Trump can still cor­rect U.S.-Cuba pol­icy ‘E

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - RE­BECCA HAGELIN Re­becca Hagelin can be reached at re­becca@re­bec­c­a­

very sin­gle day cit­i­zens have their civil rights vi­o­lated. In­no­cent peo­ple are in pris­ons fes­ter­ing — peo­ple no one seems to know about! Cuba is still run by a mur­der­ous regime. Talk about the need to fight ter­ror­ism — the Cas­tro regime is com­posed of ruth­less ter­ror­ist lead­ers! And Barack Obama — for the sake of his legacy — wanted to ‘nor­mal­ize’ re­la­tion­ships with them? Cuba is not a ‘nor­mal’ gov­ern­ment — you can’t nor­mal­ize a re­la­tion­ship with a bru­tal dic­ta­tor! The only one who ben­e­fited from Obama’s poli­cies is the mon­strous gov­ern­ment.”

Such were the pas­sion­ate words of my Cuban-born friend, Carlos, when I spoke with him this week­end about Pres­i­dent Trump’s or­der to re­scind most of Pres­i­dent Obama’s Cuba poli­cies.

Carlos was only 14 months old when his fa­ther, mother, two tod­dler broth­ers and grand­fa­ther boarded a plane for Amer­ica on Christ­mas Day in 1960. They left un­der the guise of vis­it­ing a family mem­ber who lived in New Jersey with only the per­mit­ted $20 for the en­tire family. Al­though they held round-trip tick­ets in or­der to fool the gov­ern­ment into be­liev­ing they would soon re­turn to Ha­vana, this family — and so many like them — never re­turned.

But they did — and still do — look back.

Carlos’ fa­ther, Jose, is now 91 years old, and some 58 years later, he is still too fear­ful of the Cas­tro regime to al­low me to use his full name for this col­umn. The mem­o­ries of the bru­tal­ity his friends and neigh­bors suf­fered are still too vivid. The hellish re­al­ity that life is for those who live in Cuba to­day is too real.

Jose is right: Cuba is still a boil­ing caul­dron of bru­tal per­se­cu­tion. Nearly 10,000 Cuban “dis­si­dents” have been ar­rested since 2016, and some 1,900 just since Jan. 1 of this year. And ev­ery Sun­day, “The Ladies in White” — moms, wives, sis­ters and daugh­ters of po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers — dress in white clothes and peace­fully pray and call for the re­lease of po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers. These brave women and girls are reg­u­larly beaten and jailed by the gov­ern­ment thugs. When was the last time you heard Barack Obama, Bey­once or Michael Moore — who just seem to love the Cas­tro regime — talk about any of that?

De­spite the dark­ness and con­tin­u­ing bru­tal­ity, for the first time in 58 long years, Jose feels hope­ful for his for­mer coun­try and for the peo­ple left be­hind.

Jose, Carlos and their family are proud and thank­ful Amer­i­cans who trea­sure their free­dom and their Cuban her­itage — and they have never for­got­ten those who en­joy nei­ther. But Jose and Carlos now have a new hope for Cuba — and that hope lies in one man: Pres­i­dent Trump.

“Cubans have the right to be free. They have the right to make some­thing of them­selves. And if it’s ever go­ing to hap­pen, it’s go­ing to hap­pen un­der Don­ald Trump,” Carlos said. “Fi­nally, we have a pres­i­dent who re­al­izes the hu­man suf­fer­ing. Pres­i­dent Trump is a coura­geous man of truth and strength, and he has demon­strated that he truly cares about peo­ple and about free­dom. Last week Pres­i­dent Trump showed the world that the United States should and can play a role in spread­ing free­dom in our hemi­sphere, start­ing with the lit­tle is­land next door.”

Jose lives with the sad re­al­ity that six dark decades of com­mu­nist hor­ror stran­gled the very life out of his gen­er­a­tion. So his prayers and hope are for the younger gen­er­a­tions of his peo­ple who have never tasted free­dom, who never knew the beauty of “the pearl of the Caribbean,” as Cuba was once called.

As Jose re­mem­bers and cher­ishes the coun­try he en­joyed and loved as a child and as a suc­cess­ful young busi­ness­man, his thoughts also go to the fu­ture and to what he be­lieves that Mr. Trump can help make a re­al­ity. It’s a dream that he and his son, Carlos, who never knew the Cuba of his fore­fa­thers, both hold close to their hearts: that all Cuban peo­ple, no mat­ter where they re­side, will know the joy and dig­nity that comes from be­ing free.

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