What makes Cuba so special?

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It’s stunning that the decision to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba has been such a controversial event. President Barack Obama is criticized for opening the door with Cuba because it is governed by a dictator and has a history of human rights abuses, but since when has the U.S. limited its relations to open, democratic governments?  The examples of the U.S. maintaining diplomatic and trade relations with closed, abusive government are many.

The U.S.S.R. was a repressive government from its inception and our primary enemy for more than three decades during the Cold War.  Nonetheless, we maintained relations with U.S.S.R. from at least the days of WW II until the day the U.S.S.R. fell apart.

Amnesty International provides a wealth of information about human rights abuses practiced in 2014 by countries with whom the U.S. maintains relations.

In Saudi Arabia, two women, Loujain al-Hathloul and Mayssa al-Amoudi, both supporters of the campaign for women’s right to drive, were arrested for driving a car. Raif Badawi is serving a 10-year prison sentence, mainly for setting up a website.

Publicly insulting the King of Bahrain resulted in a one-year prison sentence for Ahmad Mshaima.

Women’s rights activist Su Changlan was arrested in China and charged with “inciting subversion” which could lead to life imprisonment. She has no access to a lawyer or her family. Her friend Chen Qitong continues to be detained without being charged in an unknown location.  Human rights campaigner Liu Ping was sentenced in China to more than six years after organizing an event which called on the Chinese government to step up its fight against corruption.

Police in the Philippines are reported to conduct interrogation techniques such as waterboarding and electric shock and to beat suspects and threaten them at gunpoint.

Thailand’s military authorities have suppressed peaceful assemblies and jailed peaceful critics. Academics and the media have been censored.

In a one-day trial, three human rights defenders were sentenced in Vietnam for “causing public disorder.”  Bui Thi Minh Hang was sentenced to three years imprisonment, while her co-defendants, Nguyen Van Minh and Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, were sentenced to two-and-a-half years and two years’ imprisonment, respectively.

When we have diplomatic relations with the countries listed above, it’s difficult to understand why we should treat Cuba differently. If we were to continue to shun Cuba, as politicians like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas suggest we should, would we achieve some goal that we are apparently not pursuing by engaging China and Saudi Arabia?  If so, why not shun China or Saudi Arabia and pursue that same goal, whatever it is?

Cruz and Rubio believe the Castro regime has benefitted while we have gained nothing. If we continue to isolate Cuba, as we have for the last 50 years, will conditions somehow improve in Cuba?

Or are Cruz and Rubio simply pandering to a relatively small group, comprised mainly of Cuban refugees?

If there is something special about Cuba that justifies its continued isolation, it isn’t obvious.


Jack D’Aurora writes for


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  1. b.a.c.  December 29, 2014

    If we believe we can stamp out human rights abuses by cutting off diplomatic relations with the offending countries, perhaps it is time to punish another country that tortures and lies about it — the U.S. Maybe we should embargo ourselves.

  2. heatherm90  December 29, 2014

    Reblogged this on Musings and commented:
    Cuba is special. In culture, medicine and longevity.

  3. Jim Crowley  December 29, 2014

    Well said. My Jack spent 18 months in GTMO, a shining example of our double standard

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. ronald plymale  December 29, 2014

    Right on Jack. We all know that our refusal to resume diplomatic relations, like our travel ban and embargo on goods is driven by a small but vocal and politically influential cadre of Cuban refugees, most of whom are now in their 70’s and diminishing in numbers with the passing of each year. I hope I live long enough to travel to Cuba (and see an American auto manufactured after 1959). Ron Plymale


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