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Tighten the Screws

The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Says Now is Not the Time to Ease Up on Cuba
From the Print Edition:
The Cuba Issue, May/Jun 99

(continued from page 1)

Consider a real-life example: Sheritt International is Canada's single largest investor in Cuba today. It is operating a stolen American-owned nickel mine at Moa Bay, where roughly 1,000 Cubans work as virtual slave laborers. Sheritt pays Castro approximately $10,000 for each of those Cuban workers. Castro gives the workers the equivalent of about $10 a month in Cuban pesos--and then pockets the difference.

The result? Sheritt provides Castro with a $10 million direct cash subsidy each year. And what does Castro do with that hard currency infusion? He uses it to pay for the ruthless and cruel apparatus that keeps him in power--and the Cuban people in chains.

Foreign investment can thus do nothing to promote democracy, nothing to promote entrepreneurship or independence from the state. What it does is directly subsidize the oppression of the Cuban people.

Tourism is another source of hard currency for the Castro regime that Castro is desperately seeking to expand. Every one of the tourist dollars spent in Cuba ends up in government hands--the Cuban government owns all the hotels, and it owns all the stores on the island.

And another side effect: Cuba has become the world's capital of sex tourism. Thousands of destitute Cuban women, who cannot survive in Castro's Marxist-Leninist economy, have no choice but to prostitute themselves with foreign tourists from Canada, Italy, Germany and other nations to get hard currency.

Many of these prostitutes--or jineteras--are schoolgirls as young and 12 and 13. Others are educated women--doctors and lawyers--who cannot earn enough practicing their professions under Castro to feed their families. Americans simply must not become a part of this degradation of Cuban women.

The United States must continue the embargo to keep up the pressure for change on the island, because if we don't give up our leverage by unilaterally lifting the embargo, Castro's successors will be forced to exchange normalized relations with the United States for a complete democratic transition in Cuba.

Fidel Castro isn't going to live forever. He is going to leave power in Cuba--either vertically or horizontally. And we need to start planning for the day when he is no longer there as the unifying force for tyranny on the island.

That is why maintaining the embargo, by itself, is not enough. We need to start helping the Cuban people prepare for that day, by helping them to create an independent civil society, helping them to build free institutions, and getting resources to the human rights advocates, independent journalists and democracy activists so they can expand their space in society--just as Ronald Reagan helped the opposition leaders in Eastern Europe (who are now the presidents and prime ministers of free, democratic nations).

Last year, along with two dozen co-sponsors, I proposed bipartisan legislation--the Cuban Solidarity Act--to provide $100 million over four years in humanitarian relief directly to the Cuban people through private charities on the island. We will pass it, and send a message to Fidel Castro--and to the Cuban people--that Congress and the Administration are united in our support for freedom in Cuba.

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Comments   1 comment(s)

jose acosta — galena pk , texas, usa,  —  March 6, 2012 3:05pm ET

We need as a nation to understand life is short the sooner we forget about all these political moves embargos politics and start enjoying life and it's pleasures the sooner we will become more civilized.Each country has something to offer let's enjoy their riches and natural resources and forget the politics.

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