Cuba rewarded for oppression: U.S. to open embassy in Havana

The United States and Cuba will re-open embassies in each other's capitals at the end of this month, according to Politico.  The embassies have been closed since the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations more than 50 years ago.

The rapprochement with Cuba has plenty of critics, however, including many Republicans in Congress who warn against appeasing a regime known for human rights violations. Two of the leading opponents are GOP presidential candidates Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas. Other Republicans running for president, such as former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, have also voiced misgivings.

The U.S. and Cuba already operate what are called “interests sections” in each other’s capitals, and those missions, which operate under the umbrella of Switzerland, are expected to be upgraded to embassies. Negotiations over the restoration of full-fledged diplomatic ties have lasted months, longer than many had anticipated. A high-profile round of talks in May yielded no agreement.

Among the sticking points in the negotiations were how free U.S. diplomats would be to travel across Cuban territory and how much access they would have to the general public. Cuban leaders have reportedly been particularly concerned about U.S. journalism and democracy promotion programs they fear could undermine the government of Raul Castro.

U.S. officials have already noted that American diplomats work under a range of restrictions in other communist-led and authoritarian countries, and that arrangements with the Cubans are likely to follow those precedents. Administration officials on Tuesday, however, offered no details about what specific terms had been reached.

Obama himself has also said the U.S. will continue to raise its concerns about human rights and other challenges in Cuba despite the new detente between the countries.

The Obama administration is required to give Congress a 15-day notice of intent to re-establish its embassy in Havana. State Department officials have said that, partly because there are no budgetary implications, there’s virtually nothing U.S. lawmakers can do to prevent the upgrading of the existing mission to an embassy.

Obama hasn't "raised concerns" about human rights in Cuba since he came into office.  Why start now?

Cuba's Communist dictatorship has so mismanaged the economy that the only thing that could save it was a rapproachment with the U.S.  Obama has now obliged, and Raúl Castro's regime is relatively safe for the time being.  If anything, the crackdown on Cuban democracy activists has become more intense, and many prisoners released last December and January, when the initial U.S.-Cuba agreement was implemented, have been re-arrested and thrown back in prison.

So much for "normalizing" relations with a dictatorship.

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