Cuba Policy Change Should Promote Recognition of Human Rights
(Washington, D.C.) – Today President Trump is expected to announce revisions in U.S. policy toward Cuba. It is expected that he will reverse or significantly revise some aspects of the liberalization implemented under the last administration. Former President Obama used his executive authority to liberalize tourist travel, expand commercial relations with Cuba, and during his last days in office, remove the wet foot/dry foot policy. Since those changes, human rights continue to be suppressed by the Castro dictatorship, and the Cuban military has expanded its role in the tourist industry, ensuring the military reaps a significant share of new revenues generated by the reforms. Additionally, benefits are unlikely to have reached the Cuban people because company wages are not delivered directly to employees, but instead to the Cuban government.
Jorge A. Lima, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative, released the following statement:
“For decades, U.S. policy towards Cuba has called for the recognition of basic civil and human rights on the island. But Cuba’s leaders have engaged in brutal repression of its people, refusing to allow them to speak or worship freely, and they have suppressed dissidents with jail, torture, and death. Even today, the people of Cuba have no real say in how their nation is governed – no permissible way to push for change. Cubans on the island lack the freedoms of speech and expression that their Cuban-American relatives enjoy in the United States – freedoms we have used for decades to advocate for those who still live under the regime. This brutality has led hundreds of thousands of people to flee the only home they have known, risking their lives for a chance at that freedom. This repression of the Cuban people continues today and little has changed since the thawing of relations began in 2014.
No matter what approach the United States takes toward Cuba, our leaders should be guided by the desire for a free and open society on both sides of the straits. This is the 21st century. It is time for Cuba to recognize and protect the rights of its people, and time for the United States to once again embrace the victims of communism who still sail to our shores in search of freedom. Progress will only come when they are permitted to think freely, to speak freely, to worship freely, to elect their leaders freely, and to own the fruits of their own labor. We are hopeful that today’s policy changes will help bring about those needed reforms.”