DECEMBER 11, 2013
The day President Obama made global headlines for bowing to and shaking hands with Cuba’s communist dictator political dissidents on the island were arrested by the regime for peacefully celebrating International Human Rights Day.
It’s a typical crackdown by Cuba’s oppressive communist government that’s unlikely to receive mainstream media attention, but south Florida’s Spanish-language newspaper wrote about it this week. Intellectuals and peaceful political protesters are often incarcerated on the island, but the timing of this particular raid is notable because the now-famous Obama-Raul Castro handshake ignited speculation of normalizing relations between Washington and Havana.
The exchange took place at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in South Africa this week. As he strolled by a line of world leaders attending the Johannesburg service, Obama shook hands with Castro and seemed to bow to the much shorter Cuban dictator. Cuba has for years appeared on the State Department’s list of terrorist-sponsoring nations and the communist regime is one of the world’s worst violators of human rights. Additionally, the U.S. has a trade embargo against Cuba and relations have been strained since the Cold War.
Yet there was our commander-in-chief employing the same sort of diplomacy he has used to befriend radical Muslims that want to murder Americans. The White House insists it was not “pre-planned” though the Cuban government hailed it as a hopeful sign. Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen blasted Obama during a House Committee hearing: “When the leader of the free world shakes the bloody hand of a ruthless dictator like Raul Castro, it becomes a propaganda coup for the tyrant. Raul Castro uses that hand to sign the orders to repress and jail democracy advocates.”
Meanwhile, back on the island prison, the Castro regime deployed police to arrest peaceful demonstrators, including a group known as Damas de Blanco (ladies in white), that usually gathers on Sundays. While Obama was schmoozing Castro and delivering a eulogy that touched on human rights and justice, the Cuban government arrested dozens of citizens celebrating the anniversary of the United Nations’ 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Obama administration appears to be working to normalize relations with Cuba, despite its documented history of human rights violations and its support for Middle Eastern terrorists. In records obtained by Judicial Watch earlier this year, the Treasury Department granted two famous singers a permit to travel to Cuba. Also this year, the administration granted Cuban officials visas to attend an AIDS conference in Washington D.C. at the request of California Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
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