President Obama, by saying this week that he's looking for a transformation in Cuba before 'fully engaging,' ignores actual changes in Cuba and hurts US-Cuban relations, argues guest blogger Anya Landau French.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday he's looking for a transformation on the island before "fully engaging" Cuba. His remarks actually complete something of a transformation for Mr. Obama, who went from saying this on one campaign trail, to saying this on the next campaign trail, to now saying stuff like this:
"Everywhere else in the world you've been seeing the democratization movement pressing forward . . . The time has come for the same thing to happen in Cuba."
"What we've tried to do is send a signal is that we are open to a new relationship with Cuba if the Cuban government starts taking the proper steps . . . "
"Following through on releasing political prisoners . . . "
Just not the ones released in 2010 and 2011 as a result of talks with the Catholic Church and the Spanish government?
"We're prepared to show flexibility and not be stuck in a Cold War mentality dating back to when I was born . . . " but, " . . . So far we haven't seen the kind of genuine transformation of spirit inside of Cuba that would justify us eliminating the embargo."
These words may sound good to those couple of percentage points of Cuban American swing voters in Florida, but statements like these reveal a White House either oblivious of or uninterested in the actual changes that are taking place in Cuba. These sorts of backhanded offers to talk actually telegraph to the Cubans that we are NOT, in fact, ready to talk at all. (Or, certainly not in public.) These statements were never intended as a message for Havana. They're for Little Havana.