Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Hostages: Two Down, One to Go

by Elliott Abrams
September 17, 2011

American hikers Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal attend the first session of their trial at the revolutionary court in Tehran February 6, 2011.

American hikers Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal attend the first session of their trial at the revolutionary court in Tehran February 6, 2011. (Hew/Courtesy Reuters)

The announcement that the two American hostages in Iran, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, will be released on bail is very welcome. They have been imprisoned since July 2009, and it appears their release is an effort by Iran to eliminate this issue before President Ahmadinejad hits the United Nations in the coming weeks.

But we have not fared so well in Cuba. There, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson’s visit resulted in nothing. He was not even permitted to see the American hostage, Alan Gross, who has been in prison since December 2009. Richardson was invited to Cuba and had every reason to believe Gross would be released to him. But the Castro brothers remain as vicious as ever in their rule and their treatment of prisoners.

The ball therefore bounces back to the U.S. government. What steps will now be taken to put more pressure on Cuba?  How about this to start: reverse every move made by the Obama Administration to free up travel to Cuba. Such travel gives the Castros additional hard currency.

A further step: the Administration should publicly appeal to university and church groups, which often sponsor travel to Cuba, to stay home. Visiting Cuba’s beaches while a fellow American is kept prisoner there is unconscionable, and the White House should say so.

Post a Comment 5 Comments

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    Obama isn’t getting any heat from his communist and leftist friends in this country to do anything forthright about Cuba . That pot sits lukewarm on a back burner . Don’t look for it to be stirred any time soon .

  • Posted by William Sublett

    Mr.Abrams states the situation accurately on the Castro brothers. Friends of ours who travel & trade with the Cuban regime like Canada and some of the EU should be asked to stop doing so until Gross is freed & back in the U.S.
    Failing this,the Cuban ambassador to the U.N. would seem to be fair game under Havana rules. Any time an American is unjustly seized anywhere in the world, the perpetrating country needs to know they have 2 months,not 2 years. If we have to come get our citizen, there will be a significant price to be paid.

  • Posted by Daniel

    “What steps will now be taken to put more pressure on Cuba? How about this to start: reverse every move made by the Obama Administration to free up travel to Cuba.”

    Nah, gotta disagree with you there, Elliott. Cubans with family in the US shouldn’t be punished just because of what the Castro regime does. Increasing the travel restrictions will just result in more misery for the average Cuban, along with separation from their family. People should be able to choose on their own whether or not they want to visit Cuba, or any other country run by a dictatorship.

  • Posted by Francisco Perez

    Us travel to Cuba is not considerable execpt those visiting family. Why we restrict family visits is draconian. We want smaller government yet want our government to restrict where we travel. I can get on a plane to Iran,’Syria, north Korea, Myanmar, and other dictatorship led countries and vacation if I wanted to. Afterall our friends being released in Iran were just hiking. Why is Cuba always the exception?

  • Posted by Andrea Bodrey

    Wonderful job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it in the Pressure Points » Hostages: Two Down, One to Go blog. Too cool!

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