Four former U.S. diplomats praised President Bush’s new tightened restrictions on Cuba but said they would be tough on exiles with Cuban relatives.
Four former U.S. ambassadors with vast experience on Cuba Friday rated President Bush’s tightening of sanctions on the island as both an effective way to pressure Havana and a wrongful punishment of exiles with relatives in Havana.
‘‘What we’re talking about in Cuba is enabling the people . . . to stand up and say I can’t take it any more,’’ said Dennis Hays, former head of the State Department Cuba desk and former ambassador to Suriname.
Bush administration officials ‘‘want to see Fidel Castro gone,’’ Hayes told a seminar at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies that focused on a 500-page report submitted to Bush last month by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.
The report is a compilation of rules and suggestions intended to hasten and prepare for the fall of Cuba’s socialist system. Among the most controversial is restricting annual remittances and travel by Cuban Americans to the island.
Luis Lauredo, a Cuban American who served as U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States under President Bill Clinton said the measures were wrong. ‘‘You don’t legislate . . . human behavior like the very human tendency to try to help your family in Cuba,’’ Lauredo said.
Manuel Rocha, who served in the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana in the 1990s, said that while the exile community is increasingly divided on whether Washington should maintain its economic embargo on Cuba, lifting it before Castro’s demise would lead not to a transition toward democracy but to a mere leadership succession within the same communist system.
Former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick called on Cuban Americans to take the lead in ensuring that democracy flourishes in Cuba once there is a regime change.
‘‘The United States will not be able to plan a very smooth landing for Cuba,’’ she said. “Maybe the Cuban-American community is strong enough to collectively sustain a transition to a stable democratic transition.’‘