In 2016, then-President Barack Obama faced criticism for having made overtures toward Cuba’s communist government.
Those efforts were short-lived however as President Donald Trump quickly moved to confront the regime over its human rights abuses. This week, a former Obama official complained that the Biden administration hasn’t changed course.
“Disappointed doesn’t begin to scratch the surface”
Ben Rhodes served as deputy national security advisor during the Obama administration, and during an appearance on Yahoo News’ “Conspiracyland” podcast he was asked about his thought regarding America’s Cuba policy.
“Disappointed doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of how I feel about the Biden-Cuba policy,” Yahoo! News quoted Rhodes as saying. “The Cuban government made an agreement with me based on the idea that they could trust that we would keep our agreement.”
“Granted it was Trump who initially reversed Obama’s policy of normalizing relations with Cuba,” Rhodes acknowledged. “But then Biden doubles down on Trump policies.”
“Why would any Cuban official ever, ever negotiate anything with America ever again after this?” Rhodes demanded. “We had Trump — in the most grotesque, callous way — politicizing this.”
“But then to have a Democratic administration legitimize what Trump did by continuing it — it’s a gaslighting to those people in Cuba, you know?” he insisted.
Rhodes’s comments — some of the strongest criticism yet of Biden from a senior Obama official — were disputed by a White House national security spokesperson.
Conservative activist recalls torture of her father by Cuban communists
Yahoo! News noted that Rhodes’ comments met with resistance from a White House spokesperson, who insisted that “President Biden’s policy toward Cuba is rooted in supporting the Cuban people and protecting human rights.”
“Our approach to Cuba, just like any other country, takes into account various current political, economic, and security factors,” the spokesperson added.
One person who was not supportive of Rhodes’ approach was conservative activist Mercedes Schlapp. In a 2016 opinion piece for Fox News, she referenced her father’s torture at the hands of the Cuban regime.
“It is very difficult for me to understand how a United States president who should stand on the side of democracy has decided that appeasement of an intractable dictatorship is the best way to promote ‘change’ in Cuba,” Schlapp wrote.