Thursday, July 23, 2015

Unilateral concessions that empower the dictatorship in Cuba is not a negotiation but a surrender

The truth shall set you free.
On July 22, 2015 at 7:05pm the NTN24 television program La Noche (The Night) aired an important segment titled "The diplomatic cards of the United States with Cuba and Venezuela" was aired live. In the space of a half hour this program managed to give an overview of the Obama administration's Cuba policy and its shortcomings. The program also showed the mass arrests that took place in Cuba on July 19, 2015. It also reported how Rosa María Payá was aggressively stopped by Cuban embassy officials from entering the diplomatic office to turn in a letter requesting that the regime send her family the autopsy report they've been requesting for the past three years.

Other things have gotten worse, specifically the continuing and escalating violence against activists in Cuba that was highlighted in the case of Sirley Ávila, a former regime official turned opposition activist, who was machete attacked on May 24, 2015. This was a month after President Obama shook hands and met with Raul Castro and the State Department announced that Cuba would be taken off the list of state sponsors of terrorism despite its continuing bad acts. The attack was so brutal that Sirley had her left hand hacked off, her body sliced up all over, and she still faces the danger of losing her right arm.

During the debate it was pointed out that in the negotiations with the Castro regime that the Obama administration was at a disadvantage with re-designating the Interests Sections in Havana and Washington DC. This allowed the Castro regime to layout various demands as bargaining tools: freeing the remaining WASP network spies, taking Cuba off the list of terror sponsor states, return Guantanamo naval base to Cuba, along with several others.

La Noche broadcast a portion of Cubanet's June 16, 2015 video interview with Sirley Ávila and gave her plight much needed visibility. It seems that what happened to her does not fit in with the current narrative being put out by The White House and other entrenched interests pushing for the new Cuba policy.

Earlier that same day, in the morning, the Human Rights Foundation released an important and detailed report surrounding the July 22, 2012 deaths of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero. The report concludes that the evidence suggests the Cuban government killed Oswaldo Payá. Javier El-Hage, a co-author of the report summarized some of the most pertinent points of the report on the NTN24 program explaining the absence of an independent judiciary and the reality that "lawyers in Cuba don't defend the accused but the government."  Javier also gave an overview of the case and the Castro regime's wholesale obfuscation of what really happened to Oswaldo and Harold while violating international standards of due process to do so.

Also brought up during the program was the question of how this new policy would likely impact human rights activists and the dissident movement. Unfortunately the mistreatment suffered by Rosa María Payá at the hands of the spokesman at the State Department who pulled her aside and threatened to have her physically removed if she tried to ask a question during the Q&A with Secretary Kerry and the Castro regime's foreign minister on July 20, 2015 is symbolic of the position dissidents have been placed in. This action demonstrates that the State Department's priority is engaging the regime not the dissident movement. This treatment in 2015 stands in stark contrast to the reception Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas got in a meeting with Secretary Powell in 2003. This demonstrates that the policy in action is between states and will not advance human rights in Cuba or a process of national reconciliation. Unilateral concessions that empower the dictatorship in Cuba is not a negotiation but a surrender of fundamental American values.

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