As President Barack Obama and his family arrived in Havana, Cuba, appropriately in the midst of a gloomy downpour, one of the men who would replace him in the Oval Office, Sen. Ted Cruz, took to the pages of Politico to denounce the trip. Cruz has two arguments in his favor when suggesting that the trip is not only a failure, but a capitulation to the Castro tyranny.

President Obama opened relations with Cuba on the suggestion that over 50 years of isolating the Castro regime had not worked to reform it, so it was time for a different approach.


The president’s approach does not seem to have worked either. In fact, the regime has rounded up thousands of dissidents and have thrown them into prison, secure in the knowledge that the current president is not going to do anything about it aside from some tepid rhetoric.

As Cruz suggests:

“Meanwhile, political prisoners languishing in dungeons across the island will hear this message: Nobody has your back. You’re alone with your tormentors. The world has forgotten about you.”

The argument that opening Cuban will be a net plus for the United States economically may be illusionary as well.

Despite some reforms around the edges, Cuba is still run by a strict, socialist economic system. Without economic freedom and with the dead hand of a communist government bureaucracy prevailing, the prospect of renewed trade with Cuba is not likely to yield very much for anyone, aside from a few large corporations and the Cuban state and military.

“The White House keeps saying that this trip will chart a new course for people-to-people relations, but all that Obama’s appeasement of the Castro dictatorship has done so far is create a channel for inside deals between large corporations and the Cuban military, which holds all the keys to the island’s economy.


The effect will not be liberalization but rather the institutionalization of the Communist dictatorship as the profits from this détente will line the pockets not only of Fidel and Raul Castro, but also of Raul’s son, Alejandro Castro Espin.”

The other argument Cruz has is personal. He is famously the son of a Cuban refugee who was savagely tortured by Castro’s predecessor, Batista. One of his aunts was similarly served by Fidel Castro before she escaped to America. Thus, Cruz has a unique moral authority to denounce Obama’s capitulation to the Castro regime for what it is.

If Cruz becomes the Republican nominee for president, he will be in the position to use the capitulation to Cuba as a campaign issue. Such a strategy might cause him to win Florida, with its Cuban refugee population, in the general election. Romney lost Florida by the narrowest of margins in 2012. If the election is a narrow one, Florida, just as it was in 2000, might be the difference between victory and defeat for the Republican ticket.