By The Investors Business Daily‘s Editorial Board
President Obama claimed his move to normalize relations with Cuba was a means of nudging the military dictatorship toward democracy. He was wrong. The regime is cracking down on dissent harder than ever.
In what ought to be called Crackdown Tuesday a large group of prominent Havana dissidents — activists, civil society advocates and independent journalists — were arrested as they headed for a pro-free speech soapbox “speaker’s corner” event put on by Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguero, whose group is #YoTambienExijo, or “I also demand.”
Among the arrested were prominent blogger writer Yoani Sanchez; her husband Reinaldo Escobar, who edits 14ymedio.com, an online dissident publication; Eliecer Avila, a prominent democracy activist; and members of the Ladies in White group, mostly wives of political prisoners. Bruguero herself was hauled off by the Cuban secret police and held incommunicado for more than a day until she was released. She said Wednesday they tried to force her to sign a confession, but she refused.
So much for “promoting positive change,” which is what the White House claimed would be the result of its move toward normalization. Fact is, the Castro regime sees normalization of U.S. ties as a green light to step up the barbarism.
It’s not just attacks against high-profile dissidents. The Miami Herald reported earlier this month that the regime rammed and sank a boat of more than 30 refugees fleeing the island, killing one and jailing the men in the group as they were dragged back to shore.
And that underlines the naivete of the Obama administration. “We are separated by 90 miles of water, but are brought together through shared relationships and the desire to promote a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba,” the White House website reads.
Brought together through the desire to promote democracy? Not according to his new partner, dictator Raul Castro, who put on his military uniform and warned Cubans not to get any ideas from this move, defiantly warning that the communism that has so failed the country would remain in place.
There’s little doubt he knows what he’s doing.
Commentary continues here: Obama Outreach Intensifies Repression