How’s that Cuban rapprochement going these days? If you ask the President, things are going swimmingly, with Barack Obama issuing yet another “irreversible directive” in trade relations affecting pharmaceuticals, transportation accommodations and commerce. Since such generosity was supposed to be based on Raul Castro doing a better job on the human rights front and democratic initiatives, one might expect that progress is being made. But according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and monitors who track such matters, things have not only failed to improve, but seem to be getting worse. (Daily Signal)

Taking steps to return property is one condition the United States placed on Cuba in order to lift the embargo. Other requirements include taking steps toward democracy and a free press. Critics complain that the Cuban government not only made no concessions, but has tightened its power grip since the Obama administration normalized relations.

“Almost two years after a policy should be enough to know what the behavior of the regime is going to be,” Cuban dissident leader Antonio Rodiles, who met with Obama in the Cuban capital of Havana this year, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “The Obama administration is moving ahead even though the regime has become more aggressive.”

These aren’t just anecdotal observations. There’s hard data to show that the Castro family is up to their old tricks and pouring American cash into the economy isn’t exactly causing the milk of human kindness to flow freely. Again, as per the Cuban Commission for Human Rights, since rapprochement began, the Cuban government made 8,616 politically motivated arrests in 2015 and are on track to break that record this year with 7,418 in the first six months alone. Castro expanded his violations of religious freedom tenfold according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, counting 2,300 violations last year compared to only 220 in 2014.

Okay, so Cuba isn’t doing better on democracy or human rights. But we do business with plenty of oppressive regimes. (See China for only one example.) Cuba is at least supposed to be acting like a bit more of a global partner, right? So can we expect to see them extraditing any of the dozens of our prisoners taking refuge there to us any time soon? As recently as June of this year… no such luck. (The Guardian)

Two American fugitives who fled to Cuba after they were accused of killing police officers have said Cuban officials have assured them that detente with the United States will not lead to their extradition.

The US and Cuba held a second round of law enforcement talks last month dedicated partly to resolving the fate of scores of fugitives after more than a half-century with almost no cooperation. The talks are part of a series of US-Cuba negotiations aimed at normalizing relations after the two countries declared an official end to cold war hostilities on 17 December 2014.

That’s not only a lack of progress… it’s a shocking acceleration in the wrong direction. Back when this effort began I went on record here saying I wasn’t opposed to the attempt. After all, what we’d been doing before clearly wasn’t working. But at the same time I said that the record established by the Castros gave me no cause for optimism either. I’ll confess, however, that I wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. If anything, I assumed that Cuba would at least try to disguise some of their abuses a bit better in order to stay in our good graces.

So much for that idea.