Predicating US Cuban Foreign Policy on Cuba's Internal Affairs
Posted: Saturday, May 25, 2002
by Stephen Kangal
Contemporary US Cuban Foreign Policy as outlined by President Bush in his White House Speech delivered on Monday 20 May, three days after former President Jimmy Carter concluded his fact-finding visit to Cuba and which was neither mentioned nor acknowledged, is a violation of the UN-sanctioned principle of non-interference on the internal affairs of a UN member. It is paradoxical that while President Bush, a non-Cuban, used his address to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Independence of Cuba he used the occasion to set a package of conditionalities which compromises the sovereignty and political independence of Cuba. These constitute the Bush criteria for normalisation of US-Cuba relations.
In fact his foreign policy statement was geared more to pander to the 800,000 strong Cuban-American community of Dade County, Florida that holds the balance of power for his own Presidential re-election in 2004 as well as that of his brother Jeb for the Governorship of the State of Florida next November.
President Bush must realise that while his policy is understandably a bilateral matter, and is fashioned by events internal to the US, it also has implications in the multilateral OAS setting.
The fundamentals of the 1960 Helms-Burton Act that provided the legal basis for the 1961 trade embargo have been maintained by Bush with some cosmetic panderings. His position, supported mainly by some Republicans, is indeed an unpopular, retrograde step in the face of a growing tide of support internally (CNN and MSNBC polls show > 80% support lifting of sanctions) and within the Hemisphere for the easing of tensions.
According to the President: "… Full normalisation of relations with Cuba, diplomatic recognition, open trade and a robust aid program will only be possible when Cuba has a new government that is fully democratic, when the rule of law is respected and when the human rights of all Cubans are fully protected…"
On the contrary during Carter's visit the State Department upped the anti-Castro tempo accusing Cuba of collaborating with the "axis of evil" and "rogue states" by developing the capability to export biological weapons (BW).
There is a growing consensus within the US that the hitherto Cuban isolationist foreign policy has historically failed to achieve its desired negative impact on the fate of the Castro regime, has punished the Cuban people en masse and is indeed inimical to American own economic and trade interests to the tune of US $2-$3bn annually.
In October 2000 former President Clinton loosened trade restrictions by signing The Trade Sanctions Reform and Enhancement Act which permits the direct sale to Cuba of $30m of food. Over the last few months some 20 US companies have signed cash deals to sell their products to Cuba.
The Bush conditionalities (the big stick approach) as outlined in his White House Speech for creating the conditions for the easing of trade restrictions against Cuba are:
Freedom for opposition parties and trade unions to operate within Cuba;
Freeing of all political prisoners;
Monitoring of the 2003 elections by outside observers;
Human rights organisations should be allowed to visit Cuba to monitor reform initiatives;
Ending of discriminatory practices against Cuban workers;
Respect for property rights of foreigners;
The carrots offered by President Bush include:
Resumption of mail service to/from Cuba;
Facilitating humanitarian assistance via US and other NGO's targeting the Cuban people directly;
Scholarships in the US for Cuban students;
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