United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Friday, October 23, 2009

Weekend Reading - Embargo Reports

On Wednesday October 28, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly will vote to condemn our embargo on Cuba one more time. The issue will not even be a close vote, but more an eighteenth reminder of by how much we will lose that vote. Once more our failed foreign policy and hypocrisy will take another hit on the world stage. We say we want human rights and democracy in Cuba and are erroneously led to believe somehow that the embargo is leverage. Leverage for what? The truth is the embargo may very well be the greatest obstacle to any real progress our nation may be able to achieve with our island neighbor ninety miles off the coast of Florida. Nothing positive is possible with an embargo or travel restrictions. That is the truth, That is the reality. Pro-embargo forces would have us ignore this by altering the perception of our elected politicians with political money -- by playing on their ignorance to the national detriment of all.
The sad fact is that the Cuban American community squanders its capacity to be the greatest positive influence for change and progress with Cuba by holding onto failure. For goodness sakes its your brethren, your family that is on that island. Change will never be possible through hostility, vengeance, violence, or seeking to use U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. taxpayer to be the instruments in fighting a battle with a country whose political system or leaders we do not agree with nor necessarily like. Cuba is a sovereign country with problems like any other country in the world. The fact is we have normal, respectful relations with a host of countries whose leadership is authoritarian and human rights records are strewn with problems. We do not embargo those countries. We do not restrict travel to those countries. We talk with those countries and their leaders. We use diplomacy and the power of American creativity, products, goods, services, and the American people themselves to be ambassadors for democracy and peaceful change. Not an embargo. That has only achieved heaping more misery on an already difficult situation.
Politically, the embargo survives only out of political money that is raised by less than 5000 individuals-- about one million dollars spent every two years. And in the last Presidential election, President Obama did not need the embargo crowd to even get elected in Florida. In fact, if he could only know personally what those of us who campaigned for his election in Florida witnessed in Little Havana just after his election victory was announced, the cursing of his election to the Presidency and the waving of a battle sized Confederate flag in front of Versailles Restaurant! You do not owe the embargo crowd anything politically Mr. President! It is up to you to bring an end of the stain on our good name as a nation in the Western Hemisphere and set a new course of relations and possibilities -- not the darkness and the tremendous loss of economic opportunity and influence we have with the embargo and travel restrictions.
We want political prisoners freed. Let the negotiations begin in earnest then. We want to promote democracy and economic progress - lets tear down the wall we first started building on October 19, 1960, and allow the power of the family and amicable connections--Americans, Cuban Americans, and Cubans all share together, to grow in an atmosphere of normal travel, normal communications, and basic trade. Let the Cubans on the island make sense of their politics without us being in their way. They will. Let our influence reach them peacefully, respectfully, and creatively to work and solve the serious problems we face.
So there are two reports to look at for your weekend reading. One is the Government Accountability Office report on the impact of the embargo and what President Obama could do now without Congressional intervention, and the second, Cuba's report in detail on how the embargo has affected it. - TM