There was a time when, under the Cuban constitution, citizens were allowed to petition the National Assembly for formation of new political parties. In 1981, Andres J. Solares took advantage of his constitutional rights and began gathering signatures for formation of the Cuban Revolutionary Party.
On December 22, 1981, Solares was taken from his home by the Cuban secret service. Despite having undertaken action allowed by Cuba’s constitution, he was charged with attempting to promote a revolution. The trial against Solares was a fraud and he was sentenced to eight years in prison.
The unjust jailing of Andres Solares became a cause for human rights organizations around the world. Amnesty International once named Solares their “Prisoner of the World.” Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator Bob Dole co-authored a letter calling on Fidel Castro to free him. After serving six and a half years in prison, Solares was freed.
Today Solares believes that the Castro regime is in its final stages of decomposition. His new book, Cuba: The Disaster of Castro’s Revolution, is a dissertation on how Castro’s reign in Cuba has been “a moral, cultural and economic disaster.”
One of the more chilling chapters in Solares’ book discusses how the Castro regime persecutes free thinking. He points out that opposition to Castro exists, but “all of them, as well as their families in most cases, have suffered the repression of Castro with full intensity. Most have been incarcerated for many years, in extremely bad conditions, usually in isolation cells, and their families have only been allowed to see them very sporadically.”
The U.S. Interests Section in Havana should be a beacon of freedom
It was reported last week in The Daily Caller that, under the Obama administration, the United States Interests Section has turned its political back on the Cuban dissidents opposing Castro.
While the United States does not have formal relations with Cuba, it does operate an Interests Section within the Swiss embassy in Havana. Long considered a safe haven for the freedom fighters opposing the Castro regime, the Interests Section has been central to the battle for Cuban liberty.
It is appalling to hear from one of the dissenters that he and others in the opposition now use the European embassies to get and transmit information. They no longer feel welcome at the U.S. home base in Havana.
When Barack Obama was running for president, he stated that his policy towards Cuba would be guided by one word — “libertad.” While stumping for votes in southern Florida he said, “The road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba’s political prisoners, the right of free speech, a free press, freedom of assembly, and it must lead to elections that are free and fair.”
It is unclear how Obama’s decision to appease Castro at the expense of those most needing his support meets his goal of supporting “libertad.”
Obama must take Reaganesque action
Since being elected, President Obama has told Latin American leaders that he was seeking a “new beginning” with Cuba. His secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has called the past U.S. policy toward Cuba a failure. The Interests Section’s attitude regarding the opposition is just the latest in a line of horrible messages this administration has sent to Cuba in the name of “libertad.”
This White House should know that appeasement will not have a positive benefit to the common people of Cuba. The Obama team opposes trickle-down economics in a market economy. Surely they do not believe benefits will trickle down in a corrupt, brutal, totalitarian dictatorship?
Ronald Reagan had his defining moment in history when he stood at the Brandenburg Gate and called on Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. It is time for Obama to take a similar “line in the sand” stance with the Castro brothers.
President Obama needs to dust off that tough guy campaign speech and give it at the Southernmost Point in Key West. He should point to the island 90 miles away and demand freedom for political prisoners. Call for free and fair elections. Let Castro know that nothing will change in relations with the United States until people under his grip are free to simply assemble and speak openly.
And then President Obama needs to follow up his words with action. Putting the welcome mat back out on the front steps of the Interests Section would be a good start.
Andres Solares is correct. If by action of age alone, the reign of the Castro boys is near an end. American policy now will set the stage for Cuba’s transition to freedom and liberty. When Castro is gone, America must stand ready to assist the freedom loving people of Cuba.
Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.