For the last 55 years, with the exception of the North Koreans, no people on earth has undergone physical and psychological torture as unrelenting and horrific as that which Cubans have endured at Castro's hands. There might have been in that time regimes which were sporadically more brutal, but for sustained and consistent suffering without the least hope of relief in the near or distant future, Cubans stand alone in the Western world and are only bested by an oriental satrapy.
An argument can even be made that North Koreans are actually better situated than Cubans at least in respect to the future. Civilized countries look upon North Korea as an unqualified menace to world peace and the international order and there is only one country with a bested interest in its survival (China). With Communist Cuba, no nation except the U.S. ever regarded or treated it as a pariah state, though, unlike North Korea's, Cuba's crazy ruling family actually brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation and its mercenaries disturbed the peace of two continents for decades.
Now Obama has unilaterally, without imposing prior conditions or obtaining concessions of any kind, granted Castro & Co. a free pass to continue exploiting and brutalizing the Cuban people and even promised that the U.S. will join the other foreign despoilers in the literal and figurative rape of the island and its hapless people. The world, in perfect unanimity, applauded Obama's decision to extend a lifeline to the Castro regime just as Venezuela's was fraying and about to snap.
What would have been the world's reaction if Obama had recognized the North Korean regime and resumed trade with it? He would have been praised, no doubt, in certain unlikely quarters, by America's enemies and other outlaw states, who are North Korea's only friends. But the civilized world would have recoiled in horror at the prospect of a North Korea with the means to carry out what it has so far only threatened or attempted with calamitous results (its perennially self-destructing missiles that may one day not implode).
If Obama had done for North Korea what he has for Communist Cuba, the U.S. would have forfeited one of its last claims to world leadership. By the way, such a renunciation may actually be in the offing since when Obama leaves office he wants the U.S. to be as unexceptional (i.e. amoral) as any other country, or, indeed, more so, since the U.S. has it in its power to be a force for good or evil in the world to a greater degree than any other nation. The failure to exercise that power for good is tantamount to placing it at the service of evil, as Obama has done in Cuba.
Until that happens to North Korea as well and even if never happens there, Cuba will remain the oldest and most hopeless victim of American foreign policy. North Koreans, at least, have half a country that is still free and is ready and able to do for their brothers what the West Germans did for the East Germans at the time of reunification.
Cubans are more alone in the world now than they have ever been. Their brothers in exile are powerless to help them recover their freedom, but have now been granted permission by Obama to flood the island with dollars that will ultimately find their way into the coffers of the regime and be used to modernize its means of repression.
The price for helping their families to survive on the island is to sustain the regime that makes it impossible for them ever to be self-sufficient much less prosperous. The better fed that Cubans are thanks to their relatives' largesse, the better equipped the regime will be to crush any and all dissent. A mouthful of food equals a bullet, and whoever provides sustenance to his brother also furnishes the tyrant with the means to end his life. No scheme as diabolical was ever devised for the enslavement of man. It is almost a perpetual motion machine with a self-exploding mechanism which functions inside the body of every man, woman and child.
As the Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact proved, the U.S. can extend indefinitely the political viability of even the most dysfunctional country by vowing to respect its dysfunction. The lifting of the trade embargo will further demonstrate that it can animate even the corpse of the Cuban economy and make it work — at least for those who own and control it.
The Armageddon has arrived in Cuba.