President Obama's Snub of Cuban Democracy Activist

Saturday, June 27, 2009

As one of the young people who watched President Obama's campaign sweep the nation last year with promises of "change" and "hope," I was disappointed that the president wouldn't grant an audience to Bertha Antúnez, a representative for the Cuban dissidents who were awarded the National Endowment for Democracy's annual Democracy Award ["Cuba Dissidents Win Award but Not Obama Audience," news story, June 25].

While Mr. Obama's statement on the awards was strong, it rings hollow without action. How can pro-democracy Cubans feel hopeful and fight for change when someone who should be their greatest ally won't spare a few minutes to listen to their plight? It would appear that Mr. Obama isn't really interested in spreading the messages he campaigned on to Cuba.

The article mentioned Mr. Obama's campaign statement that "libertad" would be the focus of his relations with Cuba. Who better to discuss the meaning of liberty, particularly in Cuba, than dissidents who haven't been able to experience it? Perhaps it would be wise for the Obama administration to take its cues on Cuba from those who have experienced brutal oppression instead of from Cuban diplomats.

Mr. Obama should make the time to meet with a freedom fighter who should be admired by all Americans for her and her family's dedication to democracy and liberty.



The writer is vice president and co-founder of George Washington University Students for a Free Cuba.


Reasonable people can disagree about the right way to engage Cuba's government, but denigrating the diplomacy of President Obama ["A Dissident Deflected," editorial, June 25] as siding with the oppressors is both unbecoming and contradicted by history and the facts.

The Bush administration spent eight years confronting Cuba -- tightening the embargo, picking fights with governments in the region, hosting events with pro-democracy Cubans at the White House -- and none of this changed the policies of Cuba's government.

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