The Cuba Embargo Should Stand
Monday, June 9, 2008; Page A16
In his May 31 op-ed, "Hard-Line Lunacy on Cuba," Eugene Robinson wrote,
"For nearly five decades, the United States has pursued a policy toward
Cuba that could be described as incredibly stupid" and one that fits the
definition for insanity. He implied that the U.S. government can extend
an olive branch by ending the decades-old trade embargo. I disagree.
The goal of Cuban authorities has been to maintain themselves in power
in perpetuity, even at the expense of improving the living conditions of
Cubans, and to undermine the only country that stands in the way — the
Naturally, those authorities lend support to countries that have the
same aspirations. This explains why Fidel Castro, while visiting Iran in
May 2001 — just four months before Sept. 11 — proudly proclaimed that
"Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its
knees." Just last September, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque
indicated that the U.S. embargo had forced Cuba to spend more than $89
billion to get goods and services elsewhere. This is money well spent to
keep Americans safe and to keep America on its feet.
Meeting with Cuban officials without preconditions would be
counterproductive and would prolong the Cuban people's suffering. Having
internationally monitored elections and freeing all political prisoners
would be a good way to start these negotiations.
JORGE E. PONCE
I respectfully disagree with Eugene Robinson. U.S. policy on Cuba,
supported by presidents from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton to George
W. Bush, has worked by denying resources to a regime that systematically
brutalizes its people and funds anti-American terrorist activities
around the world. The Castro brothers have used resources from foreign
investors and tourists only to maintain their privilege and power.
Ironically, while some criticize the embargo, it is the American people
who are the largest providers of Cuba's food and medicine, and U.S.
remittances are the largest source of direct support to the Cuban
people. Recent "reforms" by the Cuban regime serve only to highlight the
depth of oppression and control under which the Cuban people have lived.
Why do some express outrage against Sudan and Burma yet turn a blind eye
to Cuba's half a century of human rights atrocities? Until political
prisoners are freed and fundamental human rights are granted, we will
not fuel the fires of oppression. We will support real change in Cuba by
standing with the Cuban people rather than legitimizing the Castro gulag.
CARLOS M. GUTIERREZ
Secretary of Commerce
The writer is co-chair of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.