When President Obama arrived in Cuba on Palm Sunday along with his retinue, so large that they displaced 12 journalism students from Central Connecticut University, who were dispatched to other quarters 55 miles from Havana to make room for Mr. Obama.
Cuban President (dictator) Raul Castro, still kicking at 85, did not greet the president at the airport. It should be noted before passing on that Communist Cuba under the Castro brothers was never a hospitable place for foreign journalists.
A Cuban acquaintance tells me that the Castro brothers pulled a Queen Elizabeth on the lame-duck president: Some mountains will not go to Mohammed. When Mr. Obama visits England later this year, Queen Elizabeth will not attend his arrival in London; instead, the president and his traveling retinue will be transported to Windsor Castle, where he will be received right royally. Monarchs, even when they are decorative rather than functional, retain the privileges of monarchy.
But the Castro brothers?
The last U.S. president to visit Cuba, we are told, was Calvin Coolidge, in 1928, about 30 years before the Cuban Communist Revolution. That was the revolution roundly condemned and resisted by every U.S. President since Dwight Eisenhower. Mr. Coolidge’s remarks while in Cuba were mercifully brief and to the point: “Thirty years ago Cuba ranked as a foreign possession, torn by revolution and devastated by hostile forces. Such government as existed rested on military force. Today Cuba is her own sovereign. Her people are independent, free, and prosperous, peaceful, and enjoying the advantages of self-government." Mr. Obama, it need not be pointed out, is no Cal Coolidge.
It is not widely known that in 1963, following the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 and the ensuing U.S. Soviet Union Missile crisis in 1962, President John Kennedy’s representatives entered into top- secret talks with Fidel Castro’s representatives to arrive at a modus vivendi agreeable to both parties.
Very likely, Mr. Castro was searching for a new patron after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev withdrew diplomatically from the hot-headed Mr. Castro, who had implied in private talks with Mr. Khrushchev that he would not be averse to loosing one of Mr. Khrushchev’s nuclear missiles on the United States. Mr. Kennedy was not averse to a rapprochement, but his assassination months later by Lee Harvey Oswald, who, it was thought, had connections both in Cuba and Moscow, terminated any possible rapprochement.
Among American dignitaries traveling to Cuba on this historic occasion was U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, who occupies one of the safest seats in Congress. The lady, therefore, can afford to be adventuresome.
She served in Congress since 1991, a quarter century. Ms. DeLauro, 73, has grown more and more progressive over the years, though she has not proceeded as far left as the Castro brothers, both of whom are unrepentant communists of the Che Guevara type.
Life for dissidents under the Castro brothers has long resembled a Hobbesian universe – “nasty, brutal and short.” Every so often, the Castro tyrants, perhaps to rid themselves of the cost of serving thin soup to so many of their prisoners of conscience, would allow dissidents to escape to Florida. Miami is chock full of communist Cuban ex-pats who flourished under freedom’s skies in America.
Having periodically flushed Cuba of dissidents, the revolution marched forward, communist manifesto in hand. Ms. DeLauro no doubt is familiar with the dreary routine of communist states: the Big Brother neighborhood watch committees, thugs whose business it is to terrify Cubans into compliance with the whims of the Castro brothers, both of whom are exceedingly rich and powerful; the suppression of Ms. DeLauro’s church in Cuba, which is officially atheistic; and chronic poverty among the lower orders – i.e., any Cuban who is determined not to take orders from the Castro Brothers.
The embargo of Cuba began in 1960, following the expropriation and seizure of all U.S. property by the Castro regime; Cuban assets on American soil were frozen, diplomatic ties were severed and a semi-permeable embargo was imposed.
For reasons that are not at all transparent, Mr. Obama decided several months ago to abandon a multi-nation, successful embargo of Iran. Mr. Obama arranged a “deal,” not a treaty, with the terrorists-sponsoring regime of Iran -- which has many times pledged to destroy Israel, a Middle East democracy close to the heart of every Democratic President from Harry Truman forward -- apparently with the approval of the Connecticut seven, the state’s all-Democratic U.S. Congressional Delegation, and never mind that the “deal,” not signed by Iran, bypassed the usual Congressional approval process for treaties.
On a roll, Mr. Obama, no Jack Kennedy, has now opened the purses of credulous American businessmen and women to the Castro brothers. If in the process Mr. Obama, having emptied Guantánamo Bay prison, turns over the property to Fidel and Raúl, one may expect a theatrical quibble from Mr. Blumenthal. Ms. DeLauro’s God alone knows what she will do. Her unconquerable congressional seat is safer than the presidency of Cuba.
Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based political writer.