from experts in the field:
Wayne Smith is senior fellow and director of the Cuba program
at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C.
(www.ciponline.org) and a visiting professor of Latin American
studies and director of the University of Havana exchange program
at Johns Hopkins University.
Should employers consider
credit reports as part of
the hiring process?
OUR COUNTRY’S CURRENT Cuba policy is both illogical and counterproductive. Cuba poses no threat whatever to the security of the United
States. In security terms, we can easily coexist with Cuba. It is a commu-
nist country, to be sure, but so are China and Vietnam. Yet we have cordial diplomatic and
trade relations with them.
Yes, there are some 300 political prisoners in Cuba, and respect for the civil rights of the
Cuban people is not all one would hope for. But we have cordial relations with many countries
that have more political prisoners than Cuba and far worse human-rights situations.
The most basic point, however, is that while the U.S. of course wishes to see Cuba move
toward a more open society, our policy has exactly the opposite effect. The U.S. is a historic
threat to Cuban sovereignty and independence. Hence, any time the U.S. threatens and applies
pressure, the Cuban government reacts defensively, calling for internal unity against the threat
from the north. The result is the antithesis of the kind of atmosphere needed for liberalization.
Opinions expressed are those of the
individuals or organizations represented
and are presented to foster discussion.
Costco and The Costco Connection
take no position on any Debate topic.
We could accomplish far more by reducing tensions and beginning a dialogue to discuss
our disagreements. Raul Castro, who is now acting president in light of Fidel’s illness, has indicated Cuba’s willingness to enter into such a dialogue with the U.S. The current administration,
unwisely, has refused. And yet, recent statements coming out of Cuba make it clear that the
majority of the dissidents and most religious leaders, the very people we say we want to help,
are urging us to begin a dialogue with the Cuban government.
Our present policy accomplishes nothing. On the contrary, the Cuban economy is recovering in rather impressive fashion, with a 12 percent growth rate last year, crucial new economic
relationships with Venezuela and China, and a new oil field off the north coast.
Our present policy is an impediment to Cuba’s moving in the direction we’d like to see it
take. Cautious engagement would work far better. C
from experts in the field:
OPPONENTS OF U.S. policy toward Cuba claim that if the embargo
and the travel ban were lifted the Cuban people would benefit economically, the communist system would begin to crumble and a transition to
democracy would be accelerated. Yet for decades, hundreds of thousands
of non-U.S. tourists have visited the island, and their investments and
Jaime Suchlicki is a professor of history and director of the
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of
Miami, and the author of the book Cuba: From Columbus to Castro.
trade have been welcomed by the Castro regime. Yet the end result has been little prosperity for
the Cuban people and more repression.
The assumption that the Cuban leadership would allow U.S. tourists or businesses to subvert the revolution and influence internal developments is at best naïve. The Castro brothers
guard jealously their political control. Witness the recent decimation of dissident groups and the
execution of three young Cubans for attempting to hijack a boat and leave for the United States.
Among the adverse effects of lifting sanctions without meaningful changes in Cuba’s political and economic system are:
Ensuring the continuation of the current totalitarian structures and delay of any transition.
Strengthening state enterprises, since money would flow into businesses owned by the
Cuban government (most businesses in Cuba are owned by the state).
Perpetuating the extensive control that the Cuban military holds over the economy, including tourism (numerous tourist enterprises, including the tourist airline Gaviota, are owned
by the military).
Creating a dislocating effect on the economies of smaller Caribbean islands—highly dependent on tourism for their well-being—which could lose large numbers of tourists to Cuba.
Creating more illegal immigrants from Cubans who visit the United States and do not wish
The travel ban and the embargo should be retained until there is a regime in Cuba willing
to provide meaningful concessions in the areas of human rights, democratization and market
economics. Providing the Castro brothers with unilateral concessions, without major changes
in the island, is a gift they don’t deserve and have not earned. C