Varela Project

For those who don’t know, it is a democracy movement in Cuba modeled after efforts by the likes of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. The movement exploited a loophole in the Cuban Constitution to start a petition drive for more freedom. Please read

John Kerry’s view? As he told Oppenheimer, the Varela Project “has gotten a lot of people in trouble . . . and it brought down the hammer in a way that I think wound up being counterproductive.”

Imagine if you are a Cuban political prisoner rotting in a jail, and you learn that the leader of the oldest democratic party in the world thinks you’re being counterproductive. Kerry’s comment is a harpoon directed at the morale of Cuba’s dissidents.

Imagine sitting in Castro’s secret police headquarters and reading that statement. The lesson you draw is that crackdowns work. Throw some dissidents in jail, and the man who might be president of the United States will blame the democrats for being provocative.

Imagine if in the 1980’s Ronald Reagan had called Andrei Sakharov or Natan Sharansky or Lech Walesa or Vaclav Havel “counterproductive” because, after all, what they did spawned crackdowns, too.

If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past 20 years it is the power of moral suasion to buck up dissidents and undermine tyrannical regimes. And yet Kerry seems to have decided that other priorities come first.