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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Showing posts for "Cuba"

The Cuba Score: Obama 53, Castro 492

by Elliott Abrams

As part of the Obama administration’s deal with the Castro regime in Cuba, Castro agreed to release 53 prisoners. This was not quite the concession that it appeared to be, for some of the prisoners had already been released and the release of the rest had already been promised to Spain. Sen. Robert Menendez noted that “Some of the 53 were released well before June, before the list was supposedly put together,” he said. “As a matter of fact, 14, to be exact, were released six to eight months before the December 17 announcement. One was released over a year ago.” Read more »

Analyzing Obama’s Cuba Policy

by Elliott Abrams

The shortcomings of the new Obama administration policy toward Cuba have been sharply described in a recent blog post at the Cuban civil society web site SATS, by Antonio G. Rodiles. Rodiles, a human rights activist, was beaten and arrested in 2012, and released after Amnesty International and other groups protested this arrest. Read more »

Cuba: More Political Prisoners, But the New U.S. Policy Marches Onward

by Elliott Abrams

There are more Cuban political prisoners  today than on the day President Obama announced his deal with the Castro brothers, December 17.

Part of that deal was supposed to see 53 Cuban political prisoners released, but now it’s three weeks later and they have not been released. Nor have they even been identified. As the Washington Post put it in a headline, “Mystery surrounds 53 Cuban political prisoners supposed to be set free.” Instead of releasing them, the Cuban regime has in fact arrested more dissidents, two weeks after the Obama speech and just before New Year’s. Read more »

What Did President Obama Trade for Alan Gross?

by Elliott Abrams

There is wonderful news this morning: that Alan Gross is finally free, out of a Cuban prison and back on American soil. For his family, this is the answer to prayers and the right outcome to a long struggle.

Gross was unjustly imprisoned by the Castro regime. The Obama administration finally gave in and traded three Cuban spies for Gross. Whether that was a smart move can be debated. Some would argue that as Gross’s health deteriorated, the Castro regime would release him rather than see him die in their prisons. But that’s playing with Gross’s life, and it’s pretty clear that his health has already deteriorated badly. Read more »

Huber Matos, R.I.P.

by Elliott Abrams
Photo: By Gabematos35 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Photo: By Gabematos35 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Huber Matos, a great hero of the struggle for freedom in Cuba died today at age 95.

Matos was a revolutionary comandante in the Cuban revolution, a leader of the struggle against the Batista dictatorship. He later broke with Fidel Castro when it became apparent that Castro was fighting for personal power and for a communist system, not for freedom. For this, Castro had him imprisoned for twenty years, from 1959 to 1979, and he described the maltreatment, brutality, and torture to which he was subjected in his memoir Como Llego La Noche (How The Night Came). Read more »

Push Polls and Cuba

by Elliott Abrams

You can’t always get what you want, the Rolling Stones once told us. But you can, actually, in a push poll: a poll designed to elicit a certain result and then advertised as achieving that result.

This past week the Atlantic Council released a poll it had sponsored about U.S. relations with Cuba. Here’s one key aspect of the poll: When respondents were told “Cuba continues to have a dismal human rights record. The Castro regime represses virtually all forms of political dissent through detentions, arbitrary arrests, beatings, travel restrictions, forced exile, and sentencing dissidents in closed trials,” we find that 33 percent this was a “very important” reason to keep the current U.S. policy and 17 percent said it’s “somewhat important,” for a total of 50 percent. And 43 percent the human rights abuses make it somewhat important or very important to change the policy. Read more »

Electing the New UN Human Rights Council

by Elliott Abrams

Next week, on November 12, new members of the UN Human Rights Council will be elected. Among the candidates are nations that should never be allowed on the Council, and indeed whose presence will make the Council a mockery: Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, and Vietnam. Read more »

Cuba’s Criminal Regime and North Korea

by Elliott Abrams

After all the talk about hope and change and reform in Cuba, the old Stalinist regime of the Castros turns out to be in bed with North Korea and to be violating UN sanctions on that other Stalinist regime. Birds of a feather….

Today’s news tells us that a North Korean vessel traveling from Cuba to North Korea was stopped and searched near the Panama Canal. Lo and behold, hidden in the sugar were missile parts. As one news report put it, Read more »

Who Speaks for the People of Cuba?

by Elliott Abrams

Last week the Castro brothers announced the name of the man who, they said, will succeed Raul Castro when–or if–he retires at the end of the new five-year term as president to which he has just appointed himself.

The name is Miguel Diaz-Canel. He’s an apparatchik in the best Soviet style: thirty years in the Communist Party, starting with its youth groups. He’s not particularly well-known on or off the island, which may have recommended him to the Castros: previous heirs apparent sometimes got too big for their britches and had to be dumped. Of course, Canel may be dumped too, at any moment. He has no power base, and no apparent close ties with the Army and security services–who will be critical once the Castros are dead. The day Raul or Fidel is tired of him will be the day his “elevation” is undone. It will be interesting to see whether, in his new post as vice president, Canel is handed any real responsibilities by the Castros. This much is clear: nothing this man has ever done in his life suggests he believes in freedom, democracy, or human rights–or the Castros would never have selected him. Read more »