Hunger strike in Cuba
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    Opinion – U.S. must stand with the opponents of Castros’ tyranny

    Opinion: U.S. must stand with the opponents of Castros’ tyranny

    I had the honor recently to meet with Cuban dissident Oscar Biscet, who
    was visiting the United States to receive the Presidential Medal of
    Freedom that President George W. Bush had awarded him in 2007. Then
    serving a 25-year prison sentence for promoting human rights in Cuba,
    Dr. Biscet originally had to accept the award in absentia. But following
    his 2011 release, he was here in person.

    I asked Dr. Biscet if his ability to leave the island was emblematic of
    political liberalization after normalization of relations between Cuba
    and the United States just over a year ago.

    Smiling, this man who has endured savage torture by Raúl and Fidel
    Castro’s police state said No. There was no liberalization. The Castros
    were just trying to appear reasonable so they could get the most money
    possible out of tourists coming to the island.

    Didn’t Americans understand, he asked in genuine amazement, that their
    dollars were going to enrich the Communist regime? The answer is, once
    again, No. American tourists and industries are tripping over themselves
    to visit Cuba and project themselves onto a 1950s movie set, all while
    imagining their commerce trickles down to the Cuban people.

    In 2013, I heard similar words from Guillermo Fariñas, a former soldier
    for Castro who had come to see Communism for the oppression that it is.
    Fariñas traveled to Brussels to receive the Andrei Sakharov Prize for
    his brave opposition to the Castros. But his leaving Cuba was not a sign
    of progress. Rather, he called it a ploy by the Castros to get American
    money while retaining political power. He said they were employing
    Putinismo — trying to imitate Putin.

    Press reports this July confirmed the unchanged and grim state of
    affairs in Cuba. Fariñas began his 24th hunger strike to protest the
    vicious beating from Castros’ goons merely because he inquired after a
    colleague arbitrarily detained. Fariñas is asking the regime “to commit
    to ending the escalation in violence against peaceful opposition and to
    stop the beatings, death threats, prosecutions for false crimes and that
    they stop confiscating their personal property.”

    But rather than accede to this simple request, the Castros have let him
    starve for two weeks. Some island paradise.

    The fact is that a bad situation is getting worse, not better. The Obama
    administration encourages a dangerous delusion about conditions in Cuba,
    which perpetuates the status quo.

    Fariñas’ plight is a physical manifestation of the ugly reality that the
    Castros are enemies of everything the United States represents.

    We must face this reality. By ignoring it we not only are turning our
    backs on a brave man, the Obama administration’s increased coordination
    with the Cuban regime also places the United States at risk. For example:

    ? Immigration: Visa-less immigration from Cuba has increased 80 percent
    in the year since the Obama administration announced normalized
    relations, the majority of immigration through Laredo, Texas. Government
    benefits for these immigrants will cost the taxpayers $2.45 billion over
    the next decade. There are also disturbing reports that migrants from
    Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries use black-market visas to
    Cuba to gain access to the United States.

    ? Aviation: The administration’s termination of the travel embargo
    raises concerns that Cuba’s airports may not have adequate security
    procedures in place to ensure that Americans are safe from potential
    terrorist attacks. While six U.S. airlines have been granted licenses to
    fly directly to nine Cuban airports, only seven meet the minimum
    security standards.

    ? Counter-narcotics cooperation: In July, the Obama administration
    signed a counter-narcotics arrangement with Cuba, which creates
    information-sharing between our two countries against illegal drug
    trafficking. These blanket assurances to cooperate are hardly assuring,
    especially considering Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s
    statement that Cuba is an intelligence threat to America, on par with
    Iran. There is also concern that the Castros will use information
    gleaned from their cooperation to service Venezuela’s anti-American

    ? Military-to-military cooperation: The administration precipitously
    invited Cuba to participate in the Caribbean Nations Security Conference
    in January, despite Cuba’s long history as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
    and participation in illicit arms trafficking with enemy nations such as
    North Korea. This “cooperation” with an overtly hostile country makes
    the U.S. military vulnerable to Cuban espionage. To credit Cuba’s return
    of our Hellfire missile in February as progress betrays a precarious
    naïveté. Since the Obama administration has ceded its diplomatic and
    economic leverage against the Castros, the United States may not be so
    lucky the next time American military hardware suspiciously appears in

    It would be nice to imagine that introducing capitalism to Cuba would
    create political liberalization, but failed attempts from China to Iran
    suggest this will not be the case. And absent this liberalization,
    increased cooperation with Cuba poses an intolerable security threat to
    the United States.

    When Congress returns in September, I hope my colleagues will join me in
    insisting on proper oversight of the dangers posed by the Obama
    administration’s misguided rapprochement with the Castros.

    Congress can present a united front in opposing any nominees to be
    ambassador to Cuba and any funding for embassy construction in Havana
    until Cuba addresses basic human-rights issues.

    It is the very least we can do to assure Oscar Biscet, Guillermo Fariñas
    and others that some in America still stand with them, and not with the
    Castro regime that continues to oppress them.


    Source: Opinion: U.S. must stand with the opponents of Castros’ tyranny
    | In Cuba Today –

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