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Summary of John Kerry comments on Cuba

Posted October 15, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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Miami Herald

The following is an excerpt from a full story about his campaign travels:

He accused the administration of ignoring Latin America and Haiti and said that as president, he would work with U.S. allies that do business in Cuba to bring pressure on Fidel Castro.

‘‘Our ability to remove Castro is going to be by earning the respect of other nations to begin to get tough,’’ Kerry said. “Every other country, the Germans, the French, others, have been buying property in Cuba, playing games. There’s no concentrated focus on [Castro’s] repressive anti-human rights behavior, and there should be. But because the U.S. has isolated itself, in a way, we’ve lost the legitimate pressure that ought to be brought on him.’‘

Moving to shore up his Cuban-American base that wants to see the United States tighten the noose on Castro, Bush several months ago cut back on how much money Cubans could send to family members on the island and how often they could visit.

POLITICAL DIVISION?

But Democrats believe there is an emerging division in the once reliably Republican Cuban-American voting bloc, and Kerry on Sunday argued that Bush’s restrictions will punish families while isolating dissidents on the island.

‘‘It’s counterproductive to the kind of exchange of information we need,’’ Kerry said. “To shut it off is to empower Castro, and frankly I think that’s a huge mistake.’‘

Polls suggest that most Cuban Americans back increasingly restrictive policies against Cuba, and Republicans have assailed Kerry for once deriding the trade embargo against the island as a “function of Florida politics.’‘

Kerry looked to cast himself in the hourlong interview as staunchly anti-Castro, calling the Cuban leader a ‘‘brutal dictator’’ and noting that on a trip to Cuba, he declined to meet with Castro at “one of those one o’clock in the morning seances with Castro—for him to sit around and play that game.’‘

Kerry said he would encourage ‘‘principled travel’’ to the island—cultural and educational exchanges, as well as visits by family members, calling it “those kinds of things that really help open the door to new ideas, to alternatives and to transition.’’

Member Comments

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On October 15, 2004, publisher wrote:

“Every other country, the Germans, the French, others, have been buying property in Cuba, playing games.”

Mr. Kerry himself might be somewhat isolated with regards to Cuba.

We are not aware of Fidel Castro selling any property in Cuba.

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On October 18, 2004, Gregory wrote:

While Kerry has to pander to the anti-Castro lobby before Nov.2, talking the tough talk, let’ hope that if he wins the presidency he will do what any clear thinking leader would do and begin to dismantle the ineffective and hypocritical U.S. embargo on the island. Of course he could not admit to this policy before the elections because it would invigorate the frothing-at-the mouth hardliners in Miami. Kerry fought in Vietnam and as far as I know, he is not in favor of imposing another embargo on Vietnam today. Why couldn’t he be conciliatory with Cuba?

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On October 18, 2004, Michael wrote:

It’ illegal for foreigners to purchase property in Cuba.If you decide to participate the structure is more like a 40 year lease that can be revoked at anytime.No guarantees. The rules and regulations for foreign investment in Cuban property is so one sided and restrictive that any rational foreign investor will decide against it. You have to put up all the money without every really owning anything. Foreign Investment has been pulling out of Cuba because they have realized the risks far outweigh the potential gains. Castro will never let anyone make money in ” his” Cuba. 

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On October 18, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Michael…
You talk as if you really were an expert in Cuba, when in fact you have only been in Cuba “on and off” for six months. In fact many foreigners have successful business ventures in Cuba. I know many of them because I work here as a consultant. Doing business in Cuba is very difficult and the rules are different from a typical free market society. But to say “Castro does not let anyone make money in ‘his’ Cuba” reveals once again your ignorance about Cuba. (I guess I cannot expect much from a guy who has only spent six months here…) The bottom line is that many investors are making money here. Don’t believe me, and definitely don’t believe Michael….come to Cuba and see for yourself. (Of course Michael would not like that because he is in favor of the travel ban, as can be seen from past comments he has made on this website). Havana awaits you…

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On October 18, 2004, Jesus Perez wrote:

I believe it is naive to expect Mr. Kerry to radically change U.S. policy with regards to Cuba. This embargo and the hostility of the last 44 years stems from the fact that this country and the majority of its politicians can not forget or forgive Mr. Castro for standing up to them and instituting social and economic reforms which were needed but went against american interests in Cuba. Had Mr. Castro not aligned himself with the Soviet Union, his government would have been overthrown by the U.S. and he knew it.
Mr. Kerry is just one more in a long line of american leaders that believes the leader of a small nation 90 miles from the U.S. does not have the right to determine the future of his country. This is part of a mindset that has supported corrupt and right wing dictatorships all over Central and South America for the last 50 years and have conspired to overthrow legitimate regimes in Chile, Dominican Republic, Guatemala and many others.

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On October 19, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Jesus,
I think that your basic analysis is very accurate. The only thing that gives me a bit more optimism that Kerry might change U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba is the increasing fragmentation of the Cuban community in Miami and the fact that, if he does not veto the bi-partisan push to lift the travel ban, this influx of U.S. tourists into Cuba would precipitate a new view of Cuba. It is possible I am just a dreamer, but living here in Cuba….we need to be optimistic. The bottom line is that your historical analysis is right on target.

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On October 19, 2004, Jesus Perez wrote:

Gregory, I suppose your optimism is somewhat justified. Mr. Kerry would probably relax some of the present travel restrictions and that would be great.
As far as the comments expressed by Michael, I have only one thing to ask, why not change a policy that has not worked in 45 years? anything has to be better than failure!

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On October 19, 2004, Michael wrote:

Gregory,

Again you dodge the question: As a Canadian,protected under the laws of a free society, would your Countrymen tolerate living under a totalitarian oppressive police state ? Then why should Cuba ?? Why support a Dictator who has routinely denied his people basic freedoms ? You speak of hypocrisy by US foreign policy towards Cuba, but you live it each and every day. You also harp on the fact that I’ve spent ONLY 6 months in Cuba. It was an intensive education.One I shall never forget or regret. I’ve made many friends there and love the people but there is an undercurrent of fear and repression in their society that has been created by design. Blame the US but if you turn away from the root cause:Fidel Castro and his repressive grip on power fueled by egomania, you my fine feathered Canuck , are in DENIAL. See you in Havana    

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On October 20, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Michael,
No, the vast majority of Canadians would not want to live under the Cuban system. That is obvious. What is not obvious is your convoluted reasoning (you should take a philosophy course Logic 101)that 1. Cuba is a dictatorship, ergo 2. we need to place an embargo on it. If you do in fact know something about Cuba, it should be that the opposition movement in Cuba, the dissidents, are unanimously against the embargo and they have publically stated this. How do you explain this? They probably know what is best for Cuba than you do (even with your six month “intensive education” in Cuba…whatever that means). Existence of dictatorship does not logically lead to the argument justifying an embargo. If this were the case, the US would have an embargo on China and Vietnam. Michael, your argument is fundamentally flawed. As Jesus Perez said in his commentary: “Anything has to be better than failure”