Biden lifts Trump sanctions on Cuba and betrays the Cuban people – AMAC

AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis

Last week, the Biden administration announced that the United States would lift a number of Trump-era restrictions on the Cuban regime, returning to Obama’s policy of trying to forge closer ties with the dictatorship. Communist. The news was a blow to dissidents on the ground in Cuba and exposed a glaring inconsistency in the Biden administration’s policy of helping those struggling to break free from oppression.

In a statement on Tuesday, the White House said it would allow expanded flights and group travel to Cuba, which opponents say will lead to increased tourism revenue for the regime. The White House also said it would relaunch a family reunification program to allow more Cuban immigrants to enter the United States and ease a ban on remittances — another policy some lawmakers fear the regime may see. does not use to collect income from Cuban workers in the United States. States.

Notably, Biden couldn’t even rally all congressional Democrats on the decision to scrap the restrictions. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a Cuban-American Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the announcement “risks sending the wrong message to the wrong people, at the wrong time, and for all the wrong reasons.”

The opposition movement in Cuba has also expressed dismay at the move, seeing it as a double whammy that will not only strengthen the regime but hamper its own efforts to impose reforms.

Cuban dissidents have closely followed the current situation in Ukraine, seeing in the Ukrainian people’s struggle for freedom a reflection of their own decades-long struggle. On the day Russian forces stormed the border, a Santiago de Cuba dissident, who wished to be identified only as Fernan, recounted how he held a self-made Ukrainian flag and protested the invasion with a small group of people. Twenty minutes later, a policeman was on her street and threatening to arrest her. He was fined for disturbing public order.

Fernan, who is an engineer, has not coordinated his actions with anyone and is not officially associated with any opposition group. His protest was spontaneous, and as he started, other pedestrians joined him.

Similar protests took place in Havana, San Cristobal, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Marti, Santa Cruz del Sur and Guantanamo. Jose Daniel Ferrer, a leader of UNPACU, one of the largest opposition groups, openly called for protests, citing a famous motto of the Polish Solidarity movement “For your freedom and ours”.

Mr. Ferrer, drawing on a historical parallel of Putin and Hitler, criticized Cuban supporters of the Russian war. “Anyone who today justifies and applauds Vladimir Putin and Russia in the midst of the invasion against Ukraine, is like those who defended Hitler’s invasion of Poland by troops and their ensuing world war” , did he declare.

During Sunday Masses, many Cuban priests spontaneously added Ukraine and the Ukrainian people to their prayers, emphasizing that the struggle for freedom is one of the noblest forms of expression of the second greatest commandment, to love one’s neighbor as oneself.

There seems to be an innate understanding among the Cuban people of their common struggle with the Ukrainian people and the importance of showing determination against injustice everywhere, not just in their own country. They are not just fighting against a corrupt government or a nefarious set of policies, but against evil itself – an experience too similar for millions of people in Ukraine today.

But instead of responding with the same resounding denunciation, the same sanctions, and even the same veiled threats of open military conflict as in Ukraine, the Biden administration has effectively empowered the Cuban regime to continue its reign of terror.

Following mass anti-regime protests last year that led to the arrest, beating and torture of hundreds of protesters, the government is more determined than ever to suppress all dissent. Now Biden is rewarding them by lifting the sanctions, a move that opposition leaders say will only benefit the regime and do nothing for the Cuban people. According to dissident Amir Walle, the biggest beneficiary of the easing of travel restrictions will be the state-owned conglomerate which dominates 80% of the tourism industry.

Major General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, for example, the son-in-law of Raúl Castro, leads an empire that controls 83 hotel establishments (29,000 rooms in agreements with approximately 14 international chains); holds an effective monopoly on the national network of retail stores (TRD Caribe) and owns shipping companies (Melfi Marine Corp and Servinaves Panamá SA).

The military-operated GAESA also owns construction companies, car dealerships (Havanautos and Havanatour), real estate companies (Almest), banks, and import and export companies (Tecnotex and Tecnoimport). By the very nature of a communist economy, there is no way the lifting of any restrictions will benefit anyone but those responsible for gross human rights abuses against the people. Cuban.

This led to widespread disappointment and even anger from the dissident community in Cuba. A Catholic priest said the opposition felt punished and even betrayed by the Biden administration. Cousins ​​Jorge and Nadir Martín Perdomo, who are currently jailed for protesting last year, said they would have wanted nothing more than New sanctions, rather than canceling the old ones. They also underscored the profound irony of uniting Cuban families in the United States while political prisoners are denied contact with their families in Cuba. Another Cuban opposition leader who wished to remain anonymous said he fears this could prove to be another catastrophic mistake by President Biden.

The White House has yet to comment explaining the apparent incongruity between its support for the Ukrainian people in their fight against Russia and its passivity in the face of the Cuban regime’s oppression of its own people. For many Cuban freedom fighters, they may now find themselves desperately hoping for a Republican – and possibly Donald Trump – return to the White House in 2024, after so many years of disappointment at the hands of Democratic administrations. successive.

Ben Solis is the pseudonym of an international affairs journalist, historian and researcher.

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