2013. The shocking case of Sirley Avila Leon in May of 2015 has been well documented even if it is not widely well known.

Victims of state violence in Cuba
 Extrajudicial killings of fleeing Cubans continues but over the past eight years high profile activists have also met untimely deaths that appear to have been carried by Castro's state security service. The same spy agency that Obama's October 2016 Presidential Directive on Cuba orders the CIA to share intelligence with.
Some of the Cubans killed by the Castro regime over the past eight years

The Obama Administration's Cuba policy marginalized dissidents and downplayed human rights as  issues in Cuba favoring business opportunities with the Castro regime. The end result of this "new" policy was not surprisingly a worse human rights situation in Cuba and a decline in trade between the two countries.

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