Rubio – Cuba taking advantage of U.S.
Rubio: Cuba taking advantage of U.S.
By Marco Rubio
Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT) February 2, 2015
Sen. Marco Rubio: Castro regime wants even more in exchange for nothing
When dealing with tyrants, you can’t wear them down with kindness, Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, is a member of the Senate
Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees. The opinions expressed in
this commentary are solely those of the author.
(CNN)In “The Godfather Part II,” Michael Corleone famously responds to a
U.S. senator’s demands by saying, “My offer is this: nothing.”
Since President Barack Obama announced his normalization deal with the
Cuban regime in December, life appears to be imitating art. Last week,
Cuban President Raul Castro declared that his regime would not even
entertain the Obama administration’s requests to normalize ties until
the United States abandons our naval base at Guantanamo Bay, ends the
trade embargo, ceases pro-democracy radio and television broadcasts into
Cuba and compensates the regime for “human and economic damages” the
U.S. has, according to him, inflicted on the Cuban people. Last month,
the regime’s lead negotiator summed up its position even more succinctly
after the first round of U.S.-Cuba normalization talks in Havana,
saying, “Change in Cuba is not negotiable.”
In other words, emboldened by the first wave of concessions Obama gave
the Castro regime in the form of access to more U.S. dollars, it wants
even more in exchange for nothing.
When dealing with tyrants, you can’t wear them down with kindness. When
that approach is attempted and one-sided concessions are made, tyrants
don’t interpret them as good faith gestures. They interpret them as
weakness. This is a lesson the Obama administration has failed to learn
from its dealings with Iran, North Korea and Russia, and even terrorists
such as the Taliban.
On Tuesday, the American people will have their first opportunity to
hear from the Obama administration about its dealings with the Castro
regime when I chair a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere affairs. I look forward
to hearing the perspectives of State Department officials, even though I
am already concerned by the administration’s reluctance to allow the
American people to hear directly from the two White House officials who
negotiated the deal with the Castro regime over the course of 18 months
of secret negotiations, and without the input of our government’s top
diplomats and negotiators.
Many important questions remain about what exactly the Castro regime has
done in exchange for Obama’s softening of travel and banking regulations
that will now allow more U.S. dollars to fill the Castro regime’s
coffers. For example, it’s unclear why, with all the economic leverage
it initially brought to the table, the administration apparently
accepted a deal to free conditionally 53 political prisoners — many of
whom were released, but with charges pending or were threatened with
more jail time if they renew their pro-democracy work. Indeed, some have
already reportedly been rearrested in addition to hundreds of new
detentions since the December announcement.
Questions also remain about what, if anything, the administration has
done to secure the repatriation of what the FBI estimates to be more
than 70 fugitives from justice being provided safe harbor in Cuba,
including known cop killers such as Joanne Chesimard. Also unknown is
what, if anything, the administration intends to do to secure billions
of dollars’ worth of outstanding American property claims and judgments
against the Cuban government. The list of questions and concerns like
these goes on and on.
In recent months, I’ve made clear that I believe the President and his
allies in Congress are misguided for supporting a policy that gives away
practically all the leverage the United States has to bring about
democratic change in Cuba in exchange for virtually nothing. While
reasonable people can disagree on the merits of what U.S.-Cuba policy
should be in the 21st century, no serious person can argue that America
is stronger when we give a cruel regime such as the one in Cuba
everything it wants from the United States, including money it uses to
repress its opponents, while we get nothing in return except more
anti-American bluster from a geriatric dictator.
With Cuba in the news recently, many Americans are asking why Cuba
matters to them and why they should care. The simple answer is that what
happens with Cuba has far-reaching and potentially damaging implications
far beyond the island nation. Cuba is not the only rogue regime with
which Obama is engaging in an attempt to end bad behavior. When America
sits at the negotiating table with one tyrant or radical regime, the
others — from Iran to North Korea and elsewhere — watch closely and
learn best practices that they can apply to advance their own
anti-American agendas. Just as the Cuban regime reportedly cited our
swap of five members of the Taliban in the negotiations for Alan Gross’
release, the Iranians watched how North Korea exploited U.S. diplomacy,
slow-walked negotiations and ultimately achieved their goal of
developing a nuclear weapon.
There should therefore be no doubt that regimes around the world will be
looking to emulate the Castro regime’s so far successful efforts to take
advantage of Obama’s weaknesses and to undermine the U.S. role as the
world’s leading economic and military power.
When the President settles for one-sided deals with the Castro regime,
it hurts the Cuban people and their aspirations for freedom. When Obama
allows the Castro regime to get the best of him in negotiations, it
emboldens tyrants around the world. As the President’s engagement with
the Castro regime continues, I will do all I can to ensure that his
“normalization” does not come at all costs, becoming yet another
instance of a failed foreign policy that makes America weaker in the
world and, ultimately, less safe.
Source: Rubio: Cuba taking advantage of U.S. – CNN.com –