Thursday, February 16, 2017

Some Observations: Venezuela, Cuba and the Trump Administration

Venezuela's slide into Cuban totalitarianism needs to be confronted

 The Maduro regime in Caracas on February 15, 2017 ordered cable providers to take CNN in Spanish off the air, days after CNN aired an investigation into the fraudulent issuing of Venezuelan passports and visas. Minutes later, reported Hannah Dreier over twitter "it's already gone from all cable channels" in Venezuela.

Freedom House had already declared Venezuela "not free" in its annual world report and removing CNN in Spanish from all cable channels in the country only underlines and confirms that this South American nations is no longer free.

The Trump Administration's press spokesman announced on February 3, 2017 that the White House was conducting a review of U.S. - Cuba policy with a human rights focus. Ten days later on February 13, 2017 the Treasury Department announced sanctions against Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami who has been linked to drug trafficking. These items are connected because Venezuela is a de facto colony of Cuba. Cuban intelligence officers and generals are operating on the ground training the Maduro regime in totalitarian tactics to repeat the Cuban model there.

Nicolas Maduro and Cuban General Ramiro Valdez in Venezuela
On the same day that the Maduro regime pulled CNN in Spanish off the air in Venezuela President Trump met with Lilian Tintori, wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and according to Senator Marco Rubio's communication's director Alex Burgos over twitter she spoke to him and Vice President Pence "about human rights abuses by [the] Maduro dictatorship and the 109 political prisoners behind bars." 

This meeting was important because the Obama Administration had sought to marginalize her, refusing to receive her and today she is in The White House briefing both the President and the Vice President on the situation in Venezuela. Following the meeting President Donald Trump tweeted that Leopoldo Lopez was a political prisoner who should be immediately freed.

President Trump is right that Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is a prisoner of conscience who should be immediately released.

Hopefully Cuban democratic opposition leaders will have the same opportunity and the bad days of the Obama Administration bending over backwards for the Castro dictatorship including threatening to forcefully eject the daughter of martyred Cuban human rights icon if she dared ask a question in the Kerry State Department.

The Trump Administration's ongoing review of Cuba policy with a human rights focus is good news for Cuban democrats and human rights defenders. As is the meeting with Lilian Tintori and call for the freedom of her husband, Leopoldo Lopez.

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