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Rhetorical Analysis of Castros'

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Rhetorical Analysis of:

“The Castros' New Friend: Obama's change of policy helps Cuba's oppressive regime, not its democratic dissidents”

Clinton Colantro

        In an article published in the National Review, American reporter and foreign correspondent James Kirchick takes a first hand look at the immediate implications of eliminating the U.S. embargo on Cuba and the effect it could have on the people and government of the Castro regime.  Mr. Kirchick, a fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative, is no stranger to people under oppressive rule.  He has reported from countries in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and across the European continent. “The Castros' New Friend: Obama's change of policy helps Cuba's oppressive regime, not its democratic dissidents”,is James Kirchick's report of Cuba, some four months after the change in policy announced by President Barack Obama. It tells the story of how much has changed in the relationship with Cuba's neighbor to the north, and how little has changed for Cubans.

        For more than fifty years, Cuba has been controlled by an authoritarian Communist regime led by Fidel Castro, and for the last few years, by his brother, Raúl Castro.  The Cuban revolution in 1959, was an effort to remove the corrupt dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and rid the island of U.S. imperialism. Though there is no doubt that Batista was a dictator, and that his government carried out a decree of repression and terror, there has been considerable controversy about how oppressive his rule was, especially in comparison to the Communist regime of Fidel Castro that has replaced it (Cuba).

Though the Castro regime and others who support their cause have often blamed the embargo for most, if not all of Cuba's problems, it is not the lack of American trade or investment that has kept Cuba so poor for so long. As Kirchick notes, “Cuba under Castro has always been a client of another, more economically powerful state that is happy to subsidize it for propagandist or strategic purposes. For decades, that sponsor was the Soviet Union, which initially saw value in Cuba as a military outpost (and irritant of America) 90 miles off Florida's coast”(Kirchick).  Since the downfall of many Communist governments, including the Soviet Union, Cuba has sustained a continuous economic decline. Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian regime in Venezuela provided some relief in the form of oil subsidies , but as the collapse in commodity prices has had a disastrous impact on the Castro regime, Cuba has been in need of some financial life support. Barack Obama's announcement that effectively warmed relations between the two countries could not have come at a more opportune time.


        As Kirchick begins his investigation into the current status of Cuba's population, his message becomes  perfectly clear.  The oppressive policies of the Castro regime that have been in place for decades remain, with no concessions to human rights having had to be made for support from the U.S.  In “The Castros' New Friend”, Kirchick vividly describes a police state where most of the inhabitants are encouraged to spy on one another and live in decrepit large scale public housing.  Nearly everyone is unemployed and the population as a whole is kept listless through oppression.  In an interview with a Cuban dissident, he expands on this viewpoint further.  (Berta) Soler is highly critical of the Obama administration's caving in to the Castros. "Every deal should be conditioned. America has to put conditions. If you are giving, you have to receive, and for the moment the American government is receiving nothing," she says. Soler says that there has been no letup in the harassment of dissidents; “We are in the same position or even worse" (Kirchick).  



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