Monday, December 26, 2005

Opinion: Isolating Cuba Has Been a U.S. Policy Failure

December 26, 2005

In 2004, President Bush convened a commission to hasten the end of Fidel Castro's government and speed a transition to democracy. This effort boomeranged, and news that the commission has reconvened and plans a second report for 2006 should alarm us all.

The commission proposed and the president agreed to drastically cut back on travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans living in the United States. The rationale? Foes of Castro allege that families spend money that ends up in the hands of the Cuban state. In fact, Cuban families who depend on visits and financial support from their kin in America suffered directly, and Cuba's government replaced lost dollars with support from Venezuela and China.

Worse, the Cuban government uses the transition report -- which also suggests radical changes in Cuba's popular health and education systems -- in billboards and town meetings to rally the broader Cuban public against the United States. As Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega said to me recently, ``The transition document envisions another revolution in Cuba. That's not the right idea for the Cuban future.''

The U.S. policy of isolating Cuba, economically and diplomatically, has failed for five decades to change the Cuban system.

Rather than rerunning a process to tighten a failed policy further, the Bush administration should advocate for Cuba what it wants for the rest of the world -- free travel, free trade and engagement with the American people.

SARAH STEPHENS, Center for International Policy, Washington, D.C.

1 comment:

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