President Barack Obama announced earlier today that he is planning to visit Cuba March 21-22. Obama plans on visiting Cuban President Raul Castro as well as a few Cuban entrepreneurs.
"14 months ago, I announced that we would begin normalizing relations with Cuba - and we've already made significant progress," President Obama wrote on Twitter. "Our flag flies over our Embassy in Havana once again. More Americans are traveling to Cuba than at any time in the last 50 years. We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world. Next month, I'll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people."
While some may consider this a great gesture of peace, the GOP is reacting with disgust and disapproval, calling Obama an “apologist” and mocking his decision to make peace with an “anti-American communist dictatorship.”
“Appalling for @POTUS to legitimize the Castro regime with a visit before freedom for Cuban people,” Jeb Bush wrote on Twitter Thursday morning.
Ted Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, also chimed in, criticizing Obama’s visit during a radio interview with Mike Gallagher on Thursday.
“He has alienated and abandoned our friends and allies,” Cruz said. “You know, one of the first things he did when he became president was send the bust of Winston Churchill back to the United Kingdom. That was shameful.”
Even Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who just so happens to be the son of two Cuban immigrants, wrote a letter urging Obama to change his plans: “Rather than achieving several long-standing U.S. goals and national security interests, you have methodically squandered this opportunity, legitimizing the Castro regime and enriching it in the process. A presidential visit to Cuba absent of any concessions from its government is a dangerous idea, and I urge you to reconsider.”
Ben Carson, however, took a different stance, saying that the president “has a right to go any place he wants to go,” adding that he felt it “wouldn’t been much smarter to wait until they had a change in leadership.” According to Carson, this “has to be coming pretty soon since Raul Castro is 83, 84 years old. At that point, you have a lot of leverage.”
Just because Obama is visiting Cuba before his presidency ends does not mean that the next president will be unable to take Carson’s suggestion and visit when such a time may come.
Regardless, the GOP is asserting their position that might makes right, and the fact that Obama isn’t willing to flex his muscles with Cuba anymore must translate to weakness—a notion that has grown as old and as tired as Castro himself.
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