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"

John Kerry, George Shultz, and the Kerry Visit to Cuba

by Elliott Abrams

Secretary of State Kerry will visit Cuba soon–on August 14.

Since the opening of diplomatic relations and of the Cuban embassy in Washington, what’s been going on in Cuba?

More repression. There were 630 political arrests in June, according to the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights. Jorge Ramirez Calderon, one of the political prisoners released as part of President Obama’s rapprochement with the Castro regime, was notified this week that he is facing a 4-year sentence for “public disorder.” His crime was joining a demonstration for human rights in March. So, while Kerry was celebrating the opening of Castro’s embassy in Washington, the Cuban regime was cracking down harder on the Cuban people. Read more »

The Nation’s Meet The Spies Tour

by Elliott Abrams

Travel to Cuba is a new fad, helped by the changes the Obama administration has made in U.S. policy. It’s easy now for almost any group to go there, under the guise of some educational program or purpose.

But travel to Cuba has long been a practice for American leftists, who have seen the Castro regime not as a brutal oppressor of human rights but as a beacon of light in the Hemisphere. No democracy, free expression, freedom of the press, free trade unions? Who cares, after all? The thrill of visiting the communist island has been too much to resist. Read more »

Cuba and the Terrorism List

by Elliott Abrams

The Obama administration announced today that Cuba comes off the “terrorism list.”

Here is some of what it said:

the President in December instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and conclude that review within six months. In April, the Secretary of State completed that review and recommended to the President that Cuba should no longer be designated as a State Sponsors of Terrorism. The President then submitted to Congress the statutorily required report indicating the Administration’s intent to rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, including the certification that Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six-months; and that Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future. Read more »

Castro 200, Obama 0: While Talks Continue, Beatings Continue

by Elliott Abrams

When President Obama junked 60 years of U.S. foreign policy to seek a rapprochement with the Castro regime in Cuba, he was aware that he would be accused of ignoring human rights. After all, the Obama administration got next to nothing for the concessions it made to Cuba, and from all accounts did not bargain hard for more. So the administration took the line, right from the start, that its actions would help human rights in Cuba almost automatically. Read more »

Gov. Cuomo Visits Cuba, and What Could Be Wrong with That?

by Elliott Abrams

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, right, talks with Cuba's Josefina Vidal, director general of the U.S. division at Cuba's Foreign Ministry, left, and Gustavo Machin, Cuba's deputy chief of North American affairs, center, before a meeting with Cuba's Minister of Foreign Trade Rodrigo Malmierca at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, Monday, April 20, 2015. (Ramon Espinosa/Courtesy: Reuters)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, right, talks with Cuba’s Josefina Vidal, director general of the U.S. division at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, left, and Gustavo Machin, Cuba’s deputy chief of North American affairs, center, before a meeting with Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade Rodrigo Malmierca at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, Monday, April 20, 2015. (Ramon Espinosa/Courtesy: Reuters)

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Cuba and Terrorism

by Elliott Abrams

President Obama has moved to take Cuba off the “terrorism list.”  The administrations defends its move in a lengthy memorandum from the State Department to Congress, but the more they explain it the less defensible it seems.

The problem is that the memorandum defends not only the Obama decision, but the Castro regime.  With the help of an accounting by Capitol Hill Cubans and an article by James Kirchick in the Daily Beast, here are some things to keep in mind. Read more »

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 »