Here’s why Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is wrong about Cuba.
Just before Secretary of State John Kerry raised the Stars and Stripes in Havana last week as he opened the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., accused those who oppose President Obama’s Cuba policy of being nostalgic for former dictator Fulgencio Batista.
It’s probably best to clear up some misconceptions he may have left.
Speaking in Congress, Leahy said that “positive change in Cuba will take time. But it will come not as a result of stubborn nostalgia by a vociferous few for the Batista years, but by visiting Cuba, listening to the Cuban people, and engaging with them.”
By all means, let’s listen to the Cuban people.
Certainly, that would include some of the many dissidents—people like Antonio Rodiles, whom the regime’s henchmen beat to a pulp last month for demanding in public that Cuba be free.
Antonio says that Obama’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with the Castro regime has only emboldened it. “They now feel they can act with impunity,” he told me when I last spoke to him. That was before the beating, which proves his assessment was right.
Antonio doesn’t need to visit Cuba. He lives there. He’s not nostalgic for Batista. He simply yearns for democracy and basic human rights.
And let’s listen to Rosa Maria Paya. Her father, the dissident Oswaldo Paya, was the 2002 winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize. In 2012, he died in a very mysterious car crash. A Spanish lawyer who survived that crash, Angel Carromero, accuses the Castro regime of killing Paya.
Just last month the Human Rights Foundation published a report that cited evidence Paya was assassinated by the Castro regime. It called for an investigation, which the regime refuses to carry out.
Rosa Maria Paya, too, demands an investigation—and a plebiscite so Cubans can vote for change or more of the same. She recently described how Obama’s policy had changed life in Cuba by quoting Vaclav Havel: “The only thing we have left is the power of the powerless.”
No, she isn’t pining for the Batista years, either. But she deeply regrets the further empowerment of a murderous regime.