The Associated Press
The Associated Press chooses an issue three times a week and asks the presidential candidates a question about it. Today’s question and responses:
CUBA: What conditions, if any, would Cuba have to meet for you to favor dropping the embargo?
Wesley Clark: “I want to help bring democracy to the Cuban people, the only people in the Western Hemisphere who don’t have democratic freedoms. That said, I will not take steps that reward Fidel Castro. In general, embargoes have not succeeded in bringing democracy. It was engagement and penetration that helped the peoples of Eastern Europe gain their freedom. If elected, I would work this problem with the leaders of the region, work it hard. As president, I would look at the circumstances at the time and then act.”
Howard Dean: “The U.S. should move toward the eventual lifting of the trade embargo with Cuba. But Castro must not be rewarded for continued human rights violations. Before I will consider lifting the embargo, Castro must demonstrate a firmer commitment to human rights and take steps that promote the freedom that Cubans have so long been denied.”
Sen. John Edwards: “The goal of our policy in Cuba must be the promotion of democracy and human rights. I support sanctions that target Fidel Castro’s regime but help the innocent Cuban people, allowing trade for food and medical supplies that help ease the horrible burdens they suffer. Full sanctions should not be lifted until Castro and his brutal regime are gone. At the same time, along with our allies, we must increase our support and assistance for dissidents and democracy advocates inside Cuba who are struggling to be free.”
Sen. John Kerry: “I am not prepared to lay down conditions at this time for lifting the embargo, because I believe that we need a major review of U.S. policy toward Cuba. That review must be conducted with other countries in the region, with Cuban Americans, and, to the best of our abilities, those in Cuba who are fighting for greater political liberties.”
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: “I strongly favor ending the embargo on Cuba. Our policy toward Cuba has created misery for the Cuban people and has harmed our own national interests. My administration will work to normalize relations with Cuba. This will include normal bilateral trade with Cuba. Farm communities throughout the U.S. are being denied a natural market in Cuba, and Americans are being denied products from Cuba. It will also restore the freedom to travel to Cuba. Our government’s travel ban violates our own Constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement. As president I will work to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act, which has encouraged smuggling and put lives at risk and has reinforced arbitrary and unequal immigration policies. I will pursue national security cooperation, rather than confrontation, with our Caribbean neighbor to the south. Lincoln said, ‘The only way to eliminate an enemy is to make him your friend.”’
Sen. Joe Lieberman: “I would drop the embargo if Castro steps down and a democratic government, selected by the people of Cuba, is allowed to rise. Fidel Castro’s regime is unmatched in its oppression and implacable in opposing any hint of freedom and democracy.”
Al Sharpton: “If we can trade with China and Russia and others, what is the difference in terms of policies in dealing with these countries?”
The Bush-Cheney campaign says President Bush will begin participating in the weekly issues survey in February.