Regarding the President’s interview last week, his remarks seem designed more to strike a political pose than to encourage change in Cuba.
In the past year Cuba has released more than 100 political prisoners and doubled the number of independent entrepreneurs. One need not praise the Cuban Communist Party or break out singing the Internationale to recognize that.
One can certainly argue about the way the releases occurred. And by calling the prisoners “political” it is obvious that President Obama and nearly all observers of the human rights situation in Cuba believe their imprisonment was wrong from the start. But the United States has long called for their release, period. Many were indeed released, and those who insisted on staying in Cuba are on the street in Cuba.
On the economic front, the United States has long called for greater economic freedom in Cuba. That freedom is expanding. There are limits, and there’s a big gap at this stage between stated intentions and actions taken. (See also Federal budget deficit, United States, 2011.) But significant actions have been taken. As a friend likes to point out, if the number of entrepreneurs had been cut in half, then everyone would be talking about a “crackdown.” What’s the opposite of a “crackdown?”
If the Administration believes that the President’s words matter, that someone is listening in Havana, and that Cuban policies should advance more on both fronts, it would seem to be basic political sense for the President to refer to actions taken so far and maybe even to use the word, however hedged and qualified, “good.”