Capitol Hill Cubans
Posted: 01 Jul 2015 09:20 AM PDT
Tomorrow, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will announce the establishment of diplomatic relations with the only government in the Western Hemisphere not elected by its citizens.
That -- in itself -- encapsulates why this is a bad policy.
The announcement comes on the same week that the Castro regime violently arrested over 226 peaceful Cuban dissidents.
That makes the timing particularly distasteful.
According to U.S. law ("LIBERTAD Act"), diplomatic recognition should only be considered "when the President determines that a there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba."
It also states that, "the satisfactory resolution of property claims by a Cuban Government recognized by the United States remains an essential condition for the full resumption of economic and diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba."
That makes the announcement in contravention of U.S. law.
Finally, as a condition for the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Castro regime has demanded restrictions on U.S. diplomat's movement; the inspection of diplomatic pouches for the Mission; an end to the execution of democracy programs (i.e. the training of independent journalists); and the continuance of a state security cordon to intimidate Cubans from approaching the Mission.
That would be in contravention of the Vienna Convention -- and unprecedented in the Western Hemisphere.
Congress should closely probe these very concerning issues, withhold funding for the operation of an Embassy and block the confirmation of any Ambassador, until it receives satisfactory responses from the Obama Administration.
Posted: 01 Jul 2015 09:19 AM PDT
Rubio Comments on Obama Re-Establishing Diplomatic Relations With Cuba
Washington, D.C.– U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, commented on the agreement between the United States and Cuba to open embassies in each other's capitals:
“Throughout this entire negotiation, as the Castro regime has stepped up its repression of the Cuban people, the Obama Administration has continued to look the other way and offer concession after concession. The administration's reported plan to restore diplomatic relations is one such prized concession to the Castro regime. It remains unclear what, if anything, has been achieved since the President's December 17th announcement in terms of securing the return of U.S. fugitives being harbored in Cuba, settling outstanding legal claims to U.S. citizens for properties confiscated by the regime, and in obtaining the unequivocal right of our diplomats to travel freely throughout Cuba and meet with any dissidents, and most importantly, securing greater political freedoms for the Cuban people. I intend to oppose the confirmation of an Ambassador to Cuba until these issues are addressed. It is time for our unilateral concessions to this odious regime to end.”
Last month, Rubio urged Secretary of State John Kerry to prioritize action in four key areas as negotiations continue regarding the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba and the possible re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, and pledged to oppose the confirmation of any nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Cuba absent concrete results on political reforms and human rights, the repatriation of U.S. terrorists and fugitives being harbored in Cuba, resolving uncompensated property claims, and the removal of restrictions on U.S. diplomats in Cuba.
Posted: 01 Jul 2015 09:19 AM PDT
Jeb Bush Statement on President Obama's Decision to Re-Open U.S. Embassy in Cuba
Miami, FL — Governor Jeb Bush released the following statement in response to President Obama’s decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.
“As Americans prepare to celebrate the anniversary of our freedom from tyranny and commit anew to the democratic principles on which our nation was founded, it is no small irony that President Obama prepares to open an Embassy in Havana, further legitimizing the brutal Castro regime.
I oppose the decision to further embrace the Castro regime by opening an embassy in Havana. The real test of the Obama Administration’s rapprochement with the Castro regime in Cuba is not whether President Obama’s legacy is burnished with dubious diplomatic achievements and photo-ops, but whether improved relations between Havana and Washington advance the cause of human rights and freedom for the Cuban people. The ongoing detention of dissidents and continued human rights abuses suggest the Administration’s policy is failing this test.
I hope the U.S. Congress will scrutinize the concessions made to Havana prior to considering any ambassador.”
Posted: 01 Jul 2015 07:06 AM PDT
Statement from the Center for a Free Cuba:
Obama Administration: Normalizing Relations as Part of Smokescreen
The Obama Administration will announce tomorrow that it is normalizing relations with the government of General Raul Castro in Cuba. The operations of the American Embassy in Cuba are expected to acquiesce to a number of Cuban restrictions outside the boundaries of normal diplomatic relations. In order to be able to announce this symbolic success, President Obama will acquiesce maintaining hundreds of Cuban nationals that are employees of the Cuban government inside the American Embassy in Havana. The Administration will continue to contract employees from a Cuban government agency. Many of those employees are intelligence officers, and all of them are susceptible to pressure to spy on the diplomatic mission by the Cuban regime. The U.S. government is not permitted to hire workers in Havana as it does elsewhere in the Americas, but it has to pay the salaries of Cubans working for a Cuban government agency for a number of positions in Havana’s American mission.
In addition, it remains to be seen whether Cubans will have the same access to the American mission that they have in other Latin American countries. The American diplomatic mission in Havana is encircled by Cuban security forces that limit access to the mission.
The Administration has yet to respond to Congressional questions about whether General Castro has agreed not to open up America’s diplomatic pouch, as it has done in the past in contravention of the Vienna Convention.
The announcement comes just a few days after the latest roundup of 226 dissidents who were detained last weekend. In order to be able to normalize diplomatic relations, the Administration, in fact, plays an important role in the smokescreen covering up the increase of repression in Cuba. Shortly after the President’s announcement on December 17th of last year, when he indicated that fifty-some political prisoners would be released (many of them have since been rearrested), Amnesty International said the prison releases “will be no more than a smokescreen if they are not accompanied by expanded space for the free and peaceful expression of all opinion and freedoms in Cuba.”
President Obama’s Cuba legacy now includes actively participating in Raul Castro’s smokescreen covering up increasing repression and abuse of Cubans.
On this Fourth of July, Cubans who disagree with Raul Castro’s government will not be invited to attend the celebration hosted by the U.S. in Havana. Cuba’s Foreign Minister has had a virtual veto on who is invited to those receptions, and the Administration instead organizes a separate event for Cuba’s opposition. This is not the way America’s independence is celebrated in Buenos Aires, San Jose, Costa Rica, Mexico City, and elsewhere, where representatives of those societies are invited and the host governments do not tell the Americans whom to invite.