Posted on Thursday, 06.05.14
Clinton says she urged end to Cuba embargo
BY MATTHEW LEE
AP DIPLOMATIC WRITER
PARIS — In her new book, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton says she pushed President Barack Obama to lift or ease the
decades-long U.S. embargo on Cuba because it was no longer useful to
American interests or promoting change on the communist island.
In excerpts of the book “Hard Choices” obtained by The Associated Press
ahead of its release next week, Clinton writes that the embargo has
given communist leaders Fidel and Raul Castro an excuse not to enact
democratic reforms. And she says opposition from some in Congress to
normalizing relations — “to keep Cuba in a deep freeze” — has hurt both
the United States and the Cuban people. She says the 2009 arrest by Cuba
of USAID contractor Alan Gross and Havana’s refusal to release him on
humanitarian grounds is a “tragedy” for improving ties.
“Since 1960, the United States had maintained an embargo against the
island in hopes of squeezing Castro from power, but it only succeeded in
giving him a foil to blame for Cuba’s economic woes,” she writes. She
says her husband, former President Bill Clinton, tried to improve
relations with Cuba in the 1990s, but the Castro government did not
respond to the easing in some sanctions. Nonetheless, Obama was
determined to continue the effort, she writes.
She says that late in her term in office she urged Obama to reconsider
the U.S. embargo. “It wasn’t achieving its goals,” she writes, “and it
was holding back our broader agenda across Latin America. … I thought
we should shift the onus onto the Castros to explain why they remained
undemocratic and abusive.”
Clinton writes that in the face of “a stone wall” from the Castro
regime, she and Obama decided to engage directly with the Cuban people.
“We believed that the best way to bring change to Cuba would be to
expose its people to the values, information and material comforts of
the outside world,” she says.
The steps that Obama took, including allowing more travel to the island
and increasing the amount of money Cuban-Americans can send back to the
island, have had a positive effect, she writes.
However, Clinton notes with disappointment that Cuba arrested and
imprisoned Gross, a contractor working for the U.S. Agency for
International Development, who the U.S. says was trying to help Cuba’s
small Jewish community communicate with the rest of the world. Gross was
convicted of trying to subvert the Cuban state and sentenced to 15 years
in prison. Despite repeated appeals from the U.S., Gross remains in
prison in Cuba.
In the book, Clinton says she spoke out frequently about Gross’
imprisonment and was disappointed that “the Castros created new problems
by arresting” him.
She said Cuba has refused to consider Gross’ release until the U.S.
frees all of the “Cuban Five” spies who have been imprisoned in the
United States. The U.S. has rejected Cuba’s demands to link the cases.
Clinton said she suspected that some in Cuba are using the Gross case
“as an opportunity to put the brakes on any possible rapprochement with
the United States and the domestic reforms that would require.”
“If so,” she writes, “it is a double tragedy, consigning millions of
Cubans to a kind of continued imprisonment as well.”
Source: PARIS: Clinton says she urged end to Cuba embargo – Politics
Wires – MiamiHerald.com –