Cuban human rights groups are appalled that President Obama would legitimize "the deeply entrenched Cuban regime" with his upcoming visit to the island.
"We would never imagine that the democratic world would legitimize the Castros," the Forum for Rights and Freedoms and the Resistance Assembly penned in a letter to Obama.
Neither would we.
"These individuals have destroyed the well-being of our nation," the letter states. "From firing squads and political assassinations to political imprisonment, thousands of Cubans inside and outside the island have had their lives taken by the regime because of their advocacy of a Free Cuba."
CNSNews reports that The Forum for Rights and Freedoms was founded in 2014 after Obama announced the U.S. would restore diplomatic ties with Havana:
The Resistance Assembly, founded in 2009 in Florida, comprises scores of Cuban and Cuban-American exiled organizations opposed to the Castro regime.
The signatories said that since Obama announced a policy shift on Cuba, oppression has increased.
“The friendly gestures, formal recognition and official negotiations bestowed on the Castros by the United States government have actually yielded a significant increase in violence against the opposition, especially against women activists,” the letter said. “It is no wonder then, why a record number of Cubans are currently fleeing the island.”
The groups voiced concern that a focus on business openings with Cuba may trump human rights.
“If the quest for commerce continues to be placed above the support of the pro-democracy and civil rights movement in Cuba, the legacy left by your administration will be one where the suffering of the Cuban people was prolonged,” they told Obama. “Yet, your best contribution would be to act as a facilitator of a true democratic transition in Cuba.”
The White House has yet to announce the full delegation that will accompany Obama on the May 21-22 visit, although House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats, as well as several senators – including Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a strong supporter of Obama’s outreach to Cuba – will reportedly go along.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest stated earlier this month that Obama planned to meet with "some political dissidents," but did not name whom or which groups would be involved. "The guest list for that meeting will be determined solely by the White House." he said.
CNS notes, however, that Cuban dissidents not invited to the flag-raising ceremony at our re-opened embassy in Havana later refused to meet with Sec. of State John Kerry because they believe he caved to pressure from the Castro regime. Kerry brushed off the invitation-snub as being due to "lack of space" at the event.
It's good to know the Obama administration places human rights front-and-center.