Human Rights in Cuba

Time To Change

January 2017
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Cuban troops’ bizarre chant: We’ll make Obama ‘a hat out of bullets to
the head’

In a particularly absurd display of military might and tropical
folklore, Raúl Castro presided over a military parade in Havana on
Monday to honor his dead brother and mark the 58th anniversary of the
Cuban Revolution.

But instead of railing against the Republican winner of the U.S.
presidential election, who has already taunted and threatened the Cuban
government with his infamous tweets, the theme was anti-Obama.

Apparently everybody loves a winner, and Raúl Castro is no exception.
He’s ready to ditch President Barack Obama, who opened up to Cuba like
no other U.S. president before him.

The parting is ugly.

Listen to the war chant the marching troops were shouting in the parade:

“Commander-in-Chief, command us. Command over this land. We are going to
make war if imperialism comes. Obama! Obama! With what fervor we’d like
to confront your clumsiness, give you a cleansing with rebels and
mortar, and make you a hat out of bullets to the head.”

Nothing like a little santería jargon — una limpieza, a cleansing! — to
go with the fatigues, rifles and a threat to do the U.S. president harm.

Even by Cuba’s Kafkian standards, threatening to shoot an American
president in the head is way out there. Too reprehensible for words. But
the ungrateful display is even more remarkable because Obama has been
nothing but a friend to Cuba, unilaterally lifting so many trade and
restrictions that it worked to his political detriment at home.

Obama’s grave crime against Castro: The American president is more
popular in Cuba than Raúl — and his visit last March awakened great hope
and expectations in the Cuban people, who welcomed Obama with joy and
displays of solidarity with the United States. Cubans heard Obama’s
message that there could be a better Cuba if they believed in it, worked
for it, embraced change and America’s peace offering.

The octogenarian Cuban leadership has been backpedaling on engagement
since then, tightening the controls on entrepreneurship, funneling
activity through government channels, and cracking down on any
form of dissent, peaceful as it may be.

But Cuba would not be facing a recession now had Raúl Castro been a true
reformer and taken advantage of the opportunities the Obama
administration offered him to diversify the , allowing private
businesses to thrive and the Cuban people to directly benefit from the

If Castro had not been so easily spooked by Obama’s charisma, instead of
half-empty flights to the island there would be waiting lists to fly and
sail to Cuban ports. Instead of brutal repression of dissidents and
independent journalists, there might be respect for basic
and tolerance for the political participation of all Cubans, not just
those who support the Castro dynasty.

Castro squandered a unique opportunity in American history — and now
he’s got the conservative guns aimed at his regime and an unpredictable
wild-card president-elect in charge 90 miles north. He’s going to need
to do a whole lot more than march the troops.

The hard-line exiles, including members of Congress from Miami sidelined
as Obama crafted his friendly Cuba policy without them, are back in
charge and already pushing hard. In a letter to Donald Trump, five
former diplomats asked him to undo most of Obama’s policy within the
first 100 days of his presidency and block the confirmation of a U.S.
ambassador to Cuba.

It’s a predictable outcome of the election.

Castro might end up wishing his troops had made President Obama a
beautiful Panama hat rimmed with fragrant mariposas, Cuba’s national
flower, the white ginger lily. Because not even the babalawos, the high
priests of the Yoruba religion, can foretell what a Donald Trump
presidency might mean for Cuba.

Trump certainly could feel beholden to the hard-line exiles who helped
him win Florida even after he encouraged the Russians — from Miami, no
less — to hack his opponent and the Democrats. But with Trump one never
knows. The opportunities in Cuba might play a larger role.

As for President Obama, he’s still being graceful, taking the high road.

Neither the White House nor the State Department would comment on the
egregious military chant.

At a White House meeting in December to mark the second anniversary of
his policy shift from détente to engagement, several sources told the
Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald that Obama intends to remain involved
in Cuba issues as a private citizen. Given the sour militant tone of
Raúl Castro’s march on Obama’s watch, it’s hard to envision how that
might work while Castro is in charge.

But maybe the surviving Castro brother will be nicer to Putin-loving
Trump — and his billions.

Fabiola Santiago:, @fabiolasantiago

Source: Ungrateful Raúl Castro bids goodbye to President Obama with war
chants, death threat | Miami Herald –

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