Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Don't end economic sanctions on Castro regime

The 50th anniversary of the establishment of US sanctions by President John F. Kennedy on the Castro regime in Cuba is an excellent moment to reflect on whether they should be maintained, changed, strengthened or abolished. The argument made below in 2003 holds true today but unfortunately the trade embargo on Cuba for all practical purposes was ended in 2000. Economic sanctions remain but since 2001 there has been over $3.5 billion dollars in trade between American businesses and the Cuban dictatorship. The human rights situation on the island has not improved.

President John F. Kennedy signed a decree broadening trade restrictions with Cuba on February 7, 1962

FLORIDA TODAY

Feb 13, 2003

Don't end embargo on Cuba trade

By John J. Suarez Guest Columnist

There is a tragic sham that harms Americans, but it is not the trade embargo on communist Cuba. Rather, it is the cliche that "to pull down barriers," by ending trade sanctions on a ruthless communist dictatorship and provide it with subsidies would bring political reforms.

The sham seen today in China is proof that such a policy would also be a disaster in Cuba, and only serve multinational interests and Cuba's communist regime.

America normalized relations with Beijing in 1979. The belief then was that normal relations would lead to more human rights and a peaceful transition to democracy. The opposite has been the case.

In the Soviet Union, confrontation and economic isolation led to a relatively peaceful implosion of the regime. In China, the policy of trade and political engagement has led to a thriving economic system under communist control, and modernization and expansion of the military and state security apparatus.

In Cuba today, political opposition is growing, and human-rights abuses although systematic and pervasive have in practice declined in numbers. This is not due to the good will of Fidel Castro's regime, but a lack of resources.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre revealed the failure of engagement. Still, economic engagement was not suspended but intensified afterward.

Amnesty International said in 2001 that, "thousands of people (in China) were arbitrarily detained for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association or religion. Torture and ill treatment of prisoners continued to be widespread. The limited and incomplete records available showed that at least 1,511 people were sentenced to death and 1,000 executed; the true figures were believed to be far higher."

Chinese pro-democracy leader Wei Jingsheng describes the result of current U.S. policy in China: "There is active cooperation with the Chinese oppressors, extending aid to the tune of tens of millions of dollars; on the other hand, assistance to the democracy movement in China is very limited. . . . It does seem to be fashionable now to assist the henchmen who are engaged in butchering the people."

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, describes how American taxpayers subsidize China's dictatorship: "China . . . receives the largest amount of money from the Export-Import Bank. There is $5.9 billion that has been granted to the Chinese."

According to Paul, China has used export-import funds to build nuclear power plants, expand its airline and build steel factories. U.S. taxpayer money is being used to modernize the Chinese military and its apparatus of repression. Castro is broke. Subsidized trade is what the majority of the anti-embargo lobby is after.

Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu announced his support for the Cuban embargo December 10, 2002 at Florida International University, while denouncing the lack of such a policy toward China. According to Wu, the majority of the profits have been funneled directly to "dying Communist institutions," thus prolonging their lives, he said.

Increasing trade with China has not and will not improve human rights. Cuba is no different.

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Suarez is the coordinator of the Free Cuba Foundation based at Florida International University in Miami.

http://www.floridatoday.com/!NEWSROOM/opedstoryA43665A.htm

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