Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Blueprint for Better Relations between the US and Cuba

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Blueprint for Better Relations between the US and Cuba

Article excerpt

SIX years have passed since the end of the cold war, but the United States and Cuba refuse to let go of policies designed years ago for circumstances that no longer exist. The Inter-American Dialogue, the leading US center for policy research and exchange on hemispheric affairs, has sought through its special Task Force on Cuba to develop and promote new policy approaches for both governments that would reduce the hostility and dangers in the relationship and facilitate a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba. The Dialogue Task Force recently released its second report, which incorporates the findings of a special delegation of members who traveled to Cuba in June. The report argues that the prospects for change in Cuba are today greater than at any time since 1959, when Fidel Castro seized power. Yet current US policy neither encourages change in Cuba nor advances US national interests. Cuban governmental policies, moreover, continue to badly serve the interests of the Cuban people. The unbending policies of the two countries - fueled by national pride - have allowed a continuing deterioration in Cuba's circumstances and have increased the dangers of violent conflict. To advance the fundamental goals of a peaceful, democratic change in Cuba, the Task Force recommends: To the government of Cuba *Cuba's leaders should put their claim of public support to the test by holding free and fair elections that are internationally monitored. *Political prisoners should be freed, and the laws that repress dissent and prevent the operation of independent organizations should be repealed. *Cuba should broaden its economic reform and adopt policies necessary to qualify for membership in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). To the US government US policy toward Cuba should be redirected to the objective of encouraging a peaceful, democratic change in Cuba. Cuba no longer poses a security threat to the US. The main danger to US national interests in Cuba is the prospect of prolonged violence, which could provoke mass migration and US military action. US interests in Cuba would be advanced by pursuing three concrete goals: 1. To reduce hostility in US-Cuban relations: *The US should make it clear it has no intention of invading Cuba. It should condemn violent actions by exile groups, notify the Cuban government of US military exercises near Cuba, and encourage its military attaches to communicate with their Cuban counterparts. *US policy should give more weight to humanitarian concerns by allowing charities to engage in all necessary financial transactions to advance their work, permitting Cuban-Americans to help relatives in Cuba, and lifting restrictions on shipments of food and medicine. *Radio Marti should broadcast objective news, not propaganda, and should be politically independent. …
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