Jeff Duncan: Liberate Cuba, Don’t Enrich Castro Brothers

NEGOTIATIONS TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS MUST CREATE SUBSTANTIVE, LASTING CHANGE FOR CUBAN PEOPLE || By JEFF DUNCAN || For far too long, the citizens of Cuba have known only suffering under an oppressive Castro regime. As a firm believer in the power of liberty and an open society, I feel strongly…


duncan|| By JEFF DUNCAN || For far too long, the citizens of Cuba have known only suffering under an oppressive Castro regime. As a firm believer in the power of liberty and an open society, I feel strongly that any decision to shift U.S. policy toward Cuba must focus on liberating Cuban citizens, not enriching the Castro brothers.

Cubans have gained absolutely nothing from the Obama administration’s secret negotiations to “normalize” relations with the Castros. Rather, the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations will benefit Fidel and Raúl Castro, who are responsible for the oppression.

Over the past 50 years, the conditions of the Cuban people haven’t improved despite U.S. efforts. Because of Castro’s brutal seizing of power and the shameless stealing of American property, the United States chose to impose sanctions in order to urge the establishment of democracy, allowance of freedom, and justice for people whose property was taken. The Castros have simply refused. The Obama administration’s decision to loosen economic restrictions and reestablish relations only rewards that obstinate behavior and has allowed Castro to drive the agenda.

The regime has asked for the return of the U.S. naval station at Guantánamo Bay, which would equip Havana with a broad array of security options, including leasing the area to a third party state such as Russia or China, which would endanger our own national security. Similarly, allowing them access to U.S. banks could create money-laundering nightmares.

Perhaps most insulting, Havana has demanded so-called “just compensation” for the “economic damage” inflicted by U.S. sanctions. The Cuban regime deprived U.S. and Cuban citizens of billions of dollars in property and still denies those citizens any form of justice, including compensation.

In a Congressional hearing I chaired earlier this month on the future of property rights in Cuba, we heard from witnesses who shared stories of how their property was stolen by the Castro regime, and the plight of churches whose properties had been confiscated and then have had to pay rent for buildings they own. Inexplicably, Castro confidently asks for compensation without even hinting at a solution to the claims issue. In yet another show of weakness, the State Department has failed to prioritize the claims issue in the current talks involving possible embassies, thereby allowing the Cuban regime to effectively evade the matter indefinitely.

These changes being negotiated by the Obama administration only stand to benefit Castro. Each of the demands stands as a threat to the already perilous position of freedom in Cuba. Should we fail to make demands of our own, we will see no substantive, lasting change for the Cuban people.

Jeff Duncan represents South Carolina’s third congressional district and is chairman of the U.S. House’s subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.  This letter – reprinted with permission – originally appeared in the June 27 edition of The Miami Herald.

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Stephan June 29, 2015 at 9:58 am

“Cubans have gained absolutely nothing” – except greater flow of capital from their relatives in the US, increased contact with relatives in the US, ability to expand private sector small businesses with the US, increased tourism from the US. What a rube. His plan, let’s continue to punish every day Cubans with an embargo that never worked. Duh. And if we keep that up, and the regime collapses in another 10 years, Duncan will be the first to vote against any aid, and will want to deploy the US Navy to the Straits of Florida and run over escaping Cubans.

Money-grubbing Hands June 29, 2015 at 10:04 am

They just want Cubans to go back to being slaves for billionaires involved in tourism and gambling to exploit.

Bible Thumper June 29, 2015 at 10:10 am

Billionaires make lot better slave masters than the Communists.

Abolish Slavery June 29, 2015 at 10:31 am

The best slave master is the one that doesn’t exist.

Jackie Chiles June 29, 2015 at 3:42 pm

i.e. food stamps

RogueElephant June 29, 2015 at 1:26 pm

There was a story several years ago about the do-gooder that complained about the woman working 6 days a week in a sweat shop. She gave the owner a lot of grief as to the hours, working conditions etc. The owner said that before she worked there she scrounged through the trash dump looking for food scraps seven days a week daylight till dark. Perspective makes the difference.

guest June 29, 2015 at 11:02 am

No.Obama is going to illuminate the Castro regimes compound with Rainbow Flag colors and subliminally turn it into a homosexual gay playground.

Piece and luv for all commies!Gay marriages will be perfomed by ISIS prisoners at Guantonamo Bay.Uh oh. :(

Sick of this shit June 29, 2015 at 10:13 am

Let them liberate themselves, you warmonger.

Bible Thumper June 29, 2015 at 10:30 am

“The regime has asked for the return of the U.S. naval station at Guantánamo Bay”
No harm in asking, but they aren’t going to get it from Obama or anyone else. Congress would never agree without huge consessions from Cuba, which will never happen. The US would never allow a Russian or Chinese base at Guantánamo.
The Cubans and Americans are as likely to get compensated for their property as the Tories and Loyalists of the American Revolution.
Duncan’s policies have been followed with success (up until the fall of the Soviet Union), but know we should follow policies similar to Vietnam. We haven’t compensated Vietnam and we won’t Cuba either. Use what leverage we have to open up their society and expand Internet access. Let the power of our ideas change Cuba not embargoes or sanctions. Get consessions from Cuba for opening relations, but don’t expect consessions that will threaten their power. If the Cuban people want change they will have to do it themselves.

oaguilar June 30, 2015 at 10:04 am

If Cuba would like Russian or Chinese bases they have plenty of other ports, so I don’t see why Guantanamo would matter. Cuban people don’t want the US presence period. People and companies that loss properties should get some compensation.

CorruptionInColumbia June 29, 2015 at 10:44 am

Watching a video of modern Cuba recently on TV, I was struck with the realization that if normalization of our relations ever occurs, Cuba will be a treasure trove for collectors of antique automobiles. Out of necessity, the citizens of Cuba have had to drive and maintain what is probably the largest fleet of 1950’s and 1960’s automobiles on this planet. I imagine many of those Cubans would love to be able to drive something newer. Likewise, the bodies (at least) of cars I saw on the video of a downtown street appeared to be in excellent condition. I can imagine a lot of wealthy car collectors in the US being willing to pay decent money for those cars for the well-maintained bodies, if nothing else. Depending on how many old cars in good shape a Cuban citizen or citizens might be able to pool together for sale, the means to purchase a more modern car might not be out of the question for these long-suffering people.

Manray9 June 29, 2015 at 11:02 am

Some Republicans are still fighting the Cold War. Why should we have normal diplomatic and commercial relations with the Saudi obscurantist tyrants, the Chinese pseudo-Communist oligarchs, and any number of other dictators, corrupt potentates, and crooked despots, but we can’t with the Cubans. Sorry, Jeff. Yet again, you trail real world events.

guest June 29, 2015 at 11:04 am

You dumb fuckers want relations with ISIS, the ‘jv’ team.

Rocky June 29, 2015 at 11:37 am

Jeb will negotiate a peace with ISIS>

Caution advisable June 29, 2015 at 11:51 am

Perhaps because of their strategic location in relation to the US? This amplifies the damage they could do to US while they continue with their terrorism and dangerous liaisons. Rolling over to dictators has never been a good idea.

erneba June 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

The plight that Cuba suffers under has absolutely nothing to do with the United States. Normalizing relations with Cuba will not Help as long as the Castro bothers are in control. Their tyrannical Communist dictatorship has been the ruination of Cuba’s economy. No help, no aid, no recognition until the Communist regime is overthrown. Until then, anything we send to Cuba will be pissed away by the Castro boys.

Jackie Chiles June 29, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Nobody cares about Cuba or the Castro brothers anymore. We’re BFF’s with China, the world’s largest communist country, yet people are still bitching about Cuba. Give it up.

Soft Sigh from Hell June 29, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Is Duncan a moron on most subjects or is this one special?

fred farkel June 30, 2015 at 11:48 am

Ahh. He is the former, Sorry to say that, Duncan, must be the dumbest of all of the members of congress. He just doesn’t have a clue and panders to “duh mint” and his cronnies.


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