The announcement that the two American hostages in Iran, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, will be released on bail is very welcome. They have been imprisoned since July 2009, and it appears their release is an effort by Iran to eliminate this issue before President Ahmadinejad hits the United Nations in the coming weeks.
But we have not fared so well in Cuba. There, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson’s visit resulted in nothing. He was not even permitted to see the American hostage, Alan Gross, who has been in prison since December 2009. Richardson was invited to Cuba and had every reason to believe Gross would be released to him. But the Castro brothers remain as vicious as ever in their rule and their treatment of prisoners.
The ball therefore bounces back to the U.S. government. What steps will now be taken to put more pressure on Cuba? How about this to start: reverse every move made by the Obama Administration to free up travel to Cuba. Such travel gives the Castros additional hard currency.
A further step: the Administration should publicly appeal to university and church groups, which often sponsor travel to Cuba, to stay home. Visiting Cuba’s beaches while a fellow American is kept prisoner there is unconscionable, and the White House should say so.