The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2017
Time to Hold Cuba to Account for Its Crimes
Cuba is a totalitarian state and very little happens on the island that escapes Raúl Castro’s security police.
Your editorial “Cuba’s Sonic Attacks” (Sept. 26) quotes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered.” Cuba is a totalitarian state and very little happens on the island that escapes Raúl Castro’s security police. International law requires governments to provide protection to foreign diplomats. Unquestionably Cuba failed to protect U.S. diplomats.
The White House has now ordered 60% of American diplomats and their families to return to the U.S. for medical tests and treatment. It’s also warning American tourists about the risks of staying in Cuban hotels where some of our diplomats were attacked.
“Essential” personnel will remain in Cuba, assisted by the many Cuban nationals working in the embassy. The U.S. isn’t allowed to hire Cuban nationals directly; the Cuban government assigns Cubans to work at the embassy, collects their paychecks and returns a small percentage of the official “salary.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if many of those Cuban employees are intelligence officers. Certainly all of them are susceptible to the pressure of Cuba’s political police.
If Havana wants the U.S. to issue thousands of visas annually so that the Castro regime has an “escape valve” to dilute the opposition on the island, Americans should be handling the task.
These are minor issues compared with Cuba’s alliances with Syria, Iran and North Korea. President Trump is right when he says that “the Cuba deal” is one-sided—fully and completely. If Gen. Raúl Castro wanted to restore “normal relations” with the U.S., he could revoke Cuba’s grants of asylum to terrorists sought by the FBI and U.S. courts to stand trial for their crimes, including murder.
Ambassador Armando Valladares
Mr. Valladares was U.S. representative to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and a former Cuban political prisoner.