10
In Search of a Modern Cuba
Policy

Gillian Gunn

U.S. policy toward Cuba is caught in a time warp. Whereas policy regarding the rest of the Third World is breaking out of Cold War patterns, policy toward Cuba remains frozen in the anti-Communist mind-set of the 1960s, when it was conceived.

This would be simply a curious anomaly if it were not for the negative effect fossilized U.S. policy is having upon the transition process within Cuba itself. Even more worrying, that effect could contribute to developments in Cuba that significantly damage important U.S. interests. As one U.S. government employee colorfully put it, if Washington's policy contributes to a "Yugoslavia-type situation" on the island, the "splatter effect" in the southeastern United States, and in the Caribbean as a whole, would be formidable.

Current U.S. policy toward Cuba is virtually unchanged from the early 1960s. The embargo, imposed in February 1962, remains in place, and indeed was strengthened in October 1992 by the passage of the Cuban Democracy Act (also known as the Torricelli Law after its sponsor, Representative Robert Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat). U.S. politicians' public rhetoric regarding Cuba, in both the Democratic and Republican parties, is still emotional and confrontational. In the 1992 election campaign, President Bush and Democratic candidate Bill Clinton vied to issue the most aggressively anti-Castro rhetoric as they competed for the critical Florida vote. The former's pledge to be the "first U.S. president to set foot in a free Cuba" and the latter's claim that the Bush administration had lost an opportunity "to put the hammer down on Fidel Castro" could just as easily have been issued in 1962 as in 1992.


THE ANGOLA OPPORTUNITY

This situation was not inevitable. As the Cold War began to thaw in the late 1980s, there was a key opportunity for U.S.-Cuban relations to shift

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