Cuban-Americans Want More Engagement
Ric Herrero is the executive director of #CubaNow.
UPDATED OCTOBER 13, 2014, 1:37 AM
For as long as I’ve been alive, U.S.-Cuba policy has been largely
dictated by South Florida politics. Legislation passed in the 1990s to
tighten U.S. sanctions was championed and ardently defended by a
majority of Cuban-Americans who believed at the time that doing so would
topple the Castro regime. After decades of disillusionment and
exhaustion, our community has widely lost faith in isolationism. A
majority of Cuban-Americans have embraced greater engagement with the
Cuban people as the most effective way to promote change, with more than
half a million among us traveling to the island each year.
Cuban-American leaders in Congress have failed to present us with
policies that may actually achieve our long-standing objectives of
promoting democratic values and empowering the Cuban people.
However, many continue to support status-quo policy, mainly because our
representatives in Congress have preferred to hold on to an 18-year-old
shoddy piece of legislation as a symbol of opposition to the Cuban
regime. So far, they have failed to present us with policies that may
actually achieve our long-standing objectives of promoting democratic
values and empowering the Cuban people.
Now that Cuba is no longer a political third rail, our leaders have a
responsibility to pursue a new approach that better advances America’s
interests. The president’s 2009 regulatory changes allowing for greater
freedom to travel and send remittances to the island have had a more
positive impact in the last five years than cold war-era policies had in
the previous 50. He should continue taking steps to expand the flow of
support to Cuban civil society and call on Congress to propose a truly
“creative and thoughtful” alternative to Helms-Burton and its related
statutory provisions, so that we may finally have a coherent policy
toward the island that responds to 21st century challenges.
Such a policy should seek to use the full range of diplomatic tools at
our disposal to incentivize the Cuban government to reform and respect
the rights of its citizens, while at the same time liberalize the flow
of contacts and resources between American civil society and the Cuban
people, and advance our strategic and security interests in the region.
After all, there is no better way to influence the future of Cuba than
to play an active and constructive role in its present.
Source: Cuban-Americans Want More Engagement – NYTimes.com –