Monday, 5 November 2012

Romney’s Skewed View on Cuba

Wayne Smith on Realcuba blog:

In his October 8 foreign policy speech, Mitt Romney suggested that our Latin American neighbors want to resist the failed system of Fidel Castro and to deepen ties with the U.S., but are uncertain of U.S. support. “Where does the U.S. stand?” he has them asking.

He almost has it backward. The U.S. is now the only country in the Western Hemisphere not to have diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba. In that sense, we, not Cuba, are now isolated. And over a number of years now, the vote in the UN General Assembly to condemn our embargo against Cuba has seen the great majority voting to condemn, and only Israel and sometimes one or two tiny countries (obviously after U.S. largesse), voting in favor. And Israel, it should be noted, may vote with us, but it is one of Cuba’s most active trading partners. In other words, it votes with us but ignores our policy.

According to a white paper issued by Romney on January 25, U.S. travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans were loosened as part of Obama’s “appeasement strategy” toward the Cuban government. But the Romney folks had – and have – that one all wrong. The controls were eased not to appease the Cuban government, but as a gesture to the Cuban-American community, the majority of whom want to travel to see their families on island and want to be able to send them money. We’ll see how they react to being told that were Romney elected, they’d have to go back to the days of George W. Bush when they could travel only every three years and remit only limited amounts of money to those families.

Interesting to note also that at the last Summit of the Americas in April of 2012, our Cuba policy was roundly condemned by virtually all other hemispheric governments, who made it clear that if we stick to barring Cuban attendance, there would be no more summits, for they, the other governments, would not participate.

In his January 25 white paper, Romney also swore to adhere strictly to the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, including implementation of Title III. But Helms-Burton has been on the books now for some 15 years. It’s had little effect on the Cuban government and wouldn’t have any more under Romney than under, say, George W. Bush, which is to say, none. Title III has never been implemented, not even by George W. Bush, and never will be. It is so utterly extraterritorial in nature that it isn’t implementable. We would all look forward to seeing the Romney team give it a try.

Romney also vowed on January 25 to “break the information blockade” by ordering “the effective use” of Radio and TV Marti. Good luck. TV Marti is effectively blocked. Radio Marti has been on the air for years but has little listenership, not for technical reasons, but because, as one Cuban put it: “the programs all seem to be made ‘for and by’ a Miami audience.” That doesn’t seem likely to change, whatever the technical instruments employed.

Romney on January 25 also vowed to seek ways to hold the Castros accountable for the shoot-down of the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft back in 1996, leading to the death of four Cuban-Americans. A worthwhile objective perhaps, but in fact so much pie in the sky. It will play well in Miami, but isn’t likely to achieve anything.

Romney expresses expectation that if he wins Presidency, Fidel Castro “will finally be taken off this planet”: 

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