On Wednesday, President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba have reached an agreement on reestablishing diplomatic relations.
As part of his normalization bid with the Castro regime, the president has granted the dictatorship another in a series of dangerous concessions. But after Obama’s statement today, there are many questions that have yet to be answered.
Throughout the past 18 months of clandestine negotiations and 6 months of semi-public talks, the Cuban negotiators have consistently raised many obstacles to the president’s much wanted embassy.
Cuban officials made it clear that the regime will not change its political or economic system, despite the Obama administration’s many overtures. The regime also demanded an end to the embargo and removal of Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism before restoration of diplomatic relations.
Later in January at a summit of Latin American countries, Cuban leader Raul Castro reiterated these points, conditioning further openings with the U.S. on the lifting of the U.S. embargo, the return of Guantánamo Bay naval base, and compensation for “human and economic damage” incurred as a result of the U.S. embargo.
So far, Obama has given Havana three convicted spies accused of killing Americans, drastically eased sanctions, lobbied Congress to lift the embargo and removed Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list.
In light of that, the Obama administration must answer these questions:
1. Did the U.S. receive compensation for the $8 billion in U.S. assets unlawfully seized by the Cuban government?
According to the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (LIBERTAD), which was passed in 1996, reestablishing diplomatic relations cannot happen until: first, the Cuban government compensates American citizens for illegally confiscating their property valued at $8 billion, the largest seizure of U.S. assets in history, and second, “when the president determines that there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba.”
It is safe to assume that Havana has not met either requirement. Cuban leader Raul Castro has gone so far as saying that before an embassy can be opened, the U.S. must provide reparations for the damages of the embargo.