Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Carter Trip Highlights the Great US Divide over Cuba ; Bush Is Expected to Lay out Tougher Trade and Travel Restrictions on the Castro Regime

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Carter Trip Highlights the Great US Divide over Cuba ; Bush Is Expected to Lay out Tougher Trade and Travel Restrictions on the Castro Regime

Article excerpt

Like the child who's figured out the benefits of keeping two parents at odds over him, Cuban President Fidel Castro must be relishing the moment.

A former American president and the current White House occupant are presenting two very different playbooks for dealing with Mr. Castro - whose communist regime, both American presidents agree, denies its citizens such human rights as freedom of expression and the right to organize political opposition.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who ends a five-day trip to Cuba today, favors change through engagement. The idea - that castigation hasn't worked, so let's try opening up more to the Cuban people - is backed by a growing slice of Congress, including a new bipartisan group advocating more trade and ending all restrictions on travel to Cuba.

On the other hand, President Bush - who, Monday, will lay out his vision for dealing with Cuba - insists only more punishment will make the Caribbean dictator bend. Mr. Bush is expected to tighten trade and travel restrictions, while also unveiling measures to give more information to the Cuban people. Then, he'll fly to Miami to celebrate Cuban independence day with the Fidel-abhoring exile community.

His stance is backed by some fiercely anti-Castro members of Congress, who hope to offset over the coming months the tide favoring more normal relations with Cuba by highlighting the island's human rights abuses.

Castro smiling

But through the debate, the one smiling is Castro. His fleeting return to prominence on the US stage solidifies his stature among his own people. And the controversy suggests solidification of the status quo in US-Cuba relations, which actually tightens Castro's lock on power by allowing him to use the US as his excuse for economic failures.

"In a way, Fidel must be laughing as he sees Carter saying one thing and Bush another," says Uva de Aragon, of the Cuba Research Center at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami. "In the short term, it's positive for Fidel that in America there's this disagreement."

Carter boldly publicized on Cuban TV grass-roots efforts to force political and economic change in the 43-year-old communist regime. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.