Well, good on Josh Earnest.
I wasn’t writing last week, though I attended this White House briefing, so I’m just getting this to you now.
The White House press Secretary seemed prepared to deal with the presence of a few Cuban “journalists” who were in the briefing room. It kind of set the place abuzz – that real live Cuban journalists were in the house. He had a nice little lecture about freedom for them to take home. I’m sure it will be confiscated at the airport in Havana.
Now, as you and I know, there is no such thing as a Cuban “journalist,” at least not one that would be trusted to come to Washington. These are propagandists for a brutal dictatorship, and they may well be marched to the guillotine with the rest of them should the revolution ever occur which – as President Obama’s opening to Cuba guarantees – it won’t.
The Cuba opening is one on which reasonable people can disagree, of course. I get Obama’s point that 50 years of sticking it to Cuba hasn’t really worked, though it at least drained plenty of billions from the Soviet treasury.
On the other hand, Cuba is just now losing the benefactor that replaced the Soviet Union – Venezuela – and the regime did in fact seem to be facing big financial trouble. But now U.S. money will flow into the coffers of the Cuban oligarchy, ensuring its perpetuation for many more years to come.
And I’d like someone to show me the example of where “engagement” has removed a Communist regime. China, anyone? As opposed to confrontation. Soviet Union, par exemple.
Anyway, here’s the Cuban’s question, followed by excerpts of Earnest’s remarks.
Cuban “Journalist:” Thank you very much. Two small questions. First, do you think that it’s possible to see the scenario in which we will open embassies in Havana and Washington? Is that future a scenario? Is the administration committed to being more respectful of the Vienna Convention towards the behavior of the American diplomats in Havana? For example, do you think the programs for regime change will go on or not? Do you have any remarks on that?
And on the other way, do you think that President Obama will also use — continue using his executive prerogative to expand the links, the bonds with Cuba?
Earnest: The President believes that greater engagement between the United States and Cuba would bring about the kind of change that we would like to see in terms of the Cuban government’s treatment of the Cuban people. We continue to have significant concerns about the way that the Cuban government all too often fails to respect the basic universal human rights that we hold so dear in this country; that there are too many Cuban political activists, Cuban journalists who see their freedom of speech, their freedom of assembly, their freedom of expression trampled by the Cuban government. That continues to be a source of significant concern not just on the part of the President of the United States, but by a lot of Americans . . .
As it relates to the way in which this change in Cuba will be brought about, I think that’s something that the Cuban people will determine. I think we would hope — and our aspirations for the Cuban people is that they would be able to express their views and even express their dissent in public without fear of retribution.
That’s a freedom that most Cubans do not enjoy at this point. But we’re hopeful that by making a change in this policy, by facilitating deeper engagement between the U.S. and Cuban people, that that kind of freedom of expression will become more common and, most importantly, will finally be protected by the Cuban government in a way that it isn’t now.