Cuba arrests dozens of human rights protesters before Obama’s arrival

Daily News Article - March 22, 2016

Questions

1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)

2. Match the following terms with their definitions:
house arrest
repressive
dissident
totalitarian

a) __________________ a person who opposes official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state

b) __________________ to be officially prevented from leaving your home, usually because you have been accused of a political “crime”

c) __________________ of or relating to a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state

d) __________________ (especially of a social or political system) inhibiting or restraining the freedom of a person or group of people
3. Who are the Ladies in White?

4. a) Who is Berta Soler?
b) What does she say it is important for President Obama to know as travels to Cuba to meet with communist dictator Raul Castro and his repressive regime?

5. a) Who is Guillermo Farinas?
b) What moral responsibility does Mr. Farinas say President Obama has?

6. As he began his visit to Cuba with his family, President Obama tweeted “Looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people."
CNN reported: “Obama will tend to the Cuban government while here [meeting with Castro including during a State Dinner]. But he'll also peel away for less formal encounters, allowing the presidential spotlight to also shine on ordinary Cubans living in a new era, including during an address to the Cuban people during a speech broadcast on state television, and the meeting with anti-Castro dissidents.”
How likely is it that President Obama will “hear directly from the Cuban people”? Explain your answer.


CHALLENGE:

It is important to note that the re-establishing of U.S. ties with Cuba is very controversial. Because the majority of the media are Democrats who support President Obama’s policies, this news event will be portrayed mostly in a very positive light, with the negatives being mainly glossed over. Polls will be presented showing that the majority of Americans support re-establishing ties with Cuba, and that a large majority of young people or young Cuban-Americans do as well.
What might not be made clear is that Cuban-Americans who remember; those who have had their houses and property confiscated, who lost family members, who were persecuted, imprisoned or denied freedom, do not support re-establishing ties with this repressive regime.
What might not be widely reported is the story of the nine Cuban migrants who died at sea and the 18 others who were rescued by a cruise ship over the weekend after their 30-foot boat was found about 130 miles from the Florida coast, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. There are no news reports questioning why these people would take this great risk to get to the U.S. if conditions were improving in Cuba and on the eve of President Obama’s visit.
Just keep in mind that this is a two-sided story. Most of the news reports will portray this as an “historic” visit - not the fact that giving Castro something for nothing will not cause him to change.

========CHALLENGE #1

From a March 21, 2016 Reuters report:

U.S. President Barack Obama pushed Cuba to improve its record on democracy and human rights as he met with President Raul Castro on a historic visit to the Communist island on Monday, but Castro responded by decrying U.S. "double standards.”

Obama said the two had "frank and candid" discussions about human rights as well as areas of cooperation. Castro said they could achieve much better relations if the United States lifted its 54-year-old trade embargo on the island.

"We continue to have serious differences, including on democracy and human rights," Obama said at a joint news conference, where Castro made the rare step of taking questions from journalists.

In response to a question on political prisoners, Castro angrily demanded to be shown a list of such detainees, reflecting Cuba's position that it holds no such prisoners.

"Give me a list of those political prisoners right now and if the list exists they will be released before the night is through," Castro said.

The two leaders held face-to-face meetings a day after Obama arrived for the first visit by a U.S. president in almost 90 years. The trip would for decades have been unthinkable but became possible after secret talks led to a 2014 agreement to normalize relations between the two Cold War-era foes.

The opening ended decades of U.S. efforts to force Cuba to change through isolation. But Obama is under pressure from critics at home to push Castro's Communist government to allow political dissent and further open its Soviet-style economy.

a) What paragraph(s) in this article implies that Castro has no intention of granting his citizens basic human freedoms and human rights?
b) Why do you think those opposed to President Obama’s trip to Cuba do not trust the Castro brothers’ communist regime?

========CHALLENGE #2

From a March 7, 2106 Washington Post Editorial:

The White House is said to be thrilled that President Obama will attend a baseball game when he visits Cuba two weeks from now: The matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and a Cuban team will provide a splashy exhibition of the warming relations with the Castro regime. …

So let’s be clear: Notwithstanding Mr. Obama’s expectation that Cuba will “be fun,” his visit will be an ignoble failure if he does not have a meaningful encounter with the island’s most important human rights activists.

The risk of such an outcome seems to be rising. Administration officials who said Mr. Obama would choose whom he met when he is on the island are now conceding that Cuban officials are trying to prevent him from seeing true opposition leaders. Instead they are proposing that Mr. Obama gather with regime-approved members of “civil society,” perhaps with a couple of moderate government critics mixed in. The disagreement reportedly contributed to a decision by Secretary of State John F. Kerry to cancel a preparatory trip to Havana last week.

The Castros’ resistance is understandable. A direct meeting between Mr. Obama and leaders such as Guillermo Fariñas, the winner of the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for human rights, or the Ladies in White, another winner, would give a big boost to their cause. It would legitimize their demands for free speech, free assembly and freedom for political prisoners and put pressure on the regime to respond to them. It would give hope to Cubans that Mr. Obama’s engagement with their country might bring about long-overdue change.

What the Castros hope is that Mr. Obama instead will focus on baseball and new U.S. steps to bolster the Cuban economy, such as allowing use of the dollar. That would divert attention from the fact that repression in Cuba has not eased in the 15 months since the diplomatic thaw began; in fact, it has gotten worse. Dissidents who tried to meet with Pope Francis during his recent visit were detained or beaten. Will those who try to approach Mr. Obama meet the same fate? Any critic who manages to get into a “civil society” meeting such as that proposed by the regime would be drowned out by its loyalists.

As so often in its dealings with the Castros, the administration sacrificed leverage by announcing the presidential visit before the terms for a meeting with dissidents were agreed on. That makes it harder to insist on the gathering that should take place: a small, focused dialogue with internationally recognized advocates of democracy and human rights. Still, if the White House pushes as hard to see Mr. Fariñas and the Ladies in White as it has for the Tampa Bay Rays, it should succeed.

Ask a parent to read this brief editorial and ask: do you agree with the Washington Post Editors’ assertions about President Obama’s trip to Cuba? Explain your answer.