Tags: Cuba | Raul Castro | Americas | summit | Obama

Wall Street Journal: Castros Smelled Obama's Weakness and Pounced

Wall Street Journal: Castros Smelled Obama's Weakness and Pounced
(Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 06 April 2015 01:44 PM

As a consequence of President Barack Obama's decision to chart a new course in U.S.-Cuban relations, Cuban dictator Raul Castro will attend this week's Summit of the Americas with the upper hand and an opportunity to set the regional agenda, says Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady.

"Repression is on the march in the Americas, and U.S. ambivalence is part of the problem. In the White House's lack of moral clarity, the region's bullies smell weakness. One result is that a Caribbean backwater run by gangster brothers now has the upper hand in setting the regional agenda," writes O'Grady.

For the first time, Cuba was invited and chose not to boycott the event, which O'Grady says is a sign of how much damage the Obama administration has done to the cause of democracy in the region.

"Being outcasts made Raúl and Fidel Castro feel disrespected. So they pressured much of the rest of the region to say that if Cuba were again left out, they would boycott the event. In December Mr. Obama folded. It was a sign of how bad things are in the Americas. Authoritarian governments now rule in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia," she adds.

Evidence of Cuba's anti-democratic actions was seen on Sunday when dissident Rosa Maria Paya was arrested on Sunday night at the airport in Panama, according to The London Telegraph.

"The national security agents have detained me at the door of the plane," she said on Twitter, the paper reported.

She claimed the police told her: "You are going to be deported to Cuba if you cause any trouble or start raising banners. Go back to your own country to cause trouble."

Last week, officials from the U.S. and Cuba held closed-door meetings to discuss human rights violations, including alleged incidents of police brutality in the U.S., the Sun-Sentinel reported.

The Obama administration has continued to insist that the president remains committed to democracy in Latin America and that it will be on the agenda in Panama.

"On democracy and human rights there has been a great deal discussed about some backsliding, some concerns, some angst I would say about whether we are stepping up on democracy and human rights throughout the hemisphere, but in many ways I think this summit must confront that issue both in its positives and in some of its negatives. This is of course the first summit that will have all 35," said Assistant Secretary of State Roberta S. Jacobson during an April 3 Brookings Institution pre-summit discussion.

"I think that it's pretty clear that the president from the beginning has said that our position on human rights in Cuba has not changed, that we believe that the human rights situation in Cuba is not adequate, is not what we would like it to be," Jacobson said in response to a question.

Thomas "Mack" McLarty, who served as chief of staff to Bill Clinton, echoed Jacobson, saying that the summit presents a chance for the Obama administration to send "a clear message" in support of democracy.

"The summit will feature not only presidents and prime ministers but also a robust array of leaders from business and civil society who have driven change in over the last two decades, creating better livelihoods and more open societies. President Obama is scheduled to meet with members of the Venezuelan opposition and Cuban dissidents," McLarty wrote today in a USA Today op-ed.

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As a consequence of President Barack Obama's decision to chart a new course in U.S.-Cuban relations, Cuban dictator Raul Castro will attend this week's Summit of the Americas with the upper hand, says Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady.
Cuba, Raul Castro, Americas, summit, Obama
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2015-44-06
Monday, 06 April 2015 01:44 PM
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