Stronger Cuban Embargo Needed Now

Article excerpt

Byline: Javier Garcia-Bengochea y Bolivar

Recently, this newspaper misquoted my position on the Cuban embargo.

I ardently support the embargo. Abused and weakened, it needs renewed commitment

The embargo debate often hinges on misinformation, ignorance and emotion rather than the critical principles it represents. Those who understand the situation in Cuba, including Cubans, support the embargo.

The embargo began as an executive order in October 1960 after the confiscation of American and Cuban property in Cuba. It is now codified U.S. law establishing sanctions until Cuba resolves these property claims, adopts democratic reforms and respects human rights.

Cuba has yet to indemnify Americans and refuses to compensate Cuban nationals. Undeniably, most property in Cuba is stolen.

The embargo represents sanctions against Cuba for many hostilities over five decades. During the Cold War, Cuba, through Soviet subsidies, fought the U.S. from Vietnam to the Congo to the Americas. Coupled with the threat of nuclear holocaust, the embargo was never seriously questioned.

EMBARGO WEAKENED

The collapse of the Soviet Union exposed the abject failings of Cuban socialism. Only the vices, the pre-revolutionary past, the island's beauty and the indomitable spirit of Cubans remained.

To exploit these and finance what is essentially terrorism against the U.S., Cuba resuscitated the tourist industry.

Rather than apply leverage and negotiate firmly with a vulnerable, yet hostile regime, U.S. sanctions were relaxed, bowing to critics arguing the failure to bring democracy as justification for lifting the embargo, claiming commerce with Cuba would bring change. Through intense lobbying, special interests received exceptions in travel, remittances and no-bid, "cash up front" agricultural and medical sales.

We are now one of Cuba's largest partners, joining the 200 countries already trading with Cuba. Yet poverty and repression worsen. …