President Barack Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro on Monday, drawing ire from critics upset about the island nation's autocratic, repressive Communist regime.
"Hours before Air Force One landed at José Martí International Airport, the challenges inherent in normalizing relations with a Communist police state were laid bare, as dozens of arrests were made at the weekly march of Ladies in White, a prominent dissident group," The New York Times reported
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Gathered below are five reasons Obama's trip is bad for America, and bad for the Cuban people.
1. Since 2014, Obama's outreach has led to more oppression
— "There hasn’t been any reduction of oppression," Florida Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a first generation Cuban-American running for U.S. Senate, told CBS News
. "As matter of fact, there’s been an increase in oppression, an increase in political arrests and an increase of political beatings against people who are simply seeking to have rights that we take for granted here in America. Freedom of expression, freedom of the press, free elections, the end of human rights violations and the release of political prisoners."
2. Obama is signaling weakness on America's behalf
— Marc A. Thiessen argued in a Washington Post op-ed
that the arrest of dissidents known as the Ladies in White just hours before Obama's arrival "was a slap in the face" delivered by the Castro brothers and "intended to send a clear message that, despite his normalization of relations, nothing has changed in Cuba." By continuing with his trip amid gestures like this, Obama is signaling that America is weak, and too eager to appease oppressive dictators.
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3. The trip breaks Obama's promise
— Obama said last year that he would only visit Cuba if liberty and freedom had increased on the island. Conditions have not improved, but Obama is visiting nonetheless, indicating that his promises are meaningless. According to CNN
, Obama said in December, "What I've said to the Cuban government is 'if, in fact, I, with confidence, can say that we're seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans, I'd love to use a visit as a way of highlighting that progress . . . If we're going backwards, then there's not much reason for me to be there."
4. Obama is turning his back on Cuba's political prisoners
— Sen. Ted Cruz wrote in a Politico op-ed
on Sunday that when Obama visits Cuba, the country's "political prisoners languishing in dungeons across the island will hear this message: Nobody has your back. You’re alone with your tormentors. The world has forgotten about you."
5. Obama's plans will enrich and empower Castro
— In the same op-ed, Cruz went on to assert that Obama's trip will only increase Castro's power in the long run. "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."
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