WH: Obama visit to Cuba will not ‘necessarily’ depend on human rights

Barack ObamaThe White House said Wednesday that a decision by President Obama to visit Cuba would not necessarily depend on the Castro regime providing more human rights protections and basic freedoms, but did say progress on those fronts would factor into his plans.

“I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that the successful protection of those rights are required before any presidential visit is discussed,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Monday.

“I’m not laying down any markers in terms of what would be necessary definitively before a presidential visit,” he said.

Earnest quickly added, however, that the amount of progress that the Cuban government makes as it relates to human rights “will factor into the decision by the president to travel to Cuba if he makes a decision” to do so.

The State Department announced Monday that Secretary of State John Kerry would travel to Cuba Aug. 14 to hoist the American flag over the embassy for the first time in nearly 55 years.

U.S. officials played down talk of human rights before the Cuban diplomatic delegation’s trip to Washington Monday to hail the opening of embassies in both countries. A senior administration official told reporters Friday she didn’t want to discuss specific human rights requests the administration would make during the visit.

But Earnest on Monday called the Castro regime’s human rights record “sordid” and said he hopes the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana would provide an opportunity for diplomats to travel more freely throughout the island and “engage the Cuban people.”

Critics of the administration’s rapprochement with Cuba argue that the Castro regime has showed no signs of slowing down arrests and abuse of dissidents leading up to the embassy openings. Some argue that the detentions have increased.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the Obama administration’s decision to host the Cuban delegation in Washington for the embassy opening is “appalling” amid reports that the Castro regime is continuing to beat and imprison pro-democracy activists.

“As the Cuban flag rises just up the street from the White House, the Cuban dictatorship continues to arrest and oppress pro-democracy activists,” Boehner said in a statement. “It is appalling to see America’s president welcoming — and rewarding — a regime that shows no regard for our most fundamental values.”

“Instead of mingling with the Castros’ representatives today, our government should be standing with Cuba’s freedom fighters,” he argued.

Boehner brought noted Cuban dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, known as “Antunez,” to Obama’s State of the Union speech earlier this year. Cuban authorities arrested Antunez, who previously served 11 years in prison for advocating democratic reforms in Cuba, Sunday July 12 and later released him, but some in Washington’s Cuban-American community fear he was detained again over the weekend, knowledgeable sources tell the Washington Examiner.

Earnest acknowledged that since Obama announced plans to renew ties with Cuba in December, the White House has not seen “nearly as much progress as we’d like to have seen.”

But, he said, “Considering the previous policy was in place for 55 years, I think some additional time is warranted before rendering judgment about the success of this approach.”

“There’s no doubt that more progress is needed in Cuba, and more that we’re going to continue to press them to carry out,” he said.


One comment

  • Since when is the US interested in civil or human rights?
    Click on the following link to watch a short video about this topic: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/offbeat/obama-visit-to-cuba-hinges-on-more-civil-liberties/vp-BBnxJIt
    How many innocent people have died in United States wars and interventions? The fact of the matter is that this government is only interested in making more money for the 1% of its citizens. And that is what’s behind “normalization of US – Cuban diplomatic relations”. The more than 50 year blockade against Cuba should never have happened, if the US were a country that believed in the rule of law. Click on the following link for the information concerning this: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-war-on-democracy/
    But to continue with the pretense that the US government cares about civil rights, President Obama has conditioned a visit to Cuba on whether he would be allowed to meet with Cuban dissidents. President Raul Castro should consent to it with his own condition that he would also be allowed to meet with US dissidents. I would put Oscar López Rivera on the very top of Raul’s list.
    Oscar López Rivera has been incarcerated by the US government for 34 years for his struggle to free Puerto Rico from colonialism. Colonialism became a crime against humanity in 1960, when the United Nations (UN) decided that it represents a threat to world peace. Didn’t President Obama win a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009?
    The US government, which was a major player in the creation of the UN, has ignored 34 UN resolutions asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. With that action, the US government, according to Noam Chomsky, has shown itself to be a failed state. Failed states do not protect their own citizens. The US government is not protecting its citizens, by choosing to continue with a threat to world peace. And by ignoring international law, the US government is demonstrating that it is above the law. So in essence, failed states make the law for everybody, but themselves!
    We will continue to protest peacefully and permanently for the decolonization of Puerto Rico, because those who believe that the law does not apply them, don’t believe in JUSTICE FOR ALL! http://www.TodosUnidosDescolonizarPR.blogspot.com

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