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    U.S. Cuba policy worthy of Ripley’s ‘believe it or not’
    BY FRANK CALZONCUBACENTER.ORG
    02/11/2015 5:38 PM 02/11/2015 5:38 PM

    For many years, author Robert Ripley roamed the Earth collecting
    oddities and strange stories and establishing “odditoriums” to display
    them. Were Ripley still alive, he’d be writing and drawing cartoons
    about Cuba, the Castros and President Barack Obama’s attempt to
    “normalize” relations between the United States and Cuba.

    Whether the Americans today “believe it or not,” just two years ago the
    Cuban government was caught trying to smuggle, through the Panama Canal,
    two warplanes, missiles and other armaments packed under tons of sugar
    in a North Korean freighter heading “home” from Cuba. The United Nations
    was outraged that Cuba violated the sanctions it had placed — at
    Europe’s insistence — on arms shipments to North Korea.

    President Obama? Not so much. While declaring the U.S.’ 50-year trade
    embargo imposed on Cuba a failure, Obama pivoted to embrace Europe’s
    50-year-old “policy of engagement” with the Castros’ regimes.

    Can you believe it? After 50 years, an American president has declared a
    failure U.S. trade policy aimed at easing the oppressive grip of
    communism on Cuba and restoring a rule of law in order to embrace
    Europe’s policy of engagement, which in 50 years has achieved exactly
    the same result: Nada.

    Cuba has no free elections, no free enterprise, no rule of law, no free
    speech or press, no respect for human rights. What it has are political
    prisoners, food rationing, a passion for exporting revolution and refugees.

    The new policy is the same 50-some-year-old European policy of engagement.

    The “Cuba policy” of Europe, Japan, and Canada is to maintain “normal”
    diplomatic relations, send millions of tourists to the island, extend
    credit to facilitate trade and to gift the Castro regime with millions
    in development aid. It is a policy that has changed nothing for the
    Cuban people.

    Were President Obama’s logic and measure of success to be applied to
    European, Japanese and Canadian policies for “engaging Cuba,” those
    policies, too, would be judged failures.

    What is and has been missing in international policy vis-à-vis Cuba are
    conditions — “We’ll do this, if you do that.” Cuba’s President Gen. Raúl
    Castro wants loans, tourists, access to the World Bank.

    Only the United States has tried to tie what Havana “wants” to specific
    economic reforms and an end to repression on the island. Without such
    conditions, or linkages, “opening the island” does not empower the Cuban
    people or improve their lives; it empowers the Castro communist
    dictatorship.

    It’s not hard to image that Ripley, were he alive today, might note
    that, “Believe it or not,” President Obama:

    ? Has a more amicable relationship with the Castros’ hostile Cuban
    regime than with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, an
    important U.S. ally.

    ? Asked Secretary of State John Kerry to determine how Cuba can be
    removed from the State Department’s list of states sponsoring terrorism.
    He did so, even though Cuba refuses to return Joanne Chesimard, who fled
    to the island after killing a New Jersey State Trooper while escaping
    from a U.S. prison. The FBI lists her as one of its 10 Most Wanted
    Terrorists, but Fidel Castro granted her safe haven.

    ? Isn’t seeking the return of hundreds of millions of dollars stolen in
    the United States and deposited in Cuba’s National Bank, including $300
    million tracked to a Medicare fraud.

    Then there are the oddities, like stories of emboldened Cuban-American
    exiles seeking to reclaim confiscated property or to re-establish their
    business, believing they can profit because the Cuban
    government-controlled wages average $20 a month and independent labor
    unions, collective bargaining and strikes are banned.

    And, of course Fidel Castro’s famous cow, White Udder. White Udder
    enjoyed air conditioning, a special diet, medical care and classical
    music piped into her barn. She broke all records for milk production.
    After dying of tuberculosis, she was embalmed and placed in a glass case
    at a school where admiring children line up to visit her — just as
    tourists line up in Red Square to visit Lenin’s Tomb.

    FRANK CALZON IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR A FREE CUBA IN
    WASHINGTON, D.C.

    Source: U.S. Cuba policy worthy of Ripley’s ‘believe it or not’ | The
    Miami Herald The Miami Herald –
    http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article9757118.html

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