Monday, February 23, 2009

Will We Finally Re-engage With Cuba?

Fidel is dying and Raoul is no spring chicken. Communism has tumbled in the face of Caitalism across the globe and yet, we still maintain our economic embargo against Cuba.

Could that restriction be ready to fall as well? One member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says that it should.
The US economic embargo on Cuba "has failed," top Republican lawmaker
Richard Lugar has said in a report likely to fuel momentum for a shift in US'
decades-old policy toward the island.

"After 47 years ... the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to
achieve its stated purpose of 'bringing democracy to the Cuban people,' said the
senator from Indiana -- a senior member or the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, "it may have been used as a foil by the regime to demand further
sacrifices from Cuba's impoverished population."

The report, entitled "Changing Cuba Policy - In the United States
National Interest," is due for release [today].

Coupled with President Obama's stated policy of engagement around the world we could be looking at what amounts to a major shift in policy. Isolating Castro's regime was seen as a necessity in the 60's but the fall of the Soviet Empire should have signalled the need to exert our influence via other means.
According to Lugar, while "current US policy has many passionate defenders,
and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified ... nonetheless, we must
recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban
regime in a way that enhances US interests."

We may see a more rational Cuba policy in the coming months. President Bush began easing restrictions by allowing Cuba to purchase US foodstuffs using only cash. Allowing purchases on credit would open the market even further to US farmers.

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