News and Facts about Cuba

Freedom remains in short supply in Cuba

remains in short supply in Cuba
By ROBIN BERES 12 hrs ago

In January 1961, the American embassy in Cuba was abruptly closed as the
U.S. State Department recalled all of its personnel and
Eisenhower formally severed relations with the island nation.

Within a few weeks of that decision, the only Americans remaining on the
island were U.S. troops stationed on the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo
Bay. For 55 years, relations between the two nations remained more
combative than cordial.

But in December of 2014, President Obama and Cuban President
announced simultaneously that the two nations were going to pursue a new
course in their relations.

Obama assured the American people that the outreach would be in line
with U.S. interests and would help make “the lives of ordinary Cubans a
little bit easier, more free, more prosperous.”

On July 20, 2015, American and Cuban diplomats stood side-by-side in
Washington as Cuban soldiers raised their national flag over the Cuban
embassy. Shortly after the ceremony, Secretary of State John Kerry met
with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez at the State Department.

Rodriquez presented a list of his government’s long-standing requests
that included compensating Cuba for “human and economic damages” imposed
by the American economic on the island nation, ending that
embargo, and returning to Cuba the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

The ceremony at the Cuban embassy drew reaction from both pro- and
anti-Cuban activists and politicians. Most activists continue to insist
the long-standing policy only worsens human-rights abuses in Cuba.

In March of this year, President Obama and his family flew to Cuba for a
historic three-day visit. Just hours before Air Force One touched down
at the Havana , more than 50 dissidents who were marching to
protest abuses were rounded up and — right under
the noses of dozens of international journalists.

The president and his family were greeted at Jose Marti Airport by the
Cuban foreign minister and other government officials. Noticeably absent
among the welcoming committee was President Raul Castro. Whether the
elderly ’s absence was planned in advance due to weather
conditions or was a deliberate snub remains unclear.

So one year later, what’s changed and what hasn’t? What has happened
with , trade, and Cuba’s disturbing history of human-rights

On July 20, a senior official at the State Department held a briefing on
the status of re-established diplomatic relations. According to that
individual, both nations “have engaged on a range of economic, security,
cultural and social issues. … We remain convinced that our shift from
a policy of isolation to engagement is the best course for supporting
the aspirations of the Cuban people and the emergence of a peaceful,
prosperous, and democratic Cuba.”

Yes, there have been noticeable signs that trade, tourism, and diplomacy
have greatly increased between the two nations. Cruise ships regularly
visit the island and numerous U.S. government officials have also
visited. Unfortunately, all of this increased activity seems to have
benefited only the Castro regime. There has been little benefit to the
average Cuban citizen.

In fact, as President Obama must know full well, the lives of ordinary
Cubans have not become “a little bit easier, more free, more
prosperous.” If anything, things have gotten worse.

The State Department briefing was held just one day after The Miami
Herald published a less-flattering news story: “Cuba’s human rights
abuses worse despite U.S. ties.” The story by Andre Oppenheimer notes
that in the past year and a half, the Obama administration’s outreach to
Cuba has been generous and Castro’s regime has eagerly accepted the
proffered hand.

But, says Oppenheimer, while much has been offered, little has been
given in return. He shares a recently released report from the
Havana-based Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Reconciliation.

The report says that the number of political arrests and detentions has
greatly increased from a monthly average of 718 in 2015 to nearly 1,100
a month since January of this year. The Cuban government continues to
imprison, torture and even execute individuals for whatever it may
consider to be an act of civil disobedience.

Cuba needs this budding relationship far more than the U.S. needs Cuba.
It is time that the Obama administration shows a little backbone and
replaces its overly benevolent, naïve approach to the Castro regime with
a demand for greater human rights and a true democratic government.
Until that happens, Congress is right to keep the embargo in place.

Robin Beres can be reached at

Source: Freedom remains in short supply in Cuba | The News Virginian | –

8 Responses to Freedom remains in short supply in Cuba

  • Nothing new here, especially quoting the cold war warrior Andres Oppenheimer as to the future of Cuba. His attitude to the island is neatly summed up in his discredited book “Castro’s Final Hour” published 25 years ago. Where is the evidence for the “… torture and executions” since January simply for an “…..act of civil disobedience”? The article’s final appeal to keep the embargo in place does no credit to the author, or the publication that published this material originally. If a policy has failed 100% for 50+ years, and caused untold suffering, deaths and illness in the Cuban people, any call for this discredited and failed policy to be continued should be treated with contempt.

    • Indeed, nothing new her from you. The standard blanket defense of the Castro regime and the standard slanderous attack on those that expose and document the human rights abuses of that regime. Also a standard avoidance of the issue: the (lack of) freedom in Cuba. Try addressing the larger issues for a change, William.
      Note that Mr. Oppenheimer is far from “discredited”. Well respected.
      As far as examples of recent cases of torture:
      Sindicalista cubano Iván Hernández fue detenido y torturado
      11 de agosto de 2016 – 13:08
      More here:
      Sanctions against the Cuban elite that has “caused untold suffering, deaths and illness in the Cuban people” should remain in place. the sanctions policy is far from failed. Its impact was cancelled out by Soviet subsidies and Chavista cash. The regime – and apologists like you – may try to blame all the harm the regime has caused on the sanctions, but the fact that in one and the same hospital one wing of the apartheid system reserved for the tourists and elite has everything while the other wing for Cubans lacks everything exposes you propaganda lies about the sanctions.
      Decry the cynical Castro elite’s abuses instead of supporting them with your propaganda:
      “”The U.S. says it approved $142 million in commercial and donated medical exports to the communist island in 2008. So why did less than 1 percent of it get there?”
      “It’s not the embargo,” said John Kavulich, a senior policy adviser at the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Economic Trade Council, which provides nonpartisan commercial and economic information about Cuba. “These are economic and political decisions not to buy.” Cuba often waits for allies to donate what it needs, Kavulich said. “They’d rather get things for free than pay for them.”
      “It’s unclear why U.S. medical exports aren’t reaching Cuba”, Dallas Morning News, 5 December 2009.”

      • As always your replies to my posts are revealing, and often informative, as your information resources are far greater than those available to me. I consider Andres Oppenheimer to be discredited after reading many of his articles, for 10+ years, in the Miami Herald, long before I knew of Cuba Verdad. Just last month he published an article about Britain’s impending departure from the EU… I did not know whether to laugh or cry, it was so wide of the truth.

        I stand corrected re medical exports, if Cuba refuses to take up its approved allocation of exports from the USA. My (very limited) experience of Cuban hospitals also gave me cause for concern. I visited a friend in hospital who had just given birth; both the accommodation for mother and daughter and overall facilities were a far cry from the Cuban health service portrayed in the media, and, in terms of cleanliness, the staircases, corridors etc were not acceptable (to me) in comparison with UK hospitals. It certainly deterred me from using the Cuban health service myself whilst on the island, except in the case of dire emergency.

        • You “consider” most people (including us) as “discredited” because the oppose the regime you mindlessly and dogmatically support. That is reality, William.
          I am glad that you are slowly opening up to reality, but note you still struggle against your dogmatic barriers.
          Any intelligent person knows that if ward A for foreigners in Cuba has everything notwithstanding the trade sanctions while ward B for Cubans has nothing (something you as a Castro apologist and the regime blame on the “embargo”) that it has nothing to do with the sanctions and has all to do with the priorities of the Castro regime. Abandon the mindless rhetoric and start addreesing the issues in an intellifgent manner. Overcome your reluctance to accept reality.

          • I have never claimed that CV is “discredited” although 99% of the material you post highlights something less than satisfactory about life in Cuba. I have never “mindlessly supported the regime”, as you refer to the legal Government of Cuba, but having visited the island many times over the last 18 years I can see things for myself. Speaking regularly with ordinary Cuban families I am aware of the privations of life in Cuba which would not be tolerated for long by anyone in the UK.

            I am learning more; CV, and your replies to my posts, cover material which would be completely unknown to anyone in the UK who is not a Cuba specialist in higher education, or perhaps an emigre Cuban. When I return in a fortnight I shall see what changes have occurred in the two years since I was last there, for better or worse.

          • The material we post is “unsatisfactory” to you because it presents you with a reality you don’t want to see. That is your problem. Next time you look at something in Cuba do so with an open mind instead of with a closed mind.As a known Castro supporter people will be on their guard speaking to you. They fear reprisals. Approach people with an open mind, a listening earn and no preconceived ideas and you might learn something about reality in Cuba.
            When you truly look at Cuba you will see very little has changed for the people and most for the worse, not the better. It is the regime and its cronies (from the military – economic elite to the police and military) that mainly have profited. You will also see how – in Havana – hotel prices have surged with very little change in quality. If you go to the real Cuba and see how those far removed from tourism live you will see what a disaster the Castro regime has created.

  • A misunderstanding; I did not post that anything about Cuba on CV was “unsatisfactory” to me, just that it focuses on those aspects of Cuba life that are “less than satisfactory” for the Cuban people. I shall certainly make a determined effort on my September visit to speak to people individually, and find out their thoughts, rather than rely on official information sources. For example, Radio Angulo, Holguin’s website recently stated that a new fleet of buses had started in the town; when I asked my friends in that town about it, they said that yes, there were a few new buses, but they still mostly travelled by bicitaxi and horse-drawn bus… in 2016! I am about to book my Havana hotels at the beginning and end of my visit, and will see if prices have increased from June 2014, and also if standards have increased to match the prices.

    • We focus on reality, William. That means that we post the reality as it is and regretfully most aspects of the life of the average Cuban are “unsatisfactory”. From the hospitals (your own admission); to wages, housing, ….
      Note: if you want to gain the Cuban’s trust: learn Spanish and stop the pro-Castro rhetoric. Cubans have a “sixth sense” for “chivatos” and you sound like one.

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