Skip to main content

Cuba: Timely for US Policy to change?

Julia E. Sweig is the Nelson and David Rockefeller senior fellow and director for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her most recent book is "Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century."

Writing in The Nation [America's pre-eminent magazine] she raises the question which Washington ought to now consider with the the spectre of Fidel Castro passing from the scene:

"The issue is not how to change US policy toward Cuba. The issue is how to change the Cuban regime," Havana-born US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez said not once, not twice, but throughout a recent speech titled "Cuba After Fidel." The secretary's disciplined effort to stay "on message" was likely a response to the emerging pressure on Washington to abandon its policy of perpetual hostility and assume a new approach toward Havana--given new political realities in both capitals.

In Washington and Havana, two striking events may have laid the groundwork for real political drama this year: After almost fifty years of supreme rule, a gravely ill Fidel Castro transferred "provisional" power to his brother Raul last July, and after twelve years of being out of power, the Democratic Party resumed control of Congress last November.

In Cuba, eight months of stability and business-as-usual have passed since the announcement of Castro's illness, reported to be diverticulitis. Castro's health has improved, and he is slowly re-entering public life, but he appears not to have resumed his previous around-the-clock work schedule, nor his notorious micromanagement of major and minor affairs of state. Yet the regime has not collapsed--as so many officials, analysts and exiles wishfully believed it would--exposing the utter failure of the US policy of regime change. In Washington, Democrats who want a more enlightened posture toward Havana have assumed control of key Congressional committees. Precisely because it is now an open secret that Washington's half-century don't talk/don't trade/don't travel policy toward Cuba has gone nowhere, the new US Congress has the opportunity to lay the foundation for an overhaul of America's Cuba policy that a centrist of either party could pursue once in the White House in 2009."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Whatever democracy the Palestinians had is dying

Almost a desperate cry from a well-known, respected and sober moderate Palestinian.

Mustafa Barghouthi is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was a candidate for the Palestinian presidency in 2005.

He writes in a piece "The Slow Death of Palestinian Democracy" on FP:

"Palestinian municipal elections were supposed to be held last week. Instead, they were canceled. A statement released by the Palestinian Authority claimed the cancellation was "in order to pave the way for a successful end to the siege on Gaza and for continued efforts at unity" between Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, and the government in the West Bank.

The cancellation of this election was an unjustified, unlawful, and unacceptable act. It damages democratic rights and makes a mockery of the interests of the Palestinian people.

But this is far more than an internal Palestinian issue. The only lasting peace between Isr…

Big Brother alive and well in the USA in 2007

The so-called "war on terror" has shown itself up in a multitude of manifestations. The most dangerous thing has been governments using the "excuse" of the war to restrict certain civil liberties, allowing government agencies to pursue a variety of things that they would otherwise would not - and should not - be allowed to do and gathering, and retaining, a variety of information on its citizens.

The Washington Post reports on the latest incursions into civil liberties of all Americans:

"The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as lo…