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U.S. policy on Cuba hypocritical at best

Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2002

He's not our man in Havana.

He holds no portfolio from the Bush administration. Nor ever will where Cuba is concerned.

But ex-president Jimmy Carter, representing the Carter Center in Atlanta, is visiting Cuba this week. He's the first current or former president to visit Cuba in 74 years. He's his own man in Havana. And he really dislikes our country's Cuba policy.

Carter is in his third decade as worldwide rover for peace and justice. He's done much good. ... Where some interpret Mr. Carter's missions through the years as admirably principled, others view them as undercutting the foreign-affairs policy of the sitting president.

Nor is his own Cuba record spotless. His efforts in 1980 helped lead to a flood of more than 120,000 Cubans, many of them criminals, in the notorious Mariel boatlift.

But, even though Mr. Castro is a dictator and thug, Mr. Carter is right when it comes to our Cuba policy. While the embargo -- a creaky, drooling relic of the cold war -- has trapped Cuba economically, it has also impoverished the Cuban on the street.

And it's hypocritical through and through, since we regularly play footsie with human-rights disasters Saudi Arabia and China. If Cuba had scads of oil, or billion-plus entrepreneurs and consumers, its U.S. relations would be as sweet as Cuban coffee.

The real reason the Cuban embargo persists? Politics -- what else? Rich and powerful, the Cuban emigre community in Florida (about 800,000 strong) wants the United States to keep the screws on Fidel Castro. President after president, Republican and Democrat, has crumpled under this group's passionate political pressure.

The Bush administration is no different. On May 20 (in Miami, of course), President Bush will deliver a foreign-policy address in which he's expected to propose new measures against Cuba, including initiatives to aid Mr. Castro's domestic opposition. ...

-- The Philadelphia Inquirer

May 14



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