The Lugar Report on Changing Cuba Policy

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Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, states in the Changing Cuba Policy - In the United States National Interest (pdf file) report dated February 23, 2009:

Economic sanctions are a legitimate tool of U.S. foreign policy, and they have sometimes achieved their aims, as in the case of apartheid in South Africa. After 47 years, however, the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose of "bringing democracy to the Cuban people," while it may have been used as a foil by the regime to demand further sacrifices from Cuba's impoverished population. The current U.S. policy has many passionate defenders, and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified. We must recognize, nevertheless, the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests.

The report, which I highly recommend you read, contains these findings:

  • * The Cuban regime is institutionalized.
  • * Positive developments are occurring in Cuba but they should not be mistaken for structural reform.
  • * Popular dissatisfaction with Cuba's economic situation is the regime's vulnerability.
  • * The regime appears to be open to some bilateral dialogue and co-operation.

The conclusion is that "progress could be attained by replacing conditionality with sequenced engagement, beginning with narrow areas of consensus that develop trust."

Here are the Recommendations, whose purpose would be "increased dialogue through appropriate channels, coupled with looser trade terms":

  • * "As an initial unilateral step, staff recommends fulfilling President Obama's campaign promise to repeal all restrictions on Cuban-American family travel and remittances before the Summit of the Americas" [in April], and "lifting travel restrictions on Cuban Interest Section personnel in Washington."
  • * The resumption of bilateral talks on drug interdiction and migration, and "undertake comprehensive counter-narcotics cooperation with Cuba, including the provision of needed equipment and technical assistance."
  • * Investments in alternative energy, where U.S. technology "could help ensure environmentally-sustainable development of Cuba's energy sector."
  • * Lifting agricultural trade requirements that cash payment be received by U.S. sellers prior to the shipment of goods.
  • * Reviewing the viability of authorizing private financing for medical sales, a review of the current "proper end-use monitoring" (which ensures that medical items be used for their intended purpose), and permit pharmaceutic imports from Cuba's biotechnology industry

Also in the Recommendations section, in the medium term, "reviewing dropping opposition to Cuban participation in the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank", in the expectation that Cuba's membership in those institutions "would increase the government of Cuba's accountability to the international community and encourage free-market reforms consistent with U.S. commercial interests." If Cuba were to sign the Inter-American Democratic Charter, it might even become eligible for membership in the Organization of American States.

A number of issues arise when reading this report:

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