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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 3)

I left Havana determined to begin a new conversation about Cuba with my colleagues in the Congress, with Clinton Administration officials and with the American people. The first part of this conversation is going to be painful because it means publicly acknowledging what America's policy toward Cuba has been. Our policy has been one that denies food to hungry Cuban children; that severely limits the availability of medicines and medical supplies to the Cuban people; that denies U.S. citizens the right to travel where they choose; that denies American children access to certain innovative and highly effective Cuban vaccines; that prevents Cuban and American diplomats and military leaders from establishing meaningful channels of communication in order to prevent serious misunderstandings. In short, it is a policy that is inconsistent with America's values and self interests.

The second part of the conversation is a more positive one: it's about what we can do to change U.S. policy to bring it into line with our values and self interests. I believe that means going to the very heart of the current policy--the embargo. We should lift all trade sanctions against Cuba--if there are scarcities of food or medicines let there be no doubt about who is responsible. U.S. citizens should be permitted to travel freely to Cuba--they will do as good a job as any trained diplomat in conveying America's values and beliefs to the Cuban people. Prohibitions on U.S. investment should be eliminated, provided that Cuban authorities are prepared to allow U.S. companies to hire workers directly and to freely transfer funds. All restrictions on U.S. diplomatic contacts with Cuban officials should be eliminated.

Would such changes in U.S. policy convince Fidel Castro to hold elections, to allow Cubans to travel freely, to undertake market-based reforms, to respect human rights, to tolerate political dissent, or to permit a free press? I don't know. What I do know is that in the Soviet Union, in Poland, in Hungary and in China where we have pursued policies of engagement--encouraging official dialogue, normal commercial relations and expanded people-to-people contacts--fundamental changes are under way. What do we lose by trying it 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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