Pres. Obama, his family, Nancy Pelosi, 40 members of Congress and hundreds of businessmen, along with 974 reporters (Mary O’Grady not among them, since she’s been barred from reporting from the island-prison), landed yesterday in Havana in the middle of a downpour. Raul Castro was not present, but sent Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez instead.
The White House says the question of who would welcome them at the airport never even came up. Instead, this was tweeted,
¿Que bolá Cuba? Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people.
— President Obama (@POTUS) March 20, 2016
Not taking a clue from the weather, the Obamas went on a walking tour of the Potamkin Village that had been prepared for them in Old Havana. Apparently no vintage cars were available with roofs for touring in the rain, and they couldn’t stay in and watch Netflix until the rain stopped.
Over 200 dissidents were detained in preparation for the visit. Yesterday alone 50 more dissidents were arrested,
Havana street corner turns into a cauldron of chaos as pro-Castro side cheers arrest of demonstrators#ObamainCuba pic.twitter.com/ossoGhsI46
— Simon Carswell (@SiCarswell) March 20, 2016
It wasn’t just the Ladies in White being detained, but also the head of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
Ted Cruz holds the accurate-yet-unfashionable view that In Cuba, Obama Will Legitimize the Corrupt and Ignore the Oppressed. The truth is that
The White House keeps saying that this trip will chart a new course for people-to-people relations, but all that Obama’s appeasement of the Castro dictatorship has done so far is create a channel for inside deals between large corporations and the Cuban military, which holds all the keys to the island’s economy. The effect will not be liberalization but rather the institutionalization of the Communist dictatorship as the profits from this détente will line the pockets not only of Fidel and Raul Castro, but also of Raul’s son, Alejandro Castro Espin.
Corporate cronyism, meet communist totalitarianism.
In contrast, Ian Bremmer holds the fashionable view held by other hipster apologists (Cuba’s maximum wage is $20/month),
@ianbremmer The Cuban government will pay Starbucks employees $20/mo, or the price of 4 cherry blossom frappacinos, whichever is less
— Fausta (@Fausta) March 21, 2016
Things look so good right now that 43,154 abandoned Cuba for the U.S. in 2015, and another 25,805 in the past five months. At this rate, there won’t be any Cubans left to fill the barista jobs opening up.
Others seeking opportunities put their faith in “Saint Obama”. Good luck with that.
Over at ESPN they are praising Fidel’s love of sports like boxing and baseball. Not to mention all the people who have died in shark-infested waters trying to leave by sea.
Yale professor and National Book Award winner Carlos Eire offered an op-ed to The Washington Post and The New York Times. He was refused. Eire is posting on the visit at Babalu blog.
Here‘s the preliminary schedule. As you read it, keep in mind that The spectacle is designed to pressure Congress into lifting the Cuban embargo:
The regime-choreographed spectacle, in which Mr. Obama will play the lead role, is designed to make Americans comfortable with underwriting the masters of the plantation—and to make Congress appear unreasonable.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes says the aim of the trip is to make the Obama administration’s Cuba policies “irreversible.” On Cuba’s part there is nothing to reverse. Since Mr. Obama launched his détente, the regime has doubled down on its long-standing practices of denying employment to dissidents as well as beating, torturing and jailing them.
Funneling U.S. dollars to state-owned monopolies of a racist, Marxist dictatorship – especially to the Communist military, which owns the tourism industry monopoly – that’s Obama’s legacy.
And the Queen of England is not returning to Buckingham Palace to meet him for lunch, but insisting he visit her at Balmoral. Karma. It’s a beautiful thing.