More like concessions instead of negotiations is one reason…..
Last December, President Obama announced a major shift in US-Cuban relations. The White House left Congress and most of the President’s own Administration – including the State Department – in the dark. Instead, two White House aides held a series of secret talks with the Cuban regime over two years – talks which the Administration has since conceded were “non-transactional.” In other words, these turned out to be one-sided negotiations, with the U.S. making a series of concessions to Havana.
Had the White House consulted more widely, it might have heard that Havana was facing the prospect of losing the largesse of its benefactor, Venezuela, a country suffering under the weight of failed socialist policies, plummeting global oil prices, social unrest, and the world’s highest inflation rates. Under these conditions, the US could have insisted that the Cuban government make basic human rights concessions, such as ending the systematic harassment and imprisonment of dissidents in Castro’s gulags. The fact is, these negotiations turned out to be a tragic missed opportunity for the United States to stand with Cuban dissidents in support of human rights and democratic values.
Indeed, when the Stars and Stripes was hoisted over the U.S. Embassy in Havana, a ceremony Secretary of State John Kerry presided over, Cuban dissidents and human rights activists were shamefully kept out. The Secretary later explained that the ceremony was a “government to government moment, with very limited space,” a weak excuse that underscores the extent to which the Cuban regime is calling the shots in the thawing of relations.
While the negotiations did secure the release of a USAID contractor who had been held in deplorable conditions on trumped up charges, the more sophisticated Cuban negotiators won the release of three Cuban spies held in the U.S. for espionage and their involvement in shooting down a US plane in 1996. As if this weren’t enough, the Cuban negotiators got normalized diplomatic relations along with relaxed trade, travel, and banking regulations that directly benefit the regime. Cuba also won its removal from the state sponsor of terrorism list, despite the fact that the country continues to harbor members of US-designated terrorist groups FARC and ETA, not to mention the US terrorist and Black Liberation Army activist Joanne Chesimard, who is on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.
Perhaps seeing how he has outmaneuvered President Obama, Raul Castro demanded even more concessions from the United State last month at his speech before the UN General Assembly: a return of the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, the end of U.S.-sponsored Radio and TV Marti broadcasts and other “destabilizing” activities against Cuba, and “just compensation” for the embargo.
In defending this policy change, the President has compared our economic relationship with Cuba to that of China and Vietnam. But China and Vietnam at least allow foreign firms to hire and recruit employees, without their pay going directly to the government.