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January 2017
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Obama’s latest step on Cuba actually seems necessary and proper

Obama’s latest step on Cuba actually seems necessary and proper
By Editorial Board January 13 at 5:56 PM

PRESIDENT OBAMA boasted about his opening to Cuba once again in his
farewell speech on Tuesday, but as we have noted repeatedly, that policy
has yielded paltry results so far, both in economic terms and, most
important, in terms of greater freedom for the Cuban people. Yet it has
conferred greater political legitimacy and greater access to financial
resources on the totalitarian Cuban regime. The latest, and perhaps
final, act in Mr. Obama’s “normalization” program toward Cuba came
Thursday: an agreement with Havana under which Washington granted the
former’s long-standing demand to abandon a 20-year-old American policy
that offered permanent residency to Cubans who manage to reach U.S.
territory, even via unauthorized means.

Like Mr. Obama’s previous concessions, this one is unilateral; President
Raúl Castro reciprocated only by agreeing to accept more readily the
people the United States deports, not by altering the political and
economic policies that impel so many to leave in the first place, or
even by returning U.S. fugitives from justice whom he still harbors. Ben
Rhodes, the administration’s point man on Cuba, backhandedly admitted
the unbearable conditions there, and the failure of Mr. Obama’s policy
to affect them, when he acknowledged to reporters that ordinary Cubans
have been using cash remittances facilitated by the Obama policy to
finance escape — often aboard flimsy rafts floating perilously on the
Caribbean Sea. Some 100,000 Cubans have hastened to get to the United
States since “normalization” began, fearing that the Obama policy would
lead to precisely the immigration change that has now occurred.

Still, this particular change seems more necessary and proper than
previous ones. Existing policy, known as “wet foot, dry foot,” because
the United States sent back Cuban migrants unlucky enough to be
intercepted at sea, was as logically consistent as that derisive
nickname implies. It not only induced discontented Cubans to make a
dangerous journey, but also relieved pressure on the regime to meet
their legitimate demands at home. In recent years, the policy has also
led to various scams, such as Medicare fraud perpetrated by Cubans who
quickly settled in South Florida and then returned to the island with
ill-gotten money. Such corruption had led even some Cuban American
members of Congress to suggest the end of “wet foot, dry foot”; those
lawmakers’ reaction to Mr. Obama’s new policy was notably muted.

Cubans who arrive at the United States will still be eligible for
political asylum like all others, and we urge the incoming Trump
administration to treat those claims with the generosity they deserve.
U.S. policy continues to set aside 20,000 immigrant visas per year to
Cubans, an unusually high number properly reflective of Cuba’s unusually
repressive system. Even as the White House portrayed Thursday’s
announcement as part of the “normalization” of the “immigration
relationship” with Cuba — Mr. Obama proudly noted that “we are treating
Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries” —
the facts on the ground and, alas, on the high seas suggest a different
lesson. Migration patterns between a totalitarian state and a free one
can never truly be “normal.” What needs normalization, urgently, is life
in Cuba.

Source: Obama’s latest step on Cuba actually seems necessary and proper
– The Washington Post –

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