When it comes to dealing with the Castro dictatorship inCuba, there are several schools of thought. The one preferred by Washington liberals, idealists, and the architects of the Obama Administration’s Cuba policy holds that increased travel, remittances, and diplomatic engagement is softening hearts, opening Cuba, and loosening the regime’s unwavering commitment to sustain a succession process that preserves the dictatorship of the Cuban Communist Party in a post-Castro era.
However, these pleasing liberal assumptions are negated on a daily basis by hard-headed facts on the ground in Cuba. With each new step lifting restrictions on travel and remittances have come more demands for additional actions—not a reciprocal loosening of the regime’s grip on its citizens.
A one-of a-kind letter entitled “Commitment to Freedom,” signed by a distinguished battery of Cuban-American former senior executives for Fortune 500 companies and released on June 25, advises Washington and the Obama Administration to curb its enthusiasm for a policy of appeasement and concessions. It warns against falling for the Castro regime’s deceptive campaign to secure U.S. capital infusion and bank credits and lure some Cuban-American businessmen without ushering in a true economic and political opening.
The former CEOs argue that recent economic reforms heralded as game-changing are, in fact, “mostly cosmetic, heavily-taxed and revocable, and offer no legal protection or investment return.” The letter’s signatories further warn that the Castro regime “is seeking to divide and neutralize the Cuban-American community, and lure some of its businessmen, by selling the fallacious concept that there is no solution toCuba’s predicament other than supporting cosmetic reforms without liberty and democracy.”
They are correct when they say the future “lies not with the current failed, octogenarian rulers, but with the leaders of the growing pro-democracy movement.”
The Obama Administration policy aimed at easing travel and remittances to Cuba has visibly failed to advance genuine economic or political freedom. With the unjust detention of American Alan Gross and the continual crackdown on dissent and protest, the regime cannot hide its iron fist of political repression.
It is time to take a tougher look at the shortcomings of U.S. Cuba policy and remind ourselves, as these former CEOs do, that when it comes to ending the tyranny of the Castro regime, there is “no substitute for freedom.”