At a conference this evening in Panama, President Obama announced after meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro that "the Cold War is over."
"Part of my message here is, the Cold War is over," said Obama. "There's still a whole lot of challenges that we face and a lot of issues around the world, and we're still going to have serious issues with Cuba on not just the Cuban government's approach to its own people, but also regional issues and concerns.
"There are going to be areas where we cooperate as well. You know, Cuban doctors deployed during the ebola crisis made a difference, Cuban activity in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake made a difference. So there may be areas of collaboration as well.
Obama added, Cuba doesn't "implicate our national security in a direct way. We have to be very clear, Cuba is not a threat to the United States. That doesn't mean we don't have differences with it. but on the list of threats that I am concerned about, I think it is fair to say between ISIL and Iran getting a nuclear weapon, and activities in Yemen and Libya and Boko Haram, Russian aggression in Ukraine, and the impact on our allies there. I could go down a pretty long list--climate change--so I think our approach has to be one of trying to work with the region and other countries, and be very clear about what we believe and stand for and what we think works and what doesn't."
Secretary of State John Kerry will be meeting with Cuba's foreign minister tonight. The meeting will occur in Panama.
".@JohnKerry will meet with Cuban Foreign Minister Rodriguez tonight in Panama City, where they're both attending the Summit of the Americas," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf announced this evening on Twitter.
.@JohnKerry will meet with Cuban Foreign Minister Rodriguez tonight in Panama City, where they're both attending the Summit of the Americas.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and eight other members of a congressional delegation that recently headed to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, spoke positively of the trip at a press conference on Tuesday. They not only met with government officials in each country, but they also visited the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba, and spoke with Cuban members of civil society. “People in the streets were very enthusiastic,” said Pelosi.
Barack Obama’s accommodation with Castroite Cuba is a low point in the history of American international relations. Benjamin Franklin affirmed, “Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” The Obama administration, in its attitudes on Iran, Syria, and Ukraine as well as on Cuba, appears to prefer the principle, “Where tyranny dwells, there is my country.”
Sometimes a handshake is more than just a handshake. When President Obama warmly embraced the late Hugo Chávez at the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, he lent respectability to a brutal autocrat who had crippled Venezuelan democracy, terrorized his political opponents, and supported both the Iranian theocracy and the Colombian FARC. When then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hugged Ecuadorean leader Rafael Correa during a visit to Quito in 2010, she made Correa seem like a normal democratic president, rather than a thuggish Chávez acolyte who had persecuted independent journalists and gravely weakened his country’s public institutions.
At 10:12 p.m. last night, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle returned to the White House after a long day of inaugural festivities. Twenty minutes later, aides to the president relieved the on-duty pool reporter, who was sent home as the president would no longer be leaving the White House or appearing publicly.
But was there a party going on there, a private bash to celebrate Obama's Second Inaugural? It seems like it. San Antonio mayor Julián Castro tweeted this picture of himself and his twin brother Joaquin:
Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul Castro, endorsed President Obama on CNN:
"I believe that Obama is a fair man," Castro says. "And Obama needs greater support to be able to take this decision. If Obama counted on the full support of the American people, then we could normalize relationships--we could have better relations than what we had under President Carter."
"Do you want Obama to win the next election?" she is asked.
It’s a familiar trick: When the Castro regime wants something from the international community, it makes a grand show of releasing political prisoners, in hopes of convincing foreign officials that Cuba has liberalized and thus deserves to be rewarded.