October 19, 2020


Trump, Pence promise a 'Cuba libre' in Miami, but only Obama outsmarted the Castros (Fabiola Santiago, 2020/10/18, Miami Herald)

President Barack Obama has been the only American president to outsmart the Castros.

He invaded Cuba without firing a single shot or sending in the Marines, only cruise ships.

He brought on his historic visit to the island pesky, persistent American journalists who questioned Raul Castro in a widely televised press conference the likes of which no one had seen before.

The questions about political prisoners in Cuban jails and repression of dissidents embarrassed the Cuban leader and put him on the spot. He was visibly angry. And when he tried to save face and grabbed Obama's arm in an awkward show of unmerited triumph, Obama let his hand dangle.

It became one of the most iconic photos of the visit -- and a foreshadowing of what came next.

Obama delivered one of the best speeches of his presidency calling for the democratization of Cuba with extraordinary agility -- meaningful, utilitarian words spoken not in Miami to ingratiate voters but live from Gran Teatro de la Habana on national Cuban television.

The Castro brothers were livid.

To the Cubans who matter most -- those who remain on the island and those in Miami with family ties -- Obama filled hearts with hope of reconciliation.

No, Obama didn't stand with Castro, as Pence claimed.

He stood with the separated people on two shores -- and he led a high-stakes diplomatic effort to return American democratic influence to the island.

It wasn't an election gimmick. It was statesmanship at work.

Posted by at October 19, 2020 12:00 AM