In his spiteful address, the unelected ruler of Cuba said that he would accept President Obama’s gesture of good will “without renouncing a single one of our principles.”
What, exactly, are those principles?
Like his brother Fidel, whose name he invoked, and like King Louis XIV of France, whose name he dared not mention, Raúl speaks of himself as the embodiment of the state he rules, as evidenced by his mention of “our principles,” which assumes that all Cubans share his mindset. Raúl claims that he is defending his nation’s “self-determination,” “sovereignty,” and “independence,” and also dares to boast that his total control of the Cuban economy should be admired as “social justice.”
In reality, he is defending is his role as absolute monarch.
Cubans have no freedom of speech or assembly. The press is tightly controlled, and there is no freedom to establish political parties or labor unions. Travel is strictly controlled, as is access to the Internet. There is no economic freedom and no elections. According to the Associated Press, at least 8,410 dissidents were detained in 2014.
These are the principles that Raúl Castro is unwilling to renounce, which have driven nearly 20 percent of Cuba’s population into exile.
Unfortunately, these are also the very principles that President Obama ratified as acceptable, which will govern Cuba for years to come.
Although President Obama did acknowledge the lack of “freedom and openness” in Cuba, and also hinted that Raúl Castro should loosen his grip on the Cuban people, his rhetoric was as hollow as Raúl’s. He didn’t make any demands for immediate, genuine reforms in Cuba. Equally hollow was his reference to Cuba’s “civil society.” He made no mention of the constant abuse heaped on Cuba’s non-violent dissidents, or of the fact that the vast majority of them have pleaded with him to tighten rather than ease existing sanctions on the Castro regime.