On October 13th I posted an endorsement of the New York Times’ editorial urging normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations with an elaboration of why such normalization was in the economic interest of the U.S. The next day I sent an email with this blog post to President Barack Obama.
On October 16th I received the following email reply from the President:
- “Thank you for writing. Since the beginning of my Administration, I have tried to send a signal that the United States is open to a new relationship with Cuba. However, the Cuban government must start opening up its country and allowing its people to determine their own destiny.”
- “All of us who embrace core democratic values and principles seek a Cuba that fully respects the human rights and political and economic aspirations of all its citizens, and I am working to make that goal a reality. To help reunite divided families, my Administration lifted all restrictions on family members traveling to Cuba. To enhance contact with the Cuban people and support civil society, we adjusted the policies governing travel for religious, cultural, and educational purposes. And to expand the economic independence of the Cuban people, I removed remittance restrictions so family members could more easily send money back to Cuba, and I eased the regulations on non‑family remittances.”
- “We have made these and other changes to let the Cuban government know we are prepared to show flexibility and not stay stuck in an outdated Cold War mentality. At the same time, we need to see signs from the Cuban government that it is prepared to lift its rigid restrictions on the freedoms of the Cuban people, such as releasing political prisoners, respecting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and otherwise adhering to recognized human rights norms. As long as I am President, I will always be prepared to modify our Cuba policy, including our embargo, if such changes will further the cause of liberty in Cuba.”
- “Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Please know my Administration will remain steadfast in our outreach to the Cuban people, in providing humanitarian assistance, and in seeking to advance Cubans’ legitimate desire to freely determine their country’s future.”
This response obviously is a canned document. It does not address the blog’s specific arguments for ending the U.S. designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” or for ending the U.S. embargo of Cuba or for re-establishing normal relations with the island. Nor does it address the serious adverse economic consequences for the U.S. of continuing the obsolete, counterproductive and harmful policies regarding Cuba.
Yes, the Obama Administration has eased restrictions on U.S. citizens traveling there and remitting money to Cubans. But any U.S. concern about the civil rights of the Cuban people fails to recognize that positive changes have been happening on the island and that further progress on such issues can more effectively happen in respectful, bilateral negations between the two countries to resolve many problems that have arisen during this too-long period of hostility by the U.S. Moreover, the President’s attitude ignores the many problems of civil rights in the U.S., the recent USAID undercover efforts to promote regime change in Cuba and the universally condemned U.S. embargo of the island
As a result, the President and all of us should remember that when the scribes and Pharisees confronted Jesus with a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery and asked Jesus what he had to say when the law of Moses said stone her, Jesus responded, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:3-7)
Likewise, the President and all of us should also remember these other words of Jesus (Matthew 7:1-5):
- “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”