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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Ernest Hemingway, Jul/Aug 99

(continued from page 1)

Congratulations on the June issue of Cigar Aficionado that, as you said, is about Cuba and the Cuban people. But it is also about politics--mean and wrong U.S. politics.

The U.S. policy towards Cuba has failed to achieve any of its objectives and, after almost 40 years and nine American presidents, has proven to be an irrational, archaic and ineffective policy of the cold war era that never bore fruit.

The U.S. policy toward Cuba has been hijacked for the self-serving, Miami-based Cuban-American interests that have in mind only their narrow parochial agenda and not the legitimate U.S. interests. That is the reason that, while America has relations with countries that had shed American blood and had been its sworn enemies--such as Vietnam, Iran, Russia, Korea and China--Cuba is an exception to that pragmatic approach.

Last October, for the seventh year in a row, the United Nations called for an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, that it is hurting the most vulnerable sector of the Cuban population--the sick, the elderly, the women and children. The vote was 157 to 2, with the United States and Israel casting the only negative votes. That decision underlines the unanimous world reaction--including the Vatican's--against an American legislation whose "extra-territorial effects" Washington's friends and adversaries alike resent and oppose because it violates their sovereignty.

Cuba had been always a close trading partner for the United States and after the 38-year embargo, it has become a [potentially] huge market for American goods and services. But Canada, Mexico and European countries have been filling the gap left by America's absence, and the American companies are losing their share of important sectors of the Cuban economy. Because of this blockade, we can't travel to Cuba, we can't sell to Cuba, we can't invest in Cuba. Who benefits from a policy like that? For sure, not the American companies that are losing millions of dollars, and not the American workers that are losing thousands of jobs.

A few months ago, a bipartisan American group of 22 U.S. senators, three former secretaries of state and many prominent former government officials urged the White House to undertake a comprehensive review of the U.S. policy towards Cuba. It was a golden opportunity that President Clinton let pass. I'm glad that Cigar Aficionado is now taking a leading role in that debate, and I'm sure that the Congress will move again very soon in that direction. America can't enter the third millennium with an obsolete foreign policy of the 1950s.|

Carlos M. Hirsch
Bethesda, Maryland

* * *

Dear Marvin,

Your June 1999 issue of Cigar Aficionado raises several questions regarding the Cuban embargo debate. First in my mind is: how correct is Jesse Helms regarding the ownership of businesses and payments of the Cuban people? If Senator Helms is correct, Dwayne Andreas's argument that a rising tide lifts all boats would not withstand scrutiny. It would not matter to the Cuban people how much additional money American industry brought in if it was withheld by the government. It would appear that Senator Helms's statement is correct, as Senator Dodd also alluded to it in his argument to end the embargo.

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