In 1928, former President Calvin Coolidge visited Cuba.
It would be 88 years until the next American presidential trip would take place—that is, if nothing impedes President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit on March 21st.
It’s hard to describe the historic nature of Obama’s move towards warmer relations with a country that was so strongly allied with the U.S.S.R. that former President John F. Kennedy and then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev came dangerously close to war over the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Fast forward to 2014, when President Obama announced his vision to embrace Cuba, whose long-time dictator Fidel Castro had become so ill, he handed power to his brother, Raul.
There are signs of change in Cuba, but it is slow. According to human rights activists, there is also a disturbing crackdown on political dissidents. Much work remains to improve the lives of ordinary Cubans.
For Obama, the effort is worth spending some of his dwindling political capital before he vacates the Oval Office.
Reagan’s Russia Trip Should Be Obama’s Roadmap in Cuba
David Boaz – The Washington Post
When staunchly anti-communist Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980 — in the 64th year of Communist Party rule in Russia — no one expected that only eight years later he would end his second term by making a friendly visit to Moscow.
But he did, and what he did there should guide President Obama as he prepares to visit to Cuba — the first visit by a sitting president since Fidel Castro’s communist revolution in 1959 — on steps the president can take to usher in true freedom for the Cuban people….
Both presidents, both great communicators, outlined values and goals that are not just American but are, or should be, universal. But there were some clear differences in the philosophies they presented.
President Obama eloquently defended freedom in an authoritarian country…. But he missed the opportunity to emphasize the importance of freedom of enterprise, property rights and limited government as American values. Those are not only the conditions that create growth and prosperity, they are the necessary foundation for personal and political liberty.
Obama’s Cuban Trip Could Be a Strikeout
Andres Oppenheimer – Miami Herald
Many of us generally support President Barack Obama‘s decision to re-establish relations with Cuba, but his upcoming trip to the island, including possible attendance at a U.S-Cuba baseball game alongside Cuban dictator Gen. Raúl Castro, is premature, poorly planned and wrong….
Obama should engage Cuba, not befriend Cuba. It’s OK for Obama to go to Cuba and improve political and economic ties, much like the United States has done with China’s dictatorship, but it shouldn’t look like a love fest, they say.
Obama’s trip to Cuba is premature, because Obama himself had said in a Dec. 14 interview with Yahoo News that he would not go to the island unless human-rights conditions there improved. Well, they did not improve, and by some measures they have worsened.
What the Cuba Trip Says About the Real Obama Doctrine
Michael Rubin – American Enterprise Institute
Obama’s opening to Cuba is not bold.
The United States held all the cards, but allowed Raul Castro’s pair of twos to beat a full house. In the months after Obama’s Cuba breakthrough, Havana has cracked down once again on dissidents and rolled back political freedom. Obama either doesn’t see the truism or doesn’t care that relieving pressure on dictatorships doesn’t resolve abuse and aggression, but rather worsens them.
But, is relieving Cuba’s isolation in the name of talking to everyone an end unto itself? If so, let’s see Obama end the isolation of Taiwan. Taiwan, after all, successfully emerged from decades of dictatorship to become an increasingly successful and stable democracy. It is America’s ninth largest trading partner, ahead of India, Brazil, and Vietnam….
China has always sought to isolate Taiwan, however, and it continues to threaten the island. Too many US presidents have caved to Chinese blackmail.
Five Tough Questions Before Obama’s Historic Trip to Cuba
Todd Moss – Fox News
Ultimately, the wisdom of the trip at this time will be judged on whether it increases or reduces U.S. influence. If Cuba is truly on a path to democracy and free enterprise that continues to progress—leading to a lifting of the economic embargo and eventually free elections—it will be a pivotal moment for a legacy for President Obama.
If Cuba is no freer and reforms stall, however, the visit will be viewed as the final naïve appeasement of an unrepentant regime by an impatient outgoing administration. It’s a high-risk bet.