US/Cuba: Credibility of Obama Policy on the Line

Article appeared in Human Rights Watch(Washington, DC) – United States President Barack Obama should call for concrete measures to end systematic repression in Cuba during his visit to Havana from March 20 to 22, 2016, Human Rights Watch said today.

President Obama is expected to meet with both President Raul Castro and government critics, address Cubans live on state television, and attend an exhibition baseball game between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays, presumably with President Castro. Announcing the trip on February 18, President Obama said he planned to “speak candidly about our serious differences with the Cuban government, including on democracy and human rights.” He also said he expected to have fun.

“Obama is absolutely right to promote engagement, but not as an end in itself,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “His message on human rights needs to be forceful and specific, or the trip may be remembered by Cubans who have suffered half a century of repression as little more than bonding over baseball.” …

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