OPINION

Opinion: A new paradigm for Cuba/America?

La Habana Vieja, Cuba, on Wednesday Dec. 17, 2014.

La Habana Vieja, Cuba, on Wednesday Dec. 17, 2014.  (ap)

The earth shook Wednesday morning while I sipped my morning coffee and watched President Barack Obama junk 50 years of American policy by prostrating the United States to an official state sponsor of terrorism, Castro Cuba.

There are his previous decisions to cancel a missile system in Eastern European countries to help protect them against Russia. Reason, to curry favor with the Russians. Or his giving in over and over to another official state sponsor of terrorism seeking nuclear weapons, Iran.

Why didn’t Obama insist on open and free elections monitored by international observers? Why didn’t Obama consult with Congress as he promised to do if anything major was ever discussed with Cuba?

- Raoul Lowery Contreras

When fanatic terrorists in the Gaza strip commenced firing armed rockets into our ally Israel, Obama’s Department of State flipped Israel off and expressed sympathy with the terrorist aggressors. Now comes Cuba.

Obama has been making baby steps to ease American pressure on Cuba. He eased individual restrictions but never publically negotiated with Cuba on the Congressionally-imposed 50-year-old embargo.

The image of Obama’s new posture is the release of an American, Alan Gross, whose incarceration was illegal the moment he was arrested five years ago. He was a 60 year-old contractor sent to Cuba to help the Jewish community hook up to the Internet. Gross is back. Hooray!

But what did he cost? Castro made ransom demands that the President gave in to. Will other dictators and terrorists now kidnap Americans to keep as hostages while they negotiate ransoms?

Three convicted Cuban spies serving time in American prisons for conspiracy to murder Americans over international waters were the price. Obama gave them freedom in exchange for Gross and an unnamed intelligence asset in a Cuban prison.

Diplomatic recognition by the U.S. was another demand and Obama gave in. He received nothing in return. An embassy and an ambassador were demanded. Obama gave in, he received nothing in return.

While the President was addressing us about this New Cuban Paradigm, Cuban dictator Raul Castro was addressing his 13-million person island prison while suggesting President Obama use “Executive Action” to wipe out the embargo – which he cannot do as the embargo is re-imposed in what was called the “Helms-Burton Act” of Congress. Castro prohibited the broadcast of Obama’s speech.

Using Alan Gross as an excuse, President Obama embarked on this Grand Diplomacy Tour 18 months ago according to Washington insiders. Was the announcement timed for after the election in case there was a national negative reaction that would draw more votes against Democrats? Certainly no neutral observer would argue with that posit.

How could we possibly measure a negative political reaction? Republican opposition to the New Paradigm, perhaps? Neutral observers would just shrug off GOP opposition. They would also shrug off opposition from older Cuban Americans who fled Cuba and Castro decades ago. Images of desperate people clinging to rafts and inner tubes floating 90 miles to Florida from Cuba might be too emotional, too biased; so they would say.

So who would anyone pay attention to? How about the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey and the son of people who fled the Communist Cuba the Castro Brothers imposed with a gun.

Democrat Menendez crushed Obama’s huge change in policy.

Obama claims Cubans will be better off if they have more contact with Americans. More American money sent by relatives in the U.S. will help people, Obama claims. The country is one of the most poverty strangled in Latin America and it is not the fault of a lack of American tourists or cash gifts; Cuba is poverty stricken because of Communism.

Obama claims that this new policy will leave behind America’s “former colonizer” history in Cuba. That left me speechless what with my five university years studying Latin America. I’ll use U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s observation to enlighten the America-haters Obama courts with historical and political dissembling.

Senator Marco Rubio: The United States sided with and helped Cubans fighting their Spanish colonizers for independence. Spain had “owned” Cuba for four hundred years. It was pushed out by Cubans and Americans. The Americans stayed for two years after the war ended with Spain’s defeat and turned over Cuba to Cubans in 1902. What “colonizer” Mr. President? Is it a coincidence that Dictator Raul Castro used the exact words in his televised speech in Cuba while Obama spoke here? Was that a Castro demand, too?

Senator Rubio continued that “President Obama is the worst negotiator in my (Rubio’s) lifetime.” I agree.

Alan Olsen and one unnamed spy traded for three convicted spies responsible for the deaths of Americans. Allegedly, 53 Cuban-held political prisoners are also involved. Why didn’t Obama get the right to send American observers into Cuban prisons and labor farms to interview all political prisoners?

Why didn’t Obama insist on open and free elections monitored by international observers? Why didn’t Obama consult with Congress as he promised to do if anything major was ever discussed with Cuba?

We must agree with Senator Marco Rubio. President Obama is the worst negotiator “we’ve ever had. He has betrayed those people who sacrificed” so much to bring freedom back to Cuba.

Amen Senator.

Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate. Contreras's books are available at Amazon.com

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