Ed­i­to­ri­als: Greater ex­pec­ta­tions for Cuba

Rolling back Obama poli­cies, Trump strikes a blow for free­dom

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY -

There’s more to life than pur­suit of the dol­lar. It’s not a mes­sage nec­es­sar­ily ex­pected from a bil­lion­aire pres­i­dent, but in re­vers­ing his pre­de­ces­sor’s Cuba poli­cies, Pres­i­dent Trump re­minded the world that pros­per­ity grows in the sun­shine of free­dom, and dwin­dles in the dark­ness where democ­racy dies.

Be­fore a large and ap­pre­cia­tive au­di­ence in Mi­ami’s Lit­tle Ha­vana, Mr. Trump an­nounced last week that he would roll back some of Pres­i­dent Obama’s ini­tia­tives meant to lib­er­al­ize travel and trade with Cuba. “We will not be silent in the face of com­mu­nist op­pres­sion any longer,” said Mr. Trump. “I am mov­ing im­me­di­ately to can­cel the com­pletely one-sided deal with Cuba.”

In par­tic­u­lar, the pres­i­dent’s new pol­icy will steer com­mer­cial ex­change away from of­fi­cial tourism-ori­ented busi­nesses con­trolled by the Cuban mil­i­tary, which en­rich only the Cas­tro regime’s elite, and to­ward en­ter­prises run by pri­vate cit­i­zens. The Trump pol­icy strength­ens a pre­vi­ous ban on un­re­stricted U.S. travel by in­di­vid­u­als, and lim­its vis­its for non-aca­demic ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses, to ap­proved travel groups. Air­lines and cruise ships will still be per­mit­ted to carry pas­sen­gers be­tween the U.S. main­land and the is­land na­tion.

While im­pos­ing new re­stric­tions on com­merce, the Trump re­forms will pre­serve diplo­matic chan­nels. The U.S. Em­bassy in Ha­vana, which Mr. Obama re­opened with great fan­fare 14 months ago, will re­main open. Cuban Amer­i­cans have long har­bored deep en­mity for the in­jus­tice of death and dis­en­fran­chise­ment vis­ited on their fore­bears dur­ing the Com­mu­nist rev­o­lu­tion that brought Fidel Cas­tro to power in 1959, and for the hu­man rights out­rages im­posed on Cubans through­out Fidel’s 49-year reign, fol­lowed by his brother Raul’s sub­se­quent nine-year rule.

Mr. Obama ar­gued that end­ing Cuba’s iso­la­tion would “ac­com­plish our en­dur­ing ob­jec­tive of pro­mot­ing the emer­gence of a demo­cratic, pros­per­ous and sta­ble Cuba,” and asked for noth­ing in re­turn for the pretty words. He gave no thought to the thou­sands of po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers held in in­hu­mane con­di­tions. Noth­ing even for them.

Pres­i­dent Mr. Trump has done what Pres­i­dent Obama should have done. He made it clear that if Cuba wants nor­mal re­la­tions with the United States, hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions must end, and so must the har­bor­ing of crim­i­nals, in­clud­ing Joanne Ch­es­i­mard, a Black Pan­ther who es­caped from prison while serv­ing a life sen­tence for killing a New Jersey state trooper.

Mr. Trump re­lated a mov­ing ac­count of a young vi­o­lin prodigy forced at gun­point to per­form for the Cas­tro lead­er­ship in the early days of their rule. En­raged by the ex­e­cu­tion of his fa­ther, a po­lice chief, the boy played “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner.” Now a renowned con­duc­tor and per­former, Luis Haza strode to the podium last week, lifted his in­stru­ment and once again played the an­them dear to “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

In ad­di­tion to the wheel­ing and deal­ing that is Mr. Trump’s call­ing card, the glint of prin­ci­ple flashes when he talks about hu­man rights. Amer­i­cans of a cer­tain age are re­minded of Ronald Rea­gan’s Cold War stand for free­dom, and the words of Ben­jamin Franklin: “Sell not virtue to pur­chase wealth, nor Lib­erty to pur­chase power.” The words ring clear and true to­day.

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