It's the Messenger - and the Method

This article by Ginger Thompson in Wednesday's New York Times gets to the heart of why Bush's newly announced policy towards Cuba  - which is really more of the same and nothing new - is essentially dead on arrival:

Seated behind Mr. Bush on Wednesday were the wives and daughters of
Cuban dissidents being held in prison as traitors to their country. In

front of him was an audience almost evenly divided between Latin

American diplomats to his left and Cuban exiles to his right.

"These are just a few of the examples of the terror and trauma that
is Cuba today," Mr. Bush said after introducing the women. "The

socialist paradise is a tropical gulag. The quest for justice that once

inspired the Cuban people has now become a grab for power. And as with

all totalitarian systems, Cuba's regime no doubt has other horrors

still unknown to the rest of the world."

"Once revealed," Mr. Bush added, "they will shock the conscience of humanity."

The right side of the room leaped to ovation. The left side stayed
in its seats, and the world was reminded that nearly five decades after

the rise of a Communist government in Cuba, American policy toward the

island continued to be driven by domestic interests.

It's not that Latin American leaders are embracing the Castro model of governance; they're clearly doing nothing of the kind. They're also not embracing the Bush model of governance nor will they ever embrace the embargo and travel restrictions. One of Bush's few successes has been to drive Latin America away from the US., something which I'm sure he didn't intend.

Outside of the exile community, the travel ban and embargo is not popular. There is this interesting information at the end of the article:

Joe Garcia, executive vice president of NDN, a liberal nonprofit
policy group formerly known as the New Democrat Network, said not to

mistake those views as unanimous. He said that as the Cuban exile

population has grown younger, its loyalties to the Republican party have shifted, and a Cuba policy that has become increasingly isolated internationally has also become anachronistic at home.

"Their whole policy has been about Castro, about squeezing and
pressing," Mr. Garcia said. "The problem is, that trick does not play


That's the same Joe Garcia who was head of the Cuban American National Foundation during the Elian Gonzalez affair. The times they are a changin'; it's the US president who remains mired in the past.

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