Cuba Isn’t Libre
Cuba Isn’t Libre
The Castro brothers try to exile dissidents for Obama’s March visit
Feb. 23, 2016 7:21 p.m. ET
The media build-up to President Obama’s March 21 visit to Cuba is well
along pumping “historic” significance into the trip. That’s what
happened last year when Pope Francis visited Cuba, with “history” served
by publicizing photographs of the pontiff with Fidel and Raul Castro.
The real story in Cuba, though, is always out of sight, in the cells of
its many political prisoners.
Human-rights groups recently have noted something odd about Mr. Obama’s
historic normalization of relations with Cuba in late 2014. Since then
the number of individuals jailed arbitrarily has gone up. This past
January, according to the Madrid-based Cuban Observatory on Human
Rights, some 1,474 individuals were jailed at the regime’s whim, more
than 500 of them women.
On Monday Cuba’s interior ministry told eight paroled political
prisoners that they were being given permission to make a “one-time”
trip abroad. Unlike Americans hopping on planes to discover Cuba, the
average Cuban can’t leave the island without permission.
Opinion Journal Video
Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Mike Gonzalez on the implications of
President Obama’s planned trip to Cuba in March. Photo credit: Getty Images.
The response of the dissidents to the get-out-of-Cuba offer speaks
volumes about the reality of life there. Felix Navarro called it a
“strategy” related to the Obama visit and said he isn’t leaving. “I will
always continue to live in Cuba,” Mr. Navarro said.
Marta Beatriz Roque, the one woman in the group, said “My perception is
that they want us to stay [outside of Cuba], but I’ve been going along
like this for 25 years and I’m not going to throw in the towel for a trip.”
Announcing his March trip Saturday, Mr. Obama said he will “speak
candidly” there about “our serious differences” on democracy and human
rights. Asked about the President’s intentions last week, Josefina Vidal
of Cuba’s foreign ministry said, “Cuba is open to speak to the U.S.
government about any topic, including human rights.” But she added: “We
have different ideas about human rights.”
It’s nice, we guess, that Fidel and Raul are willing to chat about all
this with President Obama. More significant will be the day when one of
these historic visitors from the free world asks to visit with Cuba’s
political prisoners in their cells.
Source: Cuba Isn’t Libre – WSJ –