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Posted September 23, 2008 by publisher in US Embargo

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez told an audience at Harvard University on Monday night that Cuba will soon return to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy because of an inevitable change in its aging leadership.

Gutierrez described Cuba as a country devastated by two recent hurricanes while grappling with an economic system that breeds corruption , a population growing increasingly defiant, and a president “who will have a hard time keeping it together.”

Gutierrez reiterated the longstanding U.S. policy regarding economic sanctions against Cuba.

“We don’t want to give them a lot of breathing room at a time where we believe change will happen,” he said during a question session that followed his talk at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.

He also depicted an obstinate government that continues to decline U.S. relief offers in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike that he said have destroyed 400,000 homes.

Gutierrez, whose own family left Cuba in 1960 when he was 6 years old, said that the past 50 years have included “one of the greatest social disasters of our time” but that no change will occur while Fidel Castro, 82, is still alive.

January will mark the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s assumption of power in Cuba. In August 2006, he handed power over to his brother, Raul Castro, 77, after suffering health problems.

Gutierrez criticized the idea that Raul Castro has been a reformer. He said recent changes aren’t improving the lives of most Cubans.

Gutierrez fielded questions and challenges from the audience about the continuing U.S. embargo and travel ban.

He said the embargo “has denied a sworn enemy of our country more resources that he can use against us.”

Asked why the U.S. continues to do business with countries that aid Cuba, he acknowledged that foreign policy is complicated by the need to deal with states that have “oligarchic systems” but “are our customers and would like to buy from us” or sell goods such as oil to the U.S. He cited Venezuela as an example.

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on September 23, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I wonder if he means that it will return to the forefront while Bush is in office. I think the financial crisis might take up a bit more mindshare than Cuba right now.

    Gutierrez has been making a lot of public speeches about Cuba lately. I guess he thinks that if he wishes hard enough that maybe he can make the failed Plan A Embargo work before he leaves office in January.

    President Obama certainly is not going to be taking any advice for that old Cuban exile.

    Sorry Mr. Guttierrez that you had to leave Cuba when you were 6 years old but the failed Plan A Embargo ain’t gonna work now either.

    Either clamp down on everything Cuba related meaning no sales, no remittances, no travel, no wet foot/dry foot, no relations with any countries doing any business with Cuba or come up with another plan.

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  2. Follow up post #2 added on September 23, 2008 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    i think Iraq and Afghanistan are going to be in the center of US foreign policy for a long long time to come.  And the growing internal crisis (am I the only one seeing that the US is going to be spending about 1 trillion $$$ that it doesnt have) will also preoccupy whats left.
    And I don’t think that if Obama becomes the next president that Cuba is going to be his biggest priority, although he may take some small steps to improve relations.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on September 24, 2008 by bernie

    The second paragraph says it all about c. gutierrez???
    He is looking into Cuba’s backyard and can’t see what is happening in his own backyard???  With yo yo’s like this the embargo will never be lifted????

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