The embargo of Cuba should end as soon as possible. It is ineffective and is only hurting the people of Cuba is preventing Americans from exercising their constitutional right to travel freely. We are friends with far worse regimes, and an embargo-free Cuba will see changes that can be only brought about by an inundation of free culture.
It is my hope that in April 2009, at the Summit of the Americas, Obama will begin to change US policy towards Cuba.
Cuba's revolution is over. It happened. Live with it. For the most part, the Cuban people cheered and saluted as Castro seized power. The Cuban property that the Miami exile community thinks they'll regain is gone. It surely is not the United States responsibility to reclaim it for them.
Calls for a change to US policy to Cuba are growing louder, especially since the Miami exile community did nothing to help Obama get elected. Finally, the end-the-embargo voice is being heard.
Obama's inauguration address had a line tailored for Cuba: "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. "
Today it was reported that Fidel Castro had positive words for Obama, calling him honest.
This month's Cigar Aficionado magazine has a lead story calling for Obama to end the travel ban. (here is a link to their previously published editorial titled: Editor's Note: Time to Change our Cuba Policy)
More notably, a widely read and highly respected report was released December 2008 titled "The Case For a New Cuba Policy", by Jake Colvin, offering advice to the new president:
In the following months, as the administration approaches the next Summit of the Americas in April 2009, the president should follow up on these initial signals by constructively engaging the Cuban American community, Congress, U.S. allies, and the Cuban government in the following
- Change the tone. If the United States wishes to make a serious effort to engage Cuba and
U.S. allies on issues such as human rights and economic development, it will have to change its rhetorical approach. The United States should raise important issues, including human rights, in a more constructive and direct way than has been tried in the past with Cuba.
- Depoliticize the Cuba portfolio. The U.S. approach to Cuba has been too special, which has been reflected in the way policymaking has been politicized within the bureaucracy.
Depoliticizing the portfolio and returning Cuba to its normal place within the State Department bureaucracy would facilitate diplomacy.
- Advance U.S. interests through principled diplomacy. The next president should engage
Cuba diplomatically and place the burden on the Castro government to act constructively.
Reestablishing regular, lower-level contacts, which have been curtailed by the Bush administration, would set the stage for higher-level discussions down the road.
- Stop harassing U.S. allies. The next administration must stop harassing U.S. allies about their contacts with the Cuban government and attempt to find ways to work cooperatively to support human rights, civil society and economic development in Cuba. The United States should also eliminate the extraterritorial application of U.S. sanctions on Cuba and facilitate license exceptions where necessary.
- End the travel ban. Complete repeal of travel restrictions would allow Americans to promote freedom and democracy in Cuba and would remove a burden from the Departments of Treasury and Homeland Security. The next president will have the support of moderate Cuban American groups, business interests, and other nongovernmental organizations to make a strong case for repeal.
- Promote cultural exchanges and dialogue with the Cuban people. The next president should actively encourage people-to-people exchanges by streamlining the licensing process for Cuban musician, artist, athlete, and scholar access to the United States and by actively promoting dialogue and regular contact with the Cuban people. The U.S. government should also work with the private sector to encourage the establishment of a regular dialogue between Cuban economic officials and U.S. businesses. Facilitating sector-specific briefings—even in the face of continued trade restrictions—would establish important new channels of communication.
- Prioritize sanctions administration and enforcement on the basis of national security
risk. The next administration should call for a comprehensive reevaluation of the priority given to administering and enforcing all U.S. sanctions programs. This reevaluation, which could be done through a new quadrennial review at Homeland Security, should prioritize administration and enforcement of sanctions programs based on their relative importance to U.S. national security and the risk posed by lax enforcement. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Foreign Assets Control in particular should be given clear guidance to prioritize high- risk threats.
- Address broader impediments to normal relations. The Cuba Adjustment Act, Cuba’s
place on the State Department’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism, property claims, trademark and other trade issues and the status of the Guantanamo Bay naval base will continue to be impediments to long term normalization of relations. These issues must be addressed either unilaterally or as part of a broader negotiation with Cuba.
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