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831A75D2-28A5-4C49-BD33-4531D1470805_w640_r1_s_cx0_cy2_cw0Cuban independent journalist Lazaro Yuri Valle is arrested in Havana on Dec. 10. 2015. (EFE photo via

Even if you believe and/or trust President Barack Obama's assurances that the reopening of relations with the Castro dictatorship in Cuba would make the Cuban people freer, a year later the opposite is true.

Maybe it is too soon to expect results -- the Castro police state/military dictatorship/criminal gang has been entrenched on the island for more than 57 years. But the trend lines suggest the economic, political and religious repression is getting worse, with the regime emboldened with the knowledge that no matter how it treats the Cuban people, a president looking for legacy will look the other way.

Four pieces of evidence that lead to that conclusion:

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported an explosion in the number of religious freedom violations in Cuba, from 220 in 2014 to 2,300 in 2015. Christianity Today reported: "Violations of religious freedom affected most denominations in Cuba, although the Assemblies of God (AoG) were hit the hardest. In the government's attempt to restrict Christian churches, 2,000 AoG churches were deemed by the government as illegal, wherein 200 have been demolished." Read CSW's report here. The Heritage Foundation, in its 2016 Economic Freedom Index, ranked Cuba No. 177 out of 178 nations ranked. That's just below Venezuela and just above North Korea. Heritage writes: "Cuba’s economy remains repressed by the systemic inefficiency and institutional shortcomings characteristic of a Communist regime. Dominated by state-owned companies connected to the military and political elite, the economy continues to suffer from a lack of dynamism aggravated by cronyism, corruption, and bureaucracy. Non-state sectors have gradually expanded, but the absence of genuine political will for reform leaves business struggling within a poor regulatory framework." Reporters Without Borders, in its 2015 World Press Freedom Index, ranked Cuba No. 169 of 180 nations ranked, and the worst in the Americas. That is up one spot from its ranking in 2014 and two spots from its ranking in 2013, when 179 nations were surveyed. Reporters Without Borders writes: "The government tolerates no independent press. Internet access is restricted and tightly controlled. The authorities continue to cite the US embargo as the reason for the low Internet penetration but the activation of Cuba’s ALBA-1 fibre-optic cable with Venezuela proves that it has more to do with a political desire to control the Internet. In addition to the lack of media pluralism, outspoken journalists and bloggers are still subjected to threats, smears, arrest and arbitrary detention. Does the announcement by Cuba and the United States of an historic agreement to restore diplomatic relations offer a ray of hope for Cuban journalists?" And most damning, the unofficial Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported this week that it had counted at least 1,414 politically motivated arrests of Cuban dissidents in January. It was the second-highest monthly count since January 2010, exceeded only by the 1,447 recorded this past November. EFE reports: "According to the Commission, these acts were orchestrated by State Security and other 'repressive bodies and parapolice elements' in Cuba, where the government 'has been exercising power in an authoritarian manner for 58 years.' The government, the organization says, is resorting more frequently to prolonged arrests and temporary incarcerations without trial, and these can last for months, as a 'policy designed to wear down the opposition members. The number of prisoners is increasing without cessation and in the enormous prison system subhuman and degrading conditions of internment continue to prevail, at the same time that the government continues refusing to accept the cooperation of the International Red Cross and other international NGOs,' the Commission said."

President Obama and his administration explicitly did not make closer ties with Havana, and all the benefits it has brought to the regime thanks to changes in American policy, contingent on human rights improvements in Cuba

The evidence is overwhelming the dictatorship is taking Obama on his word.

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