In light of President Obama’s announcement yesterday that he will visit Cuba next month, we ought to remember that he indicated back in December he would meet with dissidents.
In an interview with Yahoo, Obama stated, “If I go on a visit, then part of the deal is that I get to talk to everybody. I’ve made very clear in my conversations directly with President [Raul] Castro that we would continue to reach out to those who want to broaden the scope for, you know, free expression inside of Cuba.”
While it would be preferable that Obama not legitimize the Castros, the fact is he’s going. In which case, Republicans (especially Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz) should hold Obama to his word to meet with Cuban dissidents at every opportunity between now and his visit.
This is a win-win proposition. If he meets with Cuban dissidents then it means Republicans were successful in bringing pressure to bear. If he doesn’t, Republicans can cry shame and proclaim that Obama is once again appeasing dictators.
Most importantly, it is an opportunity for Republicans to give meaningful attention to Cuban dissidents, a group of marginalized people who have been ignored for far too long.