Kudos to the WaPo’s editorial board for asking (emphasis added) Why do the members of Congress rushing to befriend the Castros ignore the island’s pro-democracy movement?
HALF A DOZEN members of the Congressional Black Caucus spent hours huddling with Fidel and Raúl Castro in Havana this week as part of a swelling campaign to normalize relations with Cuba. “It is time to open dialogue and discussion,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) told a news conference in Washington after their return. “Cubans do want dialogue. They do want talks.” Funny, then, that in five days on the island the Congress members found no time for dialogue with Afro-Cuban dissident Jorge Luis García Pérez.
Mr. García, better known as “Antúnez,” is a renowned advocate of human rights who has often been singled out for harsh treatment because of his color. “The authorities in my country,” he has said, “have never tolerated that a black person [could dare to] oppose the regime.” His wife, Iris, is a founder of the Rosa Parks Women’s Civil Rights Movement, named after an American hero whom Afro-Cubans try to emulate. The couple have been on a hunger strike since Feb. 17, to demand justice for an imprisoned family member. They are part of a substantial and steadily growing civil movement advocating democratic change in Cuba — one that U.S. advocates of detente with the Castros appear determined to ignore.
The WaPo points out that the Lugar commission ignored Cuba’s pro-democracy movement.
The Congressional Black Caucus and the Lugar delegation both ought to be ashamed and embarrassed to have ignored the pro-democracy activists.
The WaPo editorial states,
The congressional pressure, and that by leftist Latin American presidents who have been streaming to Cuba in recent months, is very likely to undermine President Obama, who has promised that “liberty” would be at the center of his Cuba policy. Mr. Obama is expected to announce a relaxation on travel and gifts to family members by Cuban Americans before next week’s Summit of the Americas, and he has said he is open to dialogue with the regime. But he has also said that the lifting of what remains of the U.S. trade embargo should be linked to steps by Cuba toward democratic change.
I disagree that this would undermine Obama. The Democrats fully intend to lift the embargo: Obama can not do that on his own since the embargo is law and only Congress can lift the embargo. The Lugar delegation, the CBC delegation, and whatever other delegations to come are simply laying the groundwork for that.
I predict that the Obama administration will lift the embargo by September this year, if not sooner.