The One Thing Missing From Opening of US Embassy in Cuba? Dissidents

Obama may be mishandling parts of his new policy, but he's right to engage Cuba.


I'm happy that the Obama administration has opened up diplomatic relations with the Cuban government. That's not because the Castro brothers are in any way, shape, or form good and decent people. For all their crimes against their own people and more, they deserve to burn in hell.

No, I'm happy for the change because the U.S. trade embargo has manifestly failed at its primary objective of destabilizing the Castro regime.

Which isn't to say the Obama administration is handling the policy change with total aplomb. At the official flag-raising ceremony today at the Havana embassy, dissidents won't be present. Reports the AP:

Cuban dissidents, so long the center of U.S. policy toward the island, won't be invited to Secretary of State John Kerry's historic flag-raising at the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Friday, vividly illustrating how U.S. policy is shifting focus to its single-party government. Kerry intends to meet more quietly with prominent activists later in the day, officials said.

The Cuban government labels its domestic opponents as traitorous U.S. mercenaries. As the two countries have moved to restore relations, Cuba has almost entirely stopped meeting with American politicians who visit dissidents during trips to Havana.

Kerry will meet with dissidents later in the day:

Officials familiar with the plans for Kerry's visit, the first by a sitting U.S. secretary of state to Cuba since World War II, told The Associated Press that a compromise was in the works. The dissidents won't be invited to the embassy event, but a small group will meet with Kerry at the U.S. chief of mission's home in the afternoon, where a lower-key, flag-raising ceremony is scheduled.

Read more here.

The Wash Post lays into the Obama admin decision thus:

The official U.S. explanation for excluding the dissidents is that the flag-raising ceremony is a government-to-government affair. This is lame. Inviting the dissidents would be a demonstration to Raúl and Fidel Castro of what the flag stands for: people freely choosing their leaders, a pluralism of views and a public engaging in the institutions and traditions of a healthy civil society. Not inviting them is a sorry tip of the hat to what the Castros so vividly stand for: diktat, statism, control and rule by fear.

More here.

That said, the most important thing is that normalization of relations, especially between regular Cubans and regular Americans (including businesspeople), proceeds apace.

The U.S. has dealt openly with regimes more oppressive than the Castro brothers, often arguing that commerce and cultural exchange help to reform and temper authoritarian regimes. There's little doubt that once Americans can freely travel to and spend dollars in Cuba, the worst aspects of repression will recede. If you doubt that, just take a look at all the nauseating Castro apologists who want the embargo to continue so as to keep Cubans "authentically poor" and keep Havana from "turning into Cancun." Such folks treat the suffering as mascots in a sick game of symbolic politics. Everyone knows that increased access to American dollars, goods, services, and especially attitudes will first raise living standards and then increase political freedom.

Republicans and some Democrats have attacked President Obama for selling out on Cuba and his shameful relegation of dissidents today will only fuel their anger. But it's well past time that critics of opening up to Cuba admit that our old policy was the definition of government failure and we need to look forward to helping the long-suffering residents of Castro's island prison move into the 21st century. The best way to do that is by increasing contact, not by carrying on with a manifestly ineffective policy.

Back in 2008, Reason TV interviewed Sen. Jeff Flake (then a congressman) about Cuba policy. Here's what he said then:

NEXT: Friday A/V Club: We Could Use a Man Like Warren Harding Again

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  1. You know who else didn’t tolerate dissidents…

    1. Every SJW on the planet?

      1. Ho ho ho!

      1. Ha ha ha!

    2. Bernie Sanders?

      1. Bernie Sanders might be a little too tolerant.

      1. You mean Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhn?

        1. Of course, is there another?

      2. Wait… Isn’t Khan technically a dissident?

    3. Eddie Vedder?

  2. Not inviting them is a sorry tip of the hat to what the Castros so vividly stand for: diktat, statism, control and rule by fear.

    Well, birds of a feather.

    1. Boom! Nailed it!

  3. Jeff Flake is still a Congressman.

      1. He was called a yob when clearly he is a chav. I think I saw him wearing a Burberry cap once.

      2. NRO does have a article which sounds very favorable toward Trotsky. He was misunderstood and stuff.…..n-schwartz

  4. The dissidents won’t be invited to the embassy event, but a small group will meet with Kerry at the U.S. chief of mission’s home in the afternoon…

    And then it’s back to prison.

  5. OT: Carly Fiorina answers correctly when asked about immunizations.

    After the town hall, Fiorina further explained her stance on vaccinations to a group of reporters: “When you have highly communicable diseases where we have a vaccine that’s proven, like measles or mumps, then I think a parent can make that choice — but then I think a school district is well within their rights to say: ‘I’m sorry, your child cannot then attend public school.’ So a parent has to make that trade-off.”

    1. Sounds right to me. Not sure it’s a federal matter, though.

    2. I will say it again.

      Let these idjits stop vaccinating their children , the public will get reacquainted with serious disease and the anti-vax nonsense will disappear in less than a generation.

      1. I’d prefer not to see a pile of corpses in the first place.

        1. Evolution in action.

        2. Just think of it as blood of tyrants & patriots. Problem solved.

  6. If he is not going to use our engagement there as a way to empower dissidents and undermine the government, what is the point of doing it? Nick seems to believe in the magic power of words. We are “engaging” Cuba and “engaging” is a good word and therefore this must be a good thing. No. Engagement is only good or bad because of the results it brings. The Soviets engaged with Cuba for 30 years. How did that work out? If you don’t use that engagement as a way to undermine the government and embolden the dissidents, then the engagement is at best worthless and at worst damaging because it does nothing but strengthen the government.

    A totalitarian regime exists by convincing its people that the cause of resistance is hopeless. Everyone living under such a regime outside of the very top people is utterly miserable and hates the government. If they all one day rose up and did something about it, the people at the top would end up hanging from lampposts. The way the regime prevents that is to convince everyone resisting is hopeless and if they stand up they will be the only one who does and wind up in prison or dead. When the US does something like build an embassy and not invite the dissidents to the ceremony, it tells the Cuban people that their government is legitimate and there is no point in resisting it.

    1. This is more than just a “mishandling”. It is ensuring that our engagement is going to do nothing but make things worse for the Cuban people by legitimizing their horrible government. Given his track record, I can’t help but think that is exactly what Obama wants.

      1. I don’t know if the Castro regime needs the United States to legitimize it. It seemed to be able to fuck over its own people just fine without it. But I do agree that failure to publicly hammer the Cuban government over the head by having its righteous opponents on hand at the flag-raising is an epically cowardly missed opportunity at the engagement that is claimed to be starting.

        1. The dissidents in the old Soviet block all say that both the Pope and Reagan’s willingness to call out the communists made a huge difference. It showed the people in those country’s that they were not alone and it forced the government to explain itself. When the international community refuses to do that, the government just says fuck you we are bringing the country to glory and resistance is hopeless.

          Clearly calling them out alone doesn’t topple these governments but it helps. And refusing to do so most certainly hurts.

        2. Well the embassy is US soil so if they let people freely assemble there, they would have to tolerate Americans freely assemble here. You don’t want set a bad precedent.

          1. I mean, geez, they couldn’t even set up a free speech zone at the embassY?

            What with the fences and barbed wire around the zone, the Cuban dissidents would feel right at home.

        3. On Point!

    2. In any compromise between good and evil only evil can profit.

      1. Handsomely.

        *lets gold coins slip through fingers*

  7. “…what the flag stands for: people freely choosing their leaders, a pluralism of views and a public engaging in the institutions and traditions of a healthy civil society.”

    Principles that Kerry and his boss find repulsive.

  8. I absolutely love it when scumbag dictators for life tell us that we “owe them an apology”.

    Fidel, my Cuban friend and I have a bottle of fine scotch just waiting to be opened when your sorry ass finally dies.

  9. We didn’t embargo Cuba because they’re communists or Castro is a dictator or we wanted to destabilize them. No other nation in the world embargoes them, that’s not going to destabilize a nation. We did it because after the revolution Castro took billions of dollars worth of goods and property from American citizens and businesses without paying for them. Cuba still hasn’t paid those Americans for what Castro stole from them.

    1. Now, not only will those who had their property stolen never receive compensation, but undoubtedly those who did the stealing in the not distant future will be receiving piles of free money from the American taxpayer.

    2. Absolutely true, as far as I know.

  10. Is there a single dictator, other than Quaddafi and Mubarak, whose ass hasn’t been kissed by this administration?

    I mean, even Assad is now an ally-once-removed in the fight with ISIS.

    1. The worst thing about Obama as President is that he says worse things about Americans who oppose him than he says about the worst dictators in the world. Obama has never met a thug or a dictator or enemy of freedom or the US that he can’t excuse or find some reason to praise. And he has never met an American whom he is willing to credit with an honest disagreement with him or attribute anything but the worst motives for doing so.

      Even the worst Presidents of the past could honestly be said to love the country and have the best interests of the country at heart despite their incompetence or outright corruption. You cannot say that about Obama. He treats this country and the people in it with an open contempt reserved for no other nation or people. He really is the worst.

      1. Yes, and his outlook was obvious from the minute he stepped into the public arena in state politics. Claiming not to know is not a valid excuse for those who voted for him.

        He was born to a woman who hated America and to a father that hated western culture. Everyone who raised him, tutored or mentored him despised the best principles of western culture. He was indoctrinated from birth and he was never smart enough to see through that or reexamine his outlook. He never had a chance of being anything but the worst.

        What does this say about his supporters? Fools, idiots, and scumbags.

        1. If you read his book, the one figure out of his childhood who has any redeeming virtue is his step father in Indonesia. That guy didn’t hate America, didn’t harbor a bunch of grudges about colonialism and very much believed that life is what you make it. Obama’s communist bitch mother ended up divorcing him and dumping Obama on her communist parents in Hawaii because she didn’t want him to be a bad influence on Obama.

  11. “That’s not because the Castro brothers are in any way, shape, or form good and decent people. For all their crimes against their own people and more, they deserve to burn in hell.”

    Is it safe to say that Reason isn’t going to take crap from Cuban District Attorneys?

  12. Dissidents are the *one* thing missing? I can give you another. Joanne Chesimard in handcuffs.

  13. the U.S. trade embargo has manifestly failed at its primary objective of destabilizing the Castro regime.

    My failure to eliminate McDonalds from the planet by not giving them my business for the last 30 years does not mean that I now must eat there…

    Fuck Fidel in his ear, and wipe it off with that stupid fucking hat.

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