Let us take the moment of President Obama’s betrayal of Free Cuba to step back a bit — back to say, May 19, 1895. That’s when the tribune of Cuba Libre, Jose Marti, was killed in combat against the Spanish Royalists at the Battle of Dos Rios. His body was barely in the ground when he was mocked by the New York Times as the “so-called President of the Cuban Republic.” It called him a “commonplace poet and writer, a prolix orator of diffuse style...”
The separatists, the Times sneered, “lacking a chief having any prestige at all,” gave Jose Marti their money. It said he must be “severely judged.” Why? “To put into turbulence a country which asked for nothing but peace and work, to expose it to a ferocious race, thinking always of revenge against the whites, to light the fires of civil war, pillage under the pretext of ‘Cuba libre,’ and put obstacles in the way of reforms which had been demanded for years, are not acts that claim indulgence.”
Those were but some of the libels against Jose Marti issued at his death by the newspaper that is now extolling — that has spent years plumping for — the normalization of relations that Mr. Obama promises with the Cuban communist regime. For Marti to sustain his revolution against the Spanish, the Times said, “he had recourse to all sorts of means: lies, false news, calumny.” Yet that is what the Times has used against the anti-communist forces in its long fight to vindicate Castro.
If we seem sensitive on the point, it is because the newspaper whose flag the Sun flies was on the other side of that fight. It was unambiguously on the side of Cuba Libre. When Jose Marti was in exile in America, he maintained his office inside the newsroom of the New York Sun. The Sun hung the flag of Free Cuba from its windows over lower Broadway. IT was from those offices that Marti left for his return to the Cuba on whose soil he finally fell.
We’ve told this story before in these columns but it’s rarely seemed more relevant than today, when the long campaign of solidarity with the anti-communist Cubans and with the Americans whose property was stolen by the communists in Cuba has been betrayed in a political calculation by a lame duck administration. Even such a principled skeptic of the embargo as the Wall Street Journal — which is covered with glory in the anti-communist cause — is appalled at the nature of the deal just announced.
This is a moment to remember that Congress is part of this struggle. It passed as recently as 1992 a law called the Cuban Democracy Act. It was sponsored by a Democrat, Les Aspin, then in the House, and signed by a Republican, President George H.W. Bush. It allows the president to relax certain restrictions only if he “determines and reports to Congress” that the government of Cuba has, among other things, met a string of conditions.
That is, the president has to be prepared to assert in good faith that Cuba has, as the law puts it, “held free and fair elections conducted under internationally recognized observers,” “permitted opposition parties ample time to organize and campaign for such elections,” and allowed “full access to the media to all candidates in the elections.” Which one of those conditions can the Democrats today say that Cuba has met?
The good news is that Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Senator Marco Rubio are vowing to take up the cause of free Cuba in the Congress. Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen is quoted in the Bloomberg as warning that the president may be in violation of the Cuban Democracy Act and several other laws. In tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal, Mr. Rubio writes that in the months ahead he will work with members of both parties to do “prevent President Obama’s dangerous policies from becoming reality.”
“Our people cannot realize their full promise if the world becomes more dangerous because America retreats from its role in the world,” Mr. Rubio writes. He adds that “the Cuban people have the same rights that God bestowed on every other man, woman and child that has ever lived. All of those who are oppressed around the world look to America to stand up for their rights and to raise its voice when tyrants like the Castros are trying to crush their spirits.” We don’t have the slightest doubt that the spirit Jose Marti is right there with him.