Trump knows Cuba Libre is more than a cocktail

President Donald Trump has backed away from the Obama administration-negotiated baseball player deal with the Cuban government. He deserves praise for doing so, even as his administration gave final approval for the deal last year.

Why the change? Venezuela.

The deal: American Major League Baseball would pay huge fees — in the millions of dollars — to the Cuban government for the right to sign Cuban baseball players to play in the United States. A percentage of the player’s contract would be paid to Cuban baseball — owned by the government — amounting to millions of American dollars. That’s illegal, by the way.

Cuban baseball players would be able to come to the U.S. as Japanese, South Korean and Chinese baseball players do.

Up to now, Cuban ballplayers had to illegally leave Cuba, establish residency in a third country, and give up Cuban citizenship to sign a deal with a U.S. baseball team.

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Pro-Cuban government critics of the baseball status quo claim that the current situation involves criminal “human trafficking.” National Security Council spokesperson Garrett Marquis said: "The U.S. does not support actions that would institutionalize a system by which a Cuban government entity garnishes the wages of hard-working athletes who simply seek to live and compete in a free society."

That’s the U.S. of 2019, not of 2016 when President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaWhy calls for impeachment have become commonplace Meet Trump's most trusted pollsters Reducing NSC staff places Trump on right side of history MORE yucked it up with Cuban dictator Raul Castro at a baseball game in Havana. Obama had set out to normalize relations with the Castro dictatorship that stole billions in private property and drove a huge segment of the island nation to flee to the United States since the Castro brothers took over Cuba in 1959.

The “wave” at the Havana baseball stadium by President Obama did not release any Cuban political prisoners, didn’t protect the “Women in White” from being attacked by Castro apparatchiks, didn’t allow any Cuban man, woman or child, including baseball players, to leave Cuba without permission.

It didn’t punish any Cuban Communist Party or military officers for murdering or injuring American citizens over the Florida Straits or in Havana. There is no statute of limitations on murder.

President Obama’s strategy of opening Cuba to Americans and American dollars bore no fruit for freedom; the only beneficiaries were the Communist rulers of the Cuban people. Thus, it has to be classified as a failure.

It did, however, encourage the Cuban government to enter the formerly richest Latin American country, Venezuela, with thousands of Cuban military and political commissars that have helped guide the oil-rich country into national penury resembling that of Cuba, in which 30 American dollars a month officially is what many have to live on.

As the Venezuelan political and economic crisis grows with Cuban help, the Trump administration has listened to national security adviser John Bolton and re-tightened the economic and political noose that Obama loosened on Cuba.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China MORE is showing that he is very concerned about Venezuela’s political crisis by intelligently and diplomatically leading more than 50 nations in recognizing a different president — Juan Guaido — than dictator Nicolas Maduro, whose vote-counters elected him as Venezuela’s president.

Trump also is manifesting patience and intelligence in squeezing Cuba by dismantling the political spiderweb which Obama spun during his presidency that so favored the dictatorship’s murderous rule of Cuba.

President Obama failed on Cuba, as far as many observers are concerned. Those who judge Obama’s Cuban policy a failure now welcome Trump’s policy on Cuba. They do so because a grand-slam home run on behalf of freedom will gain Havana and Caracas.

Raoul Lowery-Contreras is the author of “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade” (Floricanto Press, 2016) and “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) & Mexicans” (Floricanto Press, 2019). He formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times.