President Trump’s speech before the United Nation’s General Assembly, September 24, 2019, made clear that Venezuelan Dictator Nicolas Maduro’s Marxist regime was being held afloat with the help of his Cuban communist brethren.
“The Dictator Maduro is a Cuban puppet, protected by Cuban bodyguards, hiding from his own people, while Cuba plunders Venezuela’s oil wealth to sustain its own corrupt rule,” said the President.
Former bus driver, Maduro and his equally corrupt predecessor Hugo Chavez have made a shambles of a nation with the largest reserves of oil in the world. Venezuela is riven by a world-leading homicide rate per capita and beset with widespread shortages of food, water, electricity, and medicines. Government oppression with the help of Cuban goons is rampant and the nation is quite literally on the verge of anarchy. It is no wonder that approximately four million Venezuelans have fled the nation in despair.
In the light of this axis of evil which connects Cuba and Venezuela one has to question the wisdom of the Trump Administration’s maintaining ambassadorial-level relations with Cuba. Further, although ship cruises to Cuba have been banned commercial flights under eleven, purposely vague, travel conditions have not. Incredibly, even during the coronavirus outbreak one can travel to Cuba. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo needs to address these apparent loopholes in our travel restrictions or we will have left another door open to the virus.
Hard currency brought into Cuba by U.S. tourists continues to finance Cuba’s narcotrafficking business and its support for the murderous Maduro regime. For their part, tour operators, commercial airlines, and American tourists need to understand how they are being played for the benefit of Castro’s Mafia.
As to ending the embargo, there should be no such plan without reciprocal actions by the Cubans. For starters, there needs to be verifiable evidence of democratic reforms, including freedom of the press, and the conduct of free elections. None of that is likely to happen, however, as the Cuban “constitution”, such as it is, sanctions only the political activities of the Cuban Communist party. A move toward democratic freedoms is not the only condition the United States should seek if the two nations are indeed to play “nice” with each other. The release of political dissidents, and the return of thugs like the Puerto Rican, Victor Manuel Gerena sought by the FBI for bank robbery, and the Black Panther assassin Asata Shakur who is wanted by the FBI for the murder of a State Trooper in New Jersey should also be part of any final resolution. Moreover, the Cubans need to indemnify those Americans as well as Cubans whose property was confiscated by the Castro regime to the tune of approximately $8 billion. Clearly, President Trump needs to rethink his current position on Cuba if he expects to break apart the Hemisphere’s axis of evil.