Rob Sequin | Havana Journal
House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman John S. Tanner held a hearing on U.S.-Cuba policy today and a request for comments was put out to the public.
I took the opportunity to submit my thoughts about the Embargo in the letter below but first some background on the Hearing.
The hearing information page stated that the Obama Administration has already taken certain steps to address the U.S.-Cuba relationship, including lifting restrictions on family travel and remittances. Commentators and policymakers have proposed various other steps the United States should consider taking to promote U.S. economic objectives and democracy and human rights in Cuba. This hearing examined those possible options and others.
Chairman Tanner said, “It is clear to me that the United States’ policy toward Cuba is not working. The embargo has failed to achieve its objectives and has shut U.S. workers, farmers and businesses out of the Cuban market. The Administration has taken us in a new direction, but more needs to be done. It is time to expand our approach to promote U.S. economic interests and support democracy and human rights in Cuba as well.”
Focus of the Hearing
The hearing will consider whether relaxing current Cuba travel and trade restrictions would advance U.S. economic objectives, as well as democracy and human rights in Cuba. In examining this question, the hearing reviewed U.S. policy toward Cuba and changes to that policy under the Obama Administration and evaluate possible policy options going forward.
John Block, Senior Advisor, Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz P.C.
Wayne Smith, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Latin America Studies, Center for International Policy
Geoff Thale, Program Director, Washington Office on Latin America
Jose Miguel Vivanco, L.L.M., Director, Americas Division, Human Rights Watch
Myron Brilliant, J.D., Senior Vice President, International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Michael J. Kelly, J.D., Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Faculty Research and International Programs, Creighton University School of Law, Omaha, Nebraska
My letter submitted for the official record of the Hearing
Communist governments do not engage. They defend, deflect, mislead, repress…
On April 9, Secretary Clinton said, “It is my personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States because they would lose all of their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years.” Ricardo Alarcon responded by saying “If she really believes the continuation of the embargo is in the benefit of our government, it’s very simple for her to ask Congress to lift the embargo.” This is how Cuba “engages” with the US. Alarcon makes a public statement or Fidel writes a Reflection or Raul says something stupid that Fidel then has to correct (as in Raul’s statement about his willingness to talk about everything)… but I digress.
This “dialog” is just another example of the lack of interaction between the US and Cuba that has been going on for decades. One side talks at the other. The Cuban government does not engage, they defend, deflect, mislead, repress etc because they do not want to have a meaningful dialog about lifting the Embargo. They know their political system cannot handle the truth.
I have seen this for many years at my HavanaJournal.com website in the comments left by Castro lovers and arm chair Communists who try to defend their ideology with propaganda, lies and deflections of the topic. Communists are master liars and deceivers. Why do all Communist governments repress their citizens’ free speech, rights and travel? The reason is that Communism doesn’t work. Communist governments must hide facts and repress citizens’ freedoms. One only has to know a little about China, USSR, North Korea, Cuba, etc. to understand my point.
Fidel Castro’s trap
President Obama and Secretary Clinton have now fallen into the same trap as all the other Presidents and Secretaries of State. The Cuban government will not make changes under pressure regardless of their current economic conditions. They didn’t change while Russia was “investing” in the country and Cuba didn’t change when Russia left the country. Although President Obama will outlast Fidel Castro, he cannot outwit or outplay him. Many have tried and all have failed.
I wonder what Secretary Clinton thinks about Mr. Alarcon’s statement? If she believes her own statement (which I also believe to be an accurate assessment) then the next logical thing for her to do is to petition to lift the Embargo. Right? That would be the next logical move based on her realization. I don’t know why the US continues to be blind to the fact that the Castro’s do not want the Embargo lifted. Many times over the decades when US Cuba relations were warming, Fidel Castro took action cool off relations… consider the invasion of Angola, Brothers to the Rescue shoot down and now the arrest of Mr. Gross and the attacks on the Ladies in White just to name a few. The Castros are scared that President Obama will lift the Embargo.
I suggest that policy makers take steps to take Mr. Alarcon’s challenge and lift the Embargo for a year. Then, policy makers should be prepared for some blatant action by the Cuban government to scuttle those efforts. Don’t fall into the same trap. Don’t be tricked by the Castro brothers efforts to scuttle talks about lifting the Embargo.
The one constant in Cuba for 50 years – The Embargo
Fidel and Raul Castro need the Embargo in place so they can blame the US for all of Cuba’s problems. Even though Cuba can trade with any other nation on earth and regardless of the fact that now billions of dollars of tourist dollars go into the Cuban government every year, the government continues to blame the US for all of Cuba’s problems. Add that to the fact that the US has invaded Cuba twice (1898 and 1961) and the US is a perfect scapegoat for Cuba’s problems.
You have to take a factual look back in history to realize what Secretary Clinton has now realized. The Castros do not want the Embargo lifted. What is the one constant in Cuba since Fidel took power on January 1, 1959?
Tourism revenue? No.
Sugar revenue? No.
President Fidel Castro? No, not even that.
The answer is the Embargo. The failed “Plan A” Embargo has been in place for almost 50 years. If this failed “Plan A” is designed to bring change in Cuba, I don’t think anyone could agree that “Plan A” has worked. Sure, there are always arguments for saying “now is not the time”. I’ve heard this all before… year after year.
How about we look at the Embargo as a restriction of American freedom rather than a tool for regime change in Cuba? How about looking at the Embargo as a restriction on my right to travel freely to or trade with Cuba?
Don’t fall for the counter-claim that lifting the Embargo will help the Cuban government. Lift the travel Embargo because American’s should have the right to travel and trade with whatever countries they wish. Do what is right for the people.
What is the Embargo? – Four components
1. Restrictions of travel on American citizens to Cuba.
2. Restrictions of travel on Cuban citizens to the US.
3. Restrictions of exports to Cuba.
4. Restrictions of imports from Cuba.
In this order, I think the each of the components of the Embargo should be lifted:
First, lift the restrictions of travel on ALL American citizens, not just Cuban American citizens. The American people should be free to travel where they wish. Do what is right for the people.
Second, lift the restrictions of exports to Cuba. Let US businesses sell their products to create jobs and prosperity in the United States. Do what is right for the people.
Third, lift restrictions on travel of Cuban citizens to the US. Honestly, why is it bad to let the Cuban people come to the US? Do what is right for the people.
Fourth, lift the restriction of imports from Cuba. Since the Cuban government controls all business in Cuba, I understand that this should be the last part of the Embargo to be lifted since exports from Cuba would directly benefit the Cuban government. Let’s do the first three then we can come back to this component.
So, we agree? Let’s lift three components of the Embargo. Makes sense, right?
I am passionate about my rights as an American and I am passionate about exposing the lies, tactics, and propaganda from the Cuban government and its supporters. Lift the first three components of the Embargo listed above and do what’s right for the people… the American people and the Cuban people. Don’t be tricked again by the Cuban government.
I am the publisher of HavanaJournal.com and President of Havana Journal Inc, a Massachusetts based corporation located in Congressman William Delahunt’s district.
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