US official says Cuba embargo successful
Published on Friday, May 23, 2008
By Jeff Franks
HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters): A US trade embargo in place 46 years against
Cuba has been successful, US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said on
Wednesday, even though the island's communist government remains.
Gutierrez said the embargo, imposed in 1962 to undermine the government
of Fidel Castro, deprived Cuban leaders of resources they would have
used for "ill-focused goals."
"The purpose of the embargo is to deny resources to a regime who is
clearly anti-American, who doesn't like our country, and in that regard
the embargo has been extremely successful," Gutierrez said in a phone
interview from Washington.
He spoke to Reuters after President George W. Bush announced the United
States would let its citizens send cell phones to Cubans, in a small
crack in the embargo that appeared to be a political tit-for-tat for
recent Cuban reforms.
Last month, Cubans were allowed for the first time to buy cell phones as
part of reforms President Raul Castro has initiated since replacing his
ailing older brother in February.
But Gutierrez said Bush was opposed to anything that would weaken the
"The policy in Cuba is designed to create changes, and anything that
strengthens the regime is something (Bush) is not in favor of," he said.
"We think what really needs to happen in Cuba is for that system to
change," said Gutierrez, who is a Cuban-American.
Many Cubans and Cuban-Americans have urged greater easing of the embargo
to allow more family visits and higher remittances from the United States.
But Gutierrez said the White House does not want to deliver more money
to the Cuban government by loosening current restrictions that limit
Cuban-Americans to one visit to the island every three years.
"It becomes a revenue stream for the regime. We understand that people
like to go down (to Cuba) more often," he said.
"A cell phone, by the way, will help families at least communicate over
the phone," said Gutierrez.