President Obama's Cuba Initiative

The fact sheet is here. The approach is shrewd. It emphasizes the democracy promotion goal of the policy change and discusses what Cuba is - an authoritarian regime. At the same time, it is important to not overestimate what it is, as Steve Benen seems to:

The hardline restrictions imposed by the Bush administration, which only followed in the footsteps of restrictions imposed by every other modern president . . .

This is simply incorrect. The freest time for US-Cuba relations actually occurred during the Carter Administration. This policy does not match Carter's Cuba policy. It is more like Bill Clinton's. More . . .

In a related story I missed from a few days ago, the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) announced its support for a new approach to Cuba:

The leading organization for Cuban exiles here is calling on the White House to expand relations with Cuba’s government, and funnel much more public and private American money to the Cuban people. A 14-page proposal from the group, the Cuban American National Foundation, lays out what the document calls “a break from the past” that would “chart a new direction for U.S.-Cuba policy.”

It is the basis of an ongoing discussion with the Obama administration, White House and foundation officials said, and it amounts to the group’s most significant rejection of a national approach to Cuba that it helped shape and that has been defined by hostility and limited contact with the island.

. . . In a reversal from the group’s founding principles, he said American policy should focus not on sanctions but on proactive policies that direct resources to the island.

. . . Robert Pastor, a professor of international relations at American University, said the document was striking for both its new ideas and its repudiation of policies that the group once favored. “It basically says previous efforts have failed — the embargo didn’t work,” said Mr. Pastor, who was President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser for Latin America. “That, from the Cuban American National Foundation, is a very significant statement.”

I knew the main founder and most prominent member of the CANF, the late Jorge Mas Canosa, and discussed these very issues with him and other parts of the CANF membership in the mid-1990s.

As today, the CANF and Cuban-Americans were reviled openly in progressive circles. Mas Canosa himself won a libel suit against The New Republic when Ann Louise Bardach penned an article labelling him as a "gangster" and "mafioso."

Unfortunately, instead of arguing in good faith and without personal invective, too many progressives insist on treating Fidel Castro as a paragon and those who oppose him as pariahs. It is a ridiculous approach, as stupid as the embargo itself. Luckily, the Obama Administration has rejected the strident approach and is emphasizing its commitment to promoting democracy and human rights in Cuba. It is the right way to build consensus towards the lifting of the embargo and taking more proactive step to promoting democracy in Cuba.

Speaking for me only

< Goldman Makes Bucketfuls | Univ. of Colorado NORML Chapter to Host Largest 4/20 Marijuana Event >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    What I want to know (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by Steve M on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:02:11 PM EST
    will we be able to replace that awful high-fructose corn syrup with SUGAR?!?

    Over Tom Harkin's dead body. (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:02:45 PM EST
    The same day (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:03:43 PM EST
    you can put Brazilian ethanol in your gasoline.

    Well maybe (none / 0) (#9)
    by Steve M on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:15:17 PM EST
    if we didn't spend brazillions of dollars on subsidizing domestic ethanol!

    Think of the corn farmers! (none / 0) (#10)
    by andgarden on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:27:24 PM EST
    Exactly. Want IA to end up like MI? (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:28:37 PM EST
    The difference is (none / 0) (#16)
    by Steve M on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:32:20 PM EST
    it's easier to retool a farm than an auto plant!

    But the problem with the ethanol subsidies is more that they are poor energy policy than that they are poor agricultural policy.  At least to my way of thinking.


    Meanwhile, GM is recalling lots of cars (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:41:10 PM EST
    for potential of catching on fire.

    heh (none / 0) (#17)
    by andgarden on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:32:52 PM EST
    HFCS is the Pinto of food products!

    In college (none / 0) (#19)
    by Steve M on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:39:51 PM EST
    I got assigned to argue Ford's side of the Pinto case in a business ethics class.  A very eye-opening assignment!

    Oy (none / 0) (#21)
    by andgarden on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:46:46 PM EST
    The Hand test is going to be giving me nightmares for the rest of my life, I think.

    You really think Coke (etc.) in Mexico tastes better than here? It all tastes like sh!t to me, but Mexican Coke is more a more cloying sh!t. imo.

    that corn syrup (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Steve M on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:31:04 PM EST
    is in EVERYTHING!  Ugh.  Personally I drink Diet Coke.

    Me too (none / 0) (#15)
    by andgarden on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:32:18 PM EST
    Diet Dr. Pepper for variety.

    I don't that'll change, (none / 0) (#18)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:35:13 PM EST
    it's not like Cuba has billions of tons of sugar and/or sugar production capacity just lying around unused.

    Coke (etc) would still be corn syruped.


    All of the Mexicoke I've ever tasted (5.00 / 0) (#14)
    by andgarden on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:31:54 PM EST
    is disgusting. Now, Passover Coke, that stuff is awesome.

    AT&T Will Make You Free (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 05:40:16 PM EST
    I can see the Ads now..  Seems like the bulk of the initiative is to get US phone cos and their Satellites hooked up. It appears that the US and telephone cos are married at this point, or at least it is a civil union.

    Anyway I hope that this is the first step to get US used to thinking of Cuba as our sister even if the Chinese wind up getting the teleco and oil deals. We could use the organic fruits and vegetables.

    I anticipate the food shipments would (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 05:49:05 PM EST
    be U.S. to Cuba.

    No (none / 0) (#3)
    by squeaky on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:00:13 PM EST
    They have a thriving organic agriculture. After 1989, they had to reinvent their system because the soviets were no longer buying.

    From what I have read they went seriously organic and given the tropical climate have abundant supplies of fruits and vegetables.


    Cuba already imports (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by andgarden on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:02:23 PM EST
    lots of food from the US on a cash and carry basis. So far as I am aware, they have not been able to feed themselves.

    Nah (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 06:03:09 PM EST
    Once the embargo is lifted, you might have a point (I doubt it to be honest), but certainly not under Obama's announced initiatives. Cuba won't be selling in the US for a while.

    The only concrete result (none / 0) (#22)
    by wagnert in atlanta on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 07:27:30 PM EST
    of Carter's progressive policy was the Mariel boatlift.