Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Cuban dissidents don't want sanctions lifted

Those who argue that Western democracies should lift sanctions on Cuba often claim that even the island’s dissidents favor the move. So it was interesting to see the statement issued Monday by ten of the 11 political prisoners who were deported to Spain by the Castro dictatorship last week.

Noting the “manifest willingness of some European countries” to liberalize E.U. strictures on relations with Cuba, the dissidents said they opposed “an approval of this measure,” because “the Cuban government has not taken steps that evidence a clear decision to advance toward the democratization of the country.”

“Our departure for Spain,” the statement added, “must not be considered a goodwill gesture but a desperate action on the regime’s part in its urgent request for credits of every type.”

That declaration took some courage on the Cubans’ part, since their host, the left-wing Spanish government of Jose Luis Zapatero, is the leading advocate of a relaxation of E.U. sanctions. After meeting Raul Castro in Havana this month, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos proclaimed “a new phase in Cuba” and insisted “there is no longer any reason to maintain the [E.U.] Common Position” on Cuba. The policy links any improvement in relations to progress on democracy and human rights.

But the ex-prisoners have the virtue of being right.

Though it has promised to eventually release 52 of the political opponents it imprisoned in the “Black Spring” crackdown of 2003, the Castro regime has offered no indication that it intends any change on the island. It has freed political prisoners before, without domestic reforms. And, as in the past, those released so far have been deported, rather than allowed to return to their homes on the island.

The Cubans were only reminding their hosts of what the European policy says -- that better relations have to be linked to steps toward democratization, and not the mere deportation of political prisoners. That also happens to be the stated policy of the Obama administration, which so far has resisted calls by liberals for an unconditional lifting of the already-loopholed U.S. trade “embargo.” (“Embargo” has become an odd term to describe what is actually Cuba’s fifth-largest trading relationship, one that in recent years has provided up to 40 percent of its food imports.)

The dissidents have more than one reason to be irritated with the Spanish government. At a press conference in Madrid Monday they complained that they had been denied the services they were promised before they left Cuba, including legal assistance. The government is also trying to prevent them from seeking political asylum -- in yet another concession to the Castros.

In the end, it’s likely that a few of the released prisoners will end up in the United States. If so, they might not be much help to those seeking an unconditional lifting of the embargo; they seem to want to insist on the cause of democracy. Imagine that.

By Jackson Diehl  | July 20, 2010; 1:46 PM ET
Categories:  Diehl  | Tags:  Jackson Diehl  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Is it Bush's oil spill or Obama's? Yes.
Next: Clashing views, votes on Kagan

Comments

Why in the world should Cuban dissidents have the power to decide whether Americans may travel abroad or not?!? With all due respect to the cause of democracy in Cuba, I don't care one way or another whether they want the embargo lifted. The embargo generally, and the travel ban specifically, is a despicable and un-American thing.

Posted by: simpleton1 | July 20, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Diehl tries to conflate these "dissidents" opinion on the EU "common position" with the wretched and outmoded US policies which have failed for 50 years in their intention to strangle the Cuban economy - and ban US travel (the only country in the world considered off limits by the Govt.). As far as I know, these dissidents, like those who remain in Cuba all oppose the US policies.

But simpleton has it right above. What say do these 11 people have on defining what is good US policy?

For the record, these "political prisoners" were all found to have worked with the US Government and its dependencies. They met with US "diplomats" on numerous occasions, were organized with others by the US Interests Section, received fudning and materials for doing our modern regime change work and their so-called "independent" journalism was mostly all for US propoganda radio and TV. If these folks were doing this same work for Cuba inside the US, they would be considered traitors of the highest order.

Posted by: mglesne | July 20, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

These decadent dissidents are insufficiently appreciative of the great and glorious Comrade Castro.

Posted by: slatt321 | July 20, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Diehl makes some excellent points, primarily in citing the dissidents who argue that the deportation of Cuban dissidents [all Amnesty International prisoners of conscience, I may add] should not lead to the lifting of EU sanctions on Cuba. The sanctions are tied to the regime's democratization. Deportation of peaceful dissidents is HARDLY a sign of democratization. In fact, the tyranny has played this card over the years repeatedly. It arrests peaceful dissidents and then releases them using them as bargaining chips. And everything stays the same! We are talking about a country that has the shameful distinction of EVEN arresting independent, peaceful, librarians!

The truth is that Spain wants all sanctions lifted because they have invested heavily in Cuba's hotel industry and they are losing money. They hope that if sanctions are lifted and an influx of American tourists fly to Cuba, their half-filled hotels will fill to capacity and thus salvage their floundering investments. It's all very self-serving, and has very little to do with the well-being of Cuba's people.

Unlike other commentators on this board, I do listen to what the dissidents have to say and believe that we should all listen to them as well. Not only have they sacrificed everything to bring about freedom in Cuba, but as victims of the regime, they understand it better than any of us could ever hope to.

Posted by: Raysand47 | July 21, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

How about indicting Poseda-Carillas as well as Orlando Bosch, who were involved in the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, including members of the Cuban national fencing team. Bosch was pardoned in 1992 by the elder Bush.Both are sitting in Miami drinking Cuba-Libres.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | July 21, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Diehl argues that we should continue our policy toward Cuba that has been nothing but failure for the last 50 years. As for political prisoners, we have more of them during the last few years on the island of Cuba than the Cubans have. We waterboard ours. Do the Cubans also torture theirs?

We have more to gain from regularizing our relations with Cuba than the Cubans do. They are likely to start drilling for oil in the next few years in the straits between Cuba and the Florida keys. With relations in their current state, it will be very difficult for us to exert any control over that likely drilling. Additionally, our failures and lack of safety standards in Gulf drilling give us little standing to seek international support in controlling their drilling. If we regularize our relations we can at least attempt to reach some agreement on drilling and provide them with some technical support.

The Post should stop beating the drums for a policy that has been a proven failure for the last 50 years.

Posted by: esch | July 21, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

How can Diehl actually claim that the released opponents of the Cuban government have been deported?

Since others have chosen to remain on the island after their release, and haven't been returned to prison, it's obvious that the choice to stay or go is completely up to the individual, as the Catholic Church has been saying about this all along.

Every one of the Cubans who want to come into the US will have no difficulty doing so. Just Google the words "Cuban Adjustment Act" where you'll learn that any Cuban who touches US soil can stay, by law, adopted not yesterday, but in 1966.

Google the phrase: wall street journal: U.S. Offers Refuge to Cubans, Even if They're Not From Cuba

There you will find a detailed explanation of the numerous special rights, special privileges and special advantage which Cuban from anywhere on earth, and their families - even if they have NEVER been to the island - can get to easily enter the United States of America.

Those newly released dissidents couldn't be more ungrateful, or so it seems.

Posted by: walterlx | July 21, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Walterix asks:

>>How can Diehl actually claim that the released opponents of the Cuban government have been deported?>Since others have chosen to remain on the island after their release, and haven't been returned to prison, it's obvious that the choice to stay or go is completely up to the individual, as the Catholic Church has been saying about this all along.<<

Not true. None of the 52 dissidents who have been released thus far have been given the choice to remain on the island after their release. It's either remain in prison, or go to Spain.

Regarding your comment about the dissidents coming to the USA, what on earth does that have to do with the issue at hand? You are totally missing the point. Freeing dissidents and then deporting them is nothing more than changing one form of punishment for another. It's evidence that Cuba is hardly growing more tolerant or democratizing in any way, shape or form.

As the dissidents have argued, the EU should not lift sanctions against the tyrannical regime, because the tyranny has not done anything to merit a lifting of those sanctions.

Posted by: Raysand47 | July 21, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Walterix asks:

"How can Diehl actually claim that the released opponents of the Cuban government have been deported?"

Very simply, the dissidents were given a choice: either leave for Spain or stay in the vermin-infested squalor of their little prison cells where many were routinely beaten, starved and denied adequate medical attention. Their passports have also been stamped stating "FINAL EXIT."

"Since others have chosen to remain on the island after their release, and haven't been returned to prison, it's obvious that the choice to stay or go is completely up to the individual, as the Catholic Church has been saying about this all along."

Not true. None of the 52 dissidents who have been released thus far have been given the choice to remain on the island after their release. It's either remain in prison, or go to Spain.

Regarding your comment about the dissidents coming to the USA, what on earth does that have to do with the issue at hand? You are totally missing the point. Freeing dissidents and then deporting them is nothing more than changing one form of punishment for another. It's evidence that Cuba is hardly growing more tolerant or democratizing in any way, shape or form.

As the dissidents have argued, the EU should not lift sanctions against the tyrannical regime, because the tyranny has not done anything to merit a lifting of those sanctions.

Posted by: Raysand47 | July 21, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Now this is a new tack. Have U.S. policy be guided by the ex-prisoners of a regime. Forget that this embargo has not worked in 50 years. Should we continue this for another 50 years? This argument does not make any sense. Sorry exiles. It did not work. Try another approach.

Posted by: eardery | July 21, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Eardery says:

"Now this is a new tack. Have U.S. policy be guided by the ex-prisoners of a regime."

They are Amnesty International recognized prisoners of conscience. The way that you word it, you make it seem as if they are common criminals. That said, I thought that we were discussing the European Union? The EU's policy has been to tie proper relations with Cuba to the regime's human rights record. The imprisonment and subsequent deportation of these prisoners of conscience is clear proof that the human rights situation in Cuba has not improved one iota.

"Forget that this embargo has not worked in 50 years. Should we continue this for another 50 years? This argument does not make any sense. Sorry exiles. It did not work. Try another approach."

Oh, that's smart. Yes, lets reward the regime for keeping Amnesty International recognized prisoners of conscience in infra-human conditions and then giving them the impossible choice of either staying in prison or being deporting!

Engagement with the tyrannical regime has not worked in 50 years either. Everyone from the Vatican to the EU to Canada have tried engagement with the regime without any sign of democratization AT ALL.


Posted by: Raysand47 | July 21, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Most of these "dissidents" do not represent the Cuban people, their agenda has been for long time set by the Cuban-American right wing organizations from Miami, which are pro-embargo and anti-Cuban, since most of their leaders don't have relatives in Cuba any longer or just don't care. They arrived to Spain, but their ultimate goal is Miami, FL, they are even complaining that the Spanish government accommodations, don't fit their expectations.
This is more of the same, a little group of angry Cuban cowards that couldn't stand and fight Castro by themselves when they had a chance, control the destiny of the whole USA regarding what we can and can't do with Cuba.

Posted by: romilio | July 25, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company