Cuban Dictatorship Continues to Gain in Normalization Talks with U.S.
Improved Relations with Cuba Must Bring Real Reform
(Washington D.C.) – President Barack Obama met with Cuban Dictator Raúl Castro this weekend during the Summit of the Americas marking the first time in 50 years leaders of the two nations held a face-to-face meeting. The private meeting, which reportedly lasted an hour, was said to be «fruitful» according to President Obama. Among the major issues discussed were the blockade imposed by the U.S., and the possible removal of Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism – with both issues reportedly inconclusive. Castro later rallied to Obama’s defense, expressing admiration and absolving the president of fault for the U.S. blockade. In discussing the impact of the meeting and its historical context, President Obama commented that «I’m not Interest ed in having battles that frankly started before I was born.» In the hours after the meeting, the Cuban regime instituted a new round of arrests of political dissidents, showing that the U.S. concessions are not leading to improvements in the human rights situation.
Jorge Lima, Policy Director of The LIBRE Initiative, released the following statement:
«The United States has long led the world in calling for greater democracy and pressing authoritarian governments to respect individual rights and civil liberties. This should continue to be the case when discussing significant changes to the U.S. relationship with Cuba.
So far, the talks appear to be very one-sided – with much of the concessions benefitting the Castro dictatorship, but not the people of Cuba. While the U.S. has made significant changes to their approach with the island nation, the Castro regime has conceded little, and instead vowed to keep its communist system intact. As Raul Castro’s oppressive dictatorship continues to benefit from the new legitimacy provided to it thorough these meetings and its attendance at the summit, dissidents on the island continue to live in fear of oppression, violent attacks, and arrests. Washington needs to ensure that as attempts to normalize relations continue, the Castro dictatorship must begin to guarantee the rights of its people. This is an opportunity to advocate for the democracy and freedom of our Cuban brothers and sisters. They should not be forgotten or ignored in order to achieve a politically-motivated deal.»