Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ominous storm clouds continue: 2 more American diplomats harmed in Cuba

A tale of two hurricanes: Irma and Castro

Hurricane Irma devastated Cuba, but lack of infrastructure Castro regime's fault
Over the past week the news regarding Cuba has rightfully focused on the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma on the island.  The worse of the storm's impact was along the north shore where the hurricane arrived, but even in Havana that was just grazed by the storm there was significant damage and at least 10 deaths. According to EFE Irma damaged 4,288 homes in Havana, with 157 totally destroyed and 986 partially destroyed. The damage in the Cuban Capital also demonstrates over a half century of neglect by the Castro regime.

There was also some controversy regarding the tourism industry that is run by the Cuban military.  On Wednesday, September 6, 2017 the day before the Castro regime gave the order to evacuate Cayo Coco British tourists were still flying into Cuba. The British travel agency "Thomas Cook has defended itself saying the company followed the Cuban government's emergency instructions to the letter," reported BBC News. Cayo Coco suffered the full impact of Hurricane Irma and was destroyed by the storm.

However another controversy continues to fester in Cuba. American diplomats severely injured in a series of sonic attacks that caused brain trauma and hearing loss that began in November of 2016 and continued until August of 2017. Two more American diplomats have been identified as being harmed in Cuba in reports that appeared in The Washington Post, CBS News and other outlets. This brings the total number of Americans attacked in Cuba to 21.

Back on December 17, 2014 this blog made the following observation: "Rewarding the hard line and rogue elements in the Castro regime is unlikely to improve the dictatorship's behavior to the contrary it may worsen."

On September 1, 2017 in an open letter to President Trump made the stakes for changing the current policy and holding the Castro regime accountable clear:
Maintaining the present policy established by the previous administration is harming the lives of American diplomats and needs to be dismantled as soon as possible.  As you stated it is time to adopt a policy approach based "in a principled realism, rooted in our values, shared interests, and common sense."

The Castro regime has a record of attacking and mistreating diplomats stationed in Cuba. Common sense dictates viewing them as hostile not only to American interests but also American lives and security precautions taken to ensure the physical safety of diplomats and their families stationed in Cuba.
There are ominous storm clouds over relations between Cuba and the United States. Americans are already being harmed. Now is the time to address the problem before things deteriorate further. It is important for policymakers to distinguish between the totalitarian dictatorship that represses Cubans, and attacks American diplomats, and the Cuban people.

Policy should seek to help everyday Cubans while not providing or minimizing funds wherever possible going to the repressive apparatus.  Hurricane Irma was a terrible disaster for Cuba but it is also important to remember that Hurricane Castro has been an even greater disaster for the island since 1959 and shows no signs of leaving.

Ominous clouds over US - Cuba relations

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